BY AJ DONAHUE
TRX Cymbals’ new ICE cymbals are designed to offer brighter, more modern sounds without sacrificing the character and musicality associated with traditional Turkish instruments. The series’ development was inspired by the need for more cutting, aggressive sounds to support today’s music. While dark, dry cymbals have continued to rise in popularity, those sounds aren’t always enough to hang in every setting. So, TRX set out to produce something that would meet those demands while retaining some of the complexity that’s become so important to today’s players.
The ICE series is the latest addition to the TRX’s High Contrast line, which features a growing selection of bold, defined voices. Made of B20 bronze, ICE cymbals feature tight, micro lathing and TRX’s brilliant Diamond finish. They’re available in a wide variety of rides, crashes, hi-hats, effects cymbals, and Lightning (full ‘o holes) models. We received a healthy selection of sizes and models to get a full picture of what the line can do. Let’s dig in.
Out of the box, The ICE cymbals have the all the glossy looks and sheen you’d expect to see in a “bright” series. The micro-lathing and super-polished “Diamond” finish gives them a shiny quality that just feels clean. As far as color is concerned, the photos in this piece might be a bit misleading. They cymbals are slightly more pale in color than other polished cymbals I’ve seen, but they’re not quite as platinum-looking as the including images might imply.
Upon closer inspection, the cymbals are a little thinner, especially around the edges, than I would have expected. There’s some real flexibility in the bows here. Bell and bow profiles look fairly standard in shape, and there’s no excessive design or aesthetic here. They just look slick.
As mentioned above, the line includes a pretty wide selection of hats, crash-rides, crashes, and effect cymbals. But TRX also offers ICE models in the company’s Lightning cut, which includes an array of 0.5” to 1.5” holes in the bow. TRX sent a nice little selection of everything to check out here, and that means we’ve got a lot of cymbals to discuss. Let’s start small.
While I was expecting clean, glassy sounds, the ICE cymbals actually have a rich complexity sitting right below the brighter, top-end attack.
The big box from TRX included an 8” splash and a 10” Lightning splash. Expectedly, the 8” splash is quick and punchy with a short, slightly trashy finish. This was one of the first cymbals I hit in this group, and it served as a nice little preview of what’s to come. While I was expecting clean, glassy sounds, the ICE cymbals actually have a rich complexity sitting right below the brighter, top-end attack. I noticed the same thing in the 10” Lightning splash which responds much the same, but settles more quickly and has a lighter spread.
Expanding out a bit, the 16” and 18” crashes elaborate on that same theme beautifully. They have a clear, glassy top with a quick, mildly trashy finish. They sound a little thin sitting on top of them, but they’re punchy and full out in front of the kit and under microphones. There’s plenty of the modern, brighter thing in the initial attack, but the supporting wash has enough subtle trashiness to keep them interesting at all volumes. To my ear, they’re excellent go-anywhere, do-anything crashes.
Surprisingly, the 16” and 20” Lightning crashes feel notably different than their unperforated partners. They’re a little heavier in the bow, and as such, have a bit more clang in the attack. But, those holes cinch up the spread and add a breathier vibe. Overall, I think these are excellent crashes for modern pop and hip hop settings where brevity and punch are critical. My one complaint is that the 16” I tried has a strange hum coming out of the mid-range. It’s not terribly disruptive in person, but it really jumps out under microphones.
The 18” China I received also feels like an outlier. It’s heavier than the other ICE models, and doesn’t feel as dynamically capable. It takes a little more effort than I expected to wake the cymbal up. At volume, it’s got a great big, bright “pang” sound with an extra short finish. It’s a good high-volume punctuator that would serve metal, rock, and pop drummers well.
At 21”, the ICE crash-ride TRX sent over can do a whole lot. It’s got a tremendous crash, and it would be perfectly usable in that capacity alone. It’s a bit heavier, and with that, sustains longer than the standard ICE crashes. Normally, playing a crash-ride means you’d be losing the cutting projection necessary in a real high-volume ride, but that’s not the case here. Played softly, this ICE ride is sparkling and complex. As the volume goes up, however, that brighter, more aggressive ping starts to become more prominent, lifting the sound up to compete with surrounding instruments. I took the ICE cymbals to a few rehearsals with very different bands, and I was repeatedly impressed with how much I could do with the ride. It’s comfortable at any volume, and it’s got a killer bell with a deep, clean ping. This is a great cymbal for just about any setting I can imagine.
Finally, the 15” hats stole the show. They’re crisp and delicate down low, and thick and chunky when you really lean in. This is just a beautiful pair of studio or live hats. Like the rest of the ICE line, there’s a good bit of character in the spread, but it’s never overwhelming. They’re maybe a hair mellower than the rest of the cymbals in this series, but I think that serves their versatility extremely well. I thoroughly enjoyed these hats, and I’d really love to hear them after a few years of playing and mellowing. I think they’ll sound even better with time.
TRX ICE cymbals are versatile, musical, and extremely satisfying. They have just enough of the clean sheen expected of “brighter” cymbals, but still retain a tremendous amount of complex character. They speak up and settle quickly, and sound excellent under microphones. TRX is marketing these cymbals as brighter and more aggressive, but I hope that doesn’t make drummers think they’re looking at the heavy-duty dingers that emerged in the ‘80s and ‘90s. These are nuanced, interesting instruments that can fit comfortably in a wide variety of genres with ease.
TRX ICE Series Features
- B20 bronze
- Heavily polished Diamond finish
- Medium weights
- Medium profiles and bell heights
- Lightning models have 0.5” to 2” holes throughout bow to create faster, dryer sound
- 8” ICE Splash: $105.00
- 10″ Lightning Splash: $144.00
- 15″ Hi-Hats: $360.00
- 16″ Crash: $253.20
- 16″ Lightning Crash: $277.20
- 18″ Crash: $297.00
- 18″ China: $328.20
- 20″ Lightning Crash: $376.20
- 21″ Crash-Ride: $360.00