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I've noticed a lot now that pro alto players (or any players in general) have unbelievably great tones. Now I know that long tones and the sound the pro can make with the sax without any effects (reverb, eq, etc.) at all is really damn good to start with, but the thing is, every time I hear some professional recording, whether it be phil woods or lanny morgan or greg abate or any really great alto player, I notice certain similarities effects wise. I'm wondering if its just a trait all pro's share in general without effects having anything to do with it, or if its some standard microphone or something or some type of format that makes them all sound like a trillion dollars. I record myself often and listen back and compare, and it seems my tone is slightly muffled or something like that compared to the professional players' (not saying im just as good as them or even close by comparing myself to them). Now I don't have a special, professional mic or anything like that but what I'm basically trying to get across is, Am I hearing mostly effects that make these guys so great or just there acoustic techniqual qualities on their instrument and there skill at just playing dry old sax.
 

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I would say....they have incredible tone, technique, and CONTROL over their instruments. From the comparisons of seeing people play live and listening to their albums....i would guess most of these guys don't add any "effects" onto their recorded sound. Maybe a little reverb....but I would guess not much else.

I've been listening to recordings of Donny McCaslin for a few years now, and when I saw him last year for the first time live, his tone is absolutely awesome. Sounds just as good on his recordings.

I would also say...that the fact they usually have very high quality microphones at their disposal, these mics just allow them to record their sound accurately, not modify it.
 

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Top quality mics are great... top quality engineers are even better. 20 years of experience in micing up wind instruments will make a big difference. But you still can't polish a ****... these guys have great tone top start off with.
 

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Great sound start with the player

To put this into perspective, have you ever heard a middle school soloist that has played only for a few months in front of microphone? Electronics takes the major characteristic of the sound and places emphasis on it. Unfortunately, the student player will sound more amateur in front of a microphone as a result.

A bad electronic setup can take away from the performance. A good electronic system should only make the performance louder and add ambience and a certain amount of warmth when reverb and eq is used.

One of the best ways to choose a sound system is to take a portable cd player and plug it into the main, using a cd you are familiar with and enjoy. All the eq and effects should be neutral. Walk away and listen. If the sound is true to the cd, you have a good starting point for choosing your equipment. If the sound is muffled, too bright, or isn't true to the recording, there are no effects to correct this.

Chossing a microphone can be challenging as choosing a horn. Sure vocal mics are not the most ideal for horn players, however they are a starting point for sound reinforcement. There are some great wireless mics specifically designed for saxes that pick up the full spectrum of the horn.

One of the lessons that I learned from a great conductor was that it doesn't matter if you are playing in a concert hall, in a marching band, or on stage, the performance should be consistent and artistic. No matter what the setting, it is about the performance.
 

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docformat said:
Top quality mics are great... top quality engineers are even better. 20 years of experience in micing up wind instruments will make a big difference. But you still can't polish a ****... these guys have great tone top start off with.
Truer words were never written.

Most sound guys, whether recording engineers or sound reinforcement engineers won't do much with the sax sound other than putting reverb on it. It's like a good makeup person, they make a person look like they look, only more so.;)

For recording, a high quality mic (mic choice among recording engineers are as personal a choice as mouthpieces and reeds) at the proper distance to pick up a balanced, natural sound is important. Add a little reverb to replace the natural ambience taken away by the mic, and you're done.
 

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It seems to me that older recordings...in addition to some reverb have the effect (possibly not intensional) of a bit of gain. Perhaps its from the mic and/or tube systems. There does seem to be a some non-sax harmonics present.
 

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Sigmund451 said:
It seems to me that older recordings...in addition to some reverb have the effect (possibly not intensional) of a bit of gain. Perhaps its from the mic and/or tube systems. There does seem to be a some non-sax harmonics present.
Glad to give a listen. What recordings?
 

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I think generally a lot of the big guys from the 50's and 60's. I have no specific recordings in mind. I have just noticed that I get a better recording...and more similiar sound from my setup when I red line it a bit.

I also notice similiar differences when I play guitar through tube amps vs transistor. Its not exactly the same but thats the best comparison I can give.
 
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