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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I own a Vandoren Optimum AL5 and a Vandoren V16 S6+, and although the facing isn't too far off, the difference in sound is fairly noticeable. Do higher facings produce a more open and wide sounds that lower facings? Does the same apply for tip openings?
 

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My understanding is that facing includes the tip opening and the geometry of the curve from table to tip. Do you mean baffle when you say facing? Baffle is the inside top surface of a mouthpiece.

Open and wide sounds doesn't make sense to me. But dark (less high frequency components) and bright (more high frequency components) do make sense and correlate very closely to the height of the baffle.

Tip opening doesn't affect bright/dark very much in my experience. Wider openings generally allow you to play louder and blow harder as well as bend the pitch more. They take more air flow to make a sound and require a stronger embouchure and higher level of control, suitable only for more advanced players.

This Theo Wanne page explains it pretty well:
https://theowanne.com/knowledge/baffle-shapes/

The V16 is marketed as a jazz mouthpiece, hence probably designed to produce a brighter sound.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My understanding is that facing includes the tip opening and the geometry of the curve from table to tip. Do you mean baffle when you say facing? Baffle is the inside top surface of a mouthpiece.

Open and wide sounds doesn't make sense to me. But dark (less high frequency components) and bright (more high frequency components) do make sense and correlate very closely to the height of the baffle.

Tip opening doesn't affect bright/dark very much in my experience. Wider openings generally allow you to play louder and blow harder as well as bend the pitch more. They take more air flow to make a sound and require a stronger embouchure and higher level of control, suitable only for more advanced players.

This Theo Wanne page explains it pretty well:
https://theowanne.com/knowledge/baffle-shapes/
Right! The baffle. I’m sorry, I’m still pretty new to all of the terminology. And aside from dynamics, can chamber length and width affect tone?
 

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In my experience chamber shape and size, given the same baffle height, hasn't made much difference in tone. That's the extent of my knowledge unfortunately. I'll let the experts weigh in on the finer points and related acoustic physics theory.

Having said that, the only way to know for sure is to play them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In my experience chamber shape and size, given the same baffle height, hasn't made much difference in tone. That's the extent of my knowledge unfortunately. I'll let the experts weigh in on the finer points and related acoustic physics theory.

Having said that, the only way to know for sure is to play them.
Even still, it’s super useful! Although I doubt I’ll buy another mouthpiece for a while since I have some solid ones, it’s still super useful information and I’m still experimenting with different reeds to see which I prefer. Plus, it never hurts to know why you get the sound you get!
 

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I will add that baffles that are closer to the reed tend to go hand in hand with small chambers, the opposite with large chambers. So knowing nothing about the baffle, but knowing a mouthpiece has a large chamber, for example, that piece will tend to be darker than a small chamber.

With enough effort, I can achieve about the same tone quality regardless of the baffle or chamber. But if I just blow without trying to get a particular sound quality, the rules of thumb listed so far will apply. This tendency of a player to unconsciously make adjustments to get his/her ideal sound regardless of mouthpiece geometry is what makes play testing mouthpieces so difficult, as least for me.
 

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Having tried an array of mouthpieces over the years on alto & soprano, I can manage to sound like myself on pretty much anything. I find that a narrow throat provides resistance that helps me shape tone, whereas a large chamber makes it difficult for me to control airstream & pitch.

These are but two parameters among many, each with a wide range of variance, all interacting in complex, often unpredictable ways. Every mouthpiece is unique, every horn is unique, every player is unique. Reeds change from day to day. Factor in room acoustics & a hundred other variables.

All one can do is experiment & listen. The search may take decades. Don't take my word for it. Find out for yourself.
 

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I will add that baffles that are closer to the reed tend to go hand in hand with small chambers, the opposite with large chambers. So knowing nothing about the baffle, but knowing a mouthpiece has a large chamber, for example, that piece will tend to be darker than a small chamber.

With enough effort, I can achieve about the same tone quality regardless of the baffle or chamber. But if I just blow without trying to get a particular sound quality, the rules of thumb listed so far will apply. This tendency of a player to unconsciously make adjustments to get his/her ideal sound regardless of mouthpiece geometry is what makes play testing mouthpieces so difficult, as least for me.
It is not always the case. You can have large chamber mouthpieces with a high baffle; the "french" classical mouthpieces have a fairly small chamber and a low baffle.

"Large" and "small" chamber is indeed a chamber shape: the volume is about the same but a "small" chamber will be narrow and longer.

A "large" chambers tends to produce a darker and more spread sound (with the same amount of baffle).
 

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Hi, I think you have to understand that going from an .066 (Al5) to an .077 (v16 A6) makes quite a difference. Vandoren designed both of these for entirely different purposes.

I own a Vandoren Optimum AL5 and a Vandoren V16 S6+, and although the facing isn't too far off, the difference in sound is fairly noticeable. Do higher facings produce a more open and wide sounds that lower facings? Does the same apply for tip openings?
 

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Hi, I think you have to understand that going from an .066 (Al5) to an .077 (v16 A6) makes quite a difference. Vandoren designed both of these for entirely different purposes.
Yes, but the difference in tip opening has an influence on the power and pitch flexibility (and a marginal influence on tone, because it mimics the effect of a larger chamber), whereas the increased brightness of the V16 is due to the higher baffle.
 

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The height and shape of the baffle can make a significant difference. In general the higher the baffle, the brighter (and to some extent, louder) the sound. Also a more rounded baffle will tend to have less edge (brightness) than a 'step' baffle with a sharp drop off (a 'cliff') into the chamber. Baffles are very sensitive to minor differences in shape/size/height/length, so you have to play the mpc to hear those differences; you can't always judge by looking.

Tip opening to my ear also has an effect in terms of bright/dark; all other things being equal (same baffle/chamber/facing length), a more open tip will play darker than a more closed tip. And the more closed tip will likely be a bit more focused, with the open tip giving a more spread, bigger sound. But these are just tendencies. A lot will depend on how you play the mpc.

Another general rule is that a larger chamber will play darker than a smaller chamber, but the baffle obviously figures into the overall volume of the chamber.

All these factors interact and so there is no simple answer to how they affect the sound. Using only the terms 'bright' and 'dark' to define the sound characteristics is also a bit over-simplified.
 

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As has been mentioned, the difference in design accounts for most of the difference between these two.

All things being equal, a wider tip opening will play more resistant, and have less very high harmonics and more middle-high harmonics in the sound. The effect of facing length and shape is more complicated.
 

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All things being equal, a wider tip opening will play more resistant, and have less very high harmonics and more middle-high harmonics in the sound.
+1. Thank you! Being far more knowledgeable than I about what's really going on with mpc design, I think you expressed this much more accurately than my simple description of a 'darker' (warmer) sound. Fewer high harmonics and more middle-high harmonics would explain it. I'd add that it doesn't mean you can't get a fairly bright sound out of a wide tip opening; it's a matter of balance between the tip opening and the baffle. I think...please correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm just going by what I've experienced as a player, having no experience whatsoever in designing a mpc. Aside from messing around with putting in & shaping a temporary baffle in a mpc using gum and finding out the whole thing is far more difficult and complex than I thought.
 

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In general, yep, no so much effect. To some extent facing length makes a difference. A long facing makes it easier for the reed to vibrate at low frequencies so can make low notes sound fuller, at the expense of response on the high end. A short facing makes the low end have more resistance and can add some edge to the the sound.

+1 to the comments that the two mouthpieces you mention are very different in terms of chamber and baffle which likely accounts for most of their differences in timbre.
 

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Exactly MM. The AL5 is primarily a classical piece and the V16 A6 is one made for jazz. I have an A8 S+, it’s a very nice piece that is designed to be like a Meyer piece with a significantly smaller chamber. I play it with Java 3.5 reeds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well I didn’t think the different would be huge. I guess I just assumed one of them has the number 5 and the other 6 it wouldn’t be too large. I guess I didn’t take into consideration the model and baffle.
 

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It’s definitely good that you know that now. Also you have 2 very good mouthpieces that you can learn to use for different things.

Well I didn’t think the different would be huge. I guess I just assumed one of them has the number 5 and the other 6 it wouldn’t be too large. I guess I didn’t take into consideration the model and baffle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It’s definitely good that you know that now. Also you have 2 very good mouthpieces that you can learn to use for different things.

Well I didn’t think the different would be huge. I guess I just assumed one of them has the number 5 and the other 6 it wouldn’t be too large. I guess I didn’t take into consideration the model and baffle.
Yeah, I love both of them and I wouldn’t change them for anything. I’ve tried Yamaha’s, Selmers, Meyers, D’Addario’s and I still prefer Vandoren.
 

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Well I didn’t think the different would be huge. I guess I just assumed one of them has the number 5 and the other 6 it wouldn’t be too large. I guess I didn’t take into consideration the model and baffle.
Just to be clear about this, the difference in tip size is not huge and probably has little to do with the big difference in sound you are experiencing. Most of that difference is likely due to the different baffles. Relatively minor changes to a baffle can make a significant difference in the sound/tone quality. Anyone who has messed around adding, shaping, & changing the size of a baffle in their mpc will discover this fact.
 
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