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Hey guys. I travel alot and would love to be able to have something that feels at least a little like horn so I can practice on the go. Does anyone recommend the Yamaha WX series? I just want something I can plug in and play. Don't care too much about the sound quality.
 

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huh, never thought of electric winds, and their individual eccentricities, so much for reinforcing technique or even riffs for basic horns. plug and play is nice, but it's really the palette of sound they make available that i find interesting. but definitely, the Yamaha rather than Aiwa for greater similarity.
 

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The WX5 doesn't have any built in sounds or a speaker to make sound so you'd need to carry something else along to make it work. The fingering is similar to saxophone making it easy for a sax player to adapt to it but not identical. Honestly I don't feel any of these EWIs are really good stand-ins for a real sax but if I had to choose I'd say the Roland Aerophone is likely the best choice for what you're looking for. Lots of commentary here at SOTW on this device lately so you can read up on the details.

Have you thought about taking up flute as a double and practicing that while traveling?
 

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Speaking as an owner of a WX5 (and older WX7, which I prefer), this will not help your saxophone playing in any way - certainly not embouchure/air, and definitely not fingering technique. As a tool to discover new musical patterns, or to create music with an electronic tonality, they are great, but stuff you do on them won't transfer to saxophone very well, if at all.
 

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Speaking as an owner of a WX5 (and older WX7, which I prefer), this will not help your saxophone playing in any way - certainly not embouchure/air, and definitely not fingering technique. As a tool to discover new musical patterns, or to create music with an electronic tonality, they are great, but stuff you do on them won't transfer to saxophone very well, if at all.
Amen and +2.3

That sums up my experience as well. I’ve owned a few WX-7 setups - really wanted it to work for me. It was a time sink with no reward. For me. IMNSHO.

Better to take up clarinet, flute, or soprano sax - heck, even alto.
 

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I consider my WX5 to be a different instrument than the sax, that just happens to have similar keywork - but not that similar. The technique and feel is very different that a sax. There is almost no relationship between embouchures. That said, it can be a fun instrument to play. But it won't do much for your sax technique, and will be take time to learn to play well. And that will be time you sacrifice away from practicing sax.

I travel a lot as well (at one point I was flying out of town every week for a year), and almost always cart my tenor along, whether traveling for business or pleasure. And it's a fun challenge to find places to practice. I've practiced behind hotel dumpsters (once got raided by the police who said someone reported hearing a strange noise coming from behind the hotel), in hotel meeting rooms, in the woods, in a chapel, in practice rooms at various music schools, in an empty theater during the day, at houses and back yards of people I have met, and on the beach - to name a few. I've even been invited to sit in with bands by people who heard me playing - and that can really add a lot of fun to any trip.
 

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WX-5 + MIDI interface + laptop + Kontakt Player (free) + SampleTank (free) is the setup I’d recommend for this. You’ll also build up some wind synth chops which can come in handy for some types of gigs. Some synth voices are more forgiving to play than others regarding key glitches and response, so try a few of them to see which ones work best.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the responses guys

WX-5 + MIDI interface + laptop + Kontakt Player (free) + SampleTank (free) is the setup I’d recommend for this. You’ll also build up some wind synth chops which can come in handy for some types of gigs. Some synth voices are more forgiving to play than others regarding key glitches and response, so try a few of them to see which ones work best.
Is there no way to play it without so many parts? I can't just connect headphones to it and hear it? That's kinda lame. Are all EWI's like that?
 

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Thanks for the responses guys



Is there no way to play it without so many parts? I can't just connect headphones to it and hear it? That's kinda lame. Are all EWI's like that?
I believe the Akai EWI you can just put headphones in and play. That is my understanding as the sounds are in the EWI. You cant do that with the Yamaha because it doesn’t have any onboard sounds.
 

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I believe the Akai EWI you can just put headphones in and play. That is my understanding as the sounds are in the EWI. You cant do that with the Yamaha because it doesn’t have any onboard sounds.


Correct, all you need is some batteries and headphones and you can play your ewi anywhere.

I’ve used one on hundreds of gigs over the last 6 years and it’s never missed a beat. I installed the Patchman sounds and they are much better than the stock sounds.

One critique I have is the sound editing software that comes with it isn’t very user friendly and won’t talk to many PC’s and Macs.

I originally played both the EWI and WX5 and felt the EWI was more solid and it had a better feel on my hands and general “pro” construction to it.
 

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A Yamaha Venova is great for the chops and the ear, as long as you dig the sound. It is not easy to play softly at first but no batteries or cables required!
 

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Amen and +2.3

That sums up my experience as well. I’ve owned a few WX-7 setups - really wanted it to work for me. It was a time sink with no reward. For me. IMNSHO.

Better to take up clarinet, flute, or soprano sax - heck, even alto.
Wow...Maybe you just missed the reward....I find that even critical listening improves my playing. Playing a totally different instrument like guitar or piano even helps. Ideas and concepts are transferable...Even a penny whistle can keep you in the game - I think the WX is as good an idea as any - it fingers very nearly like a sax, notes can be bent with embouchure - volume, vibrato, and even growl can be controlled with your airstream.
 

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Wow...Maybe you just missed the reward....I find that even critical listening improves my playing. Playing a totally different instrument like guitar or piano even helps.
I do play other instruments - perhaps too many, in fact. Double reeds, no reeds, clarinet, guitar (electric and acoustic - rock, slack key, roots blues, folk...), percussion... I really tried to get into the WX - wrote patches, learned the manuals, sought alternate methods of tweaking it. It’s not like I didn’t invest in the effort. Obsessive/Compulsive, I am.

Ideas and concepts are transferable...Even a penny whistle can keep you in the game - I think the WX is as good an idea as any - it fingers very nearly like a sax, notes can be bent with embouchure - volume, vibrato, and even growl can be controlled with your airstream.
Penny whistle is great. Recorder too. Stipulated. They are what they are with no pretense of trying to be anything else.

The OP’s question was regarding buying something that simulates a horn. For me, it doesn’t. It lacks the resistance/feedback that even a clarinet provides. Yes, it has airstream control, but - again, for me, IMNSHO - it just doesn’t connect.

Tenor - It’s all that matters. Accept no substitute.
 

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...snip...

The OP’s question was regarding buying something that simulates a horn. ...snip...
You are as usual, correct. I should have replied directly to the OP's question...


....so here goes:

Yes - I recommend the WX as a "sax alternative" while traveling. There is no substitute for your tenor, but the WX seems as good a bet as any. Good luck!
 

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If the laptop+MIDI interface is too much then a smaller option is the IK Multimedia IRig Pro + iPhone running SampleTank SE. One thing I’ve done to make the WX more realistic is to block half of the far end of the air tube with a piece of cork. I also built up the side keys with modified rubber palm risers. And I keep batteries in it to give it some more heft.
 

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I should add that I use mine with a VL70m sound module. It's a half rack designed to pair with the WX. Patchman music makes a chip with alternate sounds and there is an editor with which you can tweak your own. Both the original and the patchman modified unit have quite usable patches - especially if you tweak the onboard FX. I have used mine both live and in recordings (I still use it in the studio some). Like most instruments, there are applications where they shine. They do not reproduce the saxophone very well, but the synth, strings, and some of the other stuff is well worth the price of admission.
 

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I've owned a WX5 for years and picked it up occasionally to record stuff, mostly with the flute and ethnic sounds, because those ate the least artificial sounding patches. The day I walked into a sax shop and asked about getting a real saxophone, the guys explained to me something that has been said above:
"It's a totally different instrument. Yes, the fingering is the same, but that's where it ends."
They were totally right. I fell in love with the rented alto and now that I've had to return it, my WX is hard to play, because it doesn't respond at all like a sax. A few

Advantages
You can get fine dynamics with less muscle on the embouchure
It's always in tune if properly set
You can change the key and play the tenor based in C (or A, whatever) instead of Bb, for example.
You can probably play faster due to lack of physical inertia (but is this an advantage?)
Octave key has 5 positions! This is very cool
It plays other sounds, not just saxophone
Disadvantages
You need a sound module, so for travel, it's not so great. I have a VM70 and it does have a headphone jack.
Some fingerings won't work or will give surprising but not pleasant results
No overtone control except through a very artificial rocker. If you master this instrument you can do amazing things, but OP question was with regard to just using it for practice.
The feel of the keys is extremely different, and fingers will fumble for a while.
Tethered to a cable. Long, but still a wire.
It'll never sound like a real wind instrument except the aforementioned flute-related patches.

On the other hand, the newer Roland Aerophone removes a lot of the disadvantages. No wire, can be played without additional gear.
 
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