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CTM-40 Tuner and Metronome
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E-sax Practice Mute System for Alto Saxophone IIThe e-Sax Whisper Mute System is the only saxophone mute that allows you to play at full volume while outside the case only a whisper can be heard. Monitor your actual sound (dynamics, timbre, etc.) via the ingenious pickup system and headphones. Practice in a hotel, in your home, or even warm-up back stage during a performance. The e-Sax Mute also proves an excellent recording tool when the out lines are plugged directly into a recording device. The line in feature allows you to play along with a CD or karaoke style.
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I purchased the e-sax alto saxophone mute from WWBW about a month ago and must say that in that time, it has allowed me to greatly increase my practice time. It does not make the sax turn down to a whisper (especially if you are playing at full volume) but it does reasonably turn down the volume and cuts down the sound projection especially of the edgy partials that would otherwise rattle the windows (I play with a very bright mouthpiece). Sitting in the next room with a closed door, I can now practice without waking up my young child or annoying my wife. Before I had the sax mute, I could mainly just practice when no one else was home (or at least not working or sleeping).
The headphones and electronics work well. With the reverb feature, it sounds like I am playing in a room with some nice acoustics when I listen through the headphones. The line in feature to add play-along music is great. I get to hear the music and my sax (sometimes with reverb added to the sax, the reverb does not get added to the line in music), while someone else in the room only gets to hear a muffled saxophone. I bought two pairs of rechargeable triple A batteries and have only had to swap them once so far.
The sax does get warm inside of the mute and after about half an hour or more, the lower stack notes become sharp compared to the rest of the notes, which is really only an issue if you are playing along with music. I guess the saxophone is designed to play in tune being warmer closer to the mouthpiece and cooler towards the bell. Since the saxophone is metal, it cools off pretty quickly when I open up the mute and take a short break. A side benefit is much less condensation of my breath inside of the sax. Since the sax warms up more inside the mute, the moist air goes into mute space and is absorbed by the felt. Hopefully this should help increase the life of the palm and high e and f# key pads.
Overall, what is great about this mute is that I can play at a comfortable volume and the sound projects less than when I am trying to play quietly with no mute. It also allows me to play the sax more as if I were performing rather than trying to play quietly for practicing. When I get to take the mute off and play, I can definitely tell the progress I have already made from being able to practice more often at a full volume. I can definitely recommend this mute to anyone who feels that they can?t fully practice because they are concerned with disturbing someone with their volume.
I really like my mute overall. It greatly reduces (does not eliminate) my volume so that I can practice in my Manhattan apartment. This feat alone makes it worthwhile. The metronome setting is cute, but limited. I do like the reverb setting when I'm running pieces, so that's cool.
The positives of this contraption far outweigh the negatives. The price is very high, especially considering it's a glorified plastic padded case with neoprene hand holes and a couple of bells and whistles. I justified the expense when I realized that the same amount of money would purchase me about 22 practice sessions in a rehearsal space. I'm not sorry I bought it, and I use it quite often.
A few drawbacks to the design:
-As others have mentioned, once you get below low D, there's frequently a gurgle effect. The good news though, is when I got to play outside of the box again, I had even better control of my low B's and Bbs! This is very annoying, but not a total dealbreaker.
-I am not a fan of the positioning of the left hand cutout. It is in an awkward place for me, restricting my movement and making it difficult to execute intricate palm key and altissimo passages. I think the cutouts need to be adjustable. I'm afraid to tinker with it for fear it will make the sound louder.
All things considered, if you are a city dweller and/or an insomniac, it could still be very useful to you.
About two years ago, the neighbor started to get passive/aggressive whenever I practiced. The same Led Zeppelin tune would get played over and over at full volume. And if I didn't stop he would start shorting out his stereo somehow causing really loud buzzes and pops. Talking to him never amounted to anything as he denied that he was being bothered by my sax and he wasn't making any noise. I had to stop practicing at home.
Aside from constructing some sort of sound booth, this is the best mute available for sax players. It's odd appearance aside, the product cuts the sound down to below talking volume. It does add weight to your neck but you'll get used to it. It gets hot and damp in the mute so you have to air it out after every session. The headphone output is decent especially if you use the reverb, otherwise the sound has no presence. Plan to spend at least 30 minutes fitting the eSax to your model of sax the first time.
One problem is that, with my old Selmer Bundy II, the lowest 4 notes are stifled. Newer saxes might not have this problem. Beginning students should get their tone down before practicing with this. But I am practicing at home again and that counts for everything!
I have been somewhat disappointed with this mute system. Guess I was expecting less sound when using it. Even though the noise is somewhat muted, my family can still hear me practicing when they're outside of the house. Not a good thing when I have close neighbors and I like to practice in the early morning.
I do have problems playing the lower register from 'D' on down which I normally play quite easily.
It is also cumbersome and my hands get quite hot and sweaty.
I had no problem getting started with this product. It too me about 10 minutes to get a hang of the setup. The really cool thing about this mute is that without any headphones, it's completely muted at about talking volume. But when you plug the headphones in and adjust the volume, you hear yourself as you normally would without using the mute. I was really impressed by how well the headphones allow for hearing the sounds of the sax. It's pricey, but could be a good investment if you're having trouble finding a place to practice. In my case, it pays for itself in the gas money I spent driving to places out doors to practice. Also, I get increased practice time. Good product.
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