Diril Cymbals: A Turkish Delight
Formed in 2008, Diril is a newer Turkish cymbal company entering an already-saturated U.S. market. Although the company known as Diril Cymbals may be new, its president and founder, Ibrahim Diril, is no newbie to cymbal making. In fact, the company’s namesake brings an impressive history of cymbal manufacturing experience to his latest venture.
To put some perspective on Mr. Diril’s qualifications, step back a few decades to the early 1980s. At that time, a renowned Turkish cymbal smith named Agop Tomurcuk partnered with Mehmet Tamdeger to form the Istanbul cymbal company. In 1993, at age 17, Ibrahim Diril began honing his cymbal-making skills under the tutelage of Agop and Mehmet. When Agop died in 1996, his sons and Mehmet parted ways, and two cymbal companies resulted from the breakup: Istanbul Agop and Istanbul Mehmet. In the meantime, Ibrahim Diril left Istanbul to form a cymbal company with his brother Murat.
The brothers Diril were by no means small time. Early on, they collaborated with Meinl on its stellar Byzance line. The Diril brothers later partnered with Paiste in the design and production of its B20 bronze “Twenty” series. Still, Diril had always wanted to strike out on his own, so he formed Diril Cymbals with a goal of producing top-notch cymbals bearing his moniker.
Quality By Hand
Diril sent me cymbals and hi-hats in two finishes: shiny and natural. The shiny cymbals included 22" and 20" Samsun rides (both with raw bells), a 22" Ice crash/ride, and 14" Raw Bell hi-hats. The natural finish models included a 20" Jazz ride, a 20" Raw ride, a 19" Jazz crash, an 18" Medium crash, a 16" Medium Thin crash, and 14" “D” Heavy Traditional hi-hats.
Diril cuts no corners in its manufacturing process, crafting its cymbals from ingots of B20 bronze cast in its own foundry in a process that includes heating the bronze in wood-burning ovens and rolling it out on a mill. The cymbals are then hand hammered to form their shape. With handmade cymbals, I expect some cosmetic idiosyncrasies that disclose the human touch. With the Dirils, however, the first thing I noticed out of the box is their lack of any discernable imperfections. The quality control on these cymbals is quite impressive.
The Dirils all have perfectly even and smooth edges, incredibly consistent lathing, obvious hand hammering (but without any noticeably large dents), and expertly applied (and pretty wicked-looking) black logos. As far as I could tell, all these cymbals are evenly weighted without any heavy spots. I couldn’t get them to spin to any particular position when angled on a stand.
I happen to own a few Paiste Twenty series cymbals. Given the Diril brothers’ previous collaboration on that line, I wasn’t surprised to see that the shiny Diril models I received have an identical color and similar shine. However, the similarities end there. For example, the Diril shiny models have what looks to be a denser lathing pattern than Paiste’s Twenty series, and the Dirils sound much different. Moreover, the Diril natural finish models share no similarities with Paiste’s Twenty series.
Diril’s Sonic Personality
In some ways, the Dirils’ sound surprising more for what they’re not than for what they are. When I found out I’d be receiving Turkish, hand-hammered cymbals, I expected cymbals evoking the traditional, dark, trashy, breathy, and jazzy sounds one might find in smoky bar with a neon sign. My preconceptions quickly evaporated as I started playing these plates. Although quite distinct from one another, as a series, the Dirils have a consistent and unique brand sound from one to the next that’s modern and refreshing.
Each Diril projects a lively range of mids and highs with very few lows. These plates sing with more overtones than I’d expect from machine-hammered cymbals — but not as many overtones as I’d expect from hand-hammered cymbals. Each cymbal seems to restrict its overtones to a defined, somewhat narrow range that might be appropriately described as dense and controlled. Still, none of the Dirils linger with any extraneous or annoying overtones. Rather, each cymbal sings with a very pure, clean sound.
The Dirils’ bells ring clearly and distinctly with open and piercing tones. And did I mention these cymbals are loud? These are certainly not the warm jazzy (and sometimes softer) offerings I’ve come to expect from other Turkish cymbal makers, but they’d work perfectly for louder and more modern styles, such as pop, rock, country, Latin, techno, and probably heavier styles as well.
When I receive a set of cymbals for review, I typically rotate between all the cymbals for a few days, then whittle them down to what would be my dream set. In this case, I did that, and didn’t realize until after the fact that every cymbal I gravitated toward had a natural finish. It’s not that the shiny cymbals don’t sound good, but they have noticeably more clang and pitch to their tone than the natural finish models. The natural finish models produce more white noise (or wash as some call it), a woody stick definition, and a less crystal-like sound.
In terms of individual differences, I’ll describe the shiny models first, and then their natural finish siblings.