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Our last thread started with high hopes that eventually faded away as many of us tried the highly anticipated D'Addario VENN synthetic reeds. After some 11 pages of discussions it concluded with some of us receiving letters from D'Addario promising they heard their customers' complaints and would make it right, addressing those initial launch issues.

Today I received a box with a replacement 2.5 VENN (same I had originally bought) as well as a 2.0 with a nice letter from them explaining they were aware of the initial disappointment over their initial launch quality. Saying they sent me not only the same reed I had purchase but also a second one a step lower in strength so I could compare them. That's a really nice gesture of a company trying to make things right!

Both reeds look perfect. No loose fibers, perfectly symmetric. Same construction with the protective film we debated so much about.

My initial impressions:

the 2.5: plays really nice from middle of the lower register up! a fat, warm sound just like my Rigotti cane reeds. below low E I feel a more resistance then I'm used to though. I'll give it some more time.
the 2.0: easy to play throughout all registers, but it lost the warmth of the 2.5. sounds buzzier, not as pleasant of a sound.

I applaud D'Addario for sticking to their word and making it right to their VENN initial adopters. I'll hold my final judgement on whether I like them for a few more weeks of playing them.

Anyone else got your new reeds?
 

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the 2.5: plays really nice from middle of the lower register up! a fat, warm sound just like my Rigotti cane reeds. below low E I feel a more resistance then I'm used to though. I'll give it some more time.
the 2.0: easy to play throughout all registers, but it lost the warmth of the 2.5. sounds buzzier, not as pleasant of a sound.
I haven't received any new reeds yet, but your comments above are basically identical to my reaction to the VENNs I tried (when I was discussing performance rather than manufacturing precision). If you look up my comments in the first thread, you'll see that I found the 2.5 VENN (alto) to have pretty good tone quality, but also a little too much resistance, whereas the 2.0 is very nicely playable everywhere, but not quite as good sounding. I'll repeat one of my conclusions:
I think a Venn 2.25, if one existed, would probably be best for me. If you look at the Venn strength chart, you'll see that it's not fully linear, i.e., the 3.0+ is four notches above the 3.0, and the 3.0 is four notches above the 2.5, but the 2.5 is five notches above the 2.0. Between the 2.5 with its better tonal stability, and the 2.0 with its enhanced response and reduced resistance, I haven't decided yet which I prefer. Obviously, neither is perfect. But as always, my mantra is, "Every reed is a compromise."
 

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I got mine today, a 2.0 and 2.5. Both of them have a bunch of loose fibers at the tip, and the back of the tips, while flatter than the original one, still show the same sort of deformity that I had noted in the other thread. Both are much less resistant than the original, but the variability in that deformity is going to kill consistency.

My initial impression is that my Legere 2.5 sounds more lively than either of them. I'll keep working with them to see what happens, but to my mind D'Addario missed again.

EDIT: this morning the tip of my tongue is pretty irritated, and the only thing I did yesterday that could have done that was play these reeds for a half hour.

I'm done.
 

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Follow-up: I received my replacement VENNs the other day. I had purchased two reeds, both a 2.5 and a 2.0. But D'Addario sent me two free reeds (one of each strength), not four. So unless there's another separate package on the way, which I doubt, the policy appears to limit the freebies to two per buyer.

In terms of quality, my experience was similar to Guto's, as he summarizes it above. The new reeds looks very good: extremely symmetrical vamp cuts, smooth backs, no fraying or loose fibers. The reed tips still appear fragile, but that probably can't be changed because it's a product of the new, composite material created by D'Addario.

The playing experience was pretty good -- marginally better than what I experienced with my original two reeds. I'd still prefer a 2.25 if one could be had, but I can make either of these work, after adjusting for the different performance tendencies that I describe above.
 

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Mine for tenor came over the weekend. Same loose fibers as the first but a better more symmetrical cut. both play thuddy. no fun at all. made me go back to the original Venn and even though it's got lots of hairs, is not even at the tip and has a little gauge on one of the side rails, it plays better. but not better enough. I'm also done.
 

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Got my replacements. They are cut evenly and without all the stray fibers and defects, but they sound terrible so that's that.
 

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An update on the 2nd iteration of VENN reeds, from a player who uses tenor reeds on alto sax.

PREVIOUSLY:
After purchasing a first-iteration VENN reed from Guitar Center in March 2020 -- & experiencing the same issues mentioned by other players -- I submitted a 1-star review to the GC product page; not snarky, just the facts. A GC customer service rep emailed to ask if I wanted a refund; I said sure, thanks. Received refund promptly. However, GC neither posted my review nor factored my single star into the aggregate ratings.

NEXT STEP:
I contacted D'Addario directly to provide real-world user input about their new product. Received a pleasant reply from KM, a D'Addario Product Manager & sax player. She offered to send new, improved VENN tenor sax reeds in strengths 2.0 & 2.5. In subsequent weeks we continued to communicate via email. She expressed an ongoing interest in gathering feedback from reed players; I pointed her toward the VENN threads at SOTW.

FIRST DAY:
Received the new reeds in late Nov 2020, gave 'em a three-hour workout on 1950s-style rhythm&blues -- screaming high notes, fast rhythm attacks, pitch-bends & growls -- using a 10Mfan Daddy-O 6 alto mouthpiece on a Keilwerth alto sax. They held up well, delivering 95% of the tone of a really good cane reed. Initial attacks at subtone volume revealed a slightly sluggish response. The new reed tips felt stiffer than the older VENN. After the session, my tongue tip felt slightly sensitive or irritated.

[KM confirmed that the new VENN tips are made "thinner than those of cane reeds" 'coz the fibers are so strong. She recommended lowering the reed as much as possible relative to the mouthpiece tip rail, while still maintaining coverage.]

Fit & finish of the new reeds seemed much improved. They appeared perfectly symmetrical, with a smooth, tight lamination layer -- clearly a different material &/or different method of adhesion. Gone were the loose fibers & ragged tip edge of the initial batch.

[KM wrote, "We actually had to apply a fairly cutting edge electron treatment to the side rails of the reeds to ensure lack of fraying at initial purchase/performance. After play, they will become loose over time."]

The VENN 2.0 played for me like a cane 2.5, & the VENN 2.5 played like a cane 3.

[KM wrote that her team was planning to revise their strength charts -- again -- "to try to make the strength comparisons a little easier for players to navigate."]

SUBSEQUENT IMPRESSIONS:
For the next month I play-tested the newer VENN Tenor Sax 2.0 & 2.5 reeds for 1 to 3 hours daily -- playing various styles of jazz, using two different ligatures on five alto sax mouthpieces with tip openings from 0.078" to 0.085" -- alternating with cane reeds or other synthetics for comparison.

On the second day, both VENN reeds developed a bumpy, abrasive texture that irritated my lower lip. On the third day my tongue could feel the granularity. Visual inspection revealed that part of the coating on the first 2 cm of reed length (as measured from the tip) had worn away, freeing short thin fibers. Although both VENN reed tips appeared to have bent & frayed a little, they did remain securely encapsulated within their laminations/coatings/whatever.

[KM responded, "While we do expect the reed to break down over time (loosening fibers), 3 days in seems too soon鈥 this is not something we experienced in beta testing, so we鈥檒l definitely keep an eye out for additional feedback..."]

After a week of play the 2.0 reed had softened to the point of unusability -- flexing into the mouthpiece windows, impeding airflow. The 2.5 softened as well, finally settling into plausible 2.5 strength range. On note attacks it continued to speak a bit late. I suggested to KM that D'Addario, to bridge the very wide gap between strengths 2.0 & 2.5, should offer VENN in a 2.25 strength.

[KM agreed that the 2.0 is "simply too soft" but said "other embouchures may need this lightness." She said that her team had considered releasing a 2.25, & were "definitely going to keep this recommendation on the vision list."]

Both reeds were finicky about placement. Beyond the tip rail, they irritated my tongue-tip. Behind the tip rail, they failed to speak. Right on the tip rail, they played (or rather, the 2.5 reed played). My alto mouthpieces all have very thin tip rails.

[KM confirmed that wider tip rails are more forgiving for VENN tip placement. She uses the Reserve alto mouthpiece.]

I was pleased with VENN tone -- throaty & saxual, neither as bright in the upper partials as Vandoren V16 nor as buzzy as Legere AC. As my alto sax tone gods are tenor players Ben Webster, Lester Young, & early Coleman Hawkins, a deep vintage sound hits the bullseye. Dunno if players aiming for a more contemporary (brittle, sizzly) tone quality would dig the VENN; but they'd be using a different kind of mouthpiece anyway, which might coax different vibrations from the reed.

[KM agreed that the earthier side of the sax tone spectrum "is definitely the most compatible sound concept paired with VENN."]

After that month of play-testing, I set aside the VENN reeds. Although I liked the tone, that irritating fibrous abrasiveness bugged me no end. KM thanked me profusely for providing detailed feedback. Then she spoiled it by hinting that I might want to become some kind of D'Addario product influencer -- encourage other players to try VENN reeds? I found the suggestion offensive. It can be honorable to provide useful feedback to a maker of gear, or to discuss pros & cons of gear with fellow players. But I ain't nobody's poodle.
 

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An update on the 2nd iteration of VENN reeds, from a player who uses tenor reeds on alto sax.
Lots of good stuff in this post, although I can't relate directly to the setup choice. :)

[KM confirmed that the new VENN tips are made "thinner than those of cane reeds" 'coz the fibers are so strong. She recommended lowering the reed as much as possible relative to the mouthpiece tip rail, while still maintaining coverage.]
Glad to have this official confirmation. The VENN tips are so thin that they are almost translucent. As noted in my previous posts, they look very fragile to me, and your experience does seem to confirm that the tip is the first part of a VENN to degrade.

The placement advice is interesting, and seems opposed to what I've always regarded as the conventional wisdom about synthetic reeds. I.e., with Legeres, I think you have to push them up as much as possible for optimal performance. Maybe I'll give the alternate approach a try with the VENNs.

The VENN 2.0 played for me like a cane 2.5, & the VENN 2.5 played like a cane 3.

[KM wrote that her team was planning to revise their strength charts -- again -- "to try to make the strength comparisons a little easier for players to navigate."]
. . .
I suggested to KM that D'Addario, to bridge the very wide gap between strengths 2.0 & 2.5, should offer VENN in a 2.25 strength.

[KM agreed that the 2.0 is "simply too soft" but said "other embouchures may need this lightness." She said that her team had considered releasing a 2.25, & were "definitely going to keep this recommendation on the vision list."]
I would be very surprised if you and I were the only people who felt this way. The gap in the strength lineup is pretty clear. Moreover, the problem with needing to use a "too soft" 2.0 perhaps could be solved by making the VENN's response more linear from the top to the bottom of the range. The VENN, like some other (but not all) synth reeds, has disproportionately higher resistance in the low register. To achieve the desired low-end response, it may be necessary to play a VENN that is softer than needed (and at risk of closing up) in the higher registers. The 2.5 would be fine for me all over if it responded the same way down low as it does up high.

Did you happen to suggest to the D'Addario rep that they come to SOTW and monitor the VENN threads? Even if they don't want to engage in public discussion with us, they should at least be reading all the player comments.
 

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Yes, I provided KM with links to three VENN threads at SOTW. She also mentioned that her team is following a clarinet forum.
 

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The VENN tips are so thin that they are almost translucent. As noted in my previous posts, they look very fragile to me, and your experience does seem to confirm that the tip is the first part of a VENN to degrade.
To clarify: On the reed I tried from the initial launch run, the tip was indeed fragile & became feathery.

However, on the reeds from the second run, only the nano-coating (or whatever it was) bonding stray fibers to the reed surface deteriorated -- causing short fibers to rise perpendicular to the surface, manifesting as a bumpiness that irritated my tongue & lips. The blade-like reed tip maintained its structural integrity, slightly abrading my tongue tip when the reed tip peeked beyond the mouthpiece tip.

Either way, sub-optimal. Nevertheless, a substantial difference in -- materials? method of assembly? -- between the two manufacturing runs.
 
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