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The Zildjian ZHT cymbals series is one of Zildjian's mid-priced offerings. The emphasis here is on giving a decent set of cymbals a at a price most drummers won't mind paying.
Like most cymbals series, 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.
I've recieved a pack including most of the series. And that's a lot of cymbals! I'm talking 20 or more, so I better get started. Let's see if these are the cymbals for you...
Like the ZBT series, the ZHT cymbals have been formed out of sheet bronze as opposed to cast bronze. More expensive cymbals are usually cast one at a time and then worked by hand to give a top quailty sound. These sheet metal cymbals have been machine pressed from sheets of bronze alloy.
But, the bronze alloy used for the ZHT's isn't the usual B8 bronze, it's B12 bronze which has a higher tin content. This supposedly gives a richer sound, but we'll see if that's the case a little later.
Even though these cymbals are formed from sheet metal, a nice touch is that they are then hammered and lathed just like Zildjian's more expensive cymbals. The lathing is broad and professional looking, and the cymbals have been hammed top and bottom too. Zildjian have clearly tried to make them look like some of their more expensive cymbals, and I think they've succeeded!
I'd describe the ZHT cymbals as sounding powerful, cutting, bright, and attacking. Sheet metal cymbals are characteristicly bright, higher-pitched, and quicker to decay than cast cymbals, and the ZHT's follow suit. The quality of sound isn't quite there in some of these cymbals, where as others are pretty good. It really is a mixed bag.
The main crash cymbals come in 16" and 18" sizes and are then available in different weights - fast, rock, and medium-thin. As you'd expect, the 18" crashes are the loudest of the bunch. The rock version is bright, penetrating, and has a solid tone; the fast version is much deeper, responds quicker, and decays faster; while the medium-thin option is even deeper with a bit more body. They all project well and aren't lacking in volume.
The 16" crashes are similar to their 18" big brothers, but with a little less power. They respond quicker and have a sweet sustain that shows off their tone. After you hit them, the final overtones are a lot less discordant than some mid-priced cymbals can be, but they're not perfect. Still, pretty good though.
If you have a need for speeed, the Zildjian ZHT series also includes 14", 15", and 17" fast crashes (yep, more crashes!). They're all super-quick to respond and have a smooth, fast decay. The 14" and 15" crashes have a higher pitch, are very bright, and almost a bit too shrill for my liking. There's not a lot of body to the sound, but the the 17" option is much better. It's quick and initially bright like the 14" and 15" cymbals, but has a much more balanced tone and depth.
The last crashes in the ZHT series are the crash/rides. Here you can pick from an 18" or 20" size. The 18" is very similar to the 18" rock crash, but heavier with a brighter sound. Playing the bell gives a great note, and crashing it brings out a nice wash of sound with plenty of interesting overtones. Using it as a straight ride gives a sweet, glassy ping with good definition, even if you've just crashed it. Lastly, the 20" is basically the same but with more volume and power.
With the crashes being so good, I was hoping the rides would be the same. Unfortunately they aren't. It's often the ride cymbals that are the weakest part of a budget cymbal series, and that's the case with the ZHT series. Both the 20" rock and medium-thin rides give a thick tone, reasonable feel, and have a decent pitch. But, they're let down by the clangy, harsh overtones that sound...well...cheap.
The third option, a 20" flat ride, actually sounds a bit strange. It's almost like it's been put through some electronic processor giving it an 'electric razor' sound when you hit it. It's not like most other flat rides i've tried, and I think it'll have limited appeal. It's got plenty of stick definition, but that's not enough to stop it being a let down in my view.
Anyway, things are looking up again with the Zildjian ZHT hi-hats...all 7 pairs! Starting with the 14" sizes, the standard hats are good all-rounders with a blend of dark and bright qualities, and no nasty overtones. They're articulate and clear, but there's some warmth to round out the sound too. The 14" rock hats are that bit heavier and louder, but the 14" mastersound hats are the best. The wavy edges on the bottom cymbal make them sound higher-pitched, sizzlin', and crisp.
The 13" options are similar but are tighter, quicker, and have more bite. Again, the 13" mastersound hats are my favourites and are suprisngly loud for their size. Both pairs have a higher pitch than the 14" hats, and don't suffer from any unwanted overtones either.
Unfortunately the 8" and 10" mini-hats are not in the same league. They have loads of annoying, high-pitched overtones that you can't get rid of, and are a bit shrill and brittle sounding. The 10" version is slightly better but I just can't see them working in many set-ups.
As if we hadn't talked enough about cymbals already, there are some nice additional options in the ZHT series including 16" and 18" chinas, plus 16" and 18" EFX (trash/crash) cymbals. The chinas are really trashy sounding without being too brash, but I prefer the 18" version that's packing some serious volume and power. The ovetones are really interesting and the decay thankfully isn't too short.
Similar to the chinas are the EFX cymbals. These are quite thin and have shapes cut out of their bodies giving them a flavour of trashiness. They're not as full-on as the chinas, but sound somewhere between the chinas and the crashes. The 18" version could even be used as a trashy/dirty ride cymbal if you wanted.
Lastly, the splashes complete the ZHT series, and there are several to pick from. I tried the 8" and 10" splashes and found them to be cutting and fast, with an ok (but not great) depth to the sound, the 10" being slightly deeper. The only other two splashes I tried were the 8" and 10" china/splash versions. Now these are interesting and sound down and dirty like they want to scream at you but aren't big enough. Pretty cool.
The Zildjian ZHT series looks cool, but is a mixture of really good and very disapointing cymbals. Most of them are good though so it's not a disaster by a long way. The sound is generally bright, high-pitched, and loud, and the B12 bronze has definately given them more musicality compared to cheaper B8 bronze cymbals.
Any downsides? The ride cymbals and the mini-hats just don't cut it for me. They lack the kind of depth and character that you'd want from them, and are plagued by horrible overtones that make them sound shrill and thin. Other than that, the standard 8" and 10" splash cymbals are ok, but again the sound lacks a bit of body.
What about the price? The ZHT series are fairly well priced as they are mid-level and have been made from better quality B12 bronze. I've seen some good prices around. 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 ZHT cymbals offer a good sound for a mid-priced series. I'd score them four stars if it wasn't for the disapointing rides, and mini-hats. Still, they are good value and if you pick the right ones, you'll be very happy with them. They're good!
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