Drums and cymbals are loud. Sometimes you just need a break from the noise, but still want to get a good practice session in. Here’s where low volume cymbals come in handy.
A few cymbal companies have developed cymbals that feel genuine, but are really quiet. They’re specifically designed so that you can practice without bothering anyone.
I’ve put together a list of my favorite ones.
Best Low-Volume Cymbals - Quiet Fun!
Table of Contents
Zildjian’s L80 Low Volume cymbals are made from a brass material that is 80% quieter than normal cymbals. The LV468 box set has 14” hi-hats, a 16” crash and an 18” crash/ride.
These L80 cymbals feel just like normal cymbals. They have a pronounced stick sound that is articulate. This stick sound can be a bit irritating though, depending on what type of stick you use. It’s worse with nylon tips.
The 16” and 18” crashes have a good interval between them. You can hear a definite tone difference, which isn’t the case with a lot of low volume cymbal options. These cymbals produce a pretty good cymbal tone, with a sustain that gradually fades away. The low sustain is what makes them quiet.
The hi-hats have a good washiness to them, meaning you can play heavier styles of music and still experience that open and heavy sound. The volume difference between the hi-hats and crashes is also great.
One minor fault with this box set is that it doesn’t come with the Zildjian L80 20” ride cymbal. You can use the included 18” as a ride, but it just doesn’t have the same feel as a large ride that every drummer is used to.
The Sabian Quiet Tone Cymbals are Sabian’s take on low volume cymbals. They are designed with hundreds of little holes in them to reduce the volume. They are made from a metal alloy that makes them tough and durable.
They come in a few box sets with different size options. This specific box set has a pair of 14” hi-hats, a 16” crash cymbal and a 20” ride cymbal.
These cymbals have a strong stick attack, with every note being clearly defined. The sound of the cymbals is generally bright and high-pitched.
The hi-hats have a sizzle and stay balanced when open or closed. The crash has a bright chime with a washy sizzle. The ride is also bright, but a bit lower pitched due to it’s bigger size.
The best thing about these cymbals is that they have large bells, which isn’t common when it comes to low volume cymbals. The large bell of the ride cymbal helps to get that normal feel of a regular ride. It allows you to practice grooves that incorporate the bell. It can be a bit loud though. There’s a sweet spot that will make the cymbal echo through your house if it is hit.
Low volume cymbals are a fairly new concept. So, there aren’t many options when it comes to cymbal sizes and cymbal variations. This makes Ziljdjian way ahead of the game. They’ve designed a low volume china cymbal to add to your setup.
This china is designed in the same way as the rest of the L80 cymbals. It’s quiet, it feels real and it looks good.
It has a bit of a darker sound than the other cymbals. It’s made to be a china cymbal, so it has a short sustain and a sharp attack. It’s much louder, so you’re going to have to hit it softer, otherwise the balance of the cymbals will be off.
The L80 china will allow you to practice heavier styles of music such as rock and metal that need chinas. It will make you feel right at home. You’ll be able to play some very quiet breakdowns!
This box set comes with a pair of 13” hi-hats, a 14” crash and an 18” crash/ride. The smaller sizes make the cymbals sound slightly higher pitched. They also feel lighter.
The smaller sizes could be good if you want to set up an electronic kit with these cymbals. You can connect triggers and run them to a module. Larger cymbals could get in the way, making the smaller cymbal sizes a better option.
The 13” hi-hat is good for players who are used to using regular 13” hi-hats. I’ve mostly seen gospel drummers use those.
This cymbal set is priced lower than the set with bigger sizes.
This set comes with a pair of 13” hi-hats, a 14” crash and an 18” crash/ride.
The 13” hi-hats are slightly crispier than the 14” alternative. The smaller sizes also make these cymbals slightly softer. So, if you’re extremely conscious of sound, the LV348 box set would be a good option.
The 14” crash cymbal can feel a bit weird, so it will take a bit of time to get used to. The small sizes won’t feel as natural as the bigger sizes, but they’re cheaper and sound pretty similar.
Although the purpose of these cymbals is for acoustic practice, there is a way to connect them up to an electronic drum kit module. You can add triggers to the cymbals and use them as electronic cymbals. I’ve seen a few drummers do this since they prefer the feel of these low volume cymbals, rather than electronic cymbal pads.
You could take this a step further and trigger low volume drumheads as well, giving you a full acoustic kit that is electronically connected.
Most drummers get low volume cymbals for the sake of practicing. The lowered sound levels are often invaluable in certain environments. As a practice tool, there are a few things you should think about when getting low volume cymbals.
The best way of practicing is to replicate your current acoustic drum kit setup. This means that you should get enough low volume cymbals to match the number of cymbals you have on your standard kit.
Having a setup like this will make it easy to transfer your playing over to your practicing cymbals and vice versa. Drummers often get confused when they practice on surfaces that don’t resemble their main kit, especially beginners.
I’d encourage all teachers to get themselves a set of low volume cymbals. If you’re teaching on acoustic drums, having normal cymbals being played around you all day can do some serious damage to your ears in the long run.
Since low volume cymbals feel the same as regular cymbals, they’re an excellent teaching tool to use for your students.
A small lifehack that I learned recently is that they’re excellent for teaching online if you don’t have proper audio equipment. The softer tones don’t pierce a computer’s built-in microphone like the tones from regular cymbals do.
As you saw from the list of products, there are a few different options when it comes to buying low volume cymbals. Make sure that you get the highest value you can find for your money. This will look different from person to person.
If you need to have a standard 4-piece cymbal setup, it will save you money to buy a full pack of low volume cymbals. If you just need a hi-hat and a ride, it will be cheaper to buy those individually.
Both of the lines from Sabian and Zildjian are fantastic, so the choice of which brand to go with lies with you.
Low Volume Drumheads
Low volume cymbals go hand-in-hand with low volume drumheads. These are mesh heads that you can attach to your acoustic drum shells that will lower their volume significantly. Similar to the cymbals, they feel highly authentic to play on.
The most popular low volume drumheads are the Remo Silentstroke heads. They’re fairly affordable, meaning you can make a practice kit without breaking the bank quite easily.
Low volume cymbals are a great tool to have at your disposal. You could use them to practice in an apartment, on a tour bus or just so that you don’t irritate the people in your house. I’ve used low volume cymbals to teach, since sitting in a classroom and hearing drums all day can get a bit loud.
You’re going to have to pair low volume cymbals up with some low volume drumheads, giving you a full practice kit.
I highly suggest you go out and get some practicing done with low volume cymbals.