New Additions to a Classic Line
In 1959, Paiste debuted the Formula 602 series as its first high-end cymbal line. These models ushered in a level of sonic consistency that has since become a signature of the Swiss company’s engineering. In 2011, Paiste reintroduced the Formula 602 line’s most popular cymbals, focusing on models that were more ideal for low to medium-low situations across various genres. As far as crashes were concerned, the revived 602 line consisted mostly of thin and paper-thin models. Medium hi-hats and the iconic 14″ Sound Edge hi-hats were also brought back to the fold. What had been missing from the new Formula 602s were sizes and weights that were more aptly suited for medium-loud to loud playing environments. So, in 2020, Paiste introduced heavier members to the Formula 602 family, which are up for review here.
What We Got
We received the full set of new 602s, which consisted of 15″ Sound Edge hi-hats, 14″ and 15″ Heavy hi-hats, 17″ and 19″ Thin crashes, a 20″ Paperthin crash, 16″, 17″, 18″, 19″, and 20″ Medium crashes, 16″, 18″, and 20″ Heavy crashes, and a 13″ Heavy bell. With these additions, the Formula 602 series offers an entire spectrum of sounds, from small and wispy to large and powerful.
Let’s begin with the core similarities between all Formula 602 cymbals. They are made of CuSn20 alloy, which is also known as 602 bronze. Sonically, all 602 cymbals embody what Paiste is best known for: pure, crisp, clear, silvery, precise, consistent, and controlled sounds. They record beautifully, producing balanced tones that cut and don’t cloud the mix with excessive overtones. (There was one exception, which we will discuss later.)
Piece by Piece
The Medium and Heavy crashes performed as designed. They are perfect for louder situations while maintaining musicality. As the sizes increased so did the fullness, but without becoming brash. Although there were no new ride cymbals in this batch, the 19″ and 20″ Medium and 18″ and 20″ Heavy crashes had clear enough stick articulation to double as rides, making them more universal cymbals.
The 17″ and 19″ Thin crashes and 20″ Paperthin crash fit more with initial thinner 602 offerings. They had a beautiful wash and an airier feel. These seemed like ideal fits for either louder rock bands that may have a few ballads in their set or for indie-rock bands looking to add fuller, washier crashes that also have controlled decay so as not to become overbearing during more dynamic soundscapes.
The 15″ Sound Edge hi-hats inspired me to play along with Van Halen records for hours. They have a certain magic and nostalgia to them. When I had my drums tuned wide open, these hi-hats struck a perfect balance. When I dampened my kit, these crispy 15″ Sound Edges took on an almost synthetic feel, as if they were being overly compressed. The 14″ and 15″ Heavy hi-hats were cuttingly crisp with defined chick sounds. They have body while also being bright, so there’s a nice balance in that duality.
The 13″ Heavy bell was added to the line as a special effect. True to its name, it’s an extra-heavy, extra-thick bell with an immediate, glassy ping and an exceptionally long sustain. This is a love-it-or-leave-it sound. It’s unapologetically one-dimensional.
These new Formula 602 additions do an exceptional job filling in all the gaps in the series. For fans of this line, you now have every weight and size at your disposal. These offerings are Paiste through and through, so if you’re looking to add some of that classic Swiss craftsmanship, clarity, and musicality to your current setup, give these a listen.
By David Ciauro