Hands-On Review: Sabian HHX Evolution Cymbals

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By Thurston Wackenhut

Dave Weckl needn’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes to name dropping. The 43-year-old drummer’s resumé is long and peppered with names such as Simon and Garfunkel, George Benson, Diana Ross, Peabo Bryson, Madonna, Robert Plant, Chick Corea, Dave Matthews, Lee Ritenour, and The Brecker Brothers.

Best known for his contributions to fusion drumming, Weckl’s masterful technique, inherent tastefulness, and supportive sense of swing has kept him hopping between genres for two decades. Thus, it comes as no surprise that when Sabian set about expanding their HHX line of cymbals, they found a perfect collaborator in Weckl.

As David Via, Sabian’s marketing VP puts it, “Dave has a very acute sense of hearing and knows exactly what he wants from his cymbals. In addition to sensitivity, he requested a specific degree of separation between the brighter, high-end tones and the warmer low end, for a sound that was both warm and cool. He was very specific and this is why our craftsmen were able to design Evolution to such exact standards.”

The drummer and the artisan

Sabian HHX Evolution Series Ride Cymbal

Weckl’s ability to identify and articulate the sounds he was after was crucial to his collaboration with head cymbal maker, Mark Love. Using Sabian’s existing Hand Hammered and HHX Series as points of departure, the pair went to work. Recognizing that the project was evolutionary rather than revolutionary, they incorporated much of what gives the HHX Series its tonal characteristics: jumbo hammering; lathed surfaces; and raw, unlathed bells. These techniques result in cymbals with traditional tone and modern projection.

It was Weckl’s aim to create cymbals that follow the path of least resistance. He was intent on achieving utmost sensitivity so that players could enjoy full-blooded response without having to “dig” the sound out of the cymbal. He was looking for cymbals that would respond to the slightest touch.

Dave’s existing setup served as the model for configuring the new range: 7", 10", and 12" splashes; 13" and 14" hi-hats; 16", 17", and 18" crashes; and a 20" ride. Additionally, Dave and Mark set about creating a couple of radically new designs —the O-Zone Crash and the Effeks Crash—to expand the tonal variety of the range.

For the drummer seeking to update his or her setup, Sabian also offers the HHX Evolution Performance Set which eliminates guesswork by pre-packaging a sonically matched complement of cymbals that includes a 20" Evolution Ride, a 16" Evolution Crash, and 14" Evolution Hats. Going with the Performance Set not only saves you a bundle, it can be bought with total confidence since each Set is matched by the same people who choose cymbals for luminaries such as Phil Collins and Mike Portnoy. As icing on the cake, you also get a free, deluxe hardshell case.

Sabian HHX Evolution Series O-Zone Cymbal

Striking a balance

One drummer’s ideal crash is the next drummer’s garbage can lid. Having spent a lot of time trying out cymbals and comparing notes with other drummers, it has become evident to me that there is no “right” or “wrong” cymbal sound. I think that it is more accurate to talk about whether or not a particular cymbal is appropriate for a specific genre and a particular drummer’s playing style.

Having said that, there are some generalities that do hold true. And among those, the need for proper projection is paramount. In order for a cymbal’s subtle colorations to register in a dense, loud mix, they need to cut through and be heard. And that’s where the HHX Evolution range excels. These cymbals make themselves heard without sacrificing sonic complexity and warmth. Commenting on the range, Weckl said, “HHX is the essence of what I was looking for. It has the warm tone I like so much, but it also has brightness in its high end. And for me that’s very important to have the right mix—a balance of both. We’ve increased the sensitivity so that the lightest touch of a stick sets it off. But it’s not just a matter of being responsive. Evolution puts out its total sound at all times; even at very low levels. These cymbals ‘breathe’ and ‘give,’ yet are very sturdy. They are ‘airy’ in sound yet project and punch through the band.” Having given the range a thorough going over at NAMM last January, I have to concur with Weckl’s evaluation in every respect.

Sabian HHX Evolution Series Effeks Crash Cymbal

Two Evolution revolutionaries

As I mentioned, Mark and David also came up with two radically new crashes. The HHX Evolution O-Zone Crash was designed to be extremely raw, nasty, and very biting. The sound has a crude, aggressive combination of thin crash and Chinese. The attack has an instantaneous high succeeded by a dirty, deep sustain. Its unique tonality is achieved in part through the use of two-inch holes that contribute to the overall nastiness of the sound. The 16" cymbal has six holes while the 18" has eight.

The other totally original design is the HHX Evolution Effeks Crash. This 17" cymbal is highly responsive thanks to its extra-thin construction. It responds to both the stick and hand. The down-turned edge protects your hand and fingers while the fully hammered surface and lathed bell offer an extensive palette of sounds for playing accents and effects. The Effeks produces a defined attack with an Oriental tonal presence that makes it a versatile performer.

Musician’s Friend has a full complement of HHX Evolution cymbals ready for immediate shipment. Get them at the best prices anywhere knowing your investment is doubly protected by the Friend’s price and satisfaction guarantees.

Features & Specs

HHX Evolution Series:

  • Designed in collaboration with Dave Weckl
  • Traditional tone; modern projection
  • Jumbo hammering
  • Lathed surfaces
  • Raw, unlathed bells*
  • Crafted with Sabian B20 bronze
  • Brilliant Finish
  • Two-year warranty
  • 7", 10", 12" Splashes
  • 13", 14" Hi-Hats
  • 16", 17", 18" Crashes
  • 20" Ride
  • Includes deluxe hardshell Case * Except 7" Splash, 13" & 14" Hats, Effeks & O-Zone Crashes

HHX Evolution O-Zone Crash:

  • Raw, nasty, biting sound
  • Combination of thin crash and Chinese tones
  • 16" has 6 - 2" holes
  • 18" has 8 - 2" holes
  • Large lathed bell
  • Narrow lathing
  • Brilliant Finish

HHX Evolution Effeks Crash:

  • 17" cymbal with extra-thin construction
  • Responds to stick and hand
  • Down-turned edge protects hands
  • Fully hammered surface
  • Lathed bell
  • Defined attack with Oriental tone
  • B20 bronze
  • Brilliant Finish

HHX Evolution Performance Set:

  • Sonically matched
  • 20" Evolution Ride
  • 16" Evolution Crash
  • 14" Evolution Hats
  • Includes deluxe hardshell case

Tags: Cymbals Acoustic Drums Sabian

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