The 4 Best Crash Cymbals – Reviews 2023

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Photo by Emily Mills / CC BY

One of the most overlooked truths about drum kits is that each set is as good as the components used to build it. That means all of your drum heads, wood, hardware, and cymbals play a role. Likewise, there are several different categories of cymbals that can be rated by their importance. One category that is almost always near the top is crash cymbals. If you are building your kit and you’re not sure which crash to go for, you’re in the right place.

We’ve done all the footwork for you, and chose 4 of the best crash cymbals that should fit any budget just fine. Our main criteria was the quality of sound as well as overall build quality. With that said, let’s jump right into the deep end!

Zildjian K Custom 16″ Dark Crash Cymbal

Zildjian is one of the few go-to brands when it comes to cymbals in general. Their dedication to pushing the performance to the limit has earned them quite a reputation. That’s why when this company releases something like K Custom series, you drop what you’re doing and you pay attention. The crash cymbal from this set can be described as organized chaos, and that is why it’s first on our list.


Rock solid build quality paired with fast attention to detail is what you can expect from the Zildjian K Custom 16″ Dark Crash Cymbal. It’s a 16″ unit, the smallest in the series, but it still packs a pretty good punch. Naturally, the appearance is on the level with the rest of the specs, and will definitely bring some style to any drum kit out there.


This is where things get really interesting. All crash cymbals are brash and aggressive, but Zildjian K Custom 16″ Dark Crash Cymbal (see full specs) takes that to another level. Small size combined with its very raw nature produce a rather dark and dry sound that doesn’t lack overtones at all. The tone is full and saturated, easily cutting through the mix. This is a bit expensive model, but worth every penny and is likely the best crash cymbal you can buy.

Zildjian 16'' K Custom Dark Crash

Zildjian ZBT 16″ Crash Cymbal

Don’t be surprised that the second place belongs to another Zildjian model. This brand is just full of great crashes that deserve to be mentioned no matter how unfair that is to the other manufacturers. ZBT series crash is a lot more traditional compared to the K Custom series, but it packs a big tone nonetheless.


Solid build quality that can handle even imperfect angles of attack for a long period of time means this cymbal is going to last a good while. It’s a 16″ unit as well, and it offers the best bang for the buck in our opinion. If appearances are a factor, you will be happy to know that this particular crash comes with a rather sophisticated pattern, which looks amazing to say the least.


Zildjian ZBT 16″ Crash Cymbal (see full specs) is all about the speed. This is an energetic and fast crash cymbal, and it goes as quickly as it swoops in. ZBT crash tends to cut straight through the mix, just like any decent accent cymbal should. However, this one does that with a bit more power. If we had to choose, we’d put this one in the metal category.

BeatIt Presents: Zildjian ZBT 16" Crash

Sabian 16 Inch SBR Crash

Sabian is another household name that delivers some of the best brass in the business. Their cymbals are among the most popular and trusted, which is exactly why you will find their logo on many famous drummers’ kits. The one we chose for you today offers an impressive balance of price and performance, which is not something you often find these days.


The cymbal itself looks rather ordinary, but its color alone can tell you that you are dealing with a high-quality product. Sabian’s brass alloy is just impeccable, and it sounds even better when molded into a 16″ crash form factor. Overall, you can dish out abuse by the truck loads and this cymbal will still run strong.


Aggressive, fast, and loud. Those three words perfectly describe what the Sabian 16-Inch SBR Crash is all about. You can use this cymbal for a number of different genres of music, and it will fit in without an issue. Riding it hard might be an overkill, but that is exactly what some drummers need. This is among the best crash cymbals for the money.

Sabian Sbr 16" Crash

Meinl Cymbals HCS14C 14″

Finally, we have a rather inexpensive, traditional crash cymbal for the budget users who want quality at a lower price point. Meinl is no stranger to top-end cymbals, but they are proud of their affordable range. Meinl Cymbals HCS14C 14″ packs all the performance an average drummer could need into a very practical and user-friendly format.


The smaller size is not an indicator of how good this cymbal is. Meinl used a pretty durable brass alloy for this model, and it shows when you start playing it with a bit of force. Everything holds together and the cymbal simply does what its built to do. Since it’s small, it might not have the resonance nor the sustain some drummers need, but it definitely has the build quality to get you through even the more demanding gigs.


This is a very bright and shimmering crash that punches through the mix with ease. The accent grooves found on the outside give it a nice color, but it’s definitely not something that would limit its use. If you are looking for a cheap crash cymbal (cheap in price, not quality) that also delivers reliable performance, look no further.

Meinl Hcs Crash Cymbal Demo

Conclusion – What Makes the Best Crash Cymbal?

At the end of the day, which cymbal you are going to choose will depend mostly on your personal preference and the genre of music you are playing. We’ve constructed our list in a way that is closest to giving you 4 crash cymbals suitable for just about anything.

With that said, each of these models will serve you perfectly fine if you decide to include them with your primary kit. They all deliver a strong sonic impact that cuts right through the mix and they all have top-level durability for the listed price. All good stuff!

Written and Reviewed By

  • Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel.

  • Marko is the senior editor and writer on Ultimate Guitar, the No. 1 guitar spot on the web, since early 2013. His work was also featured on a variety of other notable gear spots such as Guitar Fella, Consordini, and, of course, Song Simian. His musical journey began at a very young age, and he finally opted to pick up an instrument in his early teenage years. A fan of King Crimson. A travel enthusiast.

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