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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Does mouthpiece material matter for the sound and can you recognize if a mouthpiece is made from metal or not? A re-occurring topic here on SOTW with various opinions.

I just uploaded 13 tenor sound clips (as WAV files) played with the same backing track, tenor and reed and recorded under the same conditions. The clips are numbered without specifying the mouthpiece name or material.

Here is the link to the sound clips:
https://app.box.com/s/s35q0uon2mfpab0q5aartxjwl3nlohs7

- Can you recognize which clip is played on a metal mouthpiece and which not?

It's advised to listen with a good headphone or on good speakers.

For this thread I'm not that much interested in the discussion if mouthpiece material matters (that has been done in many other threads!), but more in the fact if people can identify by ear which clips are played on a metal and which on a non-metal mouthpiece.

I will reveal the answer after some time. :)

=================

EDIT:

The answers can be found on page 3 / post #48:

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...l-mouthpiece&p=3738446&viewfull=1#post3738446
 

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I didn't listen because I have tried in the past to determine the same thing and found that I could not.
 

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I don’t want to be a Debbie-downer here, but wouldn’t you have to *also* not know which is which for this experiment to be 100% legit? I mean, those *are* the standards I keep seeing as a requirement for gear testing here...

Obviously you would be able to tell Metal versus hard rubber pretty easily, but I am just trying to point out why this test, and every other done by a SOTW person, is still going to have some inherent bias.

If your opinion is that metal sounds just like rubber then your recordings might be made to add evidence to that point. Most likely subconsciously of course. Now let me take a listen and make a guess to play along.
Debbie-downer out!
 

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I listened to each once using iPhone headphones.
Here is my guess.
:)
1-rubber
2-metal
3-metal
4-rubber
5-rubber (unsure)
6-rubber
7-metal
8-metal
9-metal
10-rubber
11-rubber
12-metal
13-rubber
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I didn't listen because I have tried in the past to determine the same thing and found that I could not.
I can imagine 1saxman, I also find it very hard to distinguish. It could be easier if you have some pre-defined idea's about what the differences in sound should be, but the question is if those idea's are correct!

I don’t want to be a Debbie-downer here, but wouldn’t you have to *also* not know which is which for this experiment to be 100% legit? I mean, those *are* the standards I keep seeing as a requirement for gear testing here...

Obviously you would be able to tell Metal versus hard rubber pretty easily, but I am just trying to point out why this test, and every other done by a SOTW person, is still going to have some inherent bias.

If your opinion is that metal sounds just like rubber then your recordings might be made to add evidence to that point. Most likely subconsciously of course. Now let me take a listen and make a guess to play along.
Debbie-downer out!
Andre, you could be right in that!

But I made these clips early last year just for sound comparison reasons and not at all with the intention to identify differences between materials. As an (amateur) player I'm not that much interested in the material (but I normally prefer metal). For me it's all about sound, feel and easiness of playing when I test a mouthpiece. I try to play them with the same intention, but some mouthpieces can push you into a certain playing mood depending on what you get back from them.

I have to add that all the short clips are spontaneous recordings, just 5 minutes warming up on the mouthpiece and directly after that one (or sometimes a second) take fully improvised and played by ear.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I listened to each once using iPhone headphones.
Here is my guess.
:)
1-rubber
2-metal
3-metal
4-rubber
5-rubber (unsure)
6-rubber
7-metal
8-metal
9-metal
10-rubber
11-rubber
12-metal
13-rubber
Thanks for giving it a try Andre.

Your score is 8 correct answers out of 13 (61.5 % correct). :)
 

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And of course we all will come back to debate if the difference is material or design...different size beaks etc...

Mrpeebee, you are just stirring the pot lol!
 

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Just a question but are these all Links or is it a wide variety of pieces with different size baffles? Or are all the baffles and tip openings pretty similar? I just ask because I started listening and thought one was metal but then thought it could sound like that if it was HR with a higher baffle?
 

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The question has been one I have considered for over 50 years. Listening to records with famous/great players on all kinds of mouthpieces, unless you already know what they use you probably can't tell. The reason is, these players have been using certain mouthpieces and are/were used to them, so their sound had stabilized. The reason you may be able to tell in the examples in this thread is the player used multiple mouthpieces in one session, which does not allow the time required to bond with a mouthpiece and stabilize your sound on it, which allows the most basic tendencies of each mouthpiece to be apparent. In my view this takes approximately three weeks of intense practice/gigging/performing. Particularly with the vintage Berg Larsen mouthpieces, its hard to tell if a player is using hard rubber or stainless steel. King Curtis is a great example - he used a steel Berg in his early days but switched to a HR one in his latter days. Sometimes you can tell that the steel one is brighter but if you didn't already know what he was playing, there is no way to know for sure that it wasn't simply another HR piece that was tweaked differently than the latter one - and vice versa.

In 1989 I was playing a hand-finished DG 'King Curtis' that I got from WWBW (way before the 'Laser-Trimmed' ones, so don't get mixed up) which was good but also kind of unremarkable. I found out why much later.* Anyway around 1998 I got what was termed a 'Super King' on ebay which turned out to be a hand-finished 'King Curtis' originally sold by Dave out of his shop in Hicksville. When I first played it, it was very bright/buzzy with the same reeds I was playing on the other one, but I could tell it had something I had been missing, so I started using it. I kept the first one for years after that but only used it on my back-up tenor. I guess it took me a month to bond with the 'new' piece. If I had recorded the first time I played it compared with the first one, you would have said the new one is metal and the old one is HR. However, as time went on and I got darker and darker on the new piece, you may have said the opposite on a recording done at that time.


* Dave made a deal with WWBW to handle his pieces. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he did not finish or plate them as well as he did the ones he sold, so these mouthpieces are in sort of a 'twilight zone' between the 'real' ones and the later 'Laser-Trimmed'. They look like the ones he sold from his shop, and they play well, but most are just a little 'bland'. I'm actually still using one of them (alto Studio) from that group.
 

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For what it's worth it was studied using electronic measures and listeners:
https://www.philbarone.com/blog/saxophone-news/post/does-saxophone-mouthpiece-material-matter
The summary from the paper:
"In conclusion, the spectral content of Dukoff metal and plastic tenor saxophone mouthpieces made with mostly identical internal and external dimensions were indistinguishable by microphone measurement or to a listener's ear when long tones were played. In contrast, a Barone mouthpiece with similar external dimensions but different internal baffle could be distinguished easily by measurement and by ear from the Dukoffs. There is a general tendency for plastic or hard rubber mouthpieces to have larger external dimensions compared to metal pieces (as opposed to the specific mouthpieces tested here). The plastic or hard rubber piece thus will open the player's oral cavity more, on average, than a metal piece. It is suggested that this increased oral cavity volume reduces the "edge" or "brightness" in the sound heard by a listener. Thus, conductors seeking unison sectional tone quality actually are specifying a desire for particular mouthpiece dimensions rather than materials. A player may discern a heard difference in mouthpiece material since the sound conduction through the jaw may differ with varying mouthpiece material."
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I can't tell much difference between any of them really.
That's what I also find for most clips: some are more bright or dark, but in general no huge differences between the clips. Playing them in real shows me more differences, which can't be detected by only listening to the clips.

And of course we all will come back to debate if the difference is material or design...different size beaks etc...

Mrpeebee, you are just stirring the pot lol!
You could be right Phil. :bluewink:

By the way, one of the pieces played is coming from you.

Just a question but are these all Links or is it a wide variety of pieces with different size baffles? Or are all the baffles and tip openings pretty similar? I just ask because I started listening and thought one was metal but then thought it could sound like that if it was HR with a higher baffle?
Steve, 5 of the 13 pieces are Links (different models). Tip sizes are from 9 to 12* and baffles are from moderate to high (for both metal and non-metal pieces).

The question has been one I have considered for over 50 years. Listening to records with famous/great players on all kinds of mouthpieces, unless you already know what they use you probably can't tell. The reason is, these players have been using certain mouthpieces and are/were used to them, so their sound had stabilized. The reason you may be able to tell in the examples in this thread is the player used multiple mouthpieces in one session, which does not allow the time required to bond with a mouthpiece and stabilize your sound on it, which allows the most basic tendencies of each mouthpiece to be apparent. In my view this takes approximately three weeks of intense practice/gigging/performing. Particularly with the vintage Berg Larsen mouthpieces, its hard to tell if a player is using hard rubber or stainless steel. King Curtis is a great example - he used a steel Berg in his early days but switched to a HR one in his latter days. Sometimes you can tell that the steel one is brighter but if you didn't already know what he was playing, there is no way to know for sure that it wasn't simply another HR piece that was tweaked differently than the latter one - and vice versa.

In 1989 I was playing a hand-finished DG 'King Curtis' that I got from WWBW (way before the 'Laser-Trimmed' ones, so don't get mixed up) which was good but also kind of unremarkable. I found out why much later.* Anyway around 1998 I got what was termed a 'Super King' on ebay which turned out to be a hand-finished 'King Curtis' originally sold by Dave out of his shop in Hicksville. When I first played it, it was very bright/buzzy with the same reeds I was playing on the other one, but I could tell it had something I had been missing, so I started using it. I kept the first one for years after that but only used it on my back-up tenor. I guess it took me a month to bond with the 'new' piece. If I had recorded the first time I played it compared with the first one, you would have said the new one is metal and the old one is HR. However, as time went on and I got darker and darker on the new piece, you may have said the opposite on a recording done at that time.
Good story 1saxman, I fully agree. I did use for all clips the same La Voz medium reed, but used on one mouthpiece a Rico Royal 2. That clip sounded so dark compared to the others that I didn't use it for above compare clips.

One of the pieces played is my main piece since 2010. I own most others for a longer time and played them regularly, but am of course not as used to them as to my main piece.
 

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I decided to take a stroll in this maze, taking down notes on a piece of paper. When I noted down "Hard Rubber" for the third piece in a row (1, 2, 3...) I became aware that I was not judging the different mouthpieces but the sound of 'Peter the man himself' plus expectations based on the experience with my own hard rubber and metal mouthpieces.
I would have to really dig deep into your playing and phrasing, then listening again and again to become able to differ between the man and the mouthpiece(s).
Once again it's a sobering perception that the player is a lot more of the sound than the mouthpiece itself. Peter, please forgive me for giving up.
 

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You have a strong established tone, so I hear only that minimal difference.. Of course, recording is extremely sensitive and no difference would be detected during a live performance. It was an interesting comparison and I enjoyed the clip.
 

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What the heck. I tried. I just listened to the first 20 seconds of each clip and went with my gut feeling but I have no idea whether right or wrong. If I thought about it too much I started second guessing everything. Here's what my gut told me:

1-rubber
2-metal
3-rubber
4-rubber
5-metal
6-rubber
7-metal
8-metal
9-metal
10-rubber
11-rubber
12-metal
13-metal

Let me know how bad I did............
 

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Discussion Starter #16
For what it's worth it was studied using electronic measures and listeners:
https://www.philbarone.com/blog/saxophone-news/post/does-saxophone-mouthpiece-material-matter
The summary from the paper:
"In conclusion, the spectral content of Dukoff metal and plastic tenor saxophone mouthpieces made with mostly identical internal and external dimensions were indistinguishable by microphone measurement or to a listener's ear when long tones were played. In contrast, a Barone mouthpiece with similar external dimensions but different internal baffle could be distinguished easily by measurement and by ear from the Dukoffs. There is a general tendency for plastic or hard rubber mouthpieces to have larger external dimensions compared to metal pieces (as opposed to the specific mouthpieces tested here). The plastic or hard rubber piece thus will open the player's oral cavity more, on average, than a metal piece. It is suggested that this increased oral cavity volume reduces the "edge" or "brightness" in the sound heard by a listener. Thus, conductors seeking unison sectional tone quality actually are specifying a desire for particular mouthpiece dimensions rather than materials. A player may discern a heard difference in mouthpiece material since the sound conduction through the jaw may differ with varying mouthpiece material."
Thanks for sharing SaxBass55. :)

I'm actually aware of those studies and results from the many threads we had about that topic here on SOTW and am also one who believes in above scientifically determined conclusions.

I decided to take a stroll in this maze, taking down notes on a piece of paper. When I noted down "Hard Rubber" for the third piece in a row (1, 2, 3...) I became aware that I was not judging the different mouthpieces but the sound of 'Peter the man himself' plus expectations based on the experience with my own hard rubber and metal mouthpieces.
I would have to really dig deep into your playing and phrasing, then listening again and again to become able to differ between the man and the mouthpiece(s).
Once again it's a sobering perception that the player is a lot more of the sound than the mouthpiece itself. Peter, please forgive me for giving up.
Heiner, thanks for the effort and I fully understand your dilemma. From your first three attempts you scored 1 correct answer out of 3 (33.3 % correct). :)

You have a strong established tone, so I hear only that minimal difference.. Of course, recording is extremely sensitive and no difference would be detected during a live performance. It was an interesting comparison and I enjoyed the clip.
Thanks germanwatches, I agree. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #17
What the heck. I tried. I just listened to the first 20 seconds of each clip and went with my gut feeling but I have no idea whether right or wrong. If I thought about it too much I started second guessing everything. Here's what my gut told me:

1-rubber
2-metal
3-rubber
4-rubber
5-metal
6-rubber
7-metal
8-metal
9-metal
10-rubber
11-rubber
12-metal
13-metal

Let me know how bad I did............
Thanks for the effort Steve.

Your score is 5 correct answers out of 13 (38.5 % correct). :)
 

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Part of the issue is obviously the variances between mouthpieces. You could think one is brighter so it's metal but it could be the affect of the baffle. I would be curious to do the test with two mouthpiece that are identical but one HR and one metal and see if there is any perceived difference........
 

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Answers will probably be a binomial distribution. That is the same as from flipping a coin. 50-50 but some guessers will be higher than 50-50 and some will be lower.

Dont feel bad if you get less right or good if you get more right. The results are not based on your hearing skill level.
 
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