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The Zildjian ZBT cymbals series is the entry-level offering in the Zildjian range. They don't cost anywhere near as much as their high-level cymbals, but Zildjian say they're a great place to start for beginners.
They can be bought seperately or in a variety of packs including a crash with hi-hats and a ride, or an effects pack and so on.
This review includes pretty much all of the cymbals in the series. That's 3 splashes, 5 crashes, 2 hi-hats, 2 chinas, and 1 ride. Ok, let's see if they're worth your money...
Every one of the ZBT cymbals has been formed from sheet metal as opposed to cast metal. More expensive cymbals are cast one at a time and then rolled and beaten into shape before being worked into the finished product. These sheet metal cymbals have been machine pressed from sheets of bronze alloy.
But, Zildjian do then hammer and lathe them in the same way they do their more expensive cymbals. The lathing on the top of the ZBT cymbals is actually very good, with some quality hammering on the underside completing the look. The brilliant finish makes them look like the more expensive Zildjian A cymbals series, but I guess that is the idea!
Look, the Zildjian ZBT cymbals are entry-level and that means they're not gonna totally blow you away. But, I was impressed by the sound in general, you could even mistake a couple of the cymbals for being more expensive models. With a loud, toppy sound that repsonds fairly well, these will make any beginner or intermediate player smile. They don't have a lot of complexity or subtlety, but they make up for it in liveliness.
You've got the choice of a 14", 16", or 18" crash, or even an 18" or 20" crash/ride. The standard crashes are really bright and fast, but do need a good hit to open up the full sound. The 14" crash is the quickest and highest pitched of the three, and has a reasonable amount of volume. The 16" and 18" versions take things a bit further with much more volume and projection. They are still quite bright too, but have a little more body to balance things out. My favourite is the 18" that really delivers an aggressive attack with oodles of power!
If a crash/ride is more your thing, the 18" and 20" options might take your fancy. The 18" crash/ride is quite a lot like the 18" crash but thinner giving it a a deeper sound. Riding it gives a decent wash and the ping is clear to hear, but crashing it is harder work and gives a lower-end rumble. The 20" is much the same but just deeper. They both sound good when riding, while using the shaft of the stick gives a better crash sound.
At the time of writing, there's only a 20" ride cymbal in the ZBT series, and it's not too bad either. The large bell gives a strong note with good volume to make sure you're heard. Riding the body gives a sweeter ping sound that's high-pitched and almost glassy, but there's some wash that helps even it out. Overall there's no chance of you being lost in the mix.
If I had to pick a couple of cymbals to be the stars of the series, it would be the hi-hats. Both the 13" and 14" models are suprisingly good for sheet metal cymbals. Thery're bright, clean, and precise sounding without those nasty overtones you often get on budget hats. The 13" hats are that little bit sharper and tighter sounding, while the 14" hats are more powerful. Super!
The other cymbals include an 18" and 20" china. These sound quite sick (in a good way), and are full of trashiness and maybe even a little too much volume and aggression. Especially the 20" version, it's a monster and that'll deafen you in one ear if you're not careful. But, there is a decent sustain that smooths out after the initial explosion.
Last of all, the three Splash cymbals round up the ZBT series nicely. The 8" and 10" versions are sharp and respond quickly, but you do need to give them a fair old hit to get the full sound from them. The 12" splash is a little easier to work with and is almost like a small crash cymbal with more volume, projection, and sustain than the other splashes.
If you're on the hunt for some reasonable budget cymbals, you could do far worse than the Zildjian ZBT series. All the cymbals complement each other quite well, and look great! Just like the Zildjian A series! The sound is loud and high-pitched, but there's not a whole lot of body to them. A few of the cymbals, namely the hi-hats, chinas, and 18" crash are far better than I though they'd be though. You could easily mistake them as being mid-range cymbals if the ZBT logo wasn't on them.
Any downsides? Some of the cymbals do need to be hit hard to get a good sound from them. If you play lighty you get a thin note that doesn't have much presence to back it up. There's not a lot of depth to the sound, but I guess that's not what these cymbals are about, they're about volume and power. And they have plenty of that!
What about the price? The ZBT series are budget cymbals so are available at a fairly low price. Especially at the place i've seen 'em. 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: as far as budget cymbals go, the Zildjian ZBT series is gonna put a smile on most beginner's faces. They can hold their own, look great, and don't sound too far away from mid-level cymbals.
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