The 7 Best Hi-Hat Cymbals (2023)
A set of hi-hats are the most important cymbals in your drum set. The trademark sound that a hi-hat produces is heavily embedded into the modern music sound that we are all familiar with.
I’m here to guide you in your quest to find the right pair of hi-hats for you. We all know a drum set isn’t complete without a hi-hat cymbal.
My top hi-hat recommendation of the best hi-hats are the Zildjian K Custom Hybrid 14 1/4th”. They’re dark, washy, and have a nice sustain to them.
My top budget recommendation would be the Meinl HCS 13” Hi-Hats. Great for students and beginners, they pack quite a punch for their price.
- The 7 Best Hi-Hats (2023)
- 1. Zildjian K Custom Hybrid 14 1/4th”
- 2. Meinl HCS 13” Hi-Hats
- 3. Sabian 14” AAX X-Plosion
- 4. Zildjian A New Beat 14”
- 5. Sabian 14” HHX Evolution
- 6. Paiste 2002 Sound Edge 14" Hi-Hat
- 7. Meinl 14" Classics Custom Dark Hi-Hat
- Hi-Hat Sizes
- Hi-Hat Materials
- Hi-Hat Weights
- Hi-Hat Brands
- Types of Hi-Hat Stands and Clutches
The 7 Best Hi-Hats (2023)
Let’s look at them in more detail.
The K Custom Hybrid Hi-hat is a collaboration between Zildjian and the Japanese jazz fusion drummer, Akira Jimbo. The cymbal had a mix of tradition and brilliant finish that tends to produce different sounds, depending on where you hit it.
- Crisp, powerful sound
- Nice control
- Great stick definition
- Good for a variety of settings
The cymbals feature reversed Mastersound hybrid hammering, which contains the wash and sustain. It gives a controlled sound when closed and a rich sound when opened. The darkness with brilliance combination is great for live sessions and recording.
The K Custom Hybrid Hi-hats are 14 ¼”, made from cast bronze. Another reason behind their crisp, ideal hi-hat sound.
|Alloy||B20, Cast Bronze|
|Sound||Washy and warmer chick|
Despite their high price tag, the Zildjian K Custom Hybrid Hi-hats are really nice hi-hats to own if you’re looking for a crisp and powerful sound.
Meinl does a really good job on affordable, entry-level cymbals that are great for beginner players to get started. The 13” Meinl HCS Hi-hats are no different either. These cymbals provide nice value for money considering how inexpensive they are.
- Incredibly affordable
- Clean sound
- Good for rock and metal
- The sound doesn’t match the higher-end cymbals on this list
- Not the best sustain
The price isn’t the only good thing about these HCS hi-hats, though. They sound decent as well, particularly for heavier music. A warm chick sound that is clean and crisp is a nice addition to have in a starter drum kit.
Made of the MS63 brass alloy, the HCS hi-hats are quite durable. This works well for new students and teachers alike.
Of course, you can’t expect the Meinl HCS hi-hats to sound like professional, high-end cymbals. However, given their price tag, I’d say they’re definitely worth a buy if you’re on a budget.
The Sabian 14” AAX X-Plosion Hi-hats are simply one of those options where you can’t go wrong. There is a reason why Sabian has been supplying their cymbals to world-class players over the decades and their award-winning AAX X-Plosion hi-hats are proof of that.
- Professional look and tone
- Versatile sound
- Hand-hammered with a brilliant finish
- A bit pricey
The medium top and heavy bottom combo in these hi-hats give them a nice, bright sound. They’re good for a wide range of music. Plus, they’re hand-hammered from B20 bronze and feature a brilliant finish. So not only do they sound great, but also look great.
Overall, the 14” AAX X-Plosion Hi-hats offer great sound but carry a slightly high price. But, the versatile sound and build make for a good value-for-price ratio.
The Zildjian A New Beat hi-hats are considered the hi-hats for the modern drummer because of their versatility. Zildjian designed these cymbals with the help of the legendary jazz drummer Louie Bellson.
- Great for all-purpose playing
- Clear, expressive sound
- Value for money
- A bit on the pricey side
- Heavy sound
These hi-hats are jack-of-all-trades with their nice stick definition and chick sound. They are made from B20 bronze alloy and symmetrically machine hammered and lathed with traditional wide grooves, giving them a bright expression.
If you’re unsure about what your sound is or you dabble a little bit in a variety of genres, then the Zildjian A New Beat 14” hi-hats might be a good choice for you.
There’s something about great drummers teaming up with cymbal companies to create great cymbals. The Sabian HHX Evolution 14” hi-hat is a brainchild of none other than the masterful Dave Weckl. These HHX Evolution hi-hats are as clear, expressive, and electric as Dave himself.
- Incredible response
- Brilliant modern dark tone
- Hand-hammered to perfection
- Crisp sound with clear stick definition
- A bit pricey
- Glassy sound not for everyone
The hi-hats are B20 Bronze and carefully crafted by hand. They have a glossy, brilliant finish with pinpoint lathing to give it a nice response.
Sabian HHX hi-hats are played by legends like Tomas Haake, Jojo Mayer, and Mike Portnoy, just to name a few. And the reason is that they are simply incredible cymbals.
The Sabian HHX Evolution hi-hats are the cymbals of a professional drummer. If price is not a factor for you, there are hardly any better hi-hats on the market.
The Paiste 2002 Sound Edge 14″ Hi-Hat cymbals are a great all-rounder to consider. These hi-hats are a tad on the pricey side but not like most on this list. They offer a full sound that is very suited for rock and metal.
- Great for heavier genres
- Well-rounded build and sound
- Wavy bottom design
- A bit pricey
- Not for softer genres
The CuSn20 Bronze Hi-Hats offer medium sustain and a cutting, bright sound that is very good for heavier genres like rock and metal. With a patented wavy bottom design, they are truly unique and are built great.
The only downside is maybe the price and the fact that they sound too heavy for more mellow-sounding genres. No huge deal-breakers but still.
All in all, for the given price, you get great value for your money. If you’re into rock or metal, these hi-hats will do you justice and bring your sound to a whole new level.
The Meinl 14″ Classics Custom Dark Hi-Hat cymbals are a more budget-friendly option on this list. With a custom dark design, these hi-hats are full of character and will stand out anywhere.
- Heavy-sounding hi-hats for more heavy genres
- Excellent design
- Quality sound
- Not suitable for softer genres
The price tag is not the only thing that makes these hi-hats appealing, the design is simply breathtaking and the sound is very suitable for metal-like genres. The high-quality sound is also a plus, especially when you consider the price.
The only drawback is the versatility as they aren’t meant for softer-sounding genres. They are simply too loud for that.
The value-for-price ratio is off the charts here, you get a quality pair of hi-hats with high-quality sound that is very suited for a harsher-sounding style of music.
While the most common hi-hats size can be considered 13” or 14”, non-traditional sizes like 12”, 13”, and 16” are also gaining attention. The general rule of thumb is that the smaller the hi-hat, the higher its pitch, and the bigger it is, the longer its sustain.
But at the end of the day, it comes down to your personal preference. The size of your hi-hats depends on what kind of music you want to play. However, if you’re unsure, just go with a 14” one. They are probably the most flexible.
Hi-hats are generally made of three materials – brass, B8 bronze, and B20 bronze. Brass cymbals are the cheapest and decent for beginners, while B20 is the best, but more expensive.
Along with the material, a hi-hat’s sound is also determined by how it’s made. A sheet cymbal is made by cutting a large sheet of metal. It’s the most efficient way to make a cymbal, but the sounds are quite harsh.
The cast cymbals, made with B20 bronze are first melted and hand-hammered into a shiny, bright cymbal. They are expensive to make, but their crisp, professional sound is unmatched.
Hi-hats come in different weights like 900g, 1000g, 1300g, and 1500g. Many hi-hat pairs have the same weight, but the tone can often be underwhelming, especially when opened. To get the crisp closed hi-hats sound and a washy open hi-hats sound, I would suggest using a lighter top hat and a heavier bottom hat.
Some of the best brands that make hi-hats are Zildjian, Sabian, Meinl, and Paiste. It all comes down to your personal preference. Zildjian and Sabian are more traditional and defined the 20th-century cymbal sound, whereas Meinl is a more prominent manufacturer amongst modern drummers, be it jazz or rock.
All of them produce top-quality hit-hats with a range of products that have something for all kinds of drummers. That being said, brands like Stagg, Istanbul, Wuhan, and Soultone also produce some great-sounding hand-hammered cymbals that are worth exploring.
Types of Hi-Hat Stands and Clutches
The importance of good, sturdy hi-hat stands and clutches is very underrated. Even though clutched are a relatively modern concept, hi-hat stands are as old as the cymbal itself.
The hardware may not directly affect the sound of the cymbal, but you need an optimal stand to make sure you’re hitting the hi-hat as you intend to produce the sound you want.
As for the clutch, you want to make sure the tension is right. Too much can kill the sound while too little can make it go out of control.
Hi-hats are an important part of any drum and cymbal setup. When buying a pair, you want to make sure that it’s best suited for you. Take your sound and budget into consideration before purchasing one.
My top hi-hat cymbal pick is the Zildjian K Custom Hybrid 14 1/4th”. With a dark and washy sound and a nice sustain, these hi-hats have it all.
My budget hi-hat cymbal pick is the Meinl HCS 13” Hi-Hats. These hi-hats are great for students and beginners, for the given price, they have quite a punch.