Sabian are the newest name to the quality end of the cymbal market and they are currently offering a wide range of cymbals to cater for all types of music, from orchestras to disco. The Sabian factory is located in Canada, and I understand that the business is being run by former members of Zildjian, so the pedigree of the company is clearly on a good footing!
Two types of cymbals are offered, machine hammered (designated A.A.) and hand hammered (designated H.H.), the latter being on average about 20% dearer and with a rather smaller range of sizes and types.
One thing to get across right away is that these cymbals are not cheap. Typical rrp's inc. VAT are £120 for a pair of A.A. series 14" hi-hats (£144 for H.H. series,) and £84.30 for an 18" medium ride (£109 for H.H. series). However this is in line with the top Paiste and Zildjian models with which the Sabian range competes, and Cymbals and Percussion (Sabian's UK distributors) are anxious to point out that the price includes a carrying bag and a rubber protector mat for each cymbal. In fact, the rubber mat doubles nicely as a sound deadener for practice sessions at home!
The range of cymbals I received for review was a broad cross-section from both the hand and machine hammered ranges, enabling a number of interesting set-ups, my favourite being 14" hi-hats (H.H.), 20" medium ride (H.H.), 20" china (A.A.), 12" splash (A.A.) and 16" thin crash (H.H.).
Having tried the cymbals both round a kit and individually, one message comes across very loud and clear — these are very good cymbals; they should have no trouble competing for sales with Paiste and Zildjian, and the range is wide enough to accommodate most sound options. I found the hand hammered cymbals to be somewhat sharper than machine hammered, particularly in the case of hi-hats, where the H.H. series cuts like a razor and is definitely worth the extra money. The ride cymbals responded very nicely, and also had a good bell sound, and the chinas are very dramatic with excellent characteristics as the sound dies away.
In addition to the traditionally shaped cymbals, Sabian are also producing a cupless ride range and hi-hat pairs with a cupless heavyweight bottom cymbal (known as flat-hats). These are intended for studio use and the idea has been to reduce overtones as much as possible. I was able to try the cupless ride, and indeed it had a very even response over a large proportion of the cymbal area, giving a very clear "ride" type sound, but perhaps a little unexciting for live use. The flat-hat bottom cymbal has three air escape holes in it, in order to give the sharpest possible sound, Sabian claim, in addition to the reduction in overtones derived from the cupless shape.
So Sabian have a well made, well presented range of top quality cymbals, which should please the discerning ear and give the established names quite a run for their money.
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Review by Rick Palmer
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