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Greetings all you Gearheads and sound-freaks!

With two nice tenors on hand i thought i would record them both today and listen back for any differences in sound. Do you prefer one over the other, and why? Lets just discuss sound for a moment. First, both were recorded right after each other on the same setup (RS Berkeley Chris Potter mouthpiece and Rico orange box 3.5 and Otto Link Florida era "T" ligature). Recorded with a large diaphragm mic into sound card and laptop with logic pro. Added some reverb but I did not EQ or add any compression to keep the files as natural sounding as possible.

As for the feel, both horns is pretty similar on the resistance scale, quite free blowing. The SBA keywork I am more used to so i prefer it and I its a very flexible horn and equally as loud. The MKVI on the other hand feels like it has no limits to how much air it can take and keywork is fine but not as smooth and light as the SBA. Sound...I think SBA has bit more complex tone, kind of complex and "dirty". The MKVI may be a bit cleaner but creamier to my ears and deep sounding.

So here we go, a few choruses of Carlie Parkers "Bloomdido" in B-concert!

Mark VI 168xxx
https://soundcloud.com/roger-nordling%2Fselmer-mark-vi
SBA 53xxx
https://soundcloud.com/roger-nordling%2Fselmer-sba-53xxx
 

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Had to load the files on my PSB speakers to hear them properly. Nice recording. The thing about those old Selmer horns, is that when you listen to them played properly, you feel like you are back in the 60s listening to Coltrane at a night club. It’s just the sound the make.

My ear isn’t so perfectly trained. The recordings sounded quite similar. I thought the SBA had a bit less edge. Only could tell at the beginning and end of notes.
 

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They are so similar that is is hard to detect any perceivable difference. If anything, the SBA has a little more buzz in these recordings, not much though. But aren't same model Selmers different anyway in response and "fuzz"? That is to say, 2 Mark VIs or 2 SBAs will not be identical.
 

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Had to load the files on my PSB speakers to hear them properly. Nice recording. The thing about those old Selmer horns, is that when you listen to them played properly, you feel like you are back in the 60s listening to Coltrane at a night club. It’s just the sound the make.

My ear isn’t so perfectly trained. The recordings sounded quite similar. I thought the SBA had a bit less edge. Only could tell at the beginning and end of notes.
I agree they sound pretty similar. I have compared this SBA to other vintage selmers and I remember that a 86xxx and a 6xxxx was both brighter. This 168xxx mark 6 is more in the same park as the SBA when it comes to brightness I think, maybe the mk6 is a tiny bit brighter.

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They are so similar that is is hard to detect any perceivable difference. If anything, the SBA has a little more buzz in these recordings, not much though. But aren't same model Selmers different anyway in response and "fuzz"? That is to say, 2 Mark VIs or 2 SBAs will not be identical.
Yeah. Thanks for participating!

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Most sound files will not reveal any significant differences IMO.

If there are any significant differences, I have they only;yb tend to reveal themselves at extremely low or high extremities of dynamics. Comparisons like this are fun, but limiting in scope without the full spectrum of range and dynamics. So a performance of a tune, however lovely, doesn't give the best picture of what's involved.

That's just my experience though.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Good earphones are recommended for listening. @Pete Thomas , first i had the idea to play long tones at different dynamics to be able to hear how the tone behaves in different dynamics but i thought in the end that it was a bit too geeky even for me so i played a tune instead haha
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Good earphones are recommended for listening. @Pete Thomas ,
Yes of course, but if you actually need good headphones then it implies any differences are reasonable small anyway.

I listen to stuff on my studio system which has high quality mixing monitors and acoustically designed control room so it's actually not that bad. What's the lowest denominator here? My ears probably!

NB: I wasn't saying there is no difference , just commenting on how I have heard the most significant differences between similar instruments like that, which is at extreme dynamics.
 

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Yes of course, but if you actually need good headphones then it implies any differences are reasonable small anyway.

I listen to stuff on my studio system which has high quality mixing monitors and acoustically designed control room so it's actually not that bad. What's the lowest denominator here? My ears probably!

NB: I wasn't saying there is no difference , just commenting on how I have heard the most significant differences between similar instruments like that, which is at extreme dynamics.
Yeah, i see. These are two vintage selmers so the difference would have been more clear if one had been a yts-23 and the other a sba. You know, sitting in a noisy club far from the band stand listening I had not noticed if the saxplayer was blowing a student sax or the most expensive selmer i am shure.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Yeah, i see. These are two vintage selmers so the difference would have been more clear if one had been a yts-23 and the other a sba. You know, sitting in a noisy club far from the band stand listening I had not noticed if the saxplayer was blowing a student sax or the most expensive selmer i am shure.
I'm not so sure with a player of your technique. I switched saxophone in the middle of a recording session which now includes a bit of each, and nobody noticed, including one of the top producers in the world.
Plus a YTS23 is also a great sounding instrument.
 

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My impression is that the first recording had a bit more clarity on the high end than the second. If you can imagine an old radio with just a "tone" knob, it's like the Mark VI had the knob turned up slightly, and the SBA had the knob turned down slightly.
 

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I'm not so sure with a player of your technique. I switched saxophone in the middle of a recording session which now includes a bit of each, and nobody noticed, including one of the top producers in the world.
Plus a YTS23 is also a great sounding instrument.
Hmmm I would say the YTS-23 is a great Student grade instrument. It simply cannot compare in build quality or sound to the vintage selmers or other pro horns.

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Even on the speaker of my iPhone the sound between the 2 is a huge difference. I like the Mark VI.v
The problem with a lot of these tests is that the loudness can be very different, not just the average loudness but different at different points in the melody due to the way it was played (as well as the possibility that one horn is actually louder than the other). People tend to perceive loudness I think as having more top end, but .

In this case the MKVI first phrase is about 2dB quieter than the SBA but then the second phrase is about 3dB louder than the SBA. People can often form an opinion based on the first few notes. Listening to long sections it's very easy for your ears to adjust and "forget" the previous take or that different notes respond differently..

Based on what I hear there is too much variance in the performance to say there is a significant difference. Yes there is a difference, but not a consistent one across the range. This is why long notes or scales will give you a better chance of analysing the differences. In the end we are just talking about what is loosely termed as EQ plus what I think of as significantly different may be different to other people. My work does sometimes make me listen to things in a different way.

Out of interest hear is an average EQ of the first 10 seconds showing both instruments:

 

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The problem with a lot of these tests is that the loudness can be very different, not just the average loudness but different at different points in the melody due to the way it was played (as well as the possibility that one horn is actually louder than the other). People tend to perceive loudness I think as having more top end, but .

In this case the MKVI first phrase is about 2dB quieter than the SBA but then the second phrase is about 3dB louder than the SBA. People can often form an opinion based on the first few notes. Listening to long sections it's very easy for your ears to adjust and "forget" the previous take or that different notes respond differently..

Based on what I hear there is too much variance in the performance to say there is a significant difference. Yes there is a difference, but not a consistent one across the range. This is why long notes or scales will give you a better chance of analysing the differences. In the end we are just talking about what is loosely termed as EQ plus what I think of as significantly different may be different to other people. My work does sometimes make me listen to things in a different way.
I get what you say about the loud vs. Quiet situation. Often the loudest horn is prefered but that's just an illusion. What's the tone made of? what different colors is in there and how is the tone shaped? Pointy, boxy or diffuse... And how easy is that tone to achieve on the instrument...

In your graph/EQ wich horn has the dark red color? That horn seem to have more of everything.

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I get what you say about the loud vs. Quiet situation. Often the loudest horn is prefered but that's just an illusion.
Indeed, told equates to "better" very often. In the audio we will sometimes tun up the monitors when the executive producer or A&R are there.


What's the tone made of? what different colors is in there and how is the tone shaped? Pointy, boxy or diffuse... And how easy is that tone to achieve on the instrument...

In your graph/EQ wich horn has the dark red color? That horn seem to have more of everything.
Sorry wasn't very clear. Maybe I'll not mention yet which instrument was which.

Those are the loudness of various frequencies as you can see going from 200 hZ to 2000 (2kHz). Don't worry there is more going on above 2kHz, this was very quick crude graph of the average using something not really that sophisticated. I'll try to get something a bit more accurate.


What you see is is the two instruments one blue one red (maroons) Where they overlap is the sort of peach colour.

A sharp peak would mean just a very narrow frequency.

So for example round about 200 it shows very similar pattern (two peaks) but with red louder. But the next one up (about 300Hz) t blue is louder.
 

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Good earphones are recommended for listening. @Pete Thomas , first i had the idea to play long tones at different dynamics to be able to hear how the tone behaves in different dynamics but i thought in the end that it was a bit too geeky even for me so i played a tune instead haha
Excellent choice - as no one on this forum likely wants to hear someone else play a bunch of long-tones on two different instruments.
 

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Very close in sound on just OK external computer speakers. I think the SBA had a bit more sweetness in the upper range (around 55 seconds?) (I think this is where good Selmers of those eras excel generally)

MHO, but the mouthpiece/ buzz was kind of intrusive / too much of lens for the overall sound. Also, lacking passages with less sound pressure, i.e. ballad like sound, it would be hard to evaluate the overall sound pallatte.

Thanks for doing this~!
 
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