Zildjian’s K line has comprised some of the company’s most popular models for good reason; they sound rich and warm without being overly dark or stylized. As a result, regular K hi-hats, crashes, and rides are relied upon by many working drummers to cover a wide range of applications.
For 2018, Zildjian developed a new line of K cymbals that’s inspired by some of the ideas first implemented on the popular A Sweet rides. These new K Sweet cymbals are thinner and softer to make them even more expressive, and the crashes feature unlathed bells. The series consists of 15″ and 16″ hi-hats ($474.95 and $499.95), 16″–20″ crashes ($259.95–$349.95), and 21″ and 23″ rides ($389.95 and $459.95).
All five K Sweet crashes feature raw bells on top and bottom. The rest of the cymbal is lathed and traditionally finished. These crashes are very thin, so they flex easily. Yet they’re stout enough to withstand fairly aggressive playing. The bow shows a lot of random, subtle hammer marks, which contribute to the crashes’ warm timbre and soft feel.
The 16″ and 17″ Sweet crashes are punchy and shimmery. They have a quick attack, a glassy but not harsh sustain, and a fairly quick decay. There’s not a huge pitch difference between these two. I preferred the slightly slower attack and longer decay of the 17″, especially when paired with larger crashes. The 16″ would be a great choice if you need to play a lot of quick punctuations.
The 18″, 19″, and 20″ K Sweet crashes were my favorites in the series. The 18″ is destined to become many drummers’ primary crash. It responded quickly, and it had a warm, sparkling sustain and an evenly balanced decay. It recorded beautifully, and it performed well in all genres and at all dynamics.
The 19″ and 20″ K Sweet crashes had more bellowing voices with more emphasis on the lower-midrange frequencies. The sustain was long and balanced, and the attack was a bit slower and softer, which made these larger crashes ideal for washy crash-ride patterns, dynamic swells, and dramatic accents. The 19″ and 20″ K Sweet crashes also paired well, especially when played in modern rock and country/pop situations.
The 15″ and 16″ K Sweet hi-hats come with a medium-weight top and a heavy bottom. Neither cymbal has much flex, which gives both pairs a firm feel, woody attack, and super-crisp foot chick. The bells are unlathed. The 15″ K Sweets have crisp, quick articulation, but they’re pitched medium-low. They’re not too bright and cutting nor are they overly dark and murky. They record wonderfully, and they have plenty of projection and power for louder gigs.
The 16″ K Sweet hi-hats were surprisingly versatile. They responded a bit slower than the 15″ pair, and their tone was deeper, chunkier, and throatier. They still had enough crispness to give them a clean and articulate attack, and they blended very well with the larger crashes, especially when used in conjunction with deeply tuned drums.
The medium-weight 21″ and 23″ K Sweet rides are darker versions of the A Sweet models. The entire top and bottom surfaces are finely lathed and traditionally finished. The bow is randomly hammered, and the bell has a fairly large and slightly flattened profile. The bells sounded strong and clear without being overly piercing.
Standard 20″ and 22″ K rides have been perennial favorites for Zildjian players for many years because they sound at home in everything from light jazz to hard rock. However, we expect these 21″ and 23″ K Sweet rides to quickly move up the ranks. Both cymbals had a smooth, medium-low tone with a fine balance of stick attack and wash. Aside from extreme playing situations requiring exaggerated attack and super-dry sustain, the K Sweet rides proved to be all-around winners. The 21″ was pitched a bit higher, and it had a more simmering sustain. The 23″ had a deeper pitch, woodier attack, and a broader and more enveloping wash. The 21″ might be a better choice if you use a more compact setup, or if you play an array of different styles and at a wide range of dynamics. But the 23″ can do all that too. I can see many players using the 21″ K Sweet ride for everyday use, and then pulling out the 23″ for louder gigs or when using an oversized setup.