In-Depth Review: Best Hi Hat Cymbals of 2024

March 16, 2024

Every drummer, beginner or professional, knows that hi-hat is the most essential pair of cymbals in a drum set.

Hi-hats help you keep the time and hold the bend together while playing – some drum kits only have hi-hats as cymbals.

Throughout my 18-year-long career, I pretty much tried every hi-hat you can imagine. From those smaller ones with crispy tones to those huge ones with super warm sound and undertones. From Zildjian and Paiste to no-name ones. I tested hundreds of them and did life-long research to provide an in-depth review of the best hi-hat cymbals in 2024.

What I look for

Flawless response

When choosing a good pair of hi-hats they have to have a perfect response. A flawless response will provide greater precision and perfect playing control.

Good chick sound

I looked for a good chick sound which means a good crisp, tight, and short percussive sound. You can produce this sound only when you are playing close to your hi-hats. I looked for a hi-hat that will accent your sharp and percussive playing.

Clean and distinct sound definition

I searched for clean and defined sound. Every good hi-hat cymbal should have these characteristics with each and every single note that you play on them. This means that every stroke from your hi-hats should make a clear, distinct sound.

Best hi hat cymbals for Jazz

Zildjian Kerope Hi-Hats

Best Zildjian
best hi hat cymbals

These cymbals are perfect for Jazz drummers looking for a vintage sound. 

The material

The Kerope hi-hats are handcrafted cymbals. The Kerope Hi-Hats use the Zildjian Secret Family Alloy with a traditional finish. 

The Zildjian Kerope hi-hat with a patina finish will give you that beautiful vintage sound no other cymbals can achieve. It is, without a doubt, one of the best professional hi-hat cymbals.

The sound

These are the perfect examples of the dark, complex, vintage K cymbals from the 50s and 60s. The sound is fast, warm, and sharp. If you are looking for such a sound, these hi-hat cymbals for jazz will be your perfect match. 

Although they visually and sonically reminisce of the 50s and 60s cymbals, these Kerope hi-hats are modern and relevant for today’s music as well.

The moment you strike these hi-hats, you will feel that noticeable sound – In addition to dark and complex, you can expect a quick, warm, and crisp chick sound.

The price

You can find this hi-hat available at different prices from different providers. Here are some of them. The prices are written at the moment of writing – June 2023. 

Amazon – $699

Thoman – $787

Drummers who play this series:

One of the popular drummers that is a fan of the Kerope line is Steve Smith. But also Steve Gadd and Ash Soan and Stanton Moore have high praises for the Kerope. 

Paiste Signature Dark Energy Hats Mark I

Best Paiste
best hi hat

The Signature dark energy hats mark I is for jazz drummers that seek precise and dynamic cymbals.

The material

Another incredible, hand-hammered cymbals. It is crafted from the proprietary bronze patented by Paiste itself. 

Signature Dark Energy Hats Mark I is crafted from Proprietary Signature Bronze alloy with a traditional finish.

The sound

The Paiste Dark Energy hi-hats are one of the best hats you can find on the market today, especially when it comes to jazz music.

The sound they produce is excellent for both live settings and studio recordings. The complex tone of these hi-hats will give you different sounds depending on where you strike.

Even though they are complex and dark, they still have a fair projection, which means you don’t need to strike too hard to achieve loud sound.

Hi-hat combines finesse and articulation with raw energy, and cutting power will amaze you with its rich and cutting chick sound. 

The price

The only downside of these cymbals may be the price for some drummers. However, the prices are a bit cheaper than the previous Zildjian series. Here are the current prices of these cymbals – June 2023.

Amazon – $520

Thoman – $705

Drummers who play this series:

Chad Wackerman and Rob Brown are popular drummers that use this Signature Dark Energy Hats Mark I.

Sabian Artisan Elite Hats

Best Sabian
best sounding hi hat cymbals

The material

Sabian Artisan Elite hi-hats are skillfully handcrafted using elements of ages-old traditional cymbal-making techniques. 

The material they used is bronze, to be precise, the unbeatable B20 bronze alloy with multi-peen and high-density hammering.

The sound

High-density hammering is one of the main reasons why the tone of these cymbals is lower in pitch and drier than any other Artisan cymbals.

Along with the hammering, unique lathing led to the complexity of the Elite hi-hats sound.

Artisan Elite has traces on the unlathed surface, revealing tin oxide and some other imperfections – this may appeal to some drummers who do not want to have blemish-free and not too many shiny cymbals.

The price

Here are some of the companies that have them available currently – June 2023.

Guitar Center – $469

Drummers only – $666

Drummers who play this series:

Mark Guiliana, an American drummer, is a big fan of the Artisan hi-hats as well as their cymbals in general. Aside from him, Dave Weckl from the Dave Weckl Band is also a user of Artisan Elite hi-hats.

Meinl Byzance Jazz

Best Meinl
best hi hat for jazz

For all those drummers nostalgic for this kind of sound, Byzance hi-hat cymbals for jazz are your ally. 

The Material

Extraordinary light-weighted hi-hats with a lower base tone and soft chick feature traditional hand-hammering techniques. With the B20 alloy, they make a perfect set for jazz players.

The Sound

Hand-hammered Byzance thin hi-hats capture the recognizable warm and woody character of the vintage hi-hats. 

These cymbals are favored by many drummers who play jazz since they are made to be like regular jazz cymbals, with a warm tone and thin.

Byzance thin jazz hi-hats feature two finishes, traditional on the top and unlathed bottom. These differences in surfaces give hi-hats a subtle and sweet sound with a mellow attack.

These hi-hats feature a soft feel and outstanding response that responds well in both studio and live mixes.

The Price

Here are the current prices of these amazing hi-hats. (June 2023).

Amazon – $399

Thoman – $322

Drummers who play this series:

There are a couple of popular drummers using these fantastic cymbals. Robert “Sput” Searight known as the Grammy-winning drummer, uses Meinl cymbals, including the Byzance line. Also, Chris Coleman, a drummer that worked with many renowned artists like Prince and Stevie, is also a fan of Meinl cymbals, including Byzance.

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Best hi hat cymbals for Rock

Zildjian A Custom Mastersound

Best Zildjian
best hi hat cymbals for rock

Zildjian A Custom Mastersound hi-hat cymbals for rock is a perfect choice if you want your sound to cut through a dense mix.

The material

The cymbals are made from the B20 bronze alloy with a brilliant finish. These cast bronze cymbals deliver a premium tone and projection.

The sound

Perfect choice if you want your sound to cut through a dense mix. A Custom Mastersound hi-hats feature subtle, crisp, light, and colorful sound.

The refined version of the classic Zildjian sound has premium tone and projection – not too bright, not too dark.

These hi-hats boast a fast and clear chick sound which can make them suitable for all styles of music but best for rock.

The rotary hammering techniques and brilliant finish shaped the sound of these hi-hats to be crisp, sweet, and sophisticated.

Hammered grooves on the bottom cymbal let the air go through quickly allowing the hi-hat to produce a fast and clear chick sound.

The price

The Zildjian A Custom Mastersound is available and easily found. Here are the top finders, but bear in mind that the price can change, and it all depends on the market. These are the prices for June 2023.

Sweetwater – $489

Amazon – $489

Thoman – $529

Drummers who play this series:

One of the popular drummers that are big fans of Zildjian’s A Custom Mastersound is Lars Urlich from Metallica and Tommy Lee from Motley Crue.

Paiste Signature Reflector Heavy

Best Zildjian
best hi hat cymbals for jazz

Paiste Signature Reflector Heavy cymbals are great for rock drummers that look for great projection, articulation, and dynamics.

The material

Unlike the previous models, the Paiste Signature Reflector Heavy uses B15 Bronze. This is also known as a Proprietary Signature Bronze (PSB) alloy. 

Cymbals made from this allow, including the Paiste Signature, have that lustrous yellow coloration easily recognizable.

The sound

Signature Reflector Heavy Full hi-hats feature brilliant finish, dirty, and defined tone. 

These cymbals allow you to forge new paths with creativity while playing.

Very responsive feel, tight and rough chick sound, full and piercing open sound, all in all very well-balanced hi-hats with a great dose of dirt and note of darkness – give power to players who require strong pair of hi-hats.

These hi-hats are darker and more harmonically layered than other Signature series. 

The price

Here are the current prices for the Paiste Signature Reflector Heavy. (June 2023)

Thoman – $399

Amazon – $414

Drummers who play this series:

Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain is a big fan of the Paiste Signature Reflector Heavy cymbals. He even participated in making one of the cymbals and was blown away with the result!

Sabian AAX X-Plosion

Best Zildjian
top 10 best hi hat cymbals

Perfect cymbals for rock drummers that prefer the bright tone with incredible sustain. 

The material

The typical B20 bronze alloy is the material used to craft this incredible hi-hat cymbal for rock with a brilliant finish.

The sound

Another fantastic choice if you are looking for hi-hat cymbals for rock is Sabian AAX X-Plosion hi-hats. It delivers a big, bright tone with a fantastic strike. These hi-hats have high-profile bells and excellent sustain – open, loud, tight, and articulate.

Innovative lathing and hammering techniques gave hi-hats that are super-fast, with an explosive and full response.

Fast and punchy accents at all volume levels, great crisp, clear, and cutting responses.

The price

Check the current prices of the Sabian AAX X-Plosion hi-hat cymbals.

  • Thoman – $564
  • Amazon – $469
  • Drummers who play this series:

With such an incredible sound, you don’t need many more reasons why many famous drummers play this series, such as Ray Luzier, Daniel Adair, and others.

Meinl Byzance Brilliant

Best Zildjian
best meinl hi hat for rock

For rock drummers that prefer that bright and rich sound. 

The material

The unremarkable B20 bronze alloy is used to craft these hi-hat cymbals with a brilliant finish. 

Thank to its amazing polish it has that mirrorlike finish that is just incredible on stage. 

The sound

The extraordinary bright sound of these hand-lathed and hammered Turkish cymbals. 

Two things stand out with this sound: the brilliant and rich tone and comfortable open sound control.

Byzance Brilliant hi-hats are just in the mid-bright range, which makes them perfect for any style of music, but rock players also prefer them because they allow them to get the expression they want.

The B20 alloy allows these cymbals to deliver that high-midrange sound full of warmth and richness.

The price

Let’s check the current prices of the Meinl Byzance Brilliant hi-hat finish. (June 2023).

Thoman – $499

Amazon – $549

Drummers who play this series:

Anika Nilles, the German drummer, and composer, is known for her work as a solo artist and has used Meinl Byzance Brilliant cymbals, including hi-hats.  Another drummer, known for his work with Lamb of God and Megadeth, Chris Adler, is a big fan and often uses Meinl Byzance Brilliant cymbals.

Most versatile hi hat cymbals

Zildjian K Custom Special Dry

Best Zildjian
best impact hi hat

For drummers that prefer the dry and funky sound with a short sustain of their hi-hat cymbals.

The material

The Zildjian K Custom Special Dry is crafted from B20 bronze with a natural raw finish. 

This means that these cymbals are not polished and buffed. 

The sound

K Custom Special Dry hi-hats have extraordinary dirty, dry, and articulate sound with the cutting stick definition.

These hi-hats are remastered to fit today’s modern musical styles, making them the perfect choice if you want versatile hi-hat cymbals.

These raw cymbals deliver a dry and funky sound that has a quick attack. It opens and closes quickly for a powerful expression of personality.

The thin top and heavy bottom give a dark stick sound and a sturdy chick sound – for gnarly bark, strike them open.

The price

Here are the current prices for June 2023 of these K Custom Special Dry hi-hats. 

Thomann – $672

Sweetwater – $569

Drummers who play this series:

Drummers like Larnell Lewis from Grammy winning band Snarky Puppy and studio legend Ash Soan play this unique series.

Paiste Formula 602 Modern Essentials

Best Paiste
which hi hat is best

For the drummers that prefer the deep and warm sound of their hi-hats.

The material

The Paiste Formula 602 is crafted from B20 bronze with a traditional finish. 

The sound

Formula 602 Modern hi-hats add tonal balance and outstanding dynamic expression to the rhythms. 

Whether the playing is soft or loud, hats remain clear, articulate, and well-controlled.

These hi-hats cover a wide range – from the deep and warm wash to tight and meaty chick – and with the broad tonal range, they are excellent for all music styles.

Extremely versatile hi-hats are chunky enough but not overpowering – they amaze everyone with their responsive feel and perfect dynamics.

The price

The price is pretty much similar to its competitors that I mentioned above. Here is the price as of June 2023. 

Sweetwater – $570

Thoman – $588

Drummers who play this series:

Vinnie Colaiuta, a drummer who worked with many popular artists in many different genres, is also a user and a fan or Piaste Formula 602. Aside from him, Jason Sutter, an American drummer, is also known for using the Paiste Formula 602 cymbal line. 

Sabian Artisan

Best Sabian
best recording hi hat

For the drummers that seek rich and complex hi-hat sounds.

The material

Made with B20 bronze with a natural finish. 

These cymbals are aged and hand tested in Sabian’s legendary Vault. 

The Sound

Sabian Artisan hi-hats feature B20 bronze alloy, which is durable and musical sounding. These cymbals have a dark and rich tone with irresistible complexity.

The densely hammered hi-hats catch the attention easily with their stick response and dark yet complex sound.

The tone and timbre are stunning, together with the excellent resonance and well-balanced tone that will fit with any musical style.

These hi-hats have tremendous dynamic responses at all volume levels and will give good articulation with a full sound that blends well with the rest of the mix.

The price

These cymbals can be extremely expensive, but those that are pro players know that giving money for such art is never a money waste, but well invested. Here is the current price of the Sabian Artisan hi-hat cymbals. (June 2023).

Sweetwater – $879

Drummers who play this series:

Neil Peart, the drummer of the Canadian band Rush, was a longtime Sabian endorser and used Artisan cymbals, including hi-hats.  Aside from him, Dave Weck, an influential jazz and fusion drummer, Weckl has used Sabian Artisan cymbals as well.

Meinl Byzance Foundry Reserve

Best Meinl
expensive hi hat

Another great choice for drummers preferring the dark and complex sound of their hi-hat cymbals.

The material

Meinl Byzance Foundry Reserve is crafted from B20 bronze with a traditional finish. 

The sound 

Buttery-smooth thin top and crisp medium-thin bottom give a nice feel, mid-dark timbre, and short sustain – all in all, very dark and complex sound.

These hi-hats have fully lathed surfaces that feature enormous hand-hammering for expanding darkness, dryness, and complexity in tone – traditional and modern at the same time, suiting all styles of music.

Byzance Foundry Reserve hi-hats are great for live settings, as well as for studio recordings.

The price

At the moment of writing, June 2023, Byzance Foundry Reserve hi-hats are available at both Amazon and Sweetwater at similar prices. You can check them in the following links.

  • Amazon – $651
  • Sweetwater – $719
  • Drummers who play this series:

Louie Palmer, Isac Jamba, and Zack Graybeal are just some of the renowned drummers that are known for using and preaching the Meinl Byzance cymbals.

Best budget hi hats

Paiste PST 8 Reflector Medium

Best Paiste
the best budget hi hat

Great cymbals for beginners drummer that has the perfect balance that a rookie needs. 

The material

The budget-friendly cymbals, including hi-hats, are crafted from the B8 bronze alloy. Unlike the B20 alloy, B8 is known for its clear and bright sound.

Paiste is very known for crafting amazing cymbals of B8 bronze alloy, including Paiste PST 8 with handmade reflectors. 

The sound

These hi-hats have rich and controllable open sound together with a defined and solid chick sound.

What makes them excellent is that they are versatile, and they fit a wide range of musical applications.

The sound you can expect from these cymbals is refined, warm, and with a deep touch with a balanced feel and clean mix.

B8 Alloy and traditional hand-hammering allow these cymbals to achieve that versatility and sound characteristics, making them a good choice for those on a lower budget.

The price

These beginner hi-hat cymbals are pretty much affordable. Their current prices are around $176 as of June 2023. Both Amazon and Thoman sell them, so let’s check them.

Thomann – $164

Amazon – $188

Sabian AAX Medium

Best Sabian
best hi hat 2022

Great for drummers that are on a budget and are looking for versatile hi-hat cymbals. 

The material

The AAX Medium is made from B20 bronze alloy with a traditional finish. 

The sound

The medium weight of these hi-hats strikes a great balance of pitch, speed, and projection, and the small bell they have is a key to a purer pitch.

Small bell results in versatile and crispy hi-hats that will blend with mainstream sounds. These complex hi-hats work well for all music styles.

Excellent for both studio and live settings due to great control and projection. These hi-hats are redesigned AAX lines to evolve the sound for mainline drummers.

The price

Compared to the previous one, these Sabian hi-hats are a bit more expensive. Check the current prices of June 2023. 

Thomann – $561

Amazon – $469

Meinl Pure Alloy Custom

Best Meinl
best hi hat for money

The material

The Meinl pure alloy custom is made of pure alloy with smoked bronze and a brilliant finish. 

The sound

Pure alloy cymbals are the twist of Meinl’s innovative sound, and the hi-hats produce full wash and cutting bell, while fully lathed surfaces offer a higher wash-to-stick ratio.

When it comes to hammering, a computer-controlled pattern ensures that every cymbal sounds its best.

Meinl Pure Alloy hi-hats strike a perfect balance between traditional and modern tones, making them perfect for all styles of music, and they work well in studio or live settings.

The price

A bit pricey compared to Paiste PST 8, and a cheaper version of the Sabian AAX is the Meinl Pure Alloy Custom. Check the current prices of these hi-hats cymbals – June 2023.

Thomann – $438

Sweetwater – $419

Best hi hats for beginners

Zildjian S Mastersound

Best Zildjian
best sounding zildian hi hat cymbal

These hi-hats are great for beginner drummers that are still looking for this sound and style because they are super versatile. 

The material

Crafted with B12 alloy (88% copper, 12% tin) with a brilliant finish. 

The sound

Zildjian S Mastersound hi-hats feature hammered outer edge of the bottom cymbal to create a fast chick sound and overall balanced tones.

13” are great with control and articulation, while 14” have a versatile range of frequencies and full-bodied response.

These cymbals are fully lathed to optimize feel, weight, and sound – a bright finish helps the shimmer come through.

The price

These beginners’ hi-hats are totally fair-priced. Check these link and the current prices of the Zildjian S Mastersound, (June 2023)

Sweetwater – $279

Thomann – $311

Paiste PST 7

Best Paiste
best starter hi hat

The Paiste PST is an affordable hi-hat cymbal great for beginners that look for a bright cymbal sound.

The material

The Paiste PST 7 is crafted from B8 bronze with a traditional finish. 

The sound

The PST 7 is the result of the company’s development of materials and production techniques. 

Constant innovations led to this series that gives quality other Paiste offers but at an affordable price.

The sound you can expect to get from PST 7 hi-hats is warm, bright, and clean. For budget cymbals, they are well-balanced with a full open sound.

Clear and piercing chick sound, wide range, and clean mix are powerful enough for beginners who play Rock and Metal.

The price

The price of the Paiste PST 7 cymbals is very affordable. This is an amazing feature since these cymbals will be more than enough for a rocking drummer. Check the prices in the following section (June  2023)

Thomann – $141

Sweetwater – $169

Sabian B8X

Best Sabian
cheap hi hat

Sabian B8X hi-hats are entry-level cymbals that have great value for money. 

The material

The Sabian B8X is crafted from B8 bronze alloy with a natural finish. 

The sound

They are produced with precision, lathed, and hand-hammered to produce a tight and bright sound with a crisp stick.

Since they are affordable but made from quality alloy, this makes them the perfect choice for beginners who wish to have quality hi-hats but wish not to spend too much money on them.

Sabian B8X hi-hats work well with any music style and in live settings. 

It’s better to take more medium or high-end quality recordings for studio recordings.

The price

Another budget-friendly option for beginners. Here are the prices of these hi-hats at the moment of writing (June 2023). 

Amazon – $169

Thomann – $218

Meinl Classics Custom Brilliant

Best Meinl
best cheap hi hat cymbals

Great hi-hat cymbals for beginners that prefer darker cymbal sounds. 

The material

These cymbals feature B12 bronze alloy (88% copper and 12% tin) with a traditional finish. 

The sound

Meinl Classic Custom hi-hats have a loud and bright punch and warm stick response. 

These cymbals will provide you with a smooth and crisp open sound, together with a tight and pronounced chick sound.

These hi-hats have a versatile range and well-balanced tones, and for beginners who play metal, pop, rock, or fusion, these would be the perfect choice for hi-hats.

The price

Here are the prices at the moment of writing, June 2023, for these Meinl Classics Custom Brilliant Cymbals. 

Amazon – $239

Thoman – $251

How I Picked

I applied the same criteria to every hi-hat on this list, including:

  • A type of genre that hi-hat cymbal is suitable for;
  • A playing style that hi-hat is suitable for;
  • Hammering techniques;
  • Perfect response and sound;
  • Cymbal size.

I didn’t limit my search by paying attention only to one type of genre. I tried to cover as many as possible music styles but also the most versatile hi-hat cymbals suitable for every playing style. I also did a deep search to find those affordable yet good-quality and best beginner hi-hats. 

My goal was to provide you with an in-depth guide to finding the most suitable hi-hat cymbals for every drummer from novices to professional ones. This means that this research is suitable for everyone. 

I eliminated all hi-hat cymbals that didn’t fit my above “look for” criteria. The backup of my research is my 18 years long drumming experience where I had a chance to try and drum on some of the best cymbals from the most renowned manufacturers that I included in this list.  

How I Tested

For this research, I tested and drummed on over 31 different hi-hat cymbals in my career and gathered all important information and feedback on each one of them during those long 15ish years. 

Each cymbal on this list has gone through the same testing criteria including response, sound, and built quality. However, since they differ in style, I compared them and tested them with other hi-hat cymbals suitable for that specific genre, picked the best one, and put it here on the list. 

For each genre, I had a couple of songs that I played on the cymbals and thus gathered the results. For instance, in the best hi-hat jazz cymbals, I looked for distinct, warm, and complex sounds while for rock style I looked for a flawless cut-through yet with that crisp and careful sound. 

I also took into consideration my overall ‘look for’ criteria. This is because those features are universal and every drummer should look for those things no matter their playing style.

As a drummer and percussionist with over 15 years of experience, I’m deeply passionate about drumming. My insights and writings have earned recognition in Drum Magazine, reflecting my commitment to the drumming community. 

I focus on providing authentic advice and well-researched recommendations, drawing from extensive hands-on experience. My aim is to deliver relatable and informative content that supports drummers of all levels in their musical journey.

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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