SYOS

Saxophones How much difference is there between brands?

rhysonsax

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4,246
a) yes, I did.

b) no, it isn't.

The 'second test' (same test, actually) is just a quick example of how a listener/player who has been around the block a few times, played a fair number of different horns, etc...would be able to discern.
I was speaking of scientifically robust statistical tests. The first test you described was to ask listeners to identify five different (but known) saxophones from their sound alone, trying to hold other variables (e.g. the player, the mouthpiece, reed, recording setup, mixing, playback) constant.

Then you changed the statistical basis for a different test to ask listeners to tell apart just two different (but known) saxophones, with other variables still held constant.

The mathematics are different. If you want to draw robust conclusions from such testing you have to understand the probabilities.

The design of tests needs to come up with conditions to allow the results to be distinguished from "random chance". So you start from a "null hypothesis" (e.g. "players with good ears are no better than deaf monkeys are telling apart different saxophone makes by their sound alone") and then gather results until you can draw statistically significant conclusions. It would be no good relying on just the first test with one person - you would probably need any tens of tests to disprove the null hypothesis. But if the first several tests came up with a successful identification rate of 3, 5, 5, 5, 3 then that would give a pretty good hint people are doing better than deaf monkeys.


Rhys
 
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randulo

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
Subscriber
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4,472
who the player is, how familiar they are with each instrument, what their mouthpiece is, what they play (e.g. long tones, scales, unaccompanied tunes), how it is recorded, how it is mixed and how people listen to the recordings.
I was about to say something similar, but even just the first, the who part would make this difference: Dave Sanborn or someone at that level, would instinctively react to the entire context and modify his playing, embouchure, breath etc, to compensate for differences. Even with conscious effort, it would be hard not to.
depends on where you play, as playing with an orchestra in a section with 12 other saxes and 70 other musicians asks something different then being the sole sax player in a small punk band.
That's a huge factor, too. Also, if listening to someone play in a studio and a good mic with no effects or EQ is a totally artificial effort that may not have much value.
So a deaf monkey randomly guessing is most likely to identify either zero or one saxophones correctly.
But an infinite number of monkeys will identify them all!


I think these discussions often feel as if we were a bunch of friends, getting together to play soccer or basketball or some team sport on the street or the roof. They never get old to me, which is why I keep instigating. Regardless of which "side" anyone is on, there are always interesting examples, and aside from opinions, there are often resources revealed, links, and
shock!!!
even facts, sometimes. Keep 'em coming.
 

Rikki

Member
Messages
204
I think it's telling that many of the greats play the same horn for their entire career. Habit? Comfort? Or lack of the need to move up? Or, there is no real 'up'?
Most of you would know more about this than I.
Because they put in the hours of practice and dedication together with a drive to just play music. They may well have started with a different (probably cheaper) setup, but their drive to improve together with phenomenal technique, meant they could try out different setups to fine tune their sound to what they were searching for.

But we are talking small nuances of differences sometimes, these guys could take any of our instruments and play the hell out of them!

I think too many players change their setups (especially mouthpieces/reeds) too frequently to compensate for lack of practice/technique rather than trying to achieve the sound they are searching for. The longer you stick with a setup the more likely you are to reach that sound. Another thing to bear in mind is to keep your setup properly serviced, sometimes a setup that you have 'grown out of', simply needs servicing (much cheaper).
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,854
As a quick aside...I always find your choice of words interesting. Sometimes when folks disagree with someone, they have a tendency to take the other's fairly moderate claim, rephrase it, and explode it into something which starts sounding a bit absurd.

I challenge you to find where I stated "manufacturers drove the revolution'.


No problem. I stated “ It's not the horns that are moving there - it's the players.”
To which you replied:
“Respectfully disagree.”
If you disagree that it’s the players that have driven the revolution, then who did? There are only two factors in the equation – the people that play the horns and the people that make them.
Then we have some maths...
“If 90% of available new horn options are of a 'modern toned' paradigm....and the 10% which are not are priced quite high, out of the range of, say, 75% of sax buyers....it is not the sax buyers who are creating a 'demand' for that particular sonic quality.”
...and a clearer insistence that it’s not the players who are driving the revolution. Therefore, again, it must be the manufacturers.

There’s nothing ‘explosive’ or ‘absurd’ about it – it’s simple logic.

What my point was, and is, is that...TODAY....the VAST majority of new/contemporary horns are of the modern sonic paradigm. That isn't particularly arguable, really.

That is quite different from stating "manufacturers drove the Revolution".
But you just said, twice, that it isn’t the players driving it.

Indeed there was a 'shift' in the tonal paradigm of saxes starting in the 70's and Yama and Yani, as they took over the market, defined the new sound. This 'shift' was the result of a LOT of things...not simply a few companies deciding they were gonna build a brighter horn.


Probably the R&D depts. getting fed up with complaints about tuning – and realising that, with the technology of the day, it was going to be hard to deliver on tuning without sacrificing some tonal glamour.

Sax music shifted away from bebop and post-bop, the last vestiges of BB continued to fade from popular music, rhythm sections became electric, rock kept getting louder (think, for example, of the George Harrison guitar sound vs. the Hendrix sound), Motown crashed the pop charts, Jazz Fusion began developing, avante-garde became stylish. I can keep going.
Artists needed and wanted horns with more edge and cut.
Mmm, players wanted brighter punchier horns to suit the music they were moving in to.
As I pointed out.

Companies were aware of this. So this is probably part of the reason that the Japanese were so successful in bumping off the 'traditional' American and European models in most genres of music.
You don’t mean that manufacturers made horns that sounded like the players wanted??
I pointed that out too.

Also, look at what Selmer came up with - the VII. Today folks look at it as 'the child which should have never been born' and such...BUT....Selmer was at the forefront.
Does one think they would actually just produce a 'botch' ? Just blow the whole affair ? The introduction of the VII....this was a much-awaited event back in the day.
It wasn't a botch, sonically. There was serious intent in that horn.
There are elements of the VII tone, when compared to the VI or SBA, which were an attempt to produce a model which would meet the needs and desires of the 'new sound'.
See above.

Fast forward to today .
"TODAY....the VAST majority of horns are of the modern sonic paradigm".
In new horns...there is LESS diversity in tone available out there today- particularly for players with moderate budgets....those folks arguably making up at least 75% of all sax players (higher, more likely).

This is probably the result of new companies employing a particular business model - looking at things not from an innovative point of view, but rather the more post-1980 business view of "what did the biggies do that was successful ?
Let's knock THAT off - but, of course, NOT REALLY - we will change things as necessary to keep our expenses down and our profits maximized".
So let me get this straight. The big companies are making horns that sound the way that players want? And the smaller companies are making horns like the bigger companies...because the bigger companies know what the players want?
OK, I think I’ve got that.
Oh hey, I pointed that out too.

Soooooo...the result is.... a lot of companies .....producing a lot of sameness.

So, as choices are limited for most (who seek a new instrument), the INDUSTRY today plays a significant role in what the 'common' or 'familiar' tonal qualities of the Saxophone (trumpet, drum set, etc) are.
Because the industry is run by smart people who know that players will only buy what they want.
Look at the recent rise of unlacquered horns – prompted by a load of BS on one or other of the social media groups. I GUARANTEE you that some bright spark on one of the manufacturer’s boards said “Hey folks! These dudes think that unlacquered horns give a better sound! And the best of it is that it will cost us less to make ‘em...and we can charge more for ‘em!”

I hope that clarifies my point.
No, not really. All you’ve done is rearrange and repeat what I said in my previous post and somehow decided that it supports your original point – which it quite clearly doesn’t.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,582
I was speaking of scientifically robust statistical tests. The first test you described was to ask listeners to identify five different (but known) saxophones from their sound alone, trying to hold other variables (e.g. the player, the mouthpiece, reed, recording setup, mixing, playback) constant.
I understand where you were coming from, and please keep in mind a bit of my reply was tongue-in-cheek.

My point ...was much more direct and simple....

If a person can discern between 2 different horns in a "variables constant except for..." playtest....then they can probably discern between 3 different horns....

....and a player with experience in both vintage and modern horns can likely discern between 4 or more....
...providing that the subject horns chosen do not possess sonic signatures very close to one another.

That's about all. Looking at former blind tests done on SOTW over the years, it seems a good number of members there were able to do this....it hardly seemed like they just got lucky; most respondents were able to discern the tonal characteristics of most models used (again, the models possessing very strong and identifiable characteristics).
 

jbtsax

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7,877
The word "sonic" is used more times in this thread than in any other I have read---even "sonic paradigm" which is a new one to me. @JayeNM certainly has the right to choose the words he wants to describe the "sound" or "tonal qualities" or "timbre" or "tone color" of a saxophone.

But, to me that word will always have the connotations of "super sonic" (faster than the speed of sound), "ultrasonic" (high frequencies above the range of human hearing) and these: Sonic --- SONIC

I think it was Mark Twain who said: “Don't use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.” ;)
(waiting for Jaye's colorful response.)
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,582
I was about to say something similar, but even just the first, the who part would make this difference: Dave Sanborn or someone at that level, would instinctively react to the entire context and modify his playing, embouchure, breath etc, to compensate for differences. Even with conscious effort, it would be hard not to.
This is highly arguable ....and has been brought up before when discussing the saxco playtests.

The counter-argument (just as valid if not more so) would be:

If a player's task is to create a playtest where maintaining variables constant for the purposes of exhibiting the one variable they wish to exhibit....one would think...if the test is created honestly (and not with intent to sway the listener towards one particular conclusion....the payer would endeavor to play each horn consistently.

I don't think that is much of a reach to state that. So, even if David Sanborn was the tester, I am most certain that, if he is repeating the same tune on several horns, he would be able to keep things in check in order to produce an appropriate result.

It would not be 'hard not to', really.

So, yes, while one CAN do what you suggest... again, I'd argue, given their task...if what they wish to produce is honest....they would refrain from doing this.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,582
The word "sonic" is used more times in this thread than in any other I have read---even "sonic paradigm" which is a new one to me. @JayeNM certainly has the right to choose the words he wants to describe the "sound" or "tonal qualities" or "timbre" or "tone color" of a saxophone.
(...I stole that term from Tim Price, actually....a term which he has used in the same context of discussion as this one...it seemed to me to be a really good terminology when discussing a widespread change/shift to the sound qualities of an instrument...)

....(sorry that's as colorful as I could get this morning) ;)
 
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randulo

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
Subscriber
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4,472
If a player's task
I won't disagree with your opinion per se, but task is a big word, if you know what I mean. Here's what I mean.
Maybe if someone has a very good reason to act like a robot or scientist doing research, you're correct, probably some can. (Like pro wine tasters.) I think if Dave was asked to play a few horns and see what he thought, he would go the way I said, naturally. Or conversely, he might try stuff that was hard to do on each and see if one was easier. There is actually a recording of him talking to Eric Marienthal and I think they tired each other's (don't know if it was tenors or altos?). I can't repro it here legally. That wasn't quite what we're talking about here, anyway.

You realize I'm being paid by the word, right? :happydance:
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
507
I notice they are available for my YAS480. Why would I (or anyone) want one?
Ask @Stephen Howard as they seem to make a difference on some Tenors at least. I don't know about altos as nothing could turn them into acceptable Tenors so why bother? ;)


But here's a canny tip. If you have one of the newer models - beg, borrow or steal a crook from a MkI 62 and see whether you feel it makes a difference. I think you'll be surprised...
On the other forum, there is a thread with consensus that a V1 neck turns a 62 into an 82Z for a much cheaper outlay than buying an 82Z, too. Cue more discussion perhaps. :)
 
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