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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The jist:
Put on some quality drummer's muffs, hear what sound you are actually producing, before innumerable echoes enrich it and bring the sum total to your ear.

Details:
When saxophone sound volume becomes a problem, it's usually that others complain about it. So we reduce the output and learn to live with the consequences, such as air flow obstruction. I've faced that problem, too, so I bought a pair of Vic Firth isolation headphones and let my wife test them. She says, it's much better now. She can barely hear me playing while she reads. When she listens to her own music, she cannot hear me at all.

While at it, I decided to try it myself and thus made a discovery: for the first time, I was hearing the core of my sound, with zero echoes added to it. First impression was disappointment: i sounded like a beginner playing on a cheap bassoon. Then I noticed that some finger transitions were clunky and needed to be worked on. I also noticed that some other transitions no longer make me nervous, as they appeared crystal-clear, so it was some weird echo that made them sound bad before. A third thing I noticed was, that there were quite a few little squeaks here and there. The reason they were not heard before was that the echoes drowned them. I started paying attention and, by the time I was playing the last etude, they were mostly gone.

This experience reminded me that the saxophone, just like any other acoustic instrument, is pretty dull at its core. It's the echoes that make it bold or smoky or sweet, whatever is your pleasure. Hear and heal the core, before you let the echo add false positives and false negatives to it.
 

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I don't know if this is the same principle or not but when I taught band, one of the techniques that I used once the band learned a piece was to start the song and then walk out of the band room close the door and listen from the hall. It was amazing how much more detail I could hear in the sound "coming through the wall" compared to standing in front of the group conducting. I could always pick up on problems in some of the inner parts that I had missed in rehearsals. I learned this from talking with other directors who used the same technique. It may be that this filtered out some of the reverberation in the room itself. I don't really know, but it made a much different listening experience.
 

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I worked around construction noise for many years and some of the worst is working on steel skeleton buildings. The ironworkers hammer and pound on steel all day long and the noise levels got so loud we (my survey party) couldn't hear each other talk over our two-way radios. I found I could drown out enough noise using standard foam earplugs to be able to communicate over the radio. I don't know how it works but the ambient noise can be cut down enough to hear through it.

I'd suggest to the OP that if your wife is having trouble listening to music buy her a set of Bose noise eliminating headphones. I got some for my wife because she travels on airplanes for work and the noise-eliminating feature helps her get more work done while she travels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'd suggest to the OP that if your wife is having trouble listening to music buy her a set of Bose noise eliminating headphones. I got some for my wife because she travels on airplanes for work and the noise-eliminating feature helps her get more work done while she travels.
AddictedToSax, active noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones are inefficient against voice and live music. That's because of the way they work. A built-in computer analyzes the ambient noise and adds into the headphones waveforms that are exact opposites of the ones coming from the outside. Plane, car, train, office, plant machinery - they all produce noise of constant pattern, so it's easy to analyze and cancel. Voice and musical instruments produce spontaneous sounds. By the time the computer has analyzed the pitch/amplitude and is ready to cancel, the pitch changes. To be fair, the phone manufacturers acknowledge it: against voice, ANC headphones are just like a pair of regular headphones.
 
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