Ok guys, I got my hands on one of these things. Lo and behold, when I went in to the school to teach a lesson, I walked over to the store and there sat one in the display case!
First, to allay the fears of the poster above, it is anything but complicated.
The case is really light, so unless you are suffereing from some serious back problems, I dare say you won't be affected by the weight.
The case is made of a tough plastic and inside the case is lined with a 3/4 inch thick, form fitting mat or blanket to absorb the sound. The case latches shut with 3 or 4 buckle type latches.
The sax rests on adjustable rubber supporters inside the case, so you can set the supporters to fit your sax. (I tried the mute with my Keilwerth alto and the bell fit, no problems there).
Inside the case is a small convex area near the bell that has a small mic imbedded in it, so the mic is not intrusive in the case.
After setting up the rubber supporters, I put my sax inside and closed the case. Closing the case is a little tricky as you have to get the two halves to line up and get the channels on the case lip to fit together exactly. This gets a little tricky because hinges are placed on the mute in the location corresponding to the front of the bell, thus allowing the lid a little more flex than you may want, ideally. I don't see any other place to put the hinges, however, due to the design of the case.
I put my mouthpiece on and then went about trying to insert my hands into the thing.
The hand inserts are made of a thick neoprene and the fit is snug but not uncomfortable and seals around your wrists well enough to keep the sound in.
I rested the edge of the mute on my chair, between my legs and noticed immediately that in this position (my usual in-front playing style) that the right hand side keys were a little hard to reach, due to placement of the neoprene hand hole. Not impossible, but not exactly easy. The left hand was fine.
Well, it works! I have a BIG sound on alto and I let loose and it was very quiet. I could easily hear myself without the earphones, but it was not a sound that your neighbors will hear.
Put it this way, your TV is a LOT louder than you will be with this thing.
I went through the whole range of the horn and found that for some reason the low Bb motor-boated on me. I thought this was strange and then I asked another player who tried it and he had the same thing happen.
I finally got the Bb out, but it was not pretty.
I then tried the headphones. This was very surprising, because while the sound was more acoustic, what I heard in the headphones was not very seriously amplified. If you use the headphones, you should still be able to hear the doorbell or phone. Very interesting.
In jack for your CD player, out jack, and headphone jack.
Switch it on, you hear yourself thru the phones.
I decided to check into the motorboating problem. I hypothesized that the rubber supports inside the case were affecting it.
So, I opened the case and took them out, put the sax back in and tried it again.
Low Bb WAS indeed easier and I could get it to play more consistently, but it still had the tendency to motorboat. I am not sure why this is happening but I am guessing that the close enclosure of the case is making this happen.
If you need to be quiet and to practice at home, this thing may be for you. If you want to hear yourself as you really sound, you may not be totally satisfied.
This product is not about sound quality, it is about sound suppression.
The quality of the product is high. It is clearly well made and seems good enough, but there are a few points I would like to see fixed.
1. The motorboating low Bb. I think this is probably due to a dampening effect of the rubber supports and the closeness/fit of the mute around the sax. My suggestions- a composite support that is made of hard plastic or wood with a felt cover to protect the sax from scratching AND make the case a little fatter so the horn can "breathe" inside the case.
2. Make the right hand hole a little more ergonomically placed. If the case were made a little fatter this would also help in making the side keys more accessible.
Would I recommend it? Yes, if you need to practice at home and are willing to sacrifice the low Bb.
Would I buy it? Yes, but I will probably wait until the issues I have listed here are rectified before I invest. Also, I have a lot of outside playing opportunities every week, so I get my practice in elsewhere. I am in no hurry, so I can wait.
I really think this device is a god-send for those who want to practice at home, despite the minor issues I have listed here.