- What are the best hats for Rock, Jazz, Metal, and more?
- Best all-around hi-hats
- Best hi-hats for every budget
So, you are shopping for your next set of hi-hats or even your first set. Inundated with choices, you are not sure where to even start.
Not to worry, my intrepid drum enthusiasts, we will take the pain out of the experience for you.
We have selected a few of the best hats for Jazz, Rock, and Metal, as well as a few all-rounders for every budget.
So let’s get into that.
What are the Best Hi-Hats for Rock, Jazz, Metal & More?
Zildjian A New Beats are great versatile all-rounder hi-hats, that I highly recommend. Starting price point is fairly high, but they’re well worth the investment.
For those on a budget, the HCS 13” from Meinl is my go-to.
Sabian’s 14” AAX medium hats are our pick for best premium hi-hats, for they are a joy to play.
Alright, so let’s take a deep dive into our contenders for best hi-hats. The hi-hats we will be looking at are:
- Zildjian A New Beat 14” (Our Pick)
- Meinl HCS 13”(Best Value)
- Sabian 14” AAX Medium Hats (Best Premium)
- Meinl Custom Mark 14” (Honourable Mention for Rock and Metal)
- Paiste 14” PST7 Hi Hats
- Sabian AAX Xplosion 14”
- Paiste Formula 602 Modern Essentials 15”
- Zildjian K Sweet Hi Hats
Zildjian A New Beat 14”
Ask any drummer at Sweetwater, and chances are, we'll tell you that Zildjian represents the gold - or rather bronze - standard in cymbal making.
This line of cymbals came to us via the late great Louis Bellson, who was looking for an all-purpose pair of hats. Zildjian did not disappoint and created what is broadly considered one of the most versatile hi-hats on the market today. The perfect choice if you want to keep your playing options open.
- Very versatile
- Good for new drummers
- Fast Response
- Prices from $420
Zildjian has opted for the combination of a medium top with a heavy bottom. This choice results in a set of hi-hats that have a really nice crisp character. Their sound has a lot of clarity and brightness.
New Beats have been the go-to choice for many pro-level drummers, and that is hardly surprising. Closed, the hats have a fast and articulate stick response. The open wash is clear with some complex overtones that won’t need to be mic’d with surgical precision for studio sessions. The hats have a clear, high “chick” sound that cuts through.
Made with Zildjian’s B20 alloy, the cymbals show high-quality craftsmanship. The cymbals are machine hammered symmetrically and are lathed widely.
These hats would be at home in a variety of settings and are truly versatile. You only have to look at the stable of drummers that use them. From Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters to Mario Duplantier with Gojira, so you know these cymbals do the job whether in the studio or on the stage.
Meinl HCS 13”
Without a great-sounding pair of hats, you can't keep the music train rolling. That's why the Meinl 13" HCS hi-hat pair delivers such an articulate, clean sound - to help you drive the beat.
Meinl’s entry-level offering feels anything but budget. The finish of the cymbals is traditional but still striking. These specially matched cymbals have a warm and articulate sound that will be at home in many different styles, and at this price point, you really could not do better.
- Really good entry-level option
- Bright and articulate tone
- Really clear response when playing fast
- Prices from $10
This pair of hats is really great value for money. They’re surprisingly good for hats at this price point. These bad boys really come to life with more lively styles like rock and pop. They have a nice, articulate tone with a perfectly clean and crisp stick attack. They have a super defined and clear “chick’ sound.
Played open, the wash is pretty complex, although I do feel like they lose some of the complex overtones you find in slightly higher-end cymbals.
That really is not enough of a drawback to put me off of them, though. These are a great little set of hats made with Meinl’s MS63 alloy.
Combine that with a quality sound and traditional finish at a really affordable price, and you can see why this is my budget pick
Sabian 14” AAX Medium Hats
Sabian’s AAX cymbals have been pushing envelopes and breaking new ground since 1993. Today’s redesigned AAX lineup is leaner, meaner, and primed to cover even more ground in the drumming market.
A medium-weight set of hats that features a raw bell allows Sabian’s AAX hats to have a complex wash of tones, creating a rich, crisp sound that is versatile enough to use across many genres. The smaller unpolished bell allows these hats to have a complex sound in the wash with dark overtones.
- Feature rich pro level hats
- Premium B20 alloy
- Raw, unpolished bell
Sabian’s AAX line is a premium set of hi-hats that is right at home in most mainstream styles today.
Combining a medium top with a heavy bottom, a small, raw bell, and wider, much more visible hammering has resulted in a set of cymbals with a versatile, complex, and slightly dark tone.
The small bell that has been left raw gives the hats a crisp ping, with each stroke of the stick clear and defined. The response is incredible, and as a result, you have greater stick control on the rebound. These really are a pleasure to play.
They feature a premium B20 alloy that adds complexity when played open, with that jazzy wash we all love. Closed, they are crisp and tight, with a loud and clear chick.
A pro-level set of hats that are really fun to get your sticks on.
Meinl Classics Custom Dark 14”
Magnificently loud, with an authoritative punch and excellent high-pitched stick definition, Meinl 14" Classics Custom dark hi-hats provide you with a cutting, loud "chick" and a touch of warmth, due to additional hammering.
A visually stunning pair of hats, that offers an impressive palette for drummers looking for a heavy sound and quick response. Made with Meinl’s B20 alloy, the tone is dark with a strong attack that responds really well to aggressive playing. Headbangers will find this one tasty.
- Great for heavy styles
- Visually unusual
- Very loud and cutting tone
Oh boy, does teenage me love the look of these. These hats are made for aggressive playing styles, and have the volume and look to back them up. They have a nice warm tone that I really like while playing heavy sets. I prefer my hats not to be high-pitched for heavier styles, and these deliver exactly that. A well-rounded tone that is not too high-pitched.
That means the cymbals have lots of punch, without being too in-your-face. Overall, very balanced and warm.
The aesthetics are definitely going to get you noticed as well. Trust me, with these on your kit, you are going to get a lot of questions. They are definitely worth checking out if your music leans toward the aggressive.
Paiste 14” PST7 Hi Hats
The PST7 series is the result of Paiste's continued development of materials and production techniques - giving you the sound and quality you're used to from Paiste cymbals at an affordable price.
These are lightweight hats that feel soft and responsive. The warm, mellow sound is perfect for players that do not need a lot of volume and are looking for a fairly bright sound with a sensitive and lively response.
- Good value for money
- Good clarity
- Good for both beginner and intermediate players
If you are a beginner to intermediate player, I would consider having a look at these. These sound absolutely great and are really budget friendly.
PST7 (Paiste Sound Technology) cymbals are made using Paiste’s CusN8 alloy, originally introduced in 2002. This allows Paiste to give us a pair of hats with a clear and powerful chick sound that carries enough to be used, even for aggressive styles.
The hats offer really great and clear stick articulation, even at faster tempos. A combination of the medium top with a heavy bottom gives these some real volume. They also have quite a heavy playing feel.
There aren’t many downsides to these at this price, to be honest, but as is common with lower-priced cymbals is, you may find you lose some of the complexity in the overtones when you play them open. These stay a great option, although I will note that I like a really dry cymbal sound and if that is you, then you may find these a little lively, so keep that in mind.
Sabian AAX Xplosion 14”
The Sabian 14" AAX X-plosion Hats are a Cymbal Vote winner. With a high profile bell and tighter sustain, you'll love the modern stylings of the 14" AAX X-plosion Hats.
It’s right there in the name, isn’t it? These hats were developed from the successful Xplosion crash, which was known for its incredible richness of volume, and sustain. With a bell that has a pretty high profile, and a medium-heavy hat combination gives this offering from Sabian a cutting bark that suits styles that really need you to put some energy into them.
- Classic look
- Loud and perfect for styles like funk and gospel
- Bright tone cuts through
I suppose with Xplosion in the name, it goes without saying that you are not going to struggle to be heard. These hi-hats are loud.
That’s not all they offer, though. The Xplosion hats have a bright response that sounds crisp and modern. They would be at home in most modern music applications, although they are loud, so if you play acoustic indie then maybe give these a miss.
Built off of the Xplosion crash, the hats combine a medium top with a medium/heavy bottom that creates a really great feeling of balance when played with your foot.
Played open, the hi-hats are loud and articulate, while playing them closed gives a crisp and distinct response. The high profile bell give these hats a good level of sustain, and the “chick’ sound is full-bodied.
Overall, these are pretty fun to play
Paiste Formula 602 Modern Essentials 15”
Paiste Formula 602 Modern Essentials 15" hi-hats add tonal balance and dynamic expression to your rhythms. Whether you're playing soft or loud, these hats remain clear, controlled, and articulate.
These cymbals are an absolute dream. The wash is shimmering and complex; the tone is rich, warm, and responsive. Legendary drummer Vinnie Colaiuta was instrumental in the design of the 602 series cymbal, and like Vinnie, the cymbals are versatile and would suit a variety of styles.
- Pro level cymbals
- Lively response with a medium sustain
- 602 series developed with Vinnie Colaiuta
- Prices from $620
Vinnie Colaiuta is drum royalty. He played with the likes of Frank Zappa and Joni Mitchell and a whole slew of other talents. It is hardly surprising that cymbals that involved Vinnie sound awesome.
I absolutely love the way these hats lose none of their clarity. Whether you are playing loud or soft, the tone is the same. Hand hammered, and made with Paiste’s CuSn20 alloy, these hats have a really warm sound that is rich and complex.
When played closed, the hats are fantastic for fast and dynamic playing with a super crisp and clean stick response. Played open, the wash is warm with lots of overtones. The “chick’ sound is full and meaty and feels great played with my feet.
I love the sound of these, and they are really versatile. These are great cymbals and will sound good at your session, then your wedding gig and your church gig, or anywhere you play them really.
Zildjian K Sweet Hi Hats
K Zildjian Sweet Hi-hats bring centuries-old Zildjian character and charisma to virtually any style of music - from rock to symphonic. These hats are oversized and extra dark.
Their unique balance of the very thin hammered top with an extra heavy bottom and unlatched bells gives these cymbals a dark character with a tone that can only be described as sweet. The hats have a very firm chick and complex wash.
- A unique combination of thin extensively hammered top and heavy bottom
- Produces a “sweet” sound that is both dark and responsive
- Complex tones
- Prices from $530
Related: How Many Cymbals Are In A Drum Kit (+How Many Do You Need?)
It’s right there in the name. these hats really have a sound that can only be described as sweet. Made with a premium B20 alloy and a bell that has been left unlatched, these hats have a pretty full-bodied stick response.
The combination of the thin hammered top with an extra heavy bottom means that the closed sound is quite dry, which I absolutely love but is not to everyone’s taste, so be aware.
That weight combination does mean that the chick sound is robust and cuts through, nonetheless. You really want to play these open though. That is when they really shine.
That “sweet” tone really comes to life when played open. The wash is complex and shimmering. An absolutely awesome experience to my ears.
The cymbals feature a traditional finish, so they are not as heavily buffed and shined as you might see in other hi-hats. That finish gives them a much warmer and darker quality.
They may lack in volume somewhat, and the tone may not be so great for more aggressive styles, but for jazz and other styles, these will be lovely.
That’s the review guys. I hope that helps you make some choices. Ultimately, though, it will be your hands and ears that need to be happy.
Don’t ever just take my word for it, get out there and try as many cymbals as you can until you find something that works for you and your music.
That’s most of the fun anyway, isn’t it?
Up next, check out Ride Vs Crash Cymbal (4 Key Differences To Know)