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Wind Controller EMEO (Electric-practice) saxophone

h4yn0nnym0u5e

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To quote from EMEO's FAQ page:
Why does the Emeo not have pitch bend or bite control?

First of all, the Emeo is a practice horn and we have made an effort to keep it pure and simple, and so we have not added unnecessary features which distract from the playing experience.
(Note: there doesn't actually seem to be a second of all...)

I do find it quite bizarre that 50 years after the Lyricon was introduced, the state of the art has apparently regressed to "practice instruments", with no attempt to provide more than rudimentary expressive capabilities. Over $1500 is a lot to shell out for such a product, and I find it really hard to believe much market research went into figuring out the right balance between price and capability. A buyer who can afford $1500 can probably afford $1700 if it's going to get them an extra two or three channels of MIDI data for expression.

And this malarkey about "unnecessary features which distract from the playing experience"? Who do they think they're kidding? If pitch bend is "distracting", then you disable it until you're less easily distracted - oh, look, a staot! - and then turn it back on.

Never mind, maybe they got the really important thing right for their target market - there are three different finishes o_O
 

Jazz Is All

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TheChu said:
I've been checking out various wind controllers but I like the fact you can have a curved neck.
You can get a curved neck by playing a straight soprano held vertically as if it were a clarinet. Many people mistakenly do that, including some famous pro sop players, and it is the wrong posture which will cause you to end up with FHP. That which will become painful over the years as arthritis sets in as a result. The WX11 I recently got has a slightly curved body to offset that problem somewhat.
 

Pete Thomas

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Sadly we have been obliged to remove posts from this thread as we need to sort out some of the unnecessary unpleasantness that occurred due to undisclosed commercial posting by some members. We do not tolerate misleading commercial (endorser/affilate) posting. This is why we have a commercial membership scheme, ie everyone knows when a post has any commercial interest. It's good to get info and advice from companies but not when disguised as shill reviews.

Our honest and valuable contributing members are too valuable to allow any kind of hoodwinking or exploitation, especially when accompanied by insults and tantrums.

Normal service will now be resumed...feel free to continue the thread, while enjoying the wonderfully tempting and invigorating aroma of CaféSaxophone.

coffee GIF
 
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Pete Thomas

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All the off topic and commercial posts have now been archived here:

 

Jimmymack

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Fascinating exchange. It’s just as well they don’t care about selling a lot as between here and the very similar posts on SOTW they’ve lost a lot of potential custom. It’s a bit of a shame as it seems like quite a good idea that would benefit from some proper interaction with players and potential customers to turn it into a useful instrument with the added advantage of being able to be used silently. It’s a wasted opportunity and too expensive for what it seems to deliver.
 
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JamesOxford

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Precisely my thoughts @Jimmymack . I'm not on SOTW; from what I have heard, not in a rush to join.
Dedicated forums like this are incredibly valuable for getting feedback and iterating to improve a product. When I make an App, being able to have an authentic dialogue with your target audience is gold dust.
I do understand that if you have a vision and work for a couple of years to produce what you think is a great product; to have some aspects questioned can hurt; but if it is a commercial product, you have to be realistic and listen.
I was staggered that valid criticisms of a product's market position, were immediately met by personal attacks. Likening the arena you are trying to promote your product in to a public toilet is not going to secure sales (also, it's one of the friendliest forums I know, and 'attention braggers' is not a thing).
I am impressed that the admins here went with a very proper response, citing the commercial deception as a reason for archiving the thread rather than censoring anyone.
I hope the creators of the EMEO come to realise the value of honest responses and are not as tone-deaf as their ambassador (pun intended).
A lot of people on this forum have a genuine interest in Wind Controller / Practice Devices and would want to see the EMEO, and products like it, improve and succeed, I certainly would.
 

nigeld

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I’m still wondering if the EMEO can do anything that the Yamaha cannot. It seems that the main difference is that the EMEO has brass keywork which is closer in feel to a real saxophone.
 

JamesOxford

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I’m still wondering if the EMEO can do anything that the Yamaha cannot. It seems that the main difference is that the EMEO has brass keywork which is closer in feel to a real saxophone.
This is the Elephant in the Room, if a product a third of the price delivers the same utility, who is it for?
If it is a silent practice instrument, as described on its website, why is an expensive finish prioritised?
If it was a stage instrument it would make some sense, but on stage people would use their sax.
There is a kind of loop of bad logic that is difficult to fathom.
I think they have three ways forward:
1) Develop a responsive mouth setup and make it an actual alternative wind controller.
2) Sell it at a realistic price for a silent practice device.
3) Sell it as an executive toy.
I think if they reevaluated number 2, they could have a hugely successful product.
 

JamesOxford

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But is it an expensive finish? If you were to source half a saxophone from a Chinese factory for about $80 it would probably be cheaper than manufacturing a bespoke body and keywork.
You are exactly right, of course it's not. However deleted8306 gave 'quality' as the main reason for the price being high. Which I assume refers to the finish and perhaps possibly the software?

I have no doubt one could achieve similar practice device with a cheap second hand sop, an Arduino, some switches, and a hacksaw for around £200.
Midi, more sounds etc. would cost more, but I see no point in that unless the mouth controller is responsive, rather than a finger practice device. As you said: " it's really at best half a practice tool for saxophone players."
 

Pete Thomas

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As you said: " it's really at best half a practice tool for saxophone players."

I think I saw on the site about how you could use it for practising your technique. This perpetuates the myth (one of my pet hates) that technique is just fingering.

Nay nay and thrice nay.

Technique runs the whole gamut of playing an instrument. And with saxophone tone and sound are hugely important. Maybe more important than fingering dexterity.

This is actually the reason when I wore the TTS tutorial books, I the first one that came out was fingering technique purely because it was the easiest, yet in spite of being first I called it volume 3 knowing all along vol 1 was going to be tone - my priority.
 
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JamesOxford

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That all makes a lot of sense, I'm enjoying TTS2 btw.
I always assumed that everyone's main practice instrument is an actual saxophone, which is what makes the EMEO's offering seem so bizarre.
As someone very early in the journey of playing saxophone, I do think there is a case for a silent practice device for doing some 'extra' scales, arpeggio practice at night etc. or for my own case, when travelling. I am also interested in product development and marketing professionally, so probably became overly involved by this discussion.
I now spend my evening downtime listening practice.
So much to learn, I love trawling through the old posts, especially BOTM and finding out about everyone's influences here. I could probably only name 6 saxophonists when I started playing, my eyes and ears have been opened wide. Thanks to all the 'attention braggers' ;)
 

Jazz Is All

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What does playing a saxophone require to be worthwhile for you? For me, and probably for most people, a saxophone. Similarly, what does practicing a sax require to make it worthwhile for you? Since it is presumably for the purpose of getting better at making music with it, again for me, it seems that the answer is a priori that it requires an actual saxophone. Only a real sax with a mouthpiece, reed, tone holes pads, keys, bell etc can emit the acoustic sounds specific to a sax.
Playing that improves one's sax technique requires playing sax. Okay, that may sound stupid for being obvious, but let's face it, playing any EWI is not practicing a sax regardless of what some people want you to believe. It's simply because the sound it emits is not acoustic, period. So what if you use the Midi faux-sax sounds, those are not the sounds you are producing by playing a real mouthpiece with a real reed through a real horn with tone holes and a bell that emit the acoustic sound they produce from your own air stream, embouchure, tonguing, lip pressure, throat shape, i.e. Sax Chops. Playing an EWI is going to be useful to learn to play that EWI better, but it can't, by its very nature, improve your saxophone abilities regardless of the hype that some people, like that woman, are spreading about it.

Furthermore, if playing quietly is the major criteria for practice, then why not just play a flute? It has basically the same fingering pattern and can be quite quiet, right? Of course it has a different way of forming the sound vibrations, and it isn't conical, but hey, it's pretty quiet and according to the big selling point for this EMEO, playing quietly is really important if neighbors are a problem. I know that problem from years ago. I solved by getting a tenor E-Sax mute becasue I wanted to play my sax above all, not some ersatz approximation of one. While it was not ideal, it was my Comm III that I was playing, so it was an actual sax producing real sax sounds, and that right there was miles ahead of playing an EWI that looks like a sax but is not acoustic in the least.

Might I add here that if one wants quiet one can simply just finger the sax without having a reed on the mouthpiece, and it will be plenty quiet as you work your finger memory and practice reading charts. You could also play an electric keyboard with headphones because other than creating the notes using your fingers instead of your mouth the fact that it's not actually a sax seems to be moot given the criteria that the people who invented this EMEO want you to believe makes it good for practicing sax since it's just an electric piano with a sax key layout,

Maybe I'm a traditionalist but playing an EWI of any brand, even if it looks like a sax like this model, is not in fact playing the sax simply because the sound is not acoustic but electronic. It can never sound like a saxophone regardless of what sound module you get. I have a Yamaha WX11, and it's fun to play and get all sorts of synthetic tones to come out, but that doesn't make it a Saxophone any more than it's a guitar or any more than a real flute can be one. The sax sounds are phony and not produced by my voicing and cannot ever make me believe that they are coming from a real sax. Furthermore, playing it doesn't improve my saxophone technique any more than playing the flute or Bass Clarinet will. Yes, it might improve my musical sensibility and improvisational skill and creative ideation but that is not the same thing but an additional aspect that many types of study and practice can provide other than blowing the horn for real.
 

noelweston

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I've dabbled with wind controllers a few times - WX5, WX11, EWI USB, and watch all these discussions with interest.

I'm a sax player; I double on clarinet OK, and flute in an emergency. My first attempt with wind controllers was in a working function band, where it would have been useful to augment our usual 2 saxes with occasional baritone, soprano, flute, etc. without carrying and mic'ing multiple instruments. It was a grand plan, but failed on monitoring, tuning and convenience.

As far as practicing goes, to me there are (at least) two parts to it - saxophone tone and technique, which can only really be done on an actual saxophone, as @Jazz Is All says, and music - playing along with backing tracks, improvising, phrasing, note choice, all that fun stuff, which may not need an actual physical saxophone. Playing another instrument, be it flute, synth, or anything else, won't improve sax technique. Playing any instrument can help with the "music" side of things.

My requirements for a wind controller come down to:
1) Ability for (silent) practice of music for me
2) Ability to play in lines of music to a computer reasonably reliably, e.g. to transfer printed scores to editable computer ones (I don't play any kind of keyboard instrument)
3) Playing alternate instruments in live/band/recording settings, as above - a flute line for one tune, maybe a bassoon / cor / oboe intro for another - as an addition to the saxes & brass we already have.
I'm not a solo player, so I'm not particularly interested in a synth as a thing in itself, if that makes sense.

For 1 & 3 expression, ideally mouthpiece controlled, is essential, so anything that doesn't do that wouldn't work. For 2, the fingering has to be familiar, accurate and not over sensitive, to limit the amount of cleanup afterwards.

The WX-5 plus VL70M plus Patchman chip was the closest to any of these, but never quite worked as I wanted, and at the time I wasn't using it so it got sold. The WX-11 with other sound modules just didn't sound/feel anything like, so didn't last long until it was upgraded. The EWI USB I just never got on with - didn't like the keys / how it played, couldn't sort out latency issues, couldn't play into a computer with any accuracy at all.

There still doesn't seem to be anything on the market that would fit my use case - neither the YDS-150 or EMEO have the expression control, the Yamaha WXs are old and not perfect, and I don't get on with the EWIs at all, so for the time being I'll stick with the 6 saxes, 3 clarinets and a couple of flutes. I loved the idea of the YDS-150 or EMEO, but neither seem to be quite there yet.
 

Caz

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Here's hoping the OP @Caz can make a show and give their opinion/review of Emeo.

Been Watching the thread, but it got nasty so I dodged it – since I was asked to give an honest, unbiased review – here goes.

The Emeo is a hybrid between an alto and a Soprano). A bit smaller than an alto and a bit larger than a soprano (which makes me think the instrument/chassis was built specifically for the Emeo company). The instrument is very sleek, and there really aren’t any buttons or dial knobs that give it away as midicontroller (which it is – so no onboard sounds!) Only button is in the bottom of the instrument which is also an led that flashes either green, amber or red (depending on the information it gives you).

Build quality seems nice, although the one i got had a small piece of plastic dislodge inside of it – the emeo team (like 3-4 guys) got me on a zoom meeting and helped me take it apart and remove it. They offered that I could send it back if I wanted, but since it was in working order and there were no deformities on the instrument itself, I declined but thanked. The keys resemble those of the Selmer s.80’s models (which conversely resembles those of the generics Chinese knock-offs of same models).

The Instrument comes with a curved neck and a strap, as well as a generic mpc as well a reed (that actually plays decently on an alto!) as well as an antibacterial mpc. The case didn’t have the best build quality, and the Emeo itself doesn’t fit as snugly as I would want it to – so if you need to travel a lot, then an upgrade would prob be needed. It also comes with a neckstrap that fits the instrument – if you want to use another neckstrap you’ll have to engineer one yourself because no other neckstrap I tried fits the instrument as they were to long.

As they said themselfe, you cant practice tone (but that goes for all EWI’s) You can to some extent practice breath support by adjusting the sensitivity of the breath sensor (which I find somewhat useful) – you can also set it to play without blowing into the instrument tho I’m not sure what that is good for.

It can be set to play in Eb, Bb, and C – ranges of the Octave can also be adjusted. And altissimo grips mimics those normally used (you can’t program your own special fingerings afaik). It can play a low A (if you are one of those bari players that have that).

The Emeo can be used with your smartphone, but connecting it to your laptop or pc with a cable is prob the better option (I feel a minute latency lag when using Bluetooth on my iphone xs). You can use it with garageband – but only a few selected instruments will actually work (like the Erhu). The Respiro is the midi sounds that works best with the Emeo – the sounds (imho) are on par with the patchmann soundbank I have with the EWI4000s.

How, when and how often do I use it?

Not so often as i would like, but i use it when loud playing is a no go (late night, hollidays or when I think my family needs a break from me) – its very portable so I prefer to take that over my tenor when i´m going somewhere. I use it to practice technique, scales, chords, fingerings – but I also use it to just playalong with spotify and/or youtube. My primary concern was how well stuff I learned on the Emeo would transfer over to my tenor, and so far what I have experienced is that if I learn a tune on the Emeo it will carry over to my Tenor (given I have learned it in the Bb setting) Something I couldn’t expect when I played my Akai which probably is because a saxophones anatomy is just to different from an akai.

Currently I don’t really have a need for silent practice so I don’t really use it as much as the cost of the instrument would otherwise warrant, so I’m not sure (given my current situation)I would order one again. but if needed a new windcontroller I would go with another Emeo.

Tl;dr You can practice Technique (fingerings and stuff),You can practice tunes and improv -You can’t practice tone!

Is it worth it? – depends on your financial situation compared to your needs
 

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