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Is there a way to increase volume of flutes? In a small combo setting, with 2 alto saxes, 1 tenor sax, piano, and drums the flutes get drowned out...
 

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I bought one of those inexpensive Pyle wireless sets with two head-gear mics. The flutists wear these around their necks. I have the receiver close by on stage going into a mic port that goes to the house main mixer. The sound guy can then adjust their volume as we play. It works out great.

I also use this setup during rehearsal with a floor monitor pointed toward me while I'm conducting or playing lead. That way I can tell how the flutes are doing. Otherwise, they are always drowned out by the the other horns.
 

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Chage the headjoint. A Yamaha EC (one on ebay now at $500, no bids) iw a good one as is the Emerson "American" cut which has a sharply downturned front and really as loud as I have found. I can find a used one for in the $300 range or new for a bit more.
Beyond that, a mic. less other horns or a totally new flute would be your only choices. Piccolo should fry their ears.
 

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Play an octave higher?
 

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I have to disagree with Bruce. Almost all modern headjoints have the same maximum loudness IME; however achieving it can take very different blowing technique with different heads. The loudness is mostly dependent on the size of the bore and the tone holes, which is why a Boehm flute is so much louder than a classical 8 key instrument. Some early Boehm flutes with small oval embouchure holes are tricky, but most modern heads can all be played at around the same volume.
 

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Not to hiJack the thread, but since I sold you one of your flutes and you are a Conn/Selmer Musician. Have you tried the Avanti Brannen flutes that CS is making? I bought a used one and like it a great deal. I think a head from one of these flutes would help the volume issue a bit too.

Yes, you could always mic it and run through either a small amp or the P.A. system.
Here's one option.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Is there a way to possibly do this by increasing the natural volume of the flutes? Say with a saxophone you can practice playing louder to increase your volume. I'm not a flute player myself though so I don't know.
 

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... Almost all modern headjoints have the same maximum loudness IME; however achieving it can take very different blowing technique with different heads. The loudness is mostly dependent on the size of the bore and the tone holes, which is why a Boehm flute is so much louder than a classical 8 key instrument. Some early Boehm flutes with small oval embouchure holes are tricky, but most modern heads can all be played at around the same volume.
I totally agree with Kymarto. Exceptions are flutes with poorly designed heads, eg most Gemeinhardts (unless they've recently corrected their sins of decades.)

Instrument makers have been doing their best to make instruments loud (to compete with our generally louder musical environment) for a long time. They are getting the best or close to the best in volume that they can get, that is inherent in the flute. Different heads make only small differences. Different heads need different technique to get that inbuilt volume.

Alex, we have not heard you play, so we have no idea whether your own playing is a severely limiting factor. If it is, then different heads or flutes are unlikely to make any difference. I have some customers who play very, very softly, and most of the sound is fuzzy, wind noises. That is nothing to do with their flute.

Quite simply, a flute cannot be conspicuous in the midst of other instrumnets played much louder, and it cannot be manufactured significantly louder thatn it already is. As I said, the conspicuousness is increased by playing an octave higher, but for many doublers, the technique required is far more than what they can bother acquiring.

What flute are you actually playing? If it has a wooden body that has a severe taper to the lower end, &/or a head with a tiny, round embouchure hole, or a student Gemeinhardt (or similar) then you can indeed blame part of the lack of volume on the flute.
 

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Why is it that a flutist soloing over an orchestra can be heard above everything else? Is it just the players position in front, the amount of air used, the type of headjoint, or tone? I would go with TONE AND TIMBRE. This characteristic allows my playing at the middle to low range in front of a big band to become more predominate than being covered by the ensemble. Yes, the other aspects are just as important, but the players approach and tone makes the difference IMHO. It works well in playing with big bands in L.A.; a high musical performance level required by all musicians when playing with/without a mike. IMHO
 

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The flute player is playing in the third octave, and the orchestration is sensitive, i.e. the brass is not blasting at the same time, nor is there a collection of over-amplified guitars and thick in-fill of loud percussion, nor is there a quartet of saxes playing ff.
 

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Also these players have strong chops. A fine player using gold or platinum can get the most out of a flute. For us mortals (sax players) we can only hope to have power like they do. Give them a sax and, well.....
I still contend that the head can make a grea difference in power. Same as sax mouthpieces. You can take a Gemeinhardt flute with a factory head and change over to a LaFin head and you will see a big difference. Like putting a Metal Link 8* on a tenor instead of a Yamaha 4C. The big problem with switching flute heads is the money. Upgrading a $700 Yamaha with a $1,500 head is not always the best $$$ choice.
 

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I recently did some test with a SPL meter and various heads. Particularly, I have two handmade flutes with very different heads. The Powell/Cooper head seems very loud and open, while the Almeida Boston cut with high wall seems somewhat stuffy and resistant. In addition I threw an old Artley and a Yamaha student flute into the mix.

It is not so much the maximum volume that varies, but the way the flute responds to the air that is put into it. Max volume was within 1 dB in all the flutes, although the feel was very different for each. There are also differences in harmonic spectrum that can make one flute seem louder than another. For instance, the Cooper head has a high second harmonic peak, making the sound clear and bright. The Almeida head is more like the old French heads, with more spectral content in the higher harmonics but somewhat less in the lower, making the sound seem "airy" but somewhat muted.

I daresay this is similar to sax mouthpieces. With a proper reed, it will not so much be the sound pressure level that varies between mouthpieces (because this is largely determined by the air column dimensions), but the spectral content of the final sound. So we have to make a clear distinction between sound pressure level and spectral content. The latter is highly dependent on head joint or mouthpiece geometry, the former much more dependent on bore geometry.
 

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I agree with Kymarto; fluteheads differ more in color than in volume. I have a Myazawa flute that is much brighter than my Sankyo. But the volume is hardly different. More than anything else, it is the player who makes the difference. Years ago I was audience at a masterclass by William Bennett. He encouraged the conservatory girls (95% of the flute students are women) to play with more 'oomph'. He showed how to make volume on the low C. Well, in my experience it came close to the volume of a saxophone. His tone in the higher register was 'jetlike'. I can't find an other discription. Very fast air, splitting on the tonehole. It has al to do with developping the right embouchure. And off course with amplification, as there is no way to keep up with a couple of sax-players with jazz mouthpieces.
 

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Chage the headjoint. A Yamaha EC (one on ebay now at $500, no bids) iw a good one as is the Emerson "American" cut which has a sharply downturned front and really as loud as I have found. I can find a used one for in the $300 range or new for a bit more.
Beyond that, a mic. less other horns or a totally new flute would be your only choices. Piccolo should fry their ears.
The EC head joint for sale on ebay is mine Bruce and there have been several offers the first time i listed, this is the 2nd time around. The first one over $400 will take it, a good buy seeing that it is like new, but I won't give it away to the low ball offers, I may just as well leave it in the drawer!
As for the louder flute, practice is the only way to increase your air flow and sound volume. i find the more i practice, the more control i have and the louder i can play. Putting a Mic on it would probably be the best choice.
 

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...I still contend that the head can make a grea difference in power. Same as sax mouthpieces. You can take a Gemeinhardt flute with a factory head and change over to a LaFin head and you will see a big difference. ....
I think it is fair to compare modern, well designed heads. A Gemeinhardt factory head would hardly be called that. (Unless they've made huge improvement recently.)Gemienhard has staunchly stuck to a rather poor head design for several decades. I'd call it fairly close to a dud!
 

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I had a new high end Gemeinhardt 2011 in for repair recently. The head was more of a Cooper style. It was much better. I don't know what they are doing on their lower priced models. I like the head on my Avanti-Brannen and my EC Yamaha better.
 

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I see that this thread stopped awhile ago, but I only read it now in June so I'll throw in my 2 cents. I studied with an LA Phil player for awhile, and the amount of air /volume he could get from his flute was beyond belief. His power came from a laser beam air stream with very little wasted air and almost no cross flow( which can create unwanted eddies thereby weakening and diffusing the sound). I realized how vigorous playing the flute can be. It's almost an olympic sport when performed by pros.
 
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