A closer look at the Sabian AAXplosion and AA-Metal X cymbals.

By Billy Masterson

I guarantee there's a drummer in just about every town in America who can't seem to get heard over the crunch and squeal of Marshalls and Les Pauls. Every young player grapples with this; and with all the different brands and styles of cymbals out there, finding the right ones can be a daunting task. I've purchased cymbals based on how they sounded in the showroom only to be disappointed at the next gig when they were buried by the guitars. Sabian's AAXplosion and AA-Metal X cymbals are designed to cut through the mix and get you heard.

Sabian AAXplosion Cymbals

Precision and Accuracy

After receiving the cymbals from Musician's Friend, I brought them to practice to test them out and get opinions from the rest of the band. Say what you will about guitarists— I've found the guy I play with has an incredible ear when it comes to cymbals (it's probably why he gives me more guff about my own cymbals than anyone else). I unpacked the 16" and 18" AAXplosion crashes and scoped their shine. Once they were up on the stands, I was ready to play.

In doing my research, I found out the AAXplosions have a feature called Auto-Focus Response, a design element that actually filters out overtones that don't jibe with what you're going for, be it a softer touch or a brutal smash. I'm not sure how it works exactly, but it definitely works.

The sound from the AAXplosions was amazingly pure. They get their name from their powerful attack, and they resonate with a colorful midrange sparkle that really shines through the roar of the guitars. After the first song we did, I was fully aware of the disservice my old cymbals were doing me. My guitarist commented on how bright they sounded, and how they held their own in the mix, whereas my old cymbals tended to get drowned out.

Metal Magic

After enjoying the AAXplosions for a few songs, I switched over to the 16" and 18" AA Metal-X crashes, as well as a 10" splash from the same series. AA Metal-X cymbals are designed for heavy-hitters. Sabian takes their signature B20 bronze and shapes it under a huge amount of pressure (75 tons!). The resulting cymbals have amazing inner strength that withstands the hardest hits.

Sabian Metal Crash Cymbal 

The fundamental of the AA Metal-X cymbals is bright and energetic with a rich midrange and a top end that shimmers. We ran through a few of our harder songs where I get to thrash like Animal. I couldn't get over the strength these cymbals possess, and the way they project such powerful energy. And because they're strong yet thin, they respond just as well to a soft touch without the awkward clang that thicker cymbals tend to deliver.

The splash was an unexpected surprise. I haven't used a splash in years, finding most of them a bit tinny for my taste. That certainly isn't the case with the AA Metal-X splash. It has a really nice undertone that balances perfectly with the cymbal's glassy wash.

A Revelation

It was torturous to spin the wing nuts down on my old cymbals again, and I practically had a tear in my eye when I sent all these great cymbals back. It only took a couple of practices before I was placing an order with Musician's Friend for the Sabians that will soon grace my kit. If you find yourself struggling to get your cymbal work heard, a set of AAXplosion or AA Metal-X cymbals is a great solution.