Sabian just released two new batches of its fab bronze pies. The first batch introduces a few more ventilated O-Zone crashes, those dark, wobbly disks stolen from the wheels of Cadillac Escalades. The second is a bunch of great AAX and HHX hi-hats with rippled edges on the bottom cymbal.
Sabian has added three new crashes to the AAX O-Zone line, in 16", 18", and 20" sizes. The 20" O-Zone crash is the largest available; our review model came in a brilliant finish (available at no extra charge) punched with eight big holes. It’s thin, brother, thin. Not only does it wobble, you can grab it with your fingers and make it flex. And, punching holes in our expectations (I’ll drop the puns now) the 20" O-Zone crash sounded really cool when played at really soft volumes, emitting a trashy low growl. Go figure.
But smacking it around produced a short, deep, trash can bark with a soft, long decay echoing up as from a deep well. It doesn’t have the pointed attack of a China cymbal. It’s more like a good galvanized household trash can (albeit an expensive one) mixed with a distant gong. As a crash-ride it has lots of distortion and growl, is hard to play because of the wobble, but gives surprisingly good articulation once you get the hang of alternating between the edge and the Swiss cheese face.
The 18" AAX O-Zone crash, which came in a regular finish and sported the same eight big holes, is much more mellow and buttery, giving a warm, gong-like tone with strong mid-range attack and a body that subsides rapidly. It is reminiscent of an 18" crash with a perfect crack in it, wounded but still dangerous, noticeably different but still strong and interesting. The gong tone becomes more apparent the further you move away from the cymbal.
The 16" AAX O-Zone crash (regular finish) has only six holes in it. This cymbal made all our preconceptions slip away like water through a perforated drain guard. First we tapped it lightly, and as a small ride cymbal it sounded great standing at arm’s length. But at room’s length, the dominant note was that of rough, flexing sheet metal. Pushed moderately, the 16" gave nice attack, and provided good accents when we laid into the slightly flattened edge. It sounded like a cross between a gong hit and a splash cymbal — short, dry, and coarse with instant decay. It offered both sonic individuality and a good blend of volume and decay for integration into the “regular” pantheon of cymbals.
The 10" and 12" O-Zone splashes remind us, in a good way, of toy cymbals all grown up. With six big holes they are frighteningly thin and wobbly, but they bark with the brassy roughness and gruff projection of a short drill sergeant. Both cymbals have low-pitched undertones beneath their salty attacks. All the regular sweetness of AAX splashes has been leached out of these. They are brassy but still very musical, and don’t sound as much like a “specialty” cymbal as the crashes do.