Best Sax wind controller

Please post here topics concerning use of windcontrollers with our instruments
saxninja
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2017 4:24 pm

Best Sax wind controller

Post by saxninja » Wed May 31, 2017 1:53 am

This will blow your mind. Are you a sax player experimenting with wind controllers? (Sorry, but keyboard players wouldn't understand.) A sax player knows the instrument, knows the nuances of lip, breath, throat, tongue and hand control. The saxophone IS hard to recreate which is why I've spent the past 3 years seeing whats out there and what it can do. I've bought and gig'd with an AKAI EWI400s plus a VL70 with Patchman enhancements. I've bought and gig'd with a Yamaha WX5 with the same setup. I've setup a whole new gig rig based on the Samplemodeling saxophones which get even closer to "true" sax. BUT....my purchase of a Synthophone raised my experience to a whole new level, on par with performing live with acoustic saxes. This is a real saxophone with built-in midi electronics. Sensors on every "pad" detect the key closures very accurately and the on-board electronics do an amazing job of turning that into Midi data to send to your choice of soft or hard synth units. The incredibly innovative mouthpiece turns lip and breath control into realistic expression controls.

If you are a sax player wanting to move to wind controller technology there is only one answer...Synthophone. Very pricey but worth every penny, especially if you gig.

Kobir
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:20 pm

Re: Best Sax wind controller

Post by Kobir » Wed May 31, 2017 12:16 pm

I have some back problems, so one of the things I looked for was a lighter instrument that will allow me many hours of practice without strain on my neck and back.

The new Roland Aerophone AE10 is a great alternative midi controller as it is much lighter and cheaper than Synthophone and has key ergonomics that are much closer to sax than EWI and WX5. Because the Synthophone is build inside a real sax it has some advantages in key ergonomics but also limitations as it cannot have extra buttons for octave keys or CC messages and has more moving parts that need maintenance.

To sum: I agree that Synthophone is a great wind controlller, but There are some pros and cons that should be considered.

3dogmike
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Joined: Sat May 21, 2016 6:05 pm

Re: Best Sax wind controller

Post by 3dogmike » Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:17 pm

I have both the EWI 5000 and the WX 5 and results do vary according to your set up. I use a Macbook and Bluetooth LE midi interface but I believe the EWI is sending more midi data and sometimes the Trumpets bog down creating a latency issue. I use the wired usb interface with the EWI to prevent this issue. I have not experienced latency with the WX 5 so I use the Bluetooth LE interface as it does not have usb out. Overall I prefer the EWI 5000 as I get better vibrato and wind control but again it maybe that the WX 5 is not set up properly. The WX 5 has more cc options and I like the octave keys better than the rollers on the EWI. I use the Sax Brothers, Swam Saxes, Trumpets and Trombones and I get beautiful results. I used hardware sound models but never could get an acceptable Sax, Trumpet or Trombone sound until I went to Mac and Samplemodeling. The AE10 does not add anything but I did not try it yet. Price too high, looks weird and lacks some important features.

dstong
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Location: Chicago, IL USA
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Re: Best Sax wind controller

Post by dstong » Tue Oct 02, 2018 6:30 pm

While the Synthophone has a number of undeniably great features especially because it feels like a sax in every way, not surprising since it is a sax, the issue that has been glossed over is the price.
The price is approximately $ 3,800 which is significantly higher than any of the wind controllers made by Yamaha, Roland, or Akai.

Joel
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed May 11, 2016 5:36 am

Re: Best Sax wind controller

Post by Joel » Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:20 pm

Synthophone owners......have you had problems with the mouthpiece? My first mouthpiece failed and was replaced under the warranty of the horn. Softwind apologized saying they had neglected to apply the epoxy correctly. The replacement began to exhibit the same beginning signs of failure so, I used a bore scope to see inside and found the edges of the epoxy were curling up or lifting away from the mouthpiece material. I was able to easily lift the epoxy out of the mouthpiece with a small screw driver. My thinking was there is an incompatibility between these two materials. After removing the original material, I replaced it with StarBright Liquid Electrical Tape which lasted longer than the factory material but eventually allowed moisture to get between the two materials and total failure. Today, I'm about to take delivery of a new mouthpiece that I had to purchase for $385 us.
I'm wondering if this problem is unique to me or, are plastic mouthpieces not the right material. Research indicates there are plastics that are considered to be oily meaning they continually release gases making them poor candidates for bonding.
First thing I need to know is, I'm I the only one?

MSchnell
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Location: Krefeld, Germany
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Re: Best Sax wind controller

Post by MSchnell » Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:44 pm

Just for curiosity:

Am I right understanding that they use a standard sax mouthpiece and attached some electromechanical equipment to sense the players movements ?

Does such a mouthpiece still work proper in it's originally intended mechanical way ?

Do they sense as well breath pressure as lip pressing force ?

it seems rather ridiculous to ask $400 for something that shows such a bad endurance in perfectly intended use. Supposedly the problem is due to moisture and material characteristics all of which can't be unforeseen.

I use a TEC BBC v2. I first had a v1 that also soon featured a problem due to moisture. I got a replacement, but I soon upgraded to a v2 that has many additional features, sensing a total of four player movement dimensions. Since I upgraded to the v2 there were no such problems.

TEC provides a "mouthpiece" created with 3D printing for sensing the lip/teeth pressure. I am not perfectly happy with same, but it can't break, and hence I could imagine that such technology might be appropriate for a more sax-like mouthpiece, as well, and perfectly doable for that proce.

-Michael
Music examples -> http://www.boa-sorte.de

Joel
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed May 11, 2016 5:36 am

Re: Best Sax wind controller

Post by Joel » Tue Oct 16, 2018 6:52 pm

Am I right understanding that they use a standard sax mouthpiece and attached some electromechanical equipment to sense the players movements ?

Does such a mouthpiece still work proper in it's originally intended mechanical way ?

Do they sense as well breath pressure as lip pressing force ?

Correct. The Synthophone uses the the standard plastic mouthpiece that come with the Yamaha Saxophone. Softwind installs a sensor in the mouthpiece which is covered with clear epoxy. A standard reed is fitted with a metal part with a small magnet near the end that sits in close proximity to the sensor in the mouthpiece. This assembly allows for lip pressure. The small hole inside the mouthpiece presumably senses the breath pressure. The mouthpiece connects to the Saxophone normally with an electronic connector built in to the mouthpiece and the neck but, no air passes beyond the mouthpiece.

No. The mouthpiece is no longer acoustically functional.

Yes, both lip and breath are sensed and controllable. Lip bend can be used for either up bend or down bend.

Yes, the replacement cost is my concern. I took this screen shot with a bore scope to record the mouthpiece in new condition so I can monitor any signs of deterioration as time passes. I am expecting to see the edges of the epoxy begin to curl up and eventually separate enough for moisture to reach the sensor on the end of the ribbon cable.
This midi wind controller was expensive but, outside of this mouthpiece issue, I'm really happy to own it however, had I known I would need to purchase a replacement mouthpiece every year or so at a cost of $385.00, I probably would have ask Softwind to re think the design. I'm fairly sure the problem is that the epoxy is not bonding well to the resin mouthpiece.
Screenshot 2018-10-16 Bore scope mouthpiece.png
Screenshot 2018-10-16 Bore scope mouthpiece.png (1.48 MiB) Viewed 235 times

MSchnell
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Re: Best Sax wind controller

Post by MSchnell » Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:21 pm

Just a silly thought:

With some mechanical skills it should be possible to replace the tip of the mouthpiece by a TEC BBCv2. That would not only be cheaper and more reliable, but also add two sensors for "tilt" and "nodk" that might be able to be used for more so9und variation. Of course the feel is very different from a real sax mouth piece. Unfortunately I - not being a sax player - have tried and found myself unable to use the "bite force" for pitchbend. I was not able do get this under steady control, so I (happily) use bite to create the growl effect, and use head nod for pitch bend instead which of course for a real sax player would not be very desirable.

-Michael
Last edited by MSchnell on Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
Music examples -> http://www.boa-sorte.de

Joel
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed May 11, 2016 5:36 am

Re: Best Sax wind controller

Post by Joel » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:46 am

This is a photo of the connector mounted inside the neck rnd of the mouth piece. Does the connector look familiar?
Attachments
Screenshot 2018-10-16 Connector end of mouth piece.png
Screenshot 2018-10-16 Connector end of mouth piece.png (1.67 MiB) Viewed 230 times

MSchnell
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Location: Krefeld, Germany
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Re: Best Sax wind controller

Post by MSchnell » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:38 am

With a rubber ring inside this looks more like an air pressure connector than like an electrical connector,

-Michael
Music examples -> http://www.boa-sorte.de

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