Updated: December 28th, 2020
Aren’t crappy cymbals one of the most discouraging things about being a drum beginner or drummer on a budget? You can tune your drum heads very easily and make even the cheapest kit sound fairly good. But the cymbals are just there. You either hit them and they sound great – or they don’t.
And each new drum set (except for electronic ones) comes either with low-quality cymbals or with no cymbals at all. So there’s no way around buying some.
But what is the best budget cymbal pack? And how can you determine that if taste is so subjective?
Well, cymbals are made through different processes and they are made from different kinds of material. Both those things are quite complex.
Fortunately for you, I dove deep into the world of alloy and hammering – and I’ve made it back to the surface.
And here I’ll show you the best budget cymbal packs today in plain English. (If you`re looking for low volume cymbals for either your acoustic or electronic drum kit, check out this post instead.)
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Table of Contents
Zildjian ZBT Cymbal Pack – A Good Starter Pack
- All standard cymbals + sizes included
- Zildjian is a well-respected cymbal brand around the world
- Bronze cast by suppliers not Zildjian themselves
- Cymbals mechanically punched out of bronze sheets
Zildjian is one of the best known cymbal manufacturer in the drumming world and their ZBT starter pack uses “Zildjian Bronze Technology”. That means these cymbals are made of B8 bronze, a mixture of 92% copper and 8% percent tin (hence the name).
That’s a good thing, because bronze has better sound characteristics than brass, which is used in the stock cymbals that come with most beginner drum sets.
At the same time, B8 bronze is generally cheaper than B20 (80% copper and 20% tin). This is why this Zildjian cymbal pack is fairly cheap, and it doesn’t even mean that the ZBTs sound bad. They simply sound different: brighter and more focused, because they have higher frequencies than B20 cymbals.
So I think the Zildjian ZBT are cheap but good-sounding cymbals! What about you?
Wuhan Western Style – My Best Budget Cymbal Pack
- Cheapest hand-hammered cymbals on the market
- Cheapest B20 bronze cymbals on the market
- Cymbal bag included
- Hand-hammering results in sound differences between models
Wuhan cymbals, as the name implies, are made in Wuhan, China. And if you now think about scrolling away, please bear with me for one more minute.
Because manufacturing in China allows Wuhan to sell a hand-hammered cymbal pack in B20 bronze for the cheapest price in this review. And with B20 bronze, these cymbals will sound fuller and warmer (some people would also say “darker”) than the Zildjian ZBT Pros above.
And hand-hammering is a manufacturing process that usually only high-end cymbals undergo. Budget cymbal packs are normally made by machines punching cymbals out of bronze sheets. With Wuhan you get the high-end process on a budget.
Yet, this also means that no 2 Wuhan cymbals will sound exactly the same. And that could work in your favor or against you. So you should be ready to return a Wuhan cymbal pack and get a new one if the pack you got doesn’t suit your taste.
Still, here’s an example of how great the Wuhan Western Style cymbal pack can sound. And mine are actually very similar to those (jump to 1:15 to hear the Wuhans in action):
Wuhan also gives you a free cymbal bag which can save you a great deal of carrying and your cymbals their life at the next gig.
My verdict: the best budget cymbal pack on the market!
Dream Igniton – My Best Advanced Cymbal Set
- Hand-hammered cymbals
- Made of high-quality B20 bronze
- Better quality control than Wuhan
- Cymbal bag included
- Expensive for beginner (but pays off in the long run)
Better than the Zildjian ZBTs, they are hand-hammered out of B20 bronze – which is arguably the best material for cymbals.
Comared with the Wuhans, that’s the same material and manufacturing process. And actually, the Dream Ignitions are also made in the same factory!
Now, this isn’t fraud or anything. Wuhan and Dream are two separate companies and the particular Chinese factory must have been the one with the know-how and a good price.
So what actually is the difference between Wuhan and Dream cymbals? Well, the Dream Ignitions cost more money and that goes into their quality control. So you don’t have to worry about one pair of cymbals sounding like thunder and the next one like rain.
Check out this sound example to hear why the Dream Ignitions are often mentioned alongside cymbals twice their price Sabian AAX: (jump to 1:10 for the actual sound test)
A nice final add-on: the Dream Ignition cymbal pack comes with a free bag for you to carry those beauties.
My verdict: The best cymbal set in this review if you’re willing to spend the money.
Why Sabian and Meinl are not among the best budget cymbal packs
I know I’ve left out two (Meinl and Sabian) of the big three brands (+ Zildjian) in this best budget cymbal pack review. But I did so for a reason. Even despite the fact that both have incredibly cheap starter cymbal packs and the Meinl HCS.
Because although cheap might be appealing, you’ll end up paying more with these packs in the long run.
You’ll have to buy again soon with the Sabian SBR, because these cymbals don’t sound good (You can test this here. If you disagree, give it a listen in2 days again, and if they still sound good to you, that’s fine. Taste is subjective after all.)
With the Meinl you’ll pay double, because you’ll get a 18” Crash / Ride and that’s slightly too small for a Ride in my opinion. Also, as Crash / Rides are thin enough to be a Crash but also thick enough to be a Ride, it’s fairly logical that they do both jobs only half well.
Of course, Sabian and Meinl do have high-quality cymbal packs in all the right sizes too. But they start way above the Dream Ignitions, so you’re better off with my best budget cymbal packs above.
What cymbals can you recommend? Or do you have a question left? Let me know in the comments. I respond 100% of the time
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