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Zildjian: Gen 16 AE Cymbals Tested!

zildjian

I Know What You're Thinking …

Do they trigger accurately? Well, since the instrument’s sound is based on the actual acoustic sound of the vibrating metal, they don’t actually “trigger” anything.

Do they respond to soft dynamics? Yes. No matter how soft you play, the microphone system will “hear” the stroke and send it to the processor.

Can you hear the differences between playing on the edge, bow, and bell? Absolutely! In fact, the system catches nearly all the subtle changes that are produced by altering your playing position.

Can you play with brushes? Yes. Changing the striking implement does actually alter the sound of the cymbals. Brushes are actually pretty soft and you may get a better result by using rods. Soft mallets work just fine.

Can I use these electronic cymbals to trigger sound effects and other samples? No. The AE system doesn’t generate or output MIDI messages. It only generates and outputs audio.

Can I create lots of special effects with these cymbals? Not really. Don’t expect out-of-this-world, crazy effects. In every preset, the cymbals will sound like cymbals. However, you certainly could add enough additional outboard processing to create some totally unique sounds.

Pros

There is simply nothing else like it on the market. The blend between acoustic and electronic is something special, and potential advantages for both recording and live performance are numerous. The instruments play and respond like real cymbals because they are real cymbals. Having 20 presets per cymbal means there is a boatload of different combinations of colors you can create. A very hip, soft blue light glows on each of the microphones. I love this. If you don’t want the light, the unit can be used without it, but why would you not want the light?

Cons

Since the system uses microphones, there can be a little bit of bleed from other sound sources. You’ll have to try them out on your own to see if this is bad enough to cause any problems. For me, it wasn’t much of an issue. Certainly, the amount of bleed would be substantially more with “normal” microphones. The cables supplied with the AE system are special. They look like a typical stereo mini-plug, but they actually have three connectors rather than two. I worry that if a cable should break, it might be difficult to replace one on short notice.

Details

List Price $1,249
Included 13" hi-hats, 16" crash, 18" ride, power supply, mounting bracket, cables, cymbal sleeves, cymbal felts (foam), hi-hat clutch
Features
Microphones: 3 Dual-element
DCP Inputs: Five cymbal inputs, Stereo Drum inputs, Stereo Aux input
DCP Outputs: Stereo output, Stereo headphone output
DCP Individual Controls: Preset up/down, Pan, Volume
DCP Master Controls: main volume, mix volume, reverb amount, headphone volume
Contact gen-16.com

Verdict

The unit sounds really good. I would be surprised if you absolutely loved each of the 20 presets on every input, but I’d be equally surprised if you didn’t like most of them. An instrument’s tone — especially a cymbal — is a uniquely individual judgment. The character of an artist’s cymbals is arguably the most important aspect of his/her musical identity. There’s no question that the AE system responds and functions well. To hear if it’s going to fit your identity, you’ll need to audition a system at your local music store. If you use an electronic kit, or play in large venues where you normally add microphones for your cymbals, you must audition this system. It may be just the ticket.

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