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.
Since they are an indispensable part of a drum kit, it is necessary to have quality ones.
For those who didn’t know, there are four companies, also known as the “Big Four,” that hold more than half of the market:
I looked over all four of them to help you find the best hi hat cymbals for yourself, as they offer a great number of hats, along with the rest of the cymbals – no matter if you are a beginner or professional, and no matter the style of music you play.
I will analyze and make a list of the best hi hat cymbals you can find on the market today.
What to consider before buy
Various things play a role in getting a perfect cymbal for you – brand, size, style and budget, and many others.
All in all, let’s take a look into some of most the important things you need to consider before buying hi-hat cymbals.
Style of music
Before you decide which brand and cymbal you would go for, you should take into account the style of music you play. The hi-hat will sound as good as it fits your sound. Keep in mind that if the hi-hat is great for metal, it will be way too harsh for jazz.
In a better explanation, hi-hats that are thinner and darker will work the best for jazz, while heavier and brighter are perfect for heavier styles of music – such as rock and metal.
Certain hi-hats are versatile because of the mixture of qualities, so they work well with all music styles.
Each cymbal is made from metal, but not all are the same. The most common alloys are B20 Bronze, B8 Bronze, and Brass.
B20 is the alloy used for high-end cymbals. The cymbals made from this alloy will give a warm, bright, and expressive tone – depending on the finish.
B8 Bronze is also used for high-end cymbals, mostly by Paiste. This company is famous for using this type of alloy for their 2002 series – most famous rock drummers have been using these cymbals for decades.
Brass alloy is mostly for budget and entry-level cymbals since it’s cheaper to manufacture. The cymbals made from the Brass tend to give a duller tone with the short decay.
The standard size of the hi-hats range is from 13 to 16 inches – anything smaller than that should be considered an effect cymbal.
Although most drummers use 14” hi-hats, it is a preference which size you’d go for.
13” and 14” cymbals are good for funk, soul, and fusion due to their higher-pitched sound.
For deep and more sustained sound, go for 14” and 16” – they work best for rock and jazz.
If you play heavy rock and metal, go for medium-weight ones that are 14 and 15 inches.
In other words, the more hammering, the darker and more complex the sound will be. If the cymbal has fewer hammering marks, the tone will be purer.
Hand-hammered cymbals tend to be more expensive due to their unique pitch, sound, and look. If you want to have something standard, go for machine-hammered cymbals.
In contrast to hand-hammered cymbals and their unique sound, machine-hammered cymbals give constant sound due to the same hammering techniques.
Now that I mentioned all the basic things you need to know about the hi-hats, let’s read more about the cymbals for jazz, rock, the most versatile ones, the best valued for money, and best for beginners.
I made a list of the best cymbals you can choose for each one of them.
Best hi hat cymbals for Jazz
The thin top cymbal and the medium-thin bottom one make Zildjian Kerope hi-hats a top-notch choice for drummers.
The Zildjian Kerope hi-hat with a patina finish will give you that beautiful vintage sound no other cymbals can achieve. These are the perfect examples of the dark, complex, vintage K cymbals from the 50s and 60s.
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.
Signature Dark Energy Hats Mark I
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 only downside of these cymbals may be the price for some drummers.
Artisan Elite Hats
Sabian Artisan Elite hi-hats are skillfully handcrafted using elements of ages-old traditional cymbal-making techniques.
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.
Hand-hammered Byzance thin hi-hats capture that 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 top and unlathed bottom. These differences in surfaces give hi-hats a subtle and sweet sound with a mellow attack.
Extraordinary light-weighted hi-hats with the lower base tone and soft chick feature traditional hand-hammering techniques, and with the B20 alloy, they make a perfect set for jazz players.
These hi-hats feature a soft feel and outstanding response that responds well in both studio and live mix.
Best hi hat cymbals for Rock
Zildjian A Custom Mastersound
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.
Paiste Signature Reflector Heavy
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. With excellent projection, articulation, and dynamics, these cymbals are the perfect choice for rock drummers.
Sabian AAX X-Plosion
Sabian AAX X-Plosion hi-hats deliver a big, bright tone with every strike. These hi-hats have high profile bell and excellent sustain – open and 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. These are just some of the reasons why many famous drummers, such as Ray Luzier, Daniel Adair, and others, play this series.
Meinl Byzance Brilliant
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 control of the open sound.
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.
Most versatile hi hat cymbals
Zildjian K Custom Special Dry
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 dark stick sound and sturdy chick sound – for gnarly bark, strike them open.
Paiste Formula 602 Modern Essentials
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.
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.
Meinl Byzance Foundry Reserve
Buttery-smooth thin top and crisp medium-thin bottom give nice feel, mid-dark timbre, 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.
Best value for money hi hats
A Zildjian Dyno Beat
Bright wall of sounds that can cut through any mix, but they are ideal for louder music such as Rock, Punk, and Metal.
Their weight projects good volume and enormous volume when played in a semi-open position. Exclusive hammering makes them look as stunning as they sound.
Since Dyno Beats are singles, you should pair them together or pair one with an A or K to achieve a brighter or darker hi-hat sound.
Paiste PST 8 Reflector Medium
These hi-hats have rich and controllable open sound together with 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.
Sabian AAX Medium
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 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.
Meinl Pure Alloy Custom
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 the studio or live settings.
Best for beginners
Zildjian S Mastersound
Zildjian S Mastersound hi-hats feature hammered outer edge of the bottom cymbal to create 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.
Paiste PST 7
The PST 7 is the result of the company’s development of materials and production techniques. Constant innovations let to these 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.
Sabian B8X hi-hats are entry-level cymbals that have great value for money. They are produced with precision, lathed, 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. For studio recordings, it’s better to take more medium or high-end quality ones.
Meinl Classics Custom Brilliant
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 hi-hats.
Since hi-hats are the most important cymbals in a drum set, you should always choose the one that fits your style of music. Also, aspire to the best quality.
I hope I helped you with all the necessary information about some of the best hi-hat cymbals on the market.
Depending on your budget, music style, and level of playing, I know you will be able to choose the perfect one from the list above.