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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Reverb?

Reverb normally just makes things sound more natural, as in this case. I think people can here the differences in source sound beyond any slight amounts of reverb.

And any differences in the source will also be echoed in any reverb there may be.
I agree, slight reverb gives some distance and ability for the sound to breath more. Too much reverb on the other hand is just annoying and tends to cloud the sound.

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
So yrs ago I take my beautiful '49 SBA tenor to the gig for the first time. I had just come to Vegas and this was a good gig, big stage..I'd had the SBA for awhile, never gigged on, the thing was absolutely like new.. I never took it out of the house, I did have the original pads replaced by one of NorCal's best techs. The horn was the BOMB from all angles. There is one on eBay right now for 50K,, mine was nicer.. So this SBA was ready right..?

Well here we go, a big hall, me standing mid-stage with a warm-up trio and they provide NO mic..So there I was, first tune and buried. The horn felt freakin, dull and soundless..I missed my VI sooooo BAD. With that baby I can hit the back wall no mic easily.

Somehow that SBA just wouldn't cut for me even with a Super King on it. I never looked at that SBA the same again..was it the horn..??

...well I played my VI tenor for decades before I got the SBA and I know what it will do...:whistle:

I got 10K for the SBA, still got my VI
Dull and soundless sounds bad! Did you have your keys opened up a fair ammount? The sba needs some venting to speak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Your SBA sounds more like my 81xxx Mark VI, and your Mark VI sounds like my 104xxx Mark VI. The difference I hear in your samples is pretty close to my perception of my two horns.
Ok, can you do a comparison of your horns it would be much fun to hear!
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
I preferred the Mark VI in both compares. In my ears it sounds a bit darker and stronger and more even over the whole range. The SBA sounds a bit more alive, but my personal taste seems to go to darker the last years. I would have used a bit less reverb in the recording (only some room, without tail).

But as always you sound very good on both horns and they are actually very close.

I have a SBA like yours (536xx, with the keys opened to the max) and mine is a very loud horn and I've not often played a better horn. One which I judged as a better horn was the 57xxx Mark VI of my Big Band band leader, a very strong playing and slightly darker sounding horn than mine which also could take a bit more air than my SBA. A tech told me once that the keys on a VI can be more open compared to a SBA (where the left hand pinky table is a bit in the way).
My SBA I think sounds darker than my mk6. What I like about the mk6 is the strong and stable mid register and it can take more air. The serial of my mk6 is 168xxx so some say its a bland sounding horn, a bit more sterile sounding. I don't know but its not as organic as the SBA. A bit colder sound but I like the more brighter edge.

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
not sure what everybody else was listening to but they sounded identical to me. Preamps are what can make the difference sonically; also, are you at 24 bit? You need that kind of resolution to get an accurate comparison.
Yeah, almost 100% sure that i record in 24-bit depth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
I have to agree with Pete. Any horn that you are used to playing will automatically be more comfortable. I think noth your Selmers have radically different serial numbers, neck tapers/flare, and dimensions resulting in the middle register feeling more focused or spread. Are key heights the same on both horns? Late SBA versus early SBA will feel different from behind the horn while upfront it might sound the same. Middle D on the tenor is a nice note to test. Sounds like you may have been standing a bit closer to the mic on the SBA clip resulting in the "louder" responses. The height of the ceiling in the room where you are playing (acoustics) and how much natural reverb in the room will also have an effect on how you hear the horn. I'd play the same notes at extreme pianissimo and fortissimo at the same mic distance. This test wouldn't be much fun as playing a Bird head but at least you would eliminate the expressive/inflections aspect of playing a melody and only evaluating the horn.
MIC distance is exactly the same for both recordings. The SBA simply projects more , at least in MF nuance. As for key heights, a late SBA vs mid/late mkVI are very different designs with different bodies, necks and key heights.. The sba keys are designed to not be opened up as much as the keys of a mk6. I have adjusted the key heights on both horns so they perform at their best.

On the mk6 low F measures 9.3mm and left hand B key measure 7.2mm (from edge of pad to the tonehole rim). I assume that's fairly open? The measurement of the sba is less than that but I don't remember exactly, B key is between 5.5mm-7mm maximum.
 
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