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Sabian HHX Manhattan Jazz Cymbals

At a time when Paiste and Zildjian have devoted considerable resources toward recapturing the dark sonic archetypes associated with the traditional over-hammered K. Zildjian-style cymbal, the folks at Sabian have very determinedly marched to the beat of a different drummer. Sabian’s stubborn insistence on pursuing an original modern vision of cymbals-influenced by but defiantly distinct from the instruments of the past-is most notable in the form of its family of HHX Manhattan Jazz cymbals. Available in 16-, 18-, 20- and 22-inch models, and a choice of 13- and 14-inch hi-hats, what sets HHX cymbals apart from their purely hand-hammered brethren in Sabian’s HH line, is a higher profile, a shallower, more symmetrical style of hammering and a lighter lathing cut. All of which add up to a clearer, less complex style of cymbal with greater projection-that is to say, a faster, more immediate response and a drier, more radiant sound with more shimmer and brilliance. And while these new HHX instruments are nowhere near as grainy and complex as a standard HH, they are a warmly voiced cymbals-and not particularly bright.

For these auditions I employed a pair of Vic Firth SD9 Driver drumsticks, which despite their hefty shaft offer jazz drummers a light, focused range of inflections due to their thin throat, oval bead and softer, sweeter sound signature of maple. Compared to the darker, more complex timbres and textures of Sabian’s HH cymbals, these new HHX Manhattan Jazz cymbals are considerably clearer and more open sounding, with a full, focused low-end response, and negligible overtones and colorations in the midrange. Medium-thin in weight, they seem to open up with the slightest touch. You can flex them with your hands, and when fully energized there is a palpable wobble on the outer edges-which tends to dissipate vibrations so that crash accents swell up instantaneously but do not sustain interminably. On the 22- and 20-inch rides, I achieved a woody, bone-dry stick sound over a light, smoky, ephemeral wash with a very warm, short crash response-which allowed me to back off from multiple crash-ride accents and drop right back into time without missing a beat.

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