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1057464 Posts in 70446 Topics- by 18354 Members - Latest Member: IntermediateTrombonist
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1  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Technology / AMT P808 Clip-On Mic with Q7 Mini Wireless System - Review on: Feb 22, 2017, 09:59PM
Hi everyone! I haven't posted in a while, as life became fairly hectic (gigs, tours, recordings, teaching, etc.). I'd like to share with you my impressions of a pretty innovative piece of equipment that I've recently added to the gig rig: the AMT P808 clip-on mic, plus the Q7 Mini wireless system.

A little background: I make my living as a freelance trombonist, and I often play with groups that require the use of a wireless clip-on mic. In the past 10 years, I've had the chance to try out just about every type of wireless horn mic system on the market, including the most popular Shure and Samson systems. Until recently, the Shure GLXD14 system had been my workhorse for about 4 years, but due to mid-gig mic failure combined with Shure's extremely expensive out-of-warranty repair rates, I had to look into a complete replacement. A trumpet-playing colleague put me in touch with Ron Oswansky at Applied Microphone Technology in New Jersey, and he helped me get set up with this new system. www.appliedmicrophone.com

First, an overview. ***I tried to attach pics to this post, but for some reason it tells me 'the uploads directory is not writable'. 'lil help? thanks!

(1A - P808 horn mic
1B - Q7 Mini transmitter
1C - BP45 Preamp (for wired use)
1D - Opt. mini-xlr cable
2 - Q7 Mini receiver

The third picture is of the AMT unit mounted on my gig rig.)

First the P808 Mic itself (1A). The first thing you'll notice is that interesting four-point suspension system. It definitely eliminates any handling noise. The gooseneck is quite a bit longer than on other clip-on mics, and the length is actually adjustable at the clamp, which lets you find the perfect mic placement - I prefer some distance, for a more natural trombone sound. The clamp is spring-loaded, but also has a locking screw. It's a very secure hold, but not very convenient if you need to switch instruments mid-performance. The mic attached to the wireless transmitter or beltpack preamp via a proprietary cable, to be discussed later.

Next, the wireless transmitter (1B). The transmitter is very small and light, and it mounts to the mic via friction fit... between that and the battery door, I do worry about about the potential for breakage (plastic parts). It's powered by a single AA battery. It has a power button, an on-board mute switch, and a blue led (solid=on, flashing=low battery). It attaches to the mic using a proprietary cable.

The wireless receiver (2) extremely small and light. It can run off 2 AA batteries or a standard 9V power adapter (12V is published on the website and in the user manual, but it is in fact 9V). This is actually pretty important and convenient. Shure and Samson systems all run on 12-18V supplies, which makes mounting them on powered pedal boards difficult. This receiver can run on a standard pedal board power supply (like OneSpot, CIOKS, Fuel Tank, etc.), but be sure to use a polarity reversal cable. The receiver operates in the 900 mhz range, and offers up to 99 frequency options. It's not digital, so after selecting your frequency, you need to use the IR button to pair it with the transmitter. By contrast, Shure digital systems stay paired even when you change frequencies. There is an output volume knob, and the output jack is a standard 1/4 TS line, which especially great if you use any guitar effects pedals - oddly, there is no XLR output, but adding one would require increasing the size of the casing. I connect it to a Radial SB-2 passive DI to enable XLR output. The receiver is well-made but it is plastic, so breakage is a concern, especially the battery door.

Other things: the BP45 preamp (C) and the opt. mini-xlr cable (D). The BP45 is a beltpack-style preamp that is required in order to use the P808 mic in wired mode. It can use phantom power or a single AA battery, and has mute and EQ functions (only useable on battery power). The mini-xlr cable is used to attach the mic to the beltpack, or to any Shure beltpack transmitter. I like that it's removable/replaceable - the first thing that will break on any mic system is the cable!

OK, so fancy specs and features are good to know, but how does it actually perform on a gig? The most noticeable difference between this AMT system and my previous Shure & Samson systems is in the SOUND. The AMT P808 mic is definitely capturing my sound in a more accurate, detailed way than the other mics did. It's hard to describe, but to my ears, the Shure & Samson systems reproduce a good, if somewhat tinny and generic trombone sound. The AMT, in turn, reproduces MY sound. The improved low end is especially noticeable... I found that notes below around  tend to disappear a bit when using other clip-on mics. The AMT is solid and clear right down through the pedal range. The wireless transmitter has very good battery life - I seem to get around 10-12 hours playing time out of a single AA battery. I have experienced absolutely no issues with wireless dropouts or interference so far.

To conclude, I think that this latest offering from AMT is far and away the best-designed and best-sounding solution on the market for working trombonists who need to use a wireless system on a regular basis. The price tag is definitely on the higher side, but IMHO the results are worth it if live music is your bread and butter.


Mods - please do not confuse this for an advertisement for AMT. I'm just endeavoring to share my detailed experience with this product, which may help other players make more informed decisions and purchases.

2  Town Hall / Notices from TTF Members / New Album Release - 'West Coast Nights' - Flock & Hopson on: Apr 21, 2016, 09:19PM
Dear fellow trombonists,

I am very pleased to announce the release of a brand new album 'West Coast Nights', recorded in collaboration with my great friend, the spectacular guitarist Alex Flock http://www.alexanderflock.com.

'West Coast Nights' features an eclectic mix of originals and well-loved jazz & pop standards, arranged with care and played with a smooth, lyrical, melodic aesthetic.

We have an in-studio YouTube promo video available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUlRxJAJFhw
... it's a bit tongue-in-cheek

And our Soundcloud preview is available here: https://soundcloud.com/jim-hopson-56937232/west-coast-nights-album-highlights

And of course, the album is available at these online retailers:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/west-coast-nights/id1091899822
CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/flockhopson

If you're old-school and prefer a physical CD, you can order one (limited edition) from my website at http://www.jimhopsonmusic.com/Shop.html

And of course if you enjoy the album, please drop us a line on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/flockandhopson/

We'd love to hear from you!


Some early reviews from our local pre-release:

‘This recording displays a high level of musicianship - in arranging and performance. The interplay in the sparse instrumentation is so subtle that it's enjoyed on many different levels. I am enjoying this recording between Alex and Jim greatly and already anticipating their future work.’
- Alex Meixner, Grammy-nominated accordion virtuoso

‘Bravo to you and Alex on your very fine new album!’
- Gordon Cherry, principal trombone, Vancouver Symphony (retired)

‘Congrats on an absolutely wonderful set.....never boring... really nice and vocal solos - and generous and clear balances...’
- Jeremy Berkman, principal trombone, Vancouver Opera Orchestra

3  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Accessories / Re: MICROPHONE suggestions on: Sep 19, 2015, 09:29AM
Right now, I'm on a 3-month tour with a great Oktoberfest band. My mic rig consists of a Samson Airline wireless system (on tuba), and a Shure GLXD4/Beta98H wireless system on (bone). I always have a Shure beta 98H wired mic as a spare, in case the Samson experiences some interference - it's single frequency, and I've had interference problems twice in the last 6 years.

Shure GLX system
Pros: great sound, extremely durable, reliable, digital (many channels), easy to use, 16 hrs battery life,,BUILT IN BATTERY CHARGER!!!
Cons: uses a beltpack, on the pricier side ($600ish)

Samson Airline
Pros: very affordable ($250), NO BELTPACK (awesome), simple to use, runs on a single AAA battery (8 hours).
Cons: not so durable (made of thin plastic), sound is just OK, SINGLE FREQUENCY UNIT

Shure Beta 98H (wired)
Pros: durable, great sound, simple to use, reliable, not too expensive ($200)
Cons: it's wired - with wired clip-on mics, the first thing to get stepped on/damaged is always the cable!
4  Creation and Performance / Other Musicians and Ensembles / R.I.P. Gene Dowling on: Jul 10, 2015, 06:48PM
Last week, one of my teachers and mentors, the great Eugene Dowling, passed away after a long illness. Gene was a great musician, educator, and human being. I made this musical slideshow as a tribute to Gene, and as a way to encourage people to donate to a UVic scholarship in Gene's name. Please check it out - if you knew Gene, feel free to share your thoughts and memories in the comments below.


Music is JJ Johnson's 'Lament', arranged/performed/recorded in my home studio.

5  Creation and Performance / The Business of Music / Re: Firing a principal oboe on: Jun 03, 2015, 07:31PM
As the progeny of two full-time orchestral musicians, and the friend/colleague of many others, I can tell you that this kind of thing isn't rare - in fact, it's pretty commonplace. Decades-long feuds between stand partners are not unheard-of. These people won an audition... they didn't pass a psychological screening, an E/IQ test, or even an interview. For many reasons, a symphony orchestra has the potential to be a very toxic workplace (also the opposite).

Among freelancers, there seems to be less of this... maybe it's because we don't take our job security for granted (we have none). I've been on the occasional gig where stuff like this has gone down, but usually that person just doesn't get called again. No second chances.

6  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: Tuba Doublers , anyone???? on: Jan 11, 2015, 06:26PM
I've been doubling on tuba for a few years now... it's an ongoing project, but it's beginning to bear fruit. Started on a Besson 2-20 EEb and then added a Conn 15J BBb. Recently, I sold the 15J and now use a Mack Brass CC miraphone clone, which is a large improvement. I use the CC for most gigs, and the EEb for anything that involves standing or walking around. I'd like to one day upgrade to a compensating EEb - there are some wonderful, versatile instruments of that design.
7  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Repairs, Modifications and Maintenance / Re: Leadpipe stuff on: Jan 05, 2015, 12:10AM
I have a '70's version of the same horn and have been contemplating the same change.  What do you mean by 'opens out the response'.  With the H8, will the horn require more air, slot better in the upper register, etc.?  My basic issue with my horn is the squirrelly upper register when I play lead in a big band.  Also, if the H8 does not work out, what other .508 pipes are used by other 3B SS players?

I use the H8 in an early '60s 3BSS. The stock leadpipe was a rather small, tight blow, so I tried a few other pipes in it. I would characterize the H8 as being a slightly more open blow than my original 3B pipe, but not in a way that 'requires more air'... more like 'accepts more air' if you want to provide it. The resistance is well-balanced, it's definitely not an air hog. With the original pipe, the horn responded very differently in different registers - OK in the middle, quite squirrelly in the upper register, and very tight below  . Also, certain notes were problematic - the high Bb partial in particular was flat and unstable. With the H8, the blow is free and consistent in all registers, and the partials slot more cleanly and better in tune - the high Bb is bang on.

Keep in mind that stock King 3B pipes can vary wildly from horn to horn. YMMV.

I also tried Shires #2N and #3N pipes in this horn, and found them both to be air hogs. I've heard good things about the Yamaha 891Z LA and NY pipes.

Big fan of these Burt Herrick replica pipes... I also use the H6 in my heavily customized Conn 32H.
8  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Repairs, Modifications and Maintenance / Re: Leadpipe stuff on: Jan 03, 2015, 06:01PM
The H8 in a King 3B is a mod that works for a lot of people, myself included... opens up the horn and evens out the response and intonation. If you find a good tech to pull the original leadpipe, you should encounter no difficulties. If it's an older 3B, I understand that it may have a 2-piece leadpipe which can be problematic to remove intact.
9  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Technology / Re: Finale 2011 & Yosemite on: Dec 28, 2014, 02:51PM
I was running Finale 2010 until I upgraded to Yosemite, whereupon it stopped working. I ugraded to 2014, which I do prefer in many ways... but at the time, the forced upgrade was a tough pill to swallow.
10  Teaching & Learning / History of the Trombone / Re: Conn 4h on: Dec 22, 2014, 04:06PM
I have a Conn 24H from the 40s, which is the ballroom model variation on the 4H. I have also owned a 4H and a 12H - the copper bell variant.

These horns are all quite small in specs... .485 bore, usually 7" bell. The 24H has the bell set back closer to the player for easier mute use. All of these horns blow and sound MUCH bigger than you'd expect, with extremely good projection. My 24H blows about as big as many stock King 3Bs I've played. It's something about having a very open leadpipes and fairly heavy construction. I've used it in R&B bands, salsa bands, big band lead, and even in small orchestras. In short, the 4H/24H/12H is a very SERIOUS small bore horn.

However, for some reason these horns aren't extremely popular today... perhaps because they don't blend very well with modern horns. The right buyer would pay up to $1000+ for a 4H in extremely good condition - especially if the slide is in great shape (no Conn rot). Any mechanical or cosmetic flaws would significantly reduce this... I paid $250 for my 24H, which was is in good (not great shape), and had it overhauled.
11  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Accessories / Lightweight gig bag or case for frequent traveler on: Dec 14, 2014, 09:56PM
Hi everyone,

Lately, I've been mostly walking, bussing, or taking the subway to gigs and to my teaching studio. Right now, I use a Marcus Bonna standard tenor case most days, or sometimes a Fusion gig bag (bass). However, I'm looking at possibly getting an even lighter, smaller gig bag for daily commuting for a few reasons - wear and tear on the body (shoulder/neck pain, plantar fasciitis), and easier maneuvering on increasingly crowded buses/trains. The Bonna case is great, but it's pretty long and thick at one end, and it's not super light. The Fusion bag is quite light and comfortable, but also quite bulky (designed to hold a lot of stuff).

My ideal gig bag would be extremely lightweight and low-profile while being reasonably durable and protective, with room for some small accessories. It would be able to reasonably accommodate anything from a Conn 78H to a small bass trombone (Yamaha 620G). From a quick internet search, it looks like the Cronkhite 2-piece flight bag for large tenor or small bass might be the closest match. If anyone has experience with these bags or an alternate suggestion, I thank you in advance for your input!


12  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Doubling on the same day on: Dec 14, 2014, 09:20PM
I'm going to say some things that might seem counter-intuitive, but hopefully somewhat helpful. My yearly Sep-Oct-Nov touring gig requires me to double trombone (medium bore), Eb Tuba, and Alphorn, as well as bass guitar & bg vocals. During a single set I might change instruments 4-8 times, big-to-small or small-to big - all on very different mouthpieces and often in extreme ranges.

In order to stay consistent while doubling/switching like this, I find that a couple of these concepts  are very helpful... maybe a few witll work for you too.

1) Above all else, maintain perfect balance on your primary instrument. Make it the first and last axe you play every day. Look at your doubles as being extensions of your primary technique - you should not have to radically change anything to make your doubles work, just make small adjustments.
2) Make sure you practice your primary instrument and your doubles in all possible ranges. Do not neglect the trigger and pedal ranges on tenor, or the upper register on bass. If you play a straight tenor, make sure to practice plenty of false tones (one position lower). If you have a single trigger, try practicing your low B in T3 - it works! Check out Sven Larsson's posts on this.
3) Free-buzzing trains your face to be able to form an embouchure independently of the mouthpiece rim pressure. Once you can free-buzz in a musical way, you'll find that switching rims becomes much easier.
4) Pay attention to how you use your pivot or embouchure motion on your primary instrument - it will often be similar or even identical on your doubles (but not always!).
5) When moving from small to big, we often feel the need to 'loosen up' the embouchure as you describe. However, this is often taken much too far, resulting in loose, flabby chops and a flat, dull, airy sound. This is a common issue for tenor players who double on bass trombone and tuba, one I dealt with for years. Rather than thinking about loosening, think about maintaining firm corners and flat chin, and don't let the aperture spread too wide. This may result in a small sound at first, but stick with it and learn to relax the inner vibrating centre of the lips, not the outer musculature. Your air efficiency will also improve using this technique. The long-term benefits are worth it!
6) For many players, there is a clear 'anchor-point' on the lower lip, which can help you find your ideal mouthpiece placement quickly on different rims. For me, it's directly on a protruding tooth, slightly off to the right.
7) Mechanics are for the practice room, but Music is for the gig.
8) Make sure you're playing the right gear for the job... that means different things to different people. Some need to keep the same rim when switching mouthpieces, others like me do not. Personally, I find that Wedge mouthpieces are easier to double with due to the cut-away sides.

Hope some of this helps!

13  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Technology / Re: monitor upgrade for music notation purposes on: Nov 25, 2014, 01:32PM
As a Mac user, I can use my Apple TV to wirelessly stream my laptop's display and audio on to my TV - mirrored or extended. That means I can do my arranging and composing in the comfort of my living room, with multiple displays. A very comfortable, productive situation.
14  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Technology / Re: Netflix on TV on: Nov 25, 2014, 01:24PM
+1 for Apple TV.
15  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Switching instruments on: Nov 16, 2014, 07:10PM
I'm... probably gonna print this out and put it in the front of my notebooks for music. :-P I'll definitely use this a lot in the time between now and probably when I put down the horns for good, because that was probably the best advice I've gotten from anyone regarding music, ever. (Please, feel free to share all of your musical wisdom with me, god knows I need it. :-P) I don't really think that the articulation in relation to time is my biggest problem, but when I listen to myself play I feel like I could definitely use work when it comes to that, even on trombone.

Glad to be of help. This forum is a great resource - continue to ask good questions and you'll get some very good answers.
16  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Switching instruments on: Nov 16, 2014, 06:25PM
I'll give credit for much of this post to Alex Iles and Sam Burtis - I'm using up a few of their ideas that have worked well for me and my students.

Playing any kind of brass instrument, you are essentially coordinating 4 basic elements, each with their own set of variables:

1) Air (quantity, speed, shape, direction)
2) Embouchure/buzz (lip tension, pivot, pucker, etc.)
3) Slide or valves
4) Tonguing/Articulation (Ta, Da, La, Doodle, whatever)

I think the OP is discussing a coordination problem involving #3 and #4. There are different ways of solving this... here's my .02:

If you are thinking about trying to coordinate your slide and your tongue, you might be missing the most important thing: to line up both of those elements with the TIME. Timing and coordination are inextricably linked in music (and other disciplines), and I feel strongly that the Caruso (and Burtis) approaches address this in the most comprehensive way.

Assuming that your air and embouchure are already working well enough, your first step should be to make sure your valve motion is timed in perfectly, independently of the tongue. To do this, practice slow slurred (no tongue) patterns (scales, arpeggios) with a metronome (or even better, great internal time). When you start, it doesn't matter so much WHAT scales/patterns you practice, it's more about HOW you practice them. Focus on the time, making sure that every valve motion lines up perfectly for a smooth legato (your airflow needs to be rock solid as well).

The second step is to practice your articulation independently of valve motion. Pick a comfortable note in your middle register, set the metronome (or internal time), and aim to play whole notes, then half notes, then quarters, triplet quarters, eighths, triplet eights, sixteenths, triplet sixteenths, etc., with consistent, even articulation (I recommend starting with Da/Ga, then repeating using Ta/Ka). Repeat the same process on every note in your range. Again, focus on the TIME. You are training your body to articulate perfectly in time, without necessarily having to think about it.

Once your valve technique and articulation are a bit more dialed in as a result of this isolated practice, you should be ready to combine them. Take the slurred scale/arpeggio patterns you've been practicing and add various articulations - start simple at first (all tongued, perhaps), then vary the articulations as you please. Again, focus on the TIME and you'll find that your coordination improves rapidly.

To sum up, placing emphasis on rock solid TIME establishes a great reference point with which the musician can strive to coordinate the various fundamentals of playing technique, rather than trying to juggle them in a haphazard kind of way. TIME is the thing that brings all the fundamentals together, and deserves to be addressed immediately whenever a coordination problem is encountered.
17  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Mouthpieces / Re: Rim size poll on: Nov 11, 2014, 07:25PM
I used to do everything except bass bone and tuba on a DE 102 rim, and that worked well enough. When I started playing Wedge mouthpieces, I noticed that changing rim sizes didn't bother me the same way anymore. Now, I'm pretty comfortable on everything 11C (alto) to Helleberg 7B (tuba) when I need to be. Just finished a long series of gigs doubling trombone (~6.75C), Eb tuba (Marc 107), and alphorn (~11C), and some bass guitar & vocals. Frequent switches and extreme ranges throughout. I made sure to warm up well and stay in shape on each horn, and it all worked out well. 3 years ago? These gigs would have torn me up, big time.

18  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: These Chinese on: Oct 19, 2014, 11:15PM
There are some surprisingly good horns coming out of China these days... tubas/euphoniums in particular. I've been gigging on a Mack Brass compensating euphonium for two years and change, and it's held up well. Nice sound, response, intonation and mechanics - everything I need from a doubling horn. IMHO, more horn for the money than the Yamaha 321 I was using before. Recently, I've been doing more tuba doubling, and picked up a Mack 410CC. So far, my impression is about the same - a very functional gigging horn! The biggest issue I notice on both horns is with the valve caps: very easy to cross-thread if you're not careful.

If tuba or euphonium was my main axe, I would shell out for a Yamaha 842 euph and/or a Miraphone 186 tuba... but as doubler, it makes economic sense to go with the 'basic pro' horns that Mack offers. That euphonium paid for itself in under a month!
19  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Accessories / Re: Kanstul H8 leadpipe for 891Z on: Oct 07, 2014, 08:28PM
Honestly, specs can only tell you so much about how a leadpipe will interact with a given horn and mouthpiece and player... too many variables. Best bet is to try it out, and sell the pipe if it doesn't work for you. Although if you like your current setup, why change it?

I can tell you that the H8 and H6 are both, in my experience, beautifully balanced pipes. The H8 in my 3B slots very evenly in all registers, and feels both very centered and more open than the stock pipe. I tried a variety of Shires pipes in the 3B before settling on the H8.

The H6 is a great fit in my custom .500/.525 horn. Much more even and balanced in that horn than the 32H, Edwards, Callet, and BAC pipes I've compared it with.

20  Creation and Performance / The Healthy Trombonist / Re: Dead lip recovery on: Oct 05, 2014, 08:46PM
Playing music is a whole-body and whole-mind activity, even more so at high or demanding levels. Some things that can recharge the batteries (chops included):

Delicious, healthy food
Hot tub (my fave)
Deep breathing
Spending time with loved ones
A nice beer or glass of wine
Reading a good book
Watching a good movie
Evening promenade
Or whatever other low-intensity, simple, enjoyable activity you prefer!

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