> > > Radek Owczarz tests a Zildjian S Dark cymbal pack

Radek Owczarz is known to all Polish drum maniacs as one of the best studio and touring drummers in Poland. He has collaborated with some of the platitum-selling acts on the Polish scene, such as Kasia Kowalska, Pilichowski Band, Edyta Bartosiewicz, Patrycja Markowska, Jan Borysewicz or OCN. beatit.tv viewers are no strangers to radek as he has appeared on our channel in the past testing some gear.

This time round, he came over to our new studio to test some more equipment and talk about the most important stuff in life, i.e. drums and drummers… 😉

Now, it’s time for Radek to have a go at a…

Zildjian S Dark Cymbal Pack

1. Test

We conducted the test in our new studio, i.e. in an acoustically adapted room. We used a Sonor ProLite 10″ x 7″, 12″ x 8″, 14″ X 14″, 16″ X 16″, 22″ x 17.5″ drum kit, and Fat Flying Drums snare drums (14″ x 6.5″ aluminium and 14″ x 6.5″ brass).

2. Basic specification of the set:

  • Manufacturer: Zildjian
  • Series: S Dark
  • Material: B12
  • Cymbals included: 14″ hats, 16″ crash, 18″ crash, 20″ ride
  • Finish: Dark, custom coating individually hand-finished by Zildjian’s cymbal craftsmen
  • Character: Explosive response with more dirt and slightly less sustain, slightly dry and more complex sound achieved by random hammering
  • Timbre: Dark
  • SKU: SD4680

3. Product and sound

The Zildjian S Dark cymbal series was introduced in October of last year and is, of course, supposed to meet the increasing demand for dark and dry-sounding cymbals also in the budget segment of the market (with the K Custom Special Dry line already available for a few years).

The cymbal pack being tested here comprises a pair of 14″ hats, 16″ and 18″ crashes and a 20″ ride. It must be said that these cymbals look very nice. The brown, genuinely “autumn-like” coating makes a beautiful background for the bright hammering points and logos. 

The cymbals as a set sound very consistent. They have an explosive, slightly cutting and fairly fast attack with some dirt and dryness, but in the latter respect they fall short of their cousins from the K Custom Special Dry series. This is not necessarily a defect at all. We dare say we are not dealing with a cheaper version of the dry cymbals from Zildjian. It is more of a formula that is a class in itself in the legendary manufacturer’s product offer. These cymbals are darker, drier and have a shorter sustain than their brilliant brothers from the S series, but they also display slightly different characteristics than the K Custom Special Dry. This means that the Zildjian S Dark cymbals have not completely lost their juiciness and explosiveness and are somewhere between the Brilliant and Dry cymbals. This, in turn, means that they will work nicely in most genres – from jazz, pop, funk, fusion, R&B, hip hop, reggae, through to rock (even heavy rock). Perhaps metal extreme players won’t be completely satisfied, but we won’t speak for them, because we’re no strangers to playing heavier types of rock and we quite like the sound these cymbals offer. Especially in bands with female singers, these cymbals will not compete over bandwidth with the vocals.

14″ Zildjian S Dark Hi Hat

The hi hat has a lovely “chick” that can be described as natural, crunchy and slightly sandy, but not completely dry. Similarly, after opening – dryness is not the dominant feature. It is more about the fact that the dark characteristic eliminates the irritating overtones frequently present in the top end. To be honest, that’s all to the good compared to this hi hat’s brilliant S-series brother.

16″ Zildjian S Dark Crash 

The smaller crash is explosive, but not abrasive at all. The explosion and attack do not reach the highest and most unpleasant frequencies and are very pleasant to the ear. A certain amount of dryness makes this cymbal sound soft when exploding and decay quite quickly, at the same time providing a sort of combination of the aforementioned dryness with warmth.

18″ Zildjian S Dark Crash 

With the lack of shimmer that’s characteristic of the entire series, it can be said that the larger crash generally has the same qualities as the 16-inch. The larger diameter naturally causes the “tail” (still quite short and dry) to spread wider than it is in the case of the smaller brother.

20″ Zildjian S Dark Ride 

Ride posiada wyraźnie słyszalny punkt uderzenia główką pałki, przy czym brzmi dość sucho, a więc szum nie rozlewa się zbyt szeroko i raczej szybko zanika. Da się jednak usłyszeć swego rodzaju ciepło, ponieważ wspomniana suchość nie jest całkowita. Kopułka jest dobrze zdefiniowana, ładnie zrównoważona z korpusem, tak pod względem głośności, jak i wspomnianej równowagi między ciepłem a suchością – jest bardzo przyjemna dla ucha (Radek na niej nie zagrał, ale sprawdziliśmy to na własne ucho). Talerz pozwala się łatwo crashować.

The ride has a clear stick definition, but it sounds quite dry, so the wash does not spread too widely and fades away rather quickly. However, you can hear a kind of warmth, because the cymbal is not completely dry to the point of deadening the cymbal. The bell is well defined, nicely balanced with the body, both in terms of volume and the aforementioned balance between warmth and dryness – it is very pleasant to the ear (Radek did not play it, but we checked it ourselves). This ride is also is easy to crash, which means the buyer actually gets THREE crashes and a ride for the price.

These cymbals are certainly worth taking a closer look at as they are not merely a cheaper version of the dry K cymbals. They are a line that has its own place within the range of sounds and colours offered by Zildjian.

Here’s the score achieved by the Zildjian S Dark cymbal pack:

Appearance: 10

Sound: 10

Innovation: 10

Price: 10

Quality: 10


Disadvantages – None


In-between: None

Advantages – Great craftsmanship, excellent look, fairly universal sound (explosiveness with a dose of dryness, but also warmth)

The total score is: 5 TOP

We invite you to watch the test video, in which you will hear and see a Zildjian S Dark cymbal pack.