If you need to take the volume of your cymbals down a few notches, or more than a few, the Ziljian L80 low volume cymbals are definitely worth a serious look. These are some of the most quiet low volume cymbals available and they have a very usable sound as well. Zildjian says these cymbals reduce the volume by 80%, and drummers who use them will tell you it’s probably somewhere between 70-80% less volume than their normal cymbals. Let’s take a closer look.
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How Do They Sound?
Let’s take a look at how these cymbals sound when compared to a traditional drum kit. This video will show you what a kit outfitted with L80 cymbals and Remo Silentstroke heads sounds like. It also shows a sound level comparison with traditional drum heads and cymbals.
Feel & Playability
The Zildjian L80 cymbals feel great to play. They feel much like a traditional cymbal in terms of playability. The only difference I really notice is that the crash cymbals and ride can have a slightly lighter feel when you play them hard or use the edge, meaning you can kind of tell you’re hitting something that has a little less mass than a heavier traditional cymbal. I don’t notice it as much with the hi-hats.
Overall, these feel really good when playing around the kit. They have a good sticking response and they move just like traditional cymbals. Switching between these cymbals and traditional cymbals is less of a shock than switching between an electronic kit with rubber pads and an acoustic drum kit. That helps them translate well for drummers moving between practice and performance or recording.
When I first used them, I felt like I needed to be more careful with them and play more softly. But once I got over that I realized they hold up pretty well to more agressive play styles. They’ll break down over time with repeated hard bashing, of course, much like any thinner cymbal will, but it’s not as bad as some would expect just by looking at them.
Zildjian claims these cymbals are up to 80% more quiet than a normal cymbal, and that’s probably about correct in my experience. When I use these with mesh drum heads I don’t feel the need to wear earplugs or ear protection at all, and I have pretty sensitive ears at this point in my music career. I never play traditional drums at normal volume without wearing ear protection. So that says a lot about how quiet these cymbals are.
Drummers who give lessons would find these to be extremely useful. It keeps volume levels more safe and you can talk over them easily while playing at the same time.
Those who practice at home will like these cymbals since they take the volume down for family, roommates and neighbors who you force to become your unwilling audience.
Drummers who play live venues where much lower volumes are desired also find the tone of these cymbals to be good enough for situational live use. That is pretty amazing for a cymbal designed to be more quiet or for practice scenarios, and it says a lot about the usable tone as well.
The tone of these cymbals is definitely different than what you might expect from a normal cymbal. The volume lowering properties make it so that the sticking seems much more pronounced compared to the wash of the cymbal. The overtones feel much more thin and light, which is to be expected.
Hitting the edges vs sticking the top of the cymbals produces familiar sounds and they respond appropriately to the types of sticks you use. The bell, while small, is functional on the crash ride and rides. While the bell sound is not as pronounced, it still gets the job done.
One thing that I get a kick out of with the larger L80 cymbals, such as the 18 inch crash ride, is that you can still see the cymbal vibrating quiet a bit after the sound dies out. It just goes to show how much their design dampens the ring out.
Materials & Finish
These cymbals are made of brass with a matte finish that glistens a little bit under strong light. They have a less bright look than you might be used to from other cymbals, probably due to the type of finish. I think they look really nice, especially when compared to some of the other more metallic looking low volume cymbals out there.
They are lighter in weight when compared to similarly sized traditional cymbals, do to the material lost when drilling all the holes. But their thickness is similar to a traditional cymbal.
The edges around the outside and in the small holes don’t feel very smooth, they have a little bit of a bite to them. They aren’t exactly sharp, but they’re not intentionally rounded or smooth either. I found that these cymbals aren’t as much of a woodchipper as I though they might be, but they certainly can wear out softer drum sticks more quickly if you’re hitting the edges a lot.
The first thing I thought when I looked at these cymbals is – “Well, I’d probably break those in a few days.” The main reason I thought that was due to all the holes punched into the material to make these work the way they do. I thought they looked fragile. And as a metal drummer, I’m pretty conscious about cymbal durability.
After playing these, and after giving them a few good whacks, I realized that these would probably stand up to my playing just as much as any lighter or thinner traditional cymbal would, and after that realization I didn’t feel like I needed to take it too easy on them while playing. Of course, you don’t want to overdo it, as any cymbal can break if you play them haphazardly enough. And any cymbal can wear out over time if given enough use and abuse. But they are a lot more durable than the pictures would make you think.
Drummers who have used these for an extended period of time can have mixed results. Harder players and bashers will find that they might crack or start to wear more quickly. Lighter players will get many years out of them.
If you want to extend the life of these cymbals as much as possible, it’s best to play them with light or normal sticking, and try to avoid really smashing them consistently hard like a metal or hard rock drummer might.
Cymbal Types & Cymbal Packs
Zildjian currently offer the L80 cymbals in the following types and sizes:
- 13 or 14 Inch Hi-Hats
- 14 or 16 Inch Crash
- 18 Inch Crash Ride
- 20 Inch Ride
- 10 Inch Splash
- 18 Inch China
There are also cymbal packs available which include the following:
- Cymbal Pack with 14 Inch Hi-Hats, 16 Inch Crash, 18 Inch Crash Ride
- Cymbal Pack with 13 Inch Hi-Hats, 14 Inch Crash, 18 Inch Crash Ride
- Cymbal Pack with 13 Inch Hi-Hats, 18 Inch Crash Ride
- A variety of sizes and cymbal types are available
- Excellent option for practice or giving lessons
- They really are much more quiet than normal cymbals
- They feel like traditional cymbals during play
- Might not be as durable for aggressive players
- Sticking sound is more pronounced due to thinner overtones
- Edges feel a little rough
If you want to get some of the best low volume cymbals, the L80’s from Zildjian are pretty hard to beat.
They sound great, they are durable enough and they will give you a pretty nice cymbal sound at a much lower volume than traditional cymbals. Plus they are made by Zildjian, who has a good reputation for producing quality cymbals.
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