Black is back with the Zildjian Pitch Black cymbals series. With hard rock and metal being so popular, Zildjian have decided to come up with with these pretty cool looking black beauties. If you want your cymbals to stand out (or blend in as the case may be) then these could be for you.
The series features large cymbal sizes in a medium weight that also have large bells to help them project. They can be bought seperately or in a variety of packs including an 18" crash with 15" hi-hats and a 22" ride, or an effects pack and so on.
Here i'm reviewing a pack containing an 18" crash, 22" ride, 15" mastersound hi-hats, an 18" china, and a 13" splash. Supposedly, black never goes out of fashion, so let's see if that's true...
First, let's start with the actual bronze cymbals under the black coating. The ZPB series has been made from B12 sheet bronze, so has a slightly higher tin content than the B8 sheet bronze used on cheaper cymbals. They are similar to the ZHT and ZBT series in that they use the ZHT alloy with ZBT like profiles, but the Pitch Black's have their own unique weights and size combinations.
Again, similar to the ZBT and ZHT series, the Pitch Black's have been hammered and lathed like Zildjian's more expensive cymbals to bring them best sound possible out of them. The hammer markings and lathing is visable beneath the coating and looks pretty good to me.
Lastly, Zildjian then add that cool black coating to the top and bottom of every cymbal, except the inside of the hi-hats. This coating has been specially developed by Zildjian to dampen the sound of the cymbals as little as possible. Zildjian have also included a short note with the cymbals that recommeds how to look after the coating so it doesn't get damaged or scratched. A nice touch.
The Zildjian Pitch Black cymbals have been designed to sound bright, powerful, and loud, they are rock cymbals afterall! But, the addition of the black coating does have an effect on the sound both good and bad in some cases. Even though these cymbals have been made in large sizes and have bigger bells to aid projection, a couple of them just don't shine through that coating.
The first cymbal in the ZPB series is the 18" crash. It does a reasonable job of powering through the coating, and responds quite quickly. The sound is initially bright, and does project well, plus there's a decent sustain present too. After the initial hit, the lingering note is quite low though, probably because the coating takes some of the high-end overtones away. It's ok, but could be much better.
Things are looking up when it comes to the ride cymbal! The stick definition is superb and it sounds glassy and precise. The coating seems to stop too many overtones from building up while you're playing it, which keeps the stick strokes sounding sharp and clear. Playing the bell is good fun and takes it to another level with a loud, metallic ping that stamps it authority. The large size of the cymbal seems to help it shine through that black coating and let it show off it's qualities. It'd work well live or in the studio and it's my second favourite cymbal in the series.
But, hands down the best cymbals in the ZPB series are the 15" mastersound hi-hats. The wavy edges on the bottom cymbal help give them a crisp, clean sound that's accurate and cutting. Playing them open will bring a smile to your face, they sizzle with high-end and have plenty of volume and projection. They aren't slow to respond either, and would fit right into just about any rock drummers set-up.
As I mentioned earlier, the hi-hats are only coated in black on the outside, leaving the insides uncoated. That's possibly why they keep they're better qualities, where as most of the other cymbals don't.
Moving on to the Zildjian Pitch Black effects cymbals, the 13" splash is a bit of a let down. It has a brash note that's almost like a church chime, and the sharp, glassy qualities you'd expect from a splash cymbal are missing. The black coating seems to have sapped some of the bright, high-end out of it, leaving a deeper undertone that sustains for a while. But, that isn't what a splash cymbal is supposed to deliver in my view.
Unfortunately, the 18" china cymbal suffers with the same problem. It sounds really aggressive when you hit it, but there aren't any cool overtones and it decays far too quickly. In fact, it doesn't sound particularly trashy either, just a loud impact followed by a disapointing deep note. Like most of the cymbals, if you hit it really hard it does shine through a little better.
So, have I tunred to the dark side? Well, yes and no. Yes because they look great, plus the 15" mastersound hi-hats and 22" ride sound super. But, No because the other cymbals are slightly muted by that coating. It's a real mixed bag but you can always just pick the best sounding cymbals and leave the rest.
If you play hard 'n' loud, and really like the look of the ZPB series, it might not bother you anyway. All the cymbals sound just about ok if you hit them hard, it forces out more of the brightness and sustain from them.
Any downsides? The black coating on this series is just too overbearing for some of the cymbals. It takes too much of the sustain, brightness, and overtones away from the crash, splash, and china cymbals. It's a shame because without the coating I bet they'd sound pretty damn good.
What about the price? The Zildjian Pitch Black series costs more than Zildjian's similar ZHT, and ZBT series. But, i don't think they sound as good, you're paying for the look more than anything, so i think they're a little expensive. Where's the cheapest place to buy? Here's the cheapest place i've found! They have some pretty decent prices and sometimes free delivery, so i'd try checking them out for the best deal.
The final word: the ZPB cymbals look very cool, but overall sound slighly dead because of the black coating. If it wasn't for the 15" hi-hats and 22" ride cymbal sounding great, i'd only be scoring these 2.5 out of 5. But, i'm gonna give them 3.
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