Nov 26

I know we have looked at these before but today I managed to try out three Avedis Zildjian Gen 16 Intelligent Acoustic – Electric Cymbals – A Hi-hat, a Ride and a Crash Cymbal on Roland’s famous TD-20KX. This was on display at Nevada Music and the Roland guy on site, Drew Dauriol kindly let me play this combined Roland / Zildjian kit probably worth about £7000.

This was simply awesome with the combination of Roland’s mesh head drums and sounds from the TD-20 Brain combined with the metal feel, clarity and crispness of the Gen 16 cymbals. It was ideal having the Roland Cymbals there as well to compare the two, in both sound and feel.

Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how you look at it), the Roland VH-12 Hi-hat was connected. This meant that the Zen 16 was a fixed Hi-hat, so I could not try out how it felt when lifted on a conventional Hi-Hat stand. However, the crisp solid metal feel meant you knew you were playing something far more realistic. I could believe that these would cut really well in a ‘Live’ situation. I took my headphones off and wondered what they would be like in a studio bedroom setup, because at the end of the day you were making noise from wood against metal and I wondered how they sounded against the very quiet sound of the Mesh heads and the Roland Cymbals. Interestingly, they are not as loud as normal acoustic cymbals and the fortunate thing about the bedroom setup is that you are dealing with high frequencies of cymbals here and not something house-shaking like an acoustic bass-drum in a bedroom.

The Crash Cymbal was much the same. I loved the way it moved and responded to cymbal build-up roll on the edge and how much sharper it was in comparison with the Roland. The feel of the Ride was the best for me, the stick bounce was perfect and obviously better than any rubber cymbal could achieve because it is metal.

Well that is sound and feel – what about the looks? – I have said this before (and 10 out of 10 for the designers at Zildjian) but these are stunning and in my opinion made Roland’s kit look £7000 worth. Just look at the pictures in this blog, what could look better on stage under the lights.

You can buy these cymbals as packs. I have seen three different packs so far – the 480 Box Set has a pair of 14″ AE Hi Hats, a 18″ AE Crash, a 20″ AE Ride, an AE Controller, 3 Pickups, the appropriate Cables and a Mounting Kit. The 380 Box Set has a pair of 13″ AE Hi Hats, a 16″ AE Crash, a 18″ AE Ride, an AE Controller, 3 Pickups, the appropriate Cables and a Mounting Kit. The 38 Box set is the same but has no Crash Cymbal. You can also buy everything individually which is great for the flexibility and needs of your own setup. The controller allows you to select different tones for your cymbals as well as having some DSP effects.

Zildjian call them Intelligent Percussion and state that ” Unlike most existing electronic percussion systems, the Acoustic Electric Cymbal is not a sample trigger device. Instead, it’s an actual cymbal, and plays like one, but at reduced volume levels, utilizing a unique dual microphone and DSP engine to amplify and model the cymbal’s output. One of the most important things for us in creating the AE Cymbal was that it had to feel and play like a real cymbal. Most of what’s currently available for drummers are rubberized, cymbal-shaped trigger pads, and they typically lack the feel and responsiveness of a real cymbal. For us at Zildjian, we’ve always been about the real feel. The original concept for a low-volume acoustic cymbal was proposed by Korg.

They came up with the basic perforation pattern and approached us to perfect the design. We did extensive testing to create a perforation pattern that would maintain the integrity of an actual cymbal. We also worked to develop the right alloy formula that could deliver the feel, sound and durability we needed, and could be manufactured in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Amplifying the cymbal was a challenge of a different magnitude. We came up with a dual microphone system we liked, but there were other challenges but one of the biggest was to determine how to best implement signal processing into the mix, as well as how to make the microphone work with most cymbal setups and hardware. The Gen16 team began a painstaking process of designing the pickup housing and refining the tone modeling and signal processing system that would ultimately become the AE Cymbal System. After many months of programming, the system was ready for the true acid test. ”

Lastly I just wanted to say again a big ‘Thank You’ to Drew Dauriol from Roland and Nevada Music for this most enjoyable afternoon. Whilst I still believe Roland have the best E-Drums in the world, I now also believe that Zildjian have the best EA Cymbals in the world. If you are a ‘Live’ electronic drummer – you need to try these.

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