L80 Low Volume 468 Cymbal Pack
by Michael Dawson
Many drummers have had to go to extremes to tamp down the volume of their drumsets to make practicing less disturbing for neighbors, family members, and roommates, whether that’s simply draping t-shirts or blankets over the kit or going all-in and spending a large chunk of cash to convert a bedroom, basement, or garage into an airtight, soundproof studio.
Different companies have introduced products over the years to help control volume, and some of those, like Remo’s Silent Stroke mesh drumhead and Aquarian’s Super Pad, are great solutions for quieting snares, kicks, and toms while retaining most of the authentic feel of striking an acoustic drum. But none of the solutions for reining in cymbals have been completely satisfactory. All of that changed, however, when Zildjian launched the new L80 Low Volume series.
The L80 Low Volume series comprises full-size alloy cymbals designed to be up to eighty percent quieter than traditional models. They are perforated with hundreds of small holes from the bell to the edge, and they feature a matte finish, both of which help eliminate high frequencies and reduce volume.
The L80 Low Volume series is available in several packs. We were sent the 468 configuration ($500), which includes a pair of 14″ hi-hats, a 16″ crash, and an 18″ crash-ride. There’s also the 348 set, which includes 13″ hi-hats, a 14″ crash, and an 18″ crash-ride, and there’s a two-piece pack, called the 38, that consists of 13″ hi-hats and an 18″ crash-ride.
The L80 cymbals have a similar profile, weight, and feel to that of comparable A Series thin models, which gave them a surprisingly authentic feel in terms of how they rebounded, moved, and flexed under normal playing styles. They also produce enough audible stick click and high overtones to maintain a sense of touch and dynamics within your practicing/rehearsing.
We tested the L80 468 cymbal pack in the recording studio on an acoustic drumset that included a 22″ bass drum and a 14″ snare. To establish a baseline, we first recorded a full-volume groove on a set of traditional 14″ New Beat hi-hats, a 16″ A thin crash, and an 18″ A crash-ride. When I swapped in the L80s and played the same groove at the same dynamic level, it sounded as if the overhead channels had been muted. I can’t say for certain whether or not the L80s were eighty percent quieter than the regular crashes and hi-hats, but the drop in level is substantial. Yet they still produce enough musical tone that they can be utilized in unamplified rehearsals or in private lesson studios. Anyone in need of super-quiet but authentic-feeling cymbals should definitely check these out.
Configuration: three sets (13″/18″, 13″/14″/18″, and 14″/16″/18″)