Most of my students are beginner/intermediate players using entry-mid level drum kits. It is very common for these type of kits to include a set of stock cymbals that sound harsh and bend/crack after a few months of use. With several brands and packages available, shopping for new cymbals can be quite overwhelming and is inevitably one of the most common questions I get from my students or their parents.
I've compiled a list of what I consider to be the top 4 cymbal packages for beginner/intermediate students to get a nearly professional level sound on a budget.
1. Meinl HCS Basic Cymbal Set - Although they are not the cheapest, I find this Meinl pack (pictured above) to be the best deal since it includes all standard size cymbals such as the hihat, ride, and crash as well as a bonus splash cymbal. I've played these cymbals at rehearsals and on my students' drums and I can vouch for the fact that they rival expensive professional grade cymbals.
2. Wuhan 457 3-piece Cymbal Set - Coming in at a close 2nd are the Wuhans. Almost the identical set as Meinl is offering without the bonus splash cymbal. This pack could arguably be a better deal since it's so much cheaper. However, having played botht he Meinls and Wuhans before, I prefer Meinl as a matter of personal preference.
3. Sabian B8X 2-Pack Box Set - Although Sabian and Zildjian are the 2 most popular names in Cymbal manufacturing, this set includes a 2" smaller crash and a 2" smaller "crash/ride" (2-in-1 cymbal) instead of a regulation size ride which was included in both the Meinl and Wuhan pack.
4. Zildjian ZBT Starter Box Set - With this pack, both hihat cymbals are 1" smaller than all the other packs. Like the Sabian pack, you're also getting the 2" smaller crash and the 2" smaller "crash/ride" instead of a regulation ride. All this at the same price point as the Meinl pack.
I hope this helps you chose your first cymbal pack. Feel free to leave any of your questions or concerns in the comments below. You can view a detailed comparison of the prices and features of each cymbal set as well as purchase the one that's best for your purposes via the link below.