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Community Product Review – Xs20 Performance Set

The following is the seventh installment of a series of articles from SABIAN Community members who were asked to submit original reviews, road stories and drum/percussion articles.

I’m still just a beginner drummer, but spend loads of my time on the internet searching cymbal making and drum making. It's what we do for entertainment, so we should at least know a little bit on how it works, right? I recently bought an Xs20 Performance Pack with a free18” Medium Thin Crash. I took them home and as soon as possible put them on my kit and started playing. The set includes: 14” Medium/Heavy Hi-Hats, 16” Medium Thin Crash, 20” Medium Ride, and a free 18” Medium Thin Crash, all in a brilliant finish. My brother told me they are “better than the old ones”, which were pieces of brass I hand hammered and still sounded… horrible. I got the first real compliment from my mother at dinner time. She used to always come into the room and ask me why the drums sounded like noise (my brother told me the same as well). But at dinner time something amazing and unexpected happened. My mother said my playing that day sounded like real music! She liked them! I was very happy to know that my drumming in general now sounded better, rather than just the cymbals.

The Xs20 Concept:

For those of you who don’t know, Xs20 is a product line introduced by SABIAN back in 2003 for the student who isn’t able to afford a cast cymbal, but would like the greater durability, musicality, and color B20 bronze offers. They are made with a proprietary process that only SABIAN was and still is able to do. I personally have asked about it and know that they do not release this information to the public. The product was called the “Modern Value”. Xs20 is called by its two properties that make it the best student level cymbal; “The best bronze for the best price” as well as to “Experience brilliant at a brilliant price.” Catchy phrases if you ask me, they definitely pulled me into buying them. In early 2010 the line was moved to the Vintage category of SABIAN cymbals for a more accurate sorting, SABIAN claims. They are bright sounding cymbals, but not that high pitched.

 I know this might be an early review, but I spent a lot of time behind my kit today listening to them all the time. I think I practiced 5 times today for an average of 40 minutes or so each. I even spent10 minutes just noting to myself on each cymbal individually. During the review I actually went and tested some of the cymbals to make sure I describe everything the best way I can with the most accurate information possible. So here it goes! I’ll start my review from right to left from throne position.

14” Medium Hi-Hats:

The pairing is a medium over heavy so it’s a pretty versatile pairing. It has a strong and clean “chick” sound when operated by pedal that works great for most styles of music. When played closed with the tip it sounds crisp; when shouldered and closed they have a strong and loud sound that is much more suitable for rock situations. When played open with the shoulder of the stick it barks into life with a loud clashing of the top and bottom cymbals. In fact it’s loud enough to drown out the sound of the snare drum if not played with attention.

16” Medium-Thin Crash:

The crash is a medium thin model to combine the response of a thin weight and the increased power of a medium weight. This crash is absolutely great. I’ve heard many people say that the Xs20 line doesn't have as much life as the other cast cymbals, but this crash proves them wrong. It bursts with its sound immediately with contact. It responds to lighter hitting, which suits me well when I try to play at faster tempos; I normally crash lighter since I have less energy and less time to pull the stick back. It has little overtones and isn’t so very loud compared to its 18” sister. It might just be my favorite of the set.

18” Medium-Thin Crash:

This crash is obviously lower pitched than the smaller one, but also contains more overtones. It has a longer sustain and sharper overtones in general. I noticed it requires a bit more force to allow it to speak correctly. It doesn’t have the immediate response I love in the 16”, but still responds like a medium thin should. It works great when in pursuit for a bigger sound.

20” Medium Ride:

Sabian explained this ride the best: “A tasty balance of stick definition and tonal wash”. I absolutely can’t get enough of it! It has a glassy high end with good stick definition lying comfortably over a nice cushion of wash. The bell of it is pretty small, and that is my only complaint in this cymbal. I sometimes miss the bell or even forget it exists and find myself hitting it instead of the bow. If you were to ask me to define a bell of a cymbal when hit, I would say it’s a huge burst of overtones. That’s exactly what I would have defined it earlier, and exactly what this ride confirms for me. It bursts with high pitched overtones. I asked my cousin to play the cymbal a bit and found that the bell projects very well. For its size, I thought it would be a little bit quieter than it is. I guess I was wrong. It looks great, and sounds great for a very reasonable price. What more can you ask for? It sounds almost like the dream ride inside my head sounds like.

***

These cymbals aren’t the top of the line cymbals from SABIAN, so let’s not pretend they are. But if you’re on a search for your first set of pies, these are great if you can afford them. I actually got a chance to play some top of the line SABIAN cymbals at the store when I bought them, and they don’t compare. If you can, go for the top of the line. If you can’t, get these cymbals because, let’s face it, you’re not finding anything better in this price range! They sound great, look great, give me confidence, and give me extra motivation to get behind the kit! One thing to keep in mind when considering these cymbals is that they will not have as much “color” as let’s say an AAX, but sound better than the B8 line. Quality vs. quantity is a lesson I learnt. If you can find quality with a sustainable quantity, go for it instead of overwhelming quantity with sustainable quality. I think in the long run it’s going to pay off for me.

By the way, this is Salz from the Zone, if you have any questions about the cymbals, don’t hesitate to ask me via a personal message!

Written by: Salam Al-Abdullatif  (Community Profile: Salz)

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