We’re back! We’ll be sharing a load of new reviews in the coming weeks, and we’re focusing primarily on gear that retails for under $200 to best benefit your gift giving (and receiving, duh) needs. Stay tuned.
Today, I’m (finally) finishing up our look at Libor Hadrava’s Signature Stacks from Dream Cymbals. We test drove the 10” model a while back, and now we’re running it back with the fatter 14”s. I’ve been waiting to post this review for some time because these stacks have been a little scarce for the past few months, but I just couldn’t wait any longer. You can find the 14” sets new on eBay and at a few other online retailers. It may require a quick Google search, but I promise it’s worth the ten seconds of digging. At only $186 retail, the Libor stack is a total steal.
Like the 10” model, the 14” Dream Stack pairs a Contact series cymbal with a specially designed Pang. Individually, the cymbals are very useable as punchy effects instruments, but I’ll admit they each produce a few wild overtones when played with anything other than a light touch (see video). Fundamentally, the notes are great, but those extra sounds make them just a tiny bit more difficult to use on their own.
But they shouldn’t be used alone. They’re much better when played as a pair. That extra wildness translates into a complex, trashy spread that’s loud and cutting, but hardly overbearing because of its quick decay and middling register. It’s a surprisingly warm sound that’s excellent for speedy, angular figures and staccato accents.
I’m getting a little ahead of myself though. Let’s talk a bit more about the design of the cymbals. These are two pies with fairly low profiles and low-ish bells. That, combined with the Pang’s broad, flat bow between the bell and flange, (I think) helps curb a few of the unwanted highs that might come from a pair of cymbals that have more natural ping. The result is a short burst of noise that’s dark and a little dry with plenty of character.
The real fun of the 14” stack though is exploring the effect of different tensions and configurations. I burned through quite a few in the video, so I won’t spend a lot of time on them here, but suffice it to say that these two cymbals offer a lot of options. Personally, I most enjoyed the standard orientation that has the Pang flange facing up (pictured) and the hi-hat-style setup with the crash on top. Playing the stack set-up like a hi-hat under pretty high tension gave me a quick, tight tick with a great snap of digital noise behind it.
Flipping the orientation like that still leaves enough room for the stack to fit on a standard cymbal stand, so the pair can operate like a crunchy x-hat. It’s a less aggressive sound that works really well in hip hop and d&b grooves, and blends smoothly with conventional hats too.
But again, that’s only a couple of the options you can explore with the 14” stack. It’s such a versatile instrument that you could really use it in just about any situation. Watch the video to see a few of the other setup options as well as demonstrations of the difference tension makes on each (then scroll down to see Libor’s Demo). Lots of fun.
Dream Cymbals and Libor Hadrava put together a really interesting pair of instruments with these Stacks. The 14” model can go from big, brash blasts to quick, quiet chirps in a matter of seconds, and it’s small enough that it doesn’t eat up too much sonic space even when played repeatedly. The ability to explore so many different configurations makes the stack remarkably versatile and really fun to tinker with as well. I can’t imagine getting more out of a different stack for less than $200. This is a really great product. Also, Libor rules and deserves your money.