This blog post is a follow up to my “Does the mouthpiece material make a difference? Theo Wanne Gaia 3 Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Comparison” post. I am purposefully not putting a link to that article because I don’t want anyone to cheat.
I will write it again, please do not cheat! The purpose of this is to see if we can actually tell the difference between the metal and hard rubber mouthpieces. When we are told which mouthpiece is metal and which mouthpiece is hard rubber, many of us feel like we can hear a difference but can we hear this difference when it is a blind?? Good Luck, Steve
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Comparison
This is in no way a scientific comparison but will be a subjective comparison to you the reader as you listen to each of the clips below and decided what differences if any you can hear between the two mouthpiece. I would suggest listening to the sound clips on good speakers rather than on your iPhone or iPad speakers.
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Hard Rubber Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece
I will be using the same Rigotti Gold 3 medium tenor saxophone reed on both Gaia 3 tenor saxophone mouthpieces with the same Selmer 404 silver metal ligature. I wanted to use the same ligature for this comparison and since the hard rubber Gaia 3 mouthpiece and the metal Gaia 3 mouthpiece come with different ligatures, I thought it would be best if I used the same Selmer 404 silver ligature for both mouthpieces.
I will play one sound clip and then without moving my feet or body position at all in relation to the microphone, I will take the mouthpiece off, change the reed and ligature to the new mouthpiece and attempt to record the same clip again with the next mouthpiece. I will do my best to position the reed and ligature in the same position each time.
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece Comparison
If you like the sound and look of the new Gaia 3 tenor sax mouthpiece by Theo Wanne, you can find them at Theowanne.com. I have agreed to be an affiliate for Theo Wanne as of this review so if you purchase a Gaia 3 tenor saxophone mouthpiece from this link, neffmusic.com will receive a small commission on the sale. (This helps to support my site and keep the saxophone related reviews and articles coming to you…..)
If you are lucky enough to play a Gaia 3 tenor saxophone mouthpiece or have any other thoughts or comments on these comparison sound clips below, I would love to hear what you think in the comments below. Thanks, Steve
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 1A
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 1B
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 2A
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 2B
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 3A
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 3B
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 4A
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 4B
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 5A
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 5B
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 6A
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 6B
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 7A
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 7B
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 8A
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 8B
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 9A
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 9B
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 10A
Theo Wanne Gaia 3 7* Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece-Clip 10B
wow, I see my comment was worth something 🙂
Haha! Yes! I was actually working on it for the past few days and then when I saw your comment suggesting I do it I decided to post it. Thanks!
Thank you for yor work Steve, I’m very curious about the outcome of the poll.
Dan stackhouse says
Need to know!
Steve, like others I took the test. I just checked the early results…. if so many of us in a blind test seem to end up 50/50, it seems the differences are very small.
Yes, I would agree……..
Probably best to find a good mouthpiece and just practice your butt off!
Its so easy to “chase the dragon”, although mouthpieces do make a big difference,
more time spent refining your craft will yield more positive results. A friend of mine who is an amazing playing near SF plays on a HR Berg Larsen 110/2 stock mouthpiece and sounds great. Everyone loves his playing!!!
Kevin, Bergs can be great mouthpieces when you find a great one! Nothing subpar or inferior if you are playing on a great Berg……..
I believe there’s actually two sides in play-the sound you imagine playing on that side and the one that is perceived while listening on the other side. In short, it only matters on the objective side since you want to gig but then again it also matters subjectively otherwise you wouldn’t play it. Gotta go now-the both sides of my brain are currently having an argument!
Thanks for all you do Steve!
Michael Hutchings says
Hi Steve, Very difficult to tell the difference, (if there was any!), I will be very interested in the results. Back in 2014 I tried a Rafael Navarro Be Bop Special tenor Ebonite 8 and the same in a metal 7* and the only way I could tell that the metal had just a touch “cleaner sound” was by comparing recordings. Have just received my SYOS, will let you know comments in due course, but so far after one gig I think it could work for me.Regards from Spain, Mike.
I posted the results yesterday.
Interestingly, the ones where people got the most right answers were the clips that had Tenor Madness, Bebop Line, Moose the Mooche and Body and Soul. This is the opposite of what I would have thought but maybe metal is more discernible on jazz lines??? I would have thought the louder more aggressive clips would have showed the metal mouthpiece characteristics more as in the Brecker, Altissimo and Green Dolphin clips but this was not the case at all. The Brecker was close to even and on the Altissimo and Green Dolphin the HR was picked as metal. Interesting……..
Funny thing is I forgot to notate what I voted so I don’t know if I was right or wrong 😉
Yeah, sorry! I didn’t think about that when I set it up. There was no way to keep someone’s results although I think the site might have a history of the vote by IP address. If you have a static IP address and let me know what it is I can tell you what you voted for I think??
David P says
I could pretty clearly hear the difference with the metal on certain passages because it is definitely adding in some non-harmonic partials (a bit of a buzzing ring) (you know like the extra strings on a sitar add that buzzzzzz sound) although the difference between the pieces is tiny. Basically the metal mouthpiece has a slightly different eq built-in.
Also even with the higher resolution files, you won’t be able to really capture the difference unless you have a studio-grade recording set-up.
Thank you so much for your work, I really enjoyed it.
Lawrence Weintraub says
So it ran close to 50-50.
Interesting test Steve. I tried after the poll were closed but I still played the game “fair”, without looking the results not what the poll was. I correctly identified the metal mouthpiece 7 times and was wrong on 3/7/10 as most people actually. My setup for listening was with a Macbook and a Bose QC35 headset.
I agree with the comment above that I heard some kind of additional buzz/spark with the metal mouthpiece.
7 out of 10 may not be statically significant, but on average across all people it seems that the mjority of time the metal mouthpiece was correctly identified so indeed it tends to show that there is a difference heard on the two mouthpiece. Now, wether this difference comes from the material itself, or how you play it differently is another matter…
Walter George says
Thank you for posting this trial and using the wav files rather than mp3 files.
Wearing in ear headphones, I was able to pick out the metal mpc as it was the brighter one, esp noticeable when the music was played louder. At lower volumes, it could be a toss-up.
Having good headphones and wav files to listen to is the magic combination to evaluate thease sound files.
Some time ago, I tested out a series of microphones, recording using wav and mp3 files. It was clear that wav files were better and that mp3 files made everything sound the same in the end.
Wave files are harder and more expensive for you to use, but it is appreciated that you are using them. Afterall, you are putting a lot of time and effort into these reviews, and viewers want to have quality sound files to make a potential purchase decisions.
Walter Georg says
Thank you for posting this challenge and doing it with wave sound files. To my ears wearing in ear headphones, the metal mpc was recognizable when played louder because it was brighter; when the passages were played like a ballad, it was a toss-up to choose.
Scott Rutledge says
This was a great idea Steve and a great test, yielding a singular significant finding that I’ve never seen or heard anywhere else, at least in any sort of attempted quantifiable, objective way: that the reality is, very few people can actually, truly discern a difference between a metal and a hard rubber mouthpiece! Personally, I find that to be a revelation (as I always thought that I could discern a metal mouthpiece as being brighter and louder than a HR counterpart). I mean the statistical results here are really compelling and super hard to refute: on average about 15-25% of the respondents couldn’t tell a difference on any given test. Of the remaining 75-85%, they were either 1), split down the middle almost exactly 50-50 on which was metal vs HR, or in the case of the 3-4 tests where there seemed to be a slight majority of respondents choosing one over another, they got it wrong as many times as they got it right. To me, that’s a huge finding! Because as all of us have experienced, the marketplace prices metal mouthpieces at roughly twice the cost of a HR equivalent (example: Link Tone Edge HR vs STM metal, Jody Jazz, etc etc). Which means a lot of us are spending a lot of extra $$ for mouthpieces that are yielding no significant differences, where the differences are so few and subtle that they only reveal themselves in a very brief fleeting moment and even then only to a very few discerning ears. This has really made me stop and pause and give this a lot more thought about mouthpiece approach and strategy…. and sound production!
On a related topic, I’ve suspected something generally similar to this concept as I have listened to some of my favorite YouTube sax players play test various different gear, whether it’s mouthoieces or reeds or necks or horns: the experienced advanced to pro players that have settled into their sound seem to produce that same exact sound – no matter what equipment they’re playing on! Sure, doing so may cause them to have to make adjustments to their embouchure, lip tension, cheek and throat musculature, tongue position, and volume and effort of blowing in order to achieve that same sound, and so THEY can tell the difference between the various gear as individual players/users of the gear, but still I think this too is significant and related to your test here. A player’s sound is there sound, and once they have decided on whatever that Is and “set” this sound in their memory and created those neutral pathways, it becomes a sort of unique and personal “fingerprint” signature of them, and subconsciously or unconsciously they are going to ensure that they come as close as possible to that “set” sound signature no matter what gear they’re playing on.
Mr Neil Hamilton says
I got 9/10 as I play the metal Gaia – so if you know what you are hearing the slightly brighter, sharper clearer and more responsive metal is discernable but I was supprised how close in sound they are!
Peter Chan says
Man I was really hummin along, was gonna brag and boast until I second guessed on #9 and chose 9A as the metal piece. Still, I think 90%, and just from my iPad speaker up in my right ear confirms my belief that material matters! To the average listener, probably not much, except on those extra sizzling notes. But personally, when I wanna produce those notes with extra pizzazz (which is often!), I’m gonna rock my Kanee metal Ming #8 and my Sugal Gold Plated KW 7*! For when I’m not, I am seriously considering the GS Resotone for my jazz piece (made of dental filling forgot-what-it’s-called nonmetal stuff). Thanks so much for the time and energy you put into doing such great reviews Mr. Neff! I recently discovered that extensive drop down catalog (I only found singular reviews previously). Analyzing aside, it’s a pleasure just to listen to your playing..