In an effort to provide warm, musical sounds at moderate price points, Paiste created the 900 series. This full range of cymbals is made from the company’s classic 2002 B8 bronze (8% tin and 92% copper) and includes 10″ and 12″ splashes; 14″, 16″, and 18″ Chinas; 16″ through 20″ regular and Heavy crashes; 20″ and 22″ regular and Heavy rides; and 14″ and 15″ regular, Heavy, and Sound Edge hi-hats.
All of the 900 series models are widely lathed and extensively hammered for more musicality and a softer feel, and they have a subtle dark finish that gives them a rougher, moodier aesthetic and slightly darker tone. Let’s take a look at each model within the 900 series.
True to Paiste form, all of the 900 series regular and Heavy crashes have a consistent and balanced mix of bright and warm overtones that activate quickly and decay with an even, sparkly shimmer. The regular-weight models responded with a faster attack and had a bit more complexity than the Heavy versions. The 16″ had the highest pitch and quick splash-like attack, while the 20″ swelled more gradually and sustained longer. With that said, I was amazed at how focused and consistent the five crashes sounded, with the pitch difference between adjacent sizes being either a half or whole step.
The 17″ and 18″ regular crashes had the most all-purpose tones. For harder-hitting situations, the 19″ and 20″ Heavy crashes had tons of punch, huge wash, and plenty of high-end shimmer to cut through loud mixes without losing musicality. While the 900 series crashes felt most at home in rock and other aggressive playing styles, they had more warmth and richness than you’d typically find in cymbals designed for those applications.
The 14″ and 15″ 900 series hi-hats produced tight, bright open sounds, super-articulate closed tones, and a crispy foot chick. The 14″ regular-weight hi-hats were ideal for quick Copeland-style stickings and fast barks, while the 14″ Heavy version had more power and stronger stick attack. The 15″ Heavy hi-hats had a denser, chunkier attack and a more roaring open voice. The 14″ Sound Edge hi-hats were the brightest sounding of the series and had the cleanest foot chick. The regular 14″ hi-hats were the most versatile, while the 15″ Heavy model had the most heft and depth.
For general use ride cymbals, the 900 series includes 20″ and 22″ models that have a nice balance of clean articulation and warm but controlled sustain. The 20″ had the most wash, while the 22″ provided a bit more clarity and a darker tone. Both of the regular-weight 900 series rides performed well in a variety of musical contexts, from light ECM-style modern jazz playing to classic rock and pop. They tended to wash out a bit at high volume, which is why Paiste also offers 20″ and 22″ Heavy rides and the 24″ Mega ride. These three cymbals have strong but musical bells and powerful stick definition. The 24″ Mega ride had a more complex-sounding bell and tons of volume potential while remaining focused and controllable. The 20″ Heavy ride would be ideal for playing styles that demand utmost speed and precision. The 22″ was my favorite of the three, however, as it had the best balance of depth, warmth, and power that worked great in the context of most modern rock grooves.
The 900 series includes two splashes (10″ and 12″) and three Chinas (14″, 16″, and 18″). The 10″ splash was super-quick and glassy, while the 12″ had a more classic tone with a bit more body and sustain. The 14″ China hits fast and aggressively with a bright, trashy attack and dies down very quickly. The 16″ China has a slightly deeper tone and longer sustain, but it still hits hard and decays rapidly. The 18″ China had the biggest, trashiest, and—ironically—the most musical sound of the three. The dark finish and hand hammering help tamp down the harshness while retaining the aggressive attack desired in this type of hard-hitting effects cymbal.