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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
I recently did a comparison between 5 tenors and recorded the results.

MKVI, Yanagisawa 901, Conn 10M, The Martin & Walstein

It's by no means any kind of scientific test, that would be impossible. I tried to empty my mind of any preconceptions (in fact i was quite surprised in some cases). I did not pay much attention to intonation as all horns have a few quirks which players adjust to and I didn't want to get bogged down in too much thought or listening that could make the whole test a bit more subjective. So there it is, see what you think. I'll be posting the answers in a couple of weeks if anyone is interested. And yes there might be a prize for correct identification.

soundfiles
 

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Aaaack! I can't install Quicktime at work. I can't wait to get home to hear these.

Rory

For all our sakes, I hope the cheapo Chinese one doesn't win:)
 

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Pete,
Just had a brief listen to the D minor and Jump tracks. Very nice!

Not enough difference in sound (recoring anyway) to say any one horn sounds markedly better or worse than another. That might be a different story live, but whichever one that cheap Chinese horn is, it loses nothing by comparison.
 

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all horns sound like you

Thanks very much for taking the trouble to do this. It's very educational, and proves my point of view. I didn't listen to identify the horn so much as I listened to see if I had a preference in the sound. I listened carefully to see if I could detect any consistent differences in tone quality and concluded that although there are some slight characteristics that might be associated with a particular horn, for the general listener the horns sound remarkably similar -- mostly, 5 different horns sound like the same sax being played by the same person playing the same tune. What this demonstration proves is not that horns have a noticeably distinct sound of their own, but that all horns sound more like the player than the horn. The fact that some players might be able to correctly identify even some of the horns is meaningless and probably due to chance. (If an infinite number of monkeys or horn players guess the order of 5 things, eventually 1 of them will get the order right and lots of them will get 2 or 3 right.) Over the years, I've had this discussion with many musicians I've played with, especially lots of guitar players and bass players talking about different axes and amps. The thing is, they all sound like themselves regardless of their rigs. Carlos Santana will sound like Carlos Santana if he plays a board with 6 rubber bands tacked onto it. Charlie Parker sounded like Charlie Parker even if he was playing a horn held together with rubber bands and tape. And I will sound like me on a junk horn or the finest horn in the land. In the final analysis, all instruments sound more like the player than the instrument.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I think the differences would be more noticeable if played by a relative beginner. After a while you get more adept at making any horn play your own sound. I was surprised at how similar the recordings were compared to my experience playing them though and compared to the opinion of the listener in the room - and that's an important issue.

While I was doing the test, I asked my glamorous assistant her opinion. (That is my wife, who is a very experienced musicologist and has very golden ears). She could consistently detect which was which without looking. Between us it was quite easy to identify a "specialist" character for each instrument, which I will be discussing on the site when I reveal the names. E.G. one horn was particularly good for rock & roll but not good for jazz, another was great for bebop but was not good for rock & roll. But I have to agree the recordings do sound quite similar. A big part of what makes a good horn is what it gives back to the player, whatever the out front sound, as this can inspire him/her.
 

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I'll be the first to embarrass myself...
1. 10M
2. The Martin
3. Chinese
4. Yani
5. Mk VI
But I won't be surprised if none of these are right. They all sound good.
 

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Wow, that's some smokin' noodlin'.
 

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I had a strong feeling about two of them. The other three were almost much guess as anything else. But when you announce them, the two I was most confident about will probably be wrong.
 

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Quite close indeed.... the mileage of, the player reducing the differences of course!

my bets :

10M
Yani
Chineese
Martin
M VI

:cool:
 

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Pete Thomas said:
2 out of 5 - not bad.
not really. 2 out of 5 is fairly likely by chance. here's 3 random orders. I assigned a number to each, then used a random number generator to pick the order:
1. Conn 10M
2. Walstein
3. Martin
4. MKVI
5. Yanagisawa 901

another random order:
1. Conn 10M
2. MKVI
3. Yanagisawa 901
4. Martin
5. Walstein

and one more:
1. MKVI
2. Walstein
3. Martin
4. Conn 10M
5. Yanagisawa 901

how many right in each one?
 

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having never played a 10m tenor or a martin tenor or the walstein i will still take a stab at it.
1. yani
2. conn 1st choice, martin 2nd choice
3.walstein
4.martin 1st choice, conn 2nd choice
5. mark VI

i hope i got the vintage ones in the right place even if they are not the right horns.
 

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very nice playing on all the horns. really loved harlem nocturn and the d minor riffs
 

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Heck, I could use some egg on my face:

1. 901
2. Martin
3. 10M
4. Walstein
5. Mark VI

Nice playing. I liked 5 and 1 best (in that order), whatever they turn out to be.
 

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I am very happy that you posted this, Pete.
I bought the Walstein tenor in light of your appreciation (and of course of the highly tempting price...) and I am indeed very satisfied.
I have bad speakers here at work and I'll try to guess once I'll be home.

I can already tell for what I am reading that your great skills level the differences among them. If I was the one blowing on them perhaps only the 901 would sound close to the Walstein.
 

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Pete - just goes to prove how much of the sound is in the player.... Lovely !

I hope you tell us what they 'felt' like, and whether any of them were really hard work ! (possibly not the ones we thought...)
 
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