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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Discussion Starter #1
As requested in a thread a while back I finally got around to some A/B comparisons. We all know ligatures, reeds and mouthpiece material may or may not make a difference to the sound.

This time (as requested) I made it just a scale played quite straight, each time at the same tempo, very little jazz inflections. I recorded a few different combinations using:

  • Two mouthpieces (Metal and Synthetic Hard Rubber)
  • Two reeds (Rico Jazz Select and Legere Signature synthetic)
  • Two ligatures (Metal 2 screw and Fabric)

Is there any/much difference? You tell me. I will reveal which is which on Sunday, meanwhile it might be fun to hear your opinions on the differences.

http://tamingthesaxophone.com/tenor-saxophone-mouthpiece-comparison.html

If that was too easy, I also did a blind test for the advanced and discerning listener (you know who you are!), you don't get any clues as to which combination of mouthpiece reed and ligature you are listening to:

http://tamingthesaxophone.com/tenor-saxophone-mouthpiece-comparison-blind.html

And you can win a CD if you get them all right, if nobody does, the closest top 5 win a CD. (But it's not out until September)

There are no tricks involved, the recordings are what they say they are, I'm just not revealing which is which yet.

The mouthpieces are my usual PPT 9* (SHR) and a metal CNC copy (prototype) with exact same internal shape and dimensions (as far as is possible).

SHR is a resin that Ed Pillinger uses and has dubbed "Synthetic Hard Rubber"
 

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I could hear no differences between the mouthpieces so I can't do the advanced test :) I guess my ear is not advanced enough to tell the difference between hard rubber composite and metal...

I think the fabric ligature is (b) and the synthetic reed is (b).
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Discussion Starter #4
I could hear no differences between the mouthpieces
That is really interesting. I'll reveal why later.
so I can't do the advanced test :) I guess my ear is not advanced enough to tell the difference between hard rubber composite and metal...

I think the fabric ligature is (b) and the synthetic reed is (b).
I'm not not saying yet ;)
 

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I'm struck by the fact that in a sterile, even, plain, straightforward, and subdued playing style, there does not appear to be too much difference. Perhaps it's what the components are capable of doing when pushed and stretched in different ways that makes more of a difference in sound. However, here are my guesses, based on the sound clips provided:

Lig A -- Rovner
Lig B -- 2-screw

Reed A -- synthetic
Reed B -- cane

MP A -- Onyxite (or SHR)
MP B -- metal
 

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Something in my ear says MP (a) = Rubber; Reed (a) = Cane; Lig (b) = Fabric

I can safely say that this is based entirely on zero experience with either metal mouthpieces or synthetic reeds.

               :dontknow:
 

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Pete: when you reveal the answers, you must add what they felt like to you. I believe a lot of the difference is in the player's experience, rather than the listener's. This difference is not meaningless, as the way we feel and hear ourselves when we play must, by definition, affect the way we play, thus affecting what the listener ultimately hears.

I'm curious...
 

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Lig a is fabric, b is metal.
Mpc are very similar, but I believe a is synthetic hard rubber and b metal (because the latter has slightly less edge/overtones.
Reeds also very similar, but I believe that a is synthetic and b cane. a is not as egal as b. But who says that a cane reed always is more egal than a carefully produced synthetic.?
BTW, I play RJS and Legere Signature myself and find them very close in sound.

So, completely in agreement with Buck Laughlin.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Discussion Starter #11
A and B are in the first link in post#1

Once on the blind page you can get to the a and b using the link in the left menu, but I should put a direct link back there I guess
 

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They sounded similar to me, albeit with a VERY subtle difference among all of them - too little for me to even make a guess. I agree with segaleon - all of this is most likely what a player FEELS (and may hear so close to the instrument), not what an audience hears. After all, within a few seconds of a sound-clip or phrase beginning, the sound becomes familiar and the differences, if there are any, disappear. And the further away the listener is, the less important these little subtleties become.

Still, I'm as guilty as most when it comes to gear and GAS. I just have to keep reminding myself that it all doesn't matter that much once one has a playable set-up. DAVE
 

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All the examples sound very similar to me. In the first example the reed seems to respond somewhat slower with ligature b, which made me think of a Rovner fabric ...
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Discussion Starter #14
I know out of all 6 I liked number 1 the least. I would guess that that is the fabric lig. I have to listen to the others later on my good speakers.
I found that speakers do make quite a difference.

As with a lot of audio, I sometimes find that what sounds best on one set of speakers doesn't sound best on another. Which is why I do take these things with a pinch of salt. Also to be a better test I should have thrown in more than one soundfile of the same lig/reed/mouthpiece. That might be an interesting development to try.
 

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I found that speakers do make quite a difference.
... and that will be my excuse when my analysis is proven wrong! :D

I'd like to say thanks for making the comparisons with slow, simple scales. That leads to a more fair comparison among the sound clips. Removes pretty much all the nuances a player adds (even unconsciously) in playing some more complex piece or improvisation, leaving just the aspects that need to be compared. I even paused in a few spots to get a note-by-note comparison. Long tones would do that, but getting more of the range of the instrument, from each sample is equally important. For instance, in some clips, I note more differences above, say, mid E or F. A well thought out exercise by PT. :hat_tipping_graemlin:
 

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The answers are available, and I think Buck got the three A/B comparisons correct. Wahay!!!
Did I win anything? I picked the Selmers from the M'Ladies in Drew's sound clip test, I picked the Mark VI from the CE Winds DV in ekdowlin's thread, and now I got all three of these comparison tests right, but I never win any prizes!

Oh well, these comparison tests are fun to do if the sound clips are good. These clips were very well done, and I found these three comparison tests to be the most challenging so far. Thanks for taking the time to put these tests together, Pete.

By the way, Peterogping and The Martin Alto also got all three correct. Well done, gentlemen!
 

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Oh well, these comparison tests are fun to do if the sound clips are good. These clips were very well done, and I found these three comparison tests to be the most challenging so far. Thanks for taking the time to put these tests together, Pete.

By the way, Peterogping and The Martin Alto also got all three correct. Well done, gentlemen!
I second Buck. The test clips were very well done. I am also excited that I managed to get all three right. Congrats to Buck and The Martin Alto.
 

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These tests don't mean anything. The reason we use different mouthpieces, reeds and ligatures is to make the sax play better, whatever that means to each individual. Generally, a player will sound very close to the same on most any set-up, but won't like most set-ups. I did have fun with the sound samples because you can make them play in any combination at the same time; one or two or all at once. Sounds cool, like playing with an Echoplex.
 
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