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A set of low volume cymbals are an asset for every drummer. They allow you to practice without damaging your ears and also without damaging your standing with your neighbors. These low volume cymbals we have researched are not only silent but are also able to remain true to their tone. The four cymbals provide you with an authentic playing experience even when you are not on a stage.
In addition to the four best low volume cymbals, we have also added the two best aftermarket muting tools for your existing kit. We have also discussed why you should get a low volume cymbal and what are the various factors you have to consider while buying them. We hope this article gives you an in-depth understanding of reducing the volume of your cymbals.
Contents on this page
- 4 Best Low Volume Cymbal for Practice – Reviews
- Aftermarket Muting Tools
- How Quiet are Low Volume Cymbals?
- Why you should get Low Volume Cymbals?
- What to look for in a Low Volume Cymbal?
4 Best Low Volume Cymbal for Practice – Reviews
You can actually talk over the drums while being played
They’re quiet but they’re definitely louder than L80
Great for practice and Keeps cymbal volume low for music lessons
The Zildjian LV468 low volume cymbal pack features the Zildjian L80 cymbals. The Zildjian L80 is one of the most popular low volume hi-hat cymbals out there. Each of the cymbals is manufactured to perfection by Zildjian. The special alloy of the cymbals along with a fully perforated surface gives you a 70-80% reduction in volume, hence the name L80.
The cymbal pack comes with two 14” hi-hats, a 16” crash, and an 18” crash ride. They are packed with all the features and sophistication you would expect from a Zildjian cymbal. The cymbals have great tone and sound authentic. The cymbals do not have any mufflers or rubber pads, therefore allowing them to sound and feel natural. The cymbals also have a great response and allow you to play vastly and swiftly. The alloy material is also strong, so you will be able to play hard without worrying about cracking or denting them. They also look great thanks to their beautiful matte finish.
You also get a complete set of Remo heads that allow you to quieten your entire kit; you will be able to reduce the drums sound by up to 90%. The heads are from Remo’s silent stroke mesh drum-heads line and you get five heads whose sizes are 10”, 12”,14”, 16” and 22”. The heads have a good amount of springiness, so you get tactile feedback when you play. The only issue with this set is that a few users have complained that the bass drum head is too soft. The drum heads are great as they produce low volumes without compromising playability.
The Sabian Quiet Tone Practice cymbals are a great set of low volume cymbals. While they are not as sophisticated as the Zildjian L80, they are considerably cheaper. The cymbals are made from a durable alloy that is resistant to any dents, so you will be able to practice hard without any worries. It features closely knit perforations which dampen the sustain of the cymbals and therefore effectively reduce the volume. The sound is also quite similar to a genuine cymbal, so you don’t have to worry about getting flustered when you play on a standard cymbal.
In this set, you get a couple of 13” hi-hats and an 18” crash ride. While the hi-hats are smaller, the area is still large enough for you to properly practice and improve your rhythm and hand coordination.
Unlike the LV468 above, this is completely a cymbal set. The Zildjian LV348 is perfect for someone who already owns or doesn’t need head-dampeners.
The cymbals are the exact same as the ones you get with LV468, except that you get different dimensions. You get a pair of 13” hi-hats, a 14” crash, and an 18” crash ride. You also get a quality gig bag with the set, so you can carry them around comfortably without worrying about scratches.
Since these are L80 cymbals, they are made with the same proprietary alloy and are therefore lighter and filled with indentations, allowing a similar 70-80% reduction in noise. The qualifying of construction is also impeccable, therefore giving you a realistic feel and a natural tone. The only difference between these cymbals and standard Zildjian cymbals is its volume.
The Sabian FRX (Frequency Reduction) series is Sabian’s other offering for people who want to manage their cymbal sounds. Unlike the other cymbals in this list, the FRX is not designed to be a complete low volume cymbal. These cymbals are that can deliver as full-fledged full-volume practice or performance cymbals while being slightly quieter.
The FRX is made from B20 bronze and has small bands of holes cut on the outer edge and bell base of the cymbals. These holes allow the cymbal to significantly reduce the volume of the more cutting frequencies. The cymbals, therefore, sound like a standard pair of cymbals except that they are quieter in the higher range of frequencies.
The FRX cymbals are typically sold individually and are available in the following sizes: 14” hi-hats; 16”, 17”, 18”, and 19” crashes; 20”, 21” and 22” rides.
The FRX has been modeled after Sabian’s HHX series and therefore shares many of the traits. The FRX is just slightly quieter and doesn’t cut as sharp as the HHX. Once again, these are not a low volume cymbal, they are just quieter than a standard cymbal. These will be useful when you are a heavy-hitting drummer or if excessive cymbal noise is ruining your sessions. Overall, Sabian FRX is the cheapest low volume cymbal that will perfectly fit in your budget.
Aftermarket Muting Tools
If you do not want to spend money on buying a new set of low volume cymbals, attaching aftermarket muting tools to your existing cymbals is the cheapest alternative. These tools tend to be cheap, easy to install, and eliminate the need to have two sets of cymbals. If you want silent cymbals you need to install these mutes, if you want standard cymbals you simply remove them. However, these mutes do significantly reduce the playability and sound quality of your drum kit. Most of these mutes are available as complete packs for your drums and cymbals.
The SoundOff by Evans is a mute kit for your entire drum set, this includes both your drums and your cymbals. This has a massive volume reduction capability and can reduce your overall volume by up to 95%.
You get three tom mutes which are suited for toms of sizes 12”, 13”, and 16”. For snares you get a 14” mute. The kick drum mute is adjustable and can be fit for any bass drum ranging from 18” to 26”. As for the cymbals, you get a 20” ride mute, a 14” hi-hat mute, and a cymbal mute for 16”+ sizes. These sizes make them a perfect fit for anyone who has a standard 5-piece drum set.
These rubber mutes are quite easy to install, but you might have to do some cutting if your drums are of a different size. You can simply prop these on your standard kit and make it your practice kit at home. These heads can even protect your drums from regular practice damage.
The only disadvantage is that the mutes drastically reduce the feel of the drums and cymbals. The response and rebound will be quite different from that of an unmuted set. While this muting set would be ideal for improving your general speed and hand coordination, it will not be good if you want to develop subtle techniques.
Vic Firth drum mutes are quality mutes that are made from non-slip rubber. The material is robust and durable enough to withstand long hours of practice. Similar to the Evans mutes, this also is able to protect your cymbals and drums from minor practice damage. The sound reduction of this mute is also comparable to the Evans mutes.
The prepack we have mentioned comes with drum mutes of sizes 12”, 13”, 14”, and 16”. It also includes a 22” bass drum mute. You also get two cymbal mutes and a hi-hat mute. Do not worry if you are not able to find your drum or cymbal size in this prepack, the Vic Firth also sells mutes individually. In addition to the above sizes, there is also an 18” bass drum mute, and cymbal mutes of sizes 16”-18” and 20”-22”.
Other than the bass drum, the other drum mutes are quite easy to install and remove, it should not take you more than a few seconds. As for the bass drum, the installation process involves adhesive Velcro that needs to be attached to the drum head. Sometimes the Velcro is not strong enough and you might have to use stronger adhesives like super glue. The cymbal pads are not too complicated to install, you only have to remove the wing nuts to install them.
As with any cymbal and drum mute, this also has the usual disadvantages. The sound quality of your kit will reduce significantly, you will find all your highs being cut and the resonance of your kit disappearing. The playability also takes a cut due to the reduced rebound, however, this is expected from all mutes.
You might also find that the cymbal pads are quite small and do not provide a large enough area to hit. However, once you set them in the place where you frequently hit, you should get used to them in no time.
How Quiet are Low Volume Cymbals?
While low volume cymbals are not fully silent, they are significantly quieter than your standard cymbals. A low volume cymbal, like the Zildjian L80s, only produces about 83 decibels while a standard cymbal can produce over 100 decibels. While this might only seem like a 20% reduction, you need to understand that the decibel scale is not a linear scale but rather a logarithmic one. You can therefore expect a volume that is 80% lower than a standard cymbal. Just listen to both the types of cymbals and the difference will be obvious
Why you should get Low Volume Cymbals?
You should get a low volume cymbal as it protects your ear. A standard cymbal produces a sound that can go as high as 100 or 120 decibels. 120 decibels is the point at which the sound starts hurting your ears. Even exposure for a short time to such volumes can not only cause you pain but can damage your ears permanently. However, as mentioned before, a low volume cymbal is 80% quieter than a standard cymbal. Therefore, you will be able to practice for very long periods of time without risking any damage to your ears.
Low volume cymbals are also extremely advantageous when you want to practice your drums in an urban setting. Using a standard cymbal to practice in an apartment will lead to dozens of noise complaints from neighbors. A low volume cymbal is quieter so the number of complaints will be lower.
What to look for in a Low Volume Cymbal?
There are plenty of different important factors that you should look into while buying a low volume cymbal.
The most important factor of all is the material which is used to make the cymbal. Low weight cymbals tend to use composite alloys that are lighter than a standard cymbal. Composite alloys are used as they have much lower resonance than pure metals. Other than the sound, the material must also be durable. While a lighter weight alloy is more likely to be damaged while being played, you should ensure that it is still durable. If you buy cymbals with weak materials, you will be shelling out your hard-earned money on constantly buying replacements.
The other important thing to consider is the design and construction of the cymbal. The entire surface of the cymbal must be covered in indents or perforations to help the cymbal absorb and diminish the sound waves. You will also want the cymbals to be in the same size and same shape as a standard cymbal. This allows your muscle memory to develop properly and facilities easy transition to a standard cymbal if needed. Having a good bell curve is important for a low volume cymbal to feel like a standard one.
Ears are one of the greatest assets to a musician. It allows you to listen to tones properly and know when you or your instrument go off. Being tone-deaf is nothing short of a nightmare for a musician. Therefore, you must always take care of your ears.
Exposing your ears to high volume levels for even short periods of time is detrimental for your ears. A high impact sound can potentially damage and even break your eardrums, possibly leading to tinnitus (ringing in your ears) and hearing loss.
Short term tinnitus typically lasts for two or three days as long as you do not expose yourself to loud noises during the recovery period. However, if you constantly expose your ears to high impact sound for long periods of time you risk developing irreversible tinnitus. Not only do you get permanent hearing loss because of that but you will also get constant headaches and could become an insomniac.
Therefore, consider what volume would be most suitable for you and your ears and buy a low volume cymbal in that range. This is especially important for younger drummers as they have the most to lose as far as hearing capability is considered.
Cymbal frequencies are way more important than you think. A high-frequency cymbal can cause way more ear damage than even a bass drum.
Typically cymbals do not have a fixed pitch, they rather produce waves that are multilayered. The sound waves are all bunched up together. A high-frequency sound from a cymbal not only has a high pitch but all the peaks are closer. Your ears are therefore being bombarded by a bunch of high-frequency sounds every time you strike your cymbals.
The other thing to consider is the size of the cymbal, the larger the size the greater is the sustain. The greater the sustain, the worse it is for your ears.
Electronic Kits are the ultimate way to get low volume cymbals. You get full volume control and you can have practice sessions that are completely silent. If you are in a place where you cannot afford to produce even the slightest of noises, using an electronic kit with headphones is the best way to remain silent.
However, even electronic kits can lead to ear damage as the headphones are very close to your ears. If you practice for long periods with the volume turned up, you will have hearing loss. It is quite easy to not notice that the volume is too high, so always check to ensure that the sound is in an appropriate volume.
Another disadvantage with electronic cymbals is their feel. Even the most expensive electronic cymbals cannot effectively emulate a normal cymbal. Therefore, if you learn on an electronic kit and play on a real kit down the line, you will find the transition to be really hard.
There is a huge range of different cymbal dampness and mutes available. These are either placed on the surface of your cymbal at specific positions or are attached to the skirt of your cymbal.
They are typically made from materials that absorb and reduce vibrations, therefore reducing the volume levels. They however have several disadvantages. They tend to clumsily attach to the cymbals and typically have a short lifetime. They also make the edges of the cymbals more bouncy, altering the response and feel. Attaching the dampeners also significantly reduces the visual appeal of the cymbals. Finally and most importantly, they do not lead to a massive reduction in volume levels.
A low-volume cymbal on the other hand is able to deliver tones that are musically appropriate while reducing the volumes significantly.
A low volume cymbal has an immense array of benefits. It allows you to protect your ears while also allowing you to practice freely without being badgered by complaining neighbors. While we are not advocating that standard cymbal should be fully banned, there are many situations where a low volume cymbal would be more suited. And the best part is that these cymbals have playability that is pretty close to a standard cymbal. While there is only a limited selection of the best low volume cymbals in the market, the ones on our list will perform extraordinarily.