Blends Series Cymbals
A best-of-both-worlds approach to achieving power and warmth.
Earlier this year, the California-based/Turkish-made cymbal company TRX released what it’s calling a “mash-up” of its medium-weight, traditionally lathed and hammered MDM series and its heavyweight, brilliantly polished BRT series. This new line is aptly named Blends.
The Blends series features a BRT-style bell and bow (polished and unlathed) and an MDM-style outer section (traditional lathing). The goal is to combine some of the power, brightness, and focus of the heavier BRT line with the responsive, warm, all-purpose tones of the MDM. Blends are available in a wide range of sizes. We were sent a review set comprising 8″ and 10″ splashes ($225 and $250); 14″ hi-hats ($625); 16″, 18″, and 20″ crashes ($375, $425, and $550); and a 22″ ride ($600).
We tested the Blends cymbals in the studio and on a moderately loud, unmiked Top 40 gig. They were versatile enough to handle a diverse set list that included doo-wop classics, grunge-rock hits, and hip-hop. They opened up well enough to be expressive at softer dynamics, possessing clean, warm tones that weren’t overly chunky, and they didn’t max out or overpower the band when played at full volume. The unlathed BRT bell and bow did a fine job of tamping down some of the sustain and sibilance in the crashes, which is a good quality to have for drummers who tend to hit hard.
The 16″ crash was the all-around winner of the group, providing a quick, well-balanced sound that was a bit broader than its size would suggest (i.e., not splashy and without any gongy overtones). The larger Blends crashes required a firmer stroke to bring out their full voice, but the trio played quite well together. The 18″ complemented the 16″ with a similar but deeper tone, while the 20″ would be reserved for big accents and crash/ride sections. Again, the polished, unlathed BRT section helped rein in the high end and sustain, while the lathed edges brought out some richer qualities.
The 22″ Blends ride had a balanced and warm sustain, pingy attack, and strong, deep-sounding bell that cut with a pleasant tone. I wouldn’t use this cymbal for jazz or other very low-volume situations, but it had a nice musical ping that would work well with a big band. And it felt right at home with louder, denser music, like most contemporary rock, pop, and R&B. It’s not easy to find a responsive and musical-sounding ride that can also withstand more aggressive playing styles, but the 22″ Blends was up to the challenge.
The 14″ Blends hi-hats fell right in line with the rides and crashes, providing warm, expressive tones with added power and a focused sustain. They articulated double strokes cleanly, provided quick “barks” when hit open at the edge, and possessed a strong wash when played half open. Their foot sound was strong and clean. You could also take advantage of the unlathed BRT section by playing closer to the bell, to get more metallic closed tones. For most rock, pop, or R&B situations, these would be great all-purpose hi-hats.
The most surprising pieces in the Blends series were the 8″ and 10″ splashes. They had exactly what I look for: a quick and flashy attack with a short but balanced sustain that emphasizes the higher overtones. They were neither gongy nor trashy, and there was a clear but musical interval between their pitches. I don’t often use splashes, but when the time comes I’d want one (the 10″) or both of the Blends in my cymbal bag.
Log on to moderndrummer.com to check out a short video demo of the TRX Blends cymbals discussed in this review.