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Accessories Saxmute One tenor saxophone mute review

Hello,

Here is my full review of the new Saxmute One for sax tenor.

Playing sax can be problematic related to neighbourgs tolerance. It’s a loud instrument, and us players have to practice a lot, many hours per day everyday to have good skills. Some appartments don’t even allow to play pianissimo, everybody will hear you because of resonance. In the past, I had an isolated booth but had to sell it because of space in the appartment for my children. To be honest, it was efficient for isolation, but wasn’t that good for acoustics with harsh and short reverb and lot of disturbing stationnary waves. Even practicing scales and arpeggios was sometimes odd and uncomfortable because of those resonating notes, and recordings were hard to mix well because of those colorations. A good acoustically corrected isolated booth is around 8000 euros, which is a big budget BTW.

So since a while, I play outside which is perfect for tone practice, as you can play as loud as you want. But as I have to take my car to go playing, I play only one time per day. Biggest issue is if it rains there is no music, if it’s cold no music too. So here in France, playing outside will be 4 months per year… not acceptable solution.

I tried the sponge mute you put in mouthpiece, neck and bell. Works OK for pianissimo playing but not that efficient, still a lot of resonance, and too big alteration of playing techniques when returning to normal playing.

So I’ve started thinking about plastic enclosure systems. The Japanese mutes available seems to be efficient enough, but with weight, hands position, and low notes playing issues.

Then I’ve found on the net a new thing : Saxmute One, from Russia.

Saxmute ONE - Saxophone Mute

Saxmute ONE saxophone mutes


A new plastic mute with improved concept. The whole thing is in two part which are assembled with ingenious magnets system, with a sax holder inside. It’s pretty easy to put the sax inside. The mute itself is mounted on a speaker stand, which is stable and leaves your neck and shoulders free of any weight. The mute has lot of space inside, so your hands have room and it’s easy to play all notes even palm and side keys. Space allow for more easy playing of bell low notes too. The mute looks nice with a cool shape, it’s classy. There are mount and hole for mic/wire, and a hole to hold a lyre for reading music. Intelligent conception.

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I play with this mute since one month now. The isolation is impressive. If you play at normal volume, no neibourghs will hear you. Even my wife and daughter in the appartment barely hear me when I play in the kitchen and they’re in other rooms. If you play pianissimo, I can play even until 11 pm or midnight. If you play very loud FFF during the day, it’s more noisy but totally acceptable, no neibourghs nor family have complained yet. So it’s a total winner here. It cuts low and high frenquencies a lot, and sound core pretty much too, so much resonances are removed in the room where you play. You can practice only with the mute your scales, arpeggios, studies, and have fun. You can play as much times per day you want, so it’s better than car/outside solution in this sense.

I’ve mounted a clip-on mic inside the mute. The idea is to correct low and high frequencies and add a physiological compensation by monitoring system. I’ve mounted a SD systems SX-1 without the original metal mic holder, directly between two pyramidal foams inside the mute. It stay here and allow for angle adjustments. The SD systems adjustable preamp is holded with a velcro strap on the sax/mic holder. The wire go through foam and wire hole, with no to little modification. Then I’ve mounted a car smartphone holder on the side of the mute. I use a mic/headphones adapter, CTIA norm, 2 euros on amazon. This allow me for direct monitoring on 5 euros Garageband app on my Iphone. For novices, I can hear the sax in headphones while playing. Using simple Earpods give better results than any studio heeadphones I had, because you want to hear your natural sound from the mute as much as possible, so any close or semi-open cans will cut too much your natural sound. The goal is truly to have your true sound and mic sound mixed together in a natural way. The sound I get from this system is very good and fun to play, very close to my real sax sound unmuted. You will have a great control on your tone, as you will hear it better with low and high frequencies close to reality. And it allows you to play quieter, because you don’t have to overcompensate the mute effect by playing louder. You will play really quiet.

Other good things mic/headphones/Iphone allow is playing on some playalong, like Aebersold series. It’s quite fun and useful to practice improvisation. And you can record yourself with surprisingly good results. I suppose it’s explained by foam and space/shape of the mute, but the tone recorded is pretty natural and warm. It’s a huge and unexpected bonus, and allows for real homestudio recordings with your own music.

I almost always start to play without monitoring to have a physical feedback in my body. After half an hour, I swith to monitoring. This way, I continue to get used to the mute. It’s winter so I don’t play outside anymore, perhaps one time per two weeks. No huge issues for mute/unmute switchching. Air column is still strong, the biggest thing is to adapt for neck strap and sax position, but it’s ok and don’t take too much time. When meteo will be ok again, I will use outsides and mute in alternance.

Some limits of this mute are bell notes. They are totally playable, but depending on the your mouthpiece/reed, they will be harder to reach, especially C and C#. At normal volume, they play well, but if you play pianissimo they will be unstable. Your embouchure position is important, you have to not put your upper teeth too close to mouthpiece tip. As I don’t take a lot of mouthpiece in the mouth, I have to move a little bit my low jaw forward and to widened my low lip for bell notes. Then low notes play well at normal volume. Another solution is to put a ball, like a golf ball in the bow. This allow for easy playing of C and C# even at pianissimo. But this alter resistance and tone a little bit. I use sometimes the ball for playing exercices. But for improvisation and recording I prefer playing without. Bell notes are colored and more muted than other notes, this is the nature of plastic enclosure mute. Altissimo play fine, a bit harsh but not that much. Growl is ok too like overtones. You can practice almost everything. I’m a kind of sax screamer sometimes, as a huge Pharoah Sanders fan. As playing that way is very loud and needs natural acoustic environment for low overtones acoustics reactions, it’s another limit. But I accept it, and will wait for the sun !!

About monitoring, the reason I’ve chosed IOS and Iphone is because of no latency capabilities. Android devices will have too much latency for proper monitoring. Those who don’t like this brand, can still buy a used Ipad or Iphone (5 minimum for proper performance) for 120/150 euros. Or you can go through little mixers solution, some are around 40/50 euros, or even laptops and audio devices. I’ll use my laptop for quality recording, but I like the compacity and convenience of my holder/Iphone system.

The mute arrived in two weeks. It’s selled now 369 €. You will add to this customs (I paid 50 euros), the speaker stand starts at 19 €, and add to this the whole monitoring system if you want/need it. Total Price if you need everything will be between 500 and 600 euros, but will be less if you have some devices. I had the mic and the phone/app, plus obtain a preorder discount so the whole thing costs me around 360 euros. It’s a good price for a very effective system.

Here are some sounds exemples, with Gear4music tenor and Lebayle LRII 8 * mouthpiece >>

First recording the day I received the mute, after two hours playing inside it with Plasticover reed :

Jean Rochat Saxmute One tenor improvisation.m4a

Sax only, after three weeks, better mic placement and gain setup, with Ponzol synthetic reed :

*m4a file you can listen on web:

Test Ponzol Proreed 2.5.m4a

*aiff file you need to download or compatible web app but much better sound:

Test Ponzol Proreed 2.5.aiff


An audio test of the Saxmute One efficiency. Living room TV is set at moderate volume, I play sax inside the mute at pianissimo to moderate volume in the kitchen which is just near the TV. The recording IPhone is on the living room table. I play at first with kitchen door closed sax is barely audible, you have to push volume or use headphones to hear the sax. At middle of recording I open the kitchen door and play again and it’s not even louder than TV. Sax distance to Iphone mic is 3 meter, TV is 2 meter:

Saxmute one test by janosax - Allihoopa


I’m in contact with the Saxmute One conceptor/seller, he’s a very kind guy. He works on some improvements like built-in ball for low notes, adjustable holder, improved molding techniques, easier stand solution and such things. He will send me a new exemplary of this improved mute, so he’s really a good seller IMO : )

This mute changes my sax practice life, nothing less.

Feel free to ask me any questions on my specific setup.

Jean
 
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Janosax

Member
Messages
312
You're welcome. If somebody want to order, just be sure they have stock or can give you a delay, so feel free to contact them before.
 

Yuko

New Member
Messages
1
Hi there,
thanks for this awesome review! I'm currently considering buying the Mute. Could you share some detailed photos showing your monitoring setup?
And, are you still happy with it?
Would you recommend it if it was my only way to practice? I'm thinking of picking up lessons and have no other way of practicing. This would be my only option.
Thanks!
Yuko
 

Janosax

Member
Messages
312
Hello,

Here are some pics on my Facebook review as links has been lost in first post.

Jean Rochat

I'm on holidays and haven't too much time to reply in details, but in short yes this mute is 100% worth it and the best way to continue to playing sax when conditions are not the best.
 

Al Ex

Member
Messages
65
Thanks Jean for the review! After reading it, I decided to order a saxmute for my alto. It arrived today (though a little damaged, but superglue and some tape were helpful), and I've been trying it for half an hour.

My first impression is that it's going to be really helpful since I live in an old flat! I found it difficult to reach lower B and C (the notes were "vibrating") but I guess it will require some training.

I've ordered a sax stand, which I think will make it easier to use the mute. I'll write my own review later, when I will have played it long enough!
 

Janosax

Member
Messages
312
Hello.

I made some modifications a few months ago. After a while I decided adding an angle was needed to help with right hand position, as we don't play sax vertically. I modded the stand by drilling some holes and changing arms geometry, and adding a security pin on the mute/stand junction to avoid the mute to rotate by itself and fall. It's much more comfortable and close to real sax playing now.
(Mute seems small on the first pic, it's just the way I taked the pic it's not that small next to the stand).

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About monitoring setup, hope the pics on my Facebook review are enough to illustrate.

Jean Rochat

I plan to add an ik multimedia irig Pro duo for better audio monitoring/recording and avoiding latency.

IK Multimedia | iRig Pro DUO

I plan too to add a powerbank battery inside the mute to provide power to the iPhone and avoid "monitorless" sessions issues.

About the low notes playing difficulty, you have to practice them a lot. But the reed has a very big importance too. Bell notes are much more easier to play with légère signature reeds in my case. Even with the right reed they still can be challenging, so you can add a golf ball in the bell too, this helps a LOT but modify the whole sax sound a little bit, so I prefer to play without ball.

Again this mute is the best solution I've found to play at home without issues with neighbours. And you can record nice things too which is huge thing, like a compact studio sax booth!!

https://soundcloud.com/user-970258578%2Fgadget-sensible-bass-saxes-1 View: https://soundcloud.com/user-970258578/gadget-sensible-bass-saxes-1


Hope this helps.
 
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Al Ex

Member
Messages
65
Impressive!

Thanks for the advice. I'm waiting for the sax stand to be delivered, and I think I'll get a SD System Modular mic which I will use with my soundcard for monitoring and recording.

Your recording sounds nice, by the way!
 

Janosax

Member
Messages
312
Thanks. I'm very happy with sound recording results with this mute. I was thinking it will sound like barely playable toy when bought it, but was very pleasantly surprised. Sd systems are perfect for this mute, a little on the bright side but the foam inside mute gives a perfect combination. You can't go wrong with that gear.
 

Al Ex

Member
Messages
65
Hi!

I got my sax stand this morning, and tried it at once with the mute: this was a significant improvement, as I found it hard to be comfortable with playing while sitting.The lower notes were still a little hard to reach, but it got better after half an hour of practice.

I also experienced some difficulties with some fingerings, for example when playing a D harmonic minor scale: I had trouble passing from C# to B flat, I found it hard to move my finger freely. It got a little better after some time, but I still have to work it out!

It seems playing with the mute demands more efforts than playing without, but I guess this will be rewarding in some way (I tend to focus more on breath control). I only hope it will not lead me to get some bad playing habits, as playing with such a big device feels less "natural", but I think this would not be an issue as long as I can still play freely occasionally.
 

Janosax

Member
Messages
312
You're welcome.

About playing position, you have to adjust several things (not mentioned by manufacturer and there is no user manual I even adviced him about that!!):

-Bell metal clamp has to be adjusted vertically and in diameter
-there is on latest versions a hard piece of foam below the pyramidal foam. You can cut a piece of that hard foam to adjust sax position vertically.

Those two steps are not the easiest to do but allow for adjust sax position in the mute almost perfectly, in conjonction with neck position. It's very important to do that for good playing experience.

And yes, I agree playing in the mute is a different thing. But IMO there is more difference between for example an alto and a tenor than a muted tenor and unmuted tenor. A monitoring system helps a lot, how is yours?

Be patient, it's worth it : )
 
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Al Ex

Member
Messages
65
I currently have no monitoring system, so I rely a lot on what I "feel" when playing. After a few days, it's still not a problem. I'm focusing on finding a comfortable way to play with it, and being able to play every note with a good sound.

Thanks for your tips concerning the adjustments, I may try this later!
 

RichardSX90

Member
Messages
47
Janosax - Thanks for the great review. Nice to see that Sax.co.uk is stocking the alto model - hope they get the tenor model soon. The Saxmute One looks a great alternative to the more expensive makes.

I've been impressed by the reviews and YouTube demonstrations - until I listened to this review on Saxmute One's Facebook page - 19th July.

Saxmute ONE saxophone mute - This is the link - NOT the photo below.


The mute doesn't seem as effective as in the other videos - especially the low notes.
I decided to "look" at the differences using Pro Tools. I recorded my Mac's system audio using Audio Hijack, imported it into Pro Tools, and then did a screen grab of the waveform.



For comparison - I did the same for this Saxmute One test on YouTube.



The two waveforms clearly show very different results.
Could some tests have be accidentally affected by recording equipment? Are there automatic compressors in smartphones, which would lower the recorded volume of the unmuted sax? I did see one test in which the unmuted sax was about the same volume as the player's voice.

Of course, videos and waveforms cannot replace actually trying out the mute in a shop, but I would welcome any comments.

 

Janosax

Member
Messages
312
Interesting. Perhaps it's smartphone compressor you're right. I think this mute lower sax volume by 15 or 20 dB, not 30 dB as advertised. If you play at moderate volume they really cut the sound. At very high sax volume pressure it's less effective but it's like talking loud, neighbour will not complaint. All I can say is try it if you can, or buy via PayPal this gives some protection for refund.

In my case, still love the product and just use it with great satisfaction. Just buyed some recording gear stuff including an Irig Pro io audio interface. HUGE improvement on sound quality recorded. More on this later, look at the pics:

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RichardSX90

Member
Messages
47
Interesting. Perhaps it's smartphone compressor you're right. I think this mute lower sax volume by 15 or 20 dB, not 30 dB as advertised. If you play at moderate volume they really cut the sound. At very high sax volume pressure it's less effective but it's like talking loud, neighbour will not complaint. All I can say is try it if you can, or buy via PayPal this gives some protection for refund.

In my case, still love the product and just use it with great satisfaction. Just buyed some recording gear stuff including an Irig Pro io audio interface. HUGE improvement on sound quality recorded. More on this later, look at the pics:

Thanks for the quick reply - very helpful - from someone who has bought the mute and used it in real world conditions.
I'm looking forward to details of your new recording equipment.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
The sound level meters you can get for phones should give you a good idea of the amount of reduction. I used to have a bag that doubled as a mute. Meaured with a proper sound level meter, it cut about 10dB,
 

Janosax

Member
Messages
312
I used a decibel meter with and without mute I think it was 15 or 20 dB attenuation can't remember. But in fact the most important is that low and high frequencies and resonance inside room are HUGELY cuted. The core sound is less attenuated and what is measured to 15/20 dB I think. So the overall impression is that your sax is powerfully muted. In fact I can't play sax without mute at home, people will call for cops immediately!! Tonight, I played in the kitchen door closed with the mute until 10 pm at relatively loud levels, and my wife which was watching TV in the living room says she's barely hear me and can listen to TV at very moderate level with no issues. The two rooms share some thin walls (5cm max made from plasterboards!!) and my wife was at max 5 meters from the mute with walls in between. Again you have to try one to really make your opinion, if possible in your own home.
 
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Janosax

Member
Messages
312
Here is my last track made with this Saxmute One : Madreeon

I improved my compact studio a lot, here are some pics.

Whole mute with sax Inside:

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I added a velcro between mute bottom mount and sax bow:

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And some foam for the neck. Both mods improves ergonomy, as sax dont move at all Inside mute:

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