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The Zildjian Z3 cymbals are the latest update of Zildjian's successful rock Z series that was originally released in 1985. With this latest line-up, Zildjian are promising the three p's - power, projection, and playability.
Like most cymbals, they can be bought seperately or in a variety of packs including a crash with hi-hats and a ride, or an effects pack etc.
Out of the the 25+ cymbals in the series, i've got my hands on a splash, 3 crashes, 3 rides, 2 hi-hats, and a china cymbal. Let's see if they can bring the rock!...
Unlike Zildjian's cheaper rock cymbal series, the Z3 cymbals have been cast individually from quality B20 bronze (20% tin content). They've then been hand hammered with exact spaced hits to help bring out that great Zildjian rock sound. This has then been followed up with some deep lathing on the top and bottom of each cymbal.
One thing that's noticeable straight away, is that the whole Z3 series, apart from the hi-hats and chinas, have extra large bells, no doubt to increase the overall power and projection. With projection still in mind, Zildjian have also used a brilliant finish on each cymbal. It makes 'em look stunning, especially under stage lights where they shimmer beautifully.
The overall sound of the Zildjian Z3 cymbals is powerful, attacking, and bright, but with some depth and body too. They're unmistakably rock cymbals, but they are still musical and interesting. Like every series, there are going to be some cymbals that are better than others, but there isn't really a bad one in this bunch. Let's have a look at the crashes...
The 3 crashes i'm reviewing include 16", 17", and 18" sizes. The 16" medium crash has a lot of high frequencies, but there's still a great quality sound about it. The sustain is sweet, and the projection is superb making sure it cuts through the mix. The heavier 17" rock crash is similar but much more powerful and projecting. The opening sound is bright and explosive, while the longer sustain shows off some of it's deeper, subtle qualities.
But, the best of the three has to be the 18" medium crash. Now this is has the same attacking impact as the other two crashes, but is also much deeper sounding and warmer. It's powerful, musical, and articulate all at the same time, Zildjian have done a great job with this one!
So, will the Z3 rides be up to scratch too? Damn straight! The 20" medium-heavy ride has great stick definition with just the right amount of overtones to balance it out. The ping is clean and clear, without being thin, while the overtones are mellow and sexy. If you want to take it up a level, playing the large bell will stamp your auhority as it cuts through with a loud, powerful note.
But, an all together more in-your-face option is the 22" rock ride. It has a fatter stick sound, projects better, and is noticeably louder. Again, the bell gives a chunky, solid note, but it's that little bit more full sounding than the 20" medium-heavy.
Last up, the 19" thrash ride really kicks ass! I mean really!! It gives an intense wash of sound when you ride it, almost like it's screaming at you. But, it's not overly high-pitched or thin, there's some body and depth there. It's just so aggressive sounding that only super loud and heavy drummers are gonna be able to fit it into their set-up. Zildjian said it would be brutal...and it is. You've been warned.
Moving onto the Zildjian Z3 hi-hats, you can choose from 6 options. Here I have the 14" mastersound hats and the 15" standard hats. The 14" mastersound hats, thanks to the wavy edge on the bottom cymbal, are very crisp and precise when played closed. They're very bright too, but there's enough depth to stop them becoming thin sounding. Best of all, playing them open gives a roaring wash of power and sizzle that projects excellently.
They're great fun, but the 15" standard hats are even better! They're much louder, deeper, and powerful overall, and give a fat crunch when they're closed. Even just opening them a little sends out a sonic wave of energy that's, loud, driving, and warm. Playing 'em all the way open simply blows it our of the water! These pack a ton of volume and are gonna make anyone who uses them into a very dangerous person.
If you want to add some effects to your set-up the 12" splash or 20" china might tickle your fancy. The 12" splash responds very quickly with a sharp attack, followed by a mild, humming after note that slowly fades out. It's pretty cutting and I wouldn't worry about the volume...its got plenty!
It's no suprise then that the 20" china also brings some serious volume to the table. A lot of volume! It's a big cymbal and is full of trashiness when you first hit it. Then, the following sustain is full of interesting overtones and it fades out with a tasty sizzle. Hitting different areas of the cymbal reveals some really varied sound options too, giving a range of brash or subtle trashy sounds even when played quiter.
I'm really lovng the Z3 series! It shows that even a great cymbals like the preceeding Z Custom series can be reinvented and made better. The Z3's are full of power, brightness, and depth, and they look fantastic too. The stand out cymbals have to be the 18" medium crash, 15" hi-hats, and the 20" china. The others aren't bad though, so Zildjian seem to have really hit the nail on the head.
Any downsides? It's difficult to critise the Z3 cymbals for not being super deep, complex, dark, and full of wonderous overtones...they're not supposed to sound that way. They're meant to be bright, loud, projecting, and swift...and that's exactly how they are! Maybe the 19" thrash ride is a little too aggressive, but they're are gonna be plently of drummers who will love it. The series does perhaps carry a chunky price tag, but you won't find better cast B20 bronze rock cymbals anywhere else.
What about the price? Like I said, the Zildjian Z3 cymbals are individually cast from B20 bronze, so are going to cost more than run of the mill cymbals. They are quite pricey in my view, but the sound is certainly worth it. Where's the cheapest place to buy? Here's the cheapest site i've found. They usually have the lowest price and sometimes free delivery too, so I recommend checking them out for the best deal!
The final word: the Z3 cymbals are some of the best rock metals out there right now. They're powerful, bright, and clear, but with enough depth and musicality to back it up. The series has been going since 1983, and Zildjian just keep making 'em better and better. They rock!
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