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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentInstruments(Moderators: tbone62, slide advantage) Brass vs. Nickel Slides: Spectral Comparison
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Author Topic: Brass vs. Nickel Slides: Spectral Comparison  (Read 4238 times)
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snorsworthy

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« Reply #20 on: Jan 02, 2017, 07:53PM »

Brad,

I did play this for an extremely good concert violinist, and they could easily hear the difference as I described and as the graph shows! More powerful, more focused, more core, really better in every single musical way!  They could tell after the first few notes, instantly could hear it! I then switched lead pipes and put in a Shires 2L, instead of the standard 2, and it sounded better in the brass slide providing better focus were there was a deficit, and not as good in the nickel slide  because it was already focused enough! Moreover, from the player's perspective, it was not as readily apparent, as standing back 10 or 20 feet away!

I am quickly concluding that we are drunk with our own playing perspective, and that is extremely dangerous, and I would bet 99% of the players on this forum are drinking their own Kool-Aid, including me in the past, but no more!

Best
Steve
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Doug Elliott
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« Reply #21 on: Jan 03, 2017, 12:00AM »

You should be very careful what you describe as "better."  Not everybody wants or likes the same things. 

As one example, if someone naturally has too much focus, too much core, and an overly bright sound that sticks out and doesn't blend (which does happen with some embouchures), a very focused horn is a disadvantage. 
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« Reply #22 on: Jan 03, 2017, 12:08AM »

I am quite amazed to see how little we truly seem to know about trombones or brass instruments in general. We are able to fly to the moon, blow up our planet, genetically engineer plants and animals (for the good or the bad) etc. but we don't know for sure the acoustic properties of nickel versus brass slides. Why isn't the International Trombone Association or a similar organization asking for donations/grants and fund scientific research on trombones?
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MrPillow
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« Reply #23 on: Jan 03, 2017, 12:15AM »

Because other than providing fodder for forum discussions it really matters very little.
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« Reply #24 on: Jan 03, 2017, 12:35AM »

Because other than providing fodder for forum discussions it really matters very little.

 Idea!

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« Reply #25 on: Jan 03, 2017, 12:36AM »

Doug,  if a trombonist is overly focused, why don't you change it at the mouthpiece instead of changing the horn! After all, this is your specialty! Give him a better focused horn and a more  diffused mouthpiece! Ha ha, gotcha! All in good fun!
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Doug Elliott
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« Reply #26 on: Jan 03, 2017, 01:12AM »

Upstream players (in particular) have their own set of issues, especially with sound and articulation being too... focused or even harsh.  A slightly unfocused horn can help, more than just a mouthpiece solution.
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« Reply #27 on: Jan 03, 2017, 01:39AM »

I am quite amazed to see how little we truly seem to know about trombones or brass instruments in general. We are able to fly to the moon, blow up our planet, genetically engineer plants and animals (for the good or the bad) etc. but we don't know for sure the acoustic properties of nickel versus brass slides. Why isn't the International Trombone Association or a similar organization asking for donations/grants and fund scientific research on trombones?
If there is political power or monetary profit to be made, it will get done. So far, that's not the case with acoustical research on wind instruments.
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« Reply #28 on: Jan 03, 2017, 02:20AM »


You should be very careful what you describe as "better."  Not everybody wants or likes the same things. 


I couldn't agree more.
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« Reply #29 on: Jan 03, 2017, 03:06AM »

Been there seen it, done it....
Four years helping Mick Rath testing different materials, treatments etc. Having the side builder change outer tubes on the same slide... doing blind tests... groups of listeners.... This test of yours is a non-starter as you have slides from two different makers.... variables unlimited there... inners may have more impact than outers....
Rath is sitting on a pile of information.... that's why he is an expert builder....

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #30 on: Jan 03, 2017, 03:13AM »

We're inching towards tests from which we can think about being able to learn general things, which is great progress. Using an impulse response device is a strong step towards consistency. But - sorry - we're not there yet. Too many uncontrolled variables - two different makes of slide, with potentially differing gauges and compositions of inner slide metal, lengths of inner slide, lengths of stockings, stocking-outer tolerances, end crook geometries - to pick the first few items that come to mind. Does the leadpipe sit identically in them? Yes, these are nit-picky points, but this is a highly nit-picky problem if it is to be approached in a general fashion, which is why there is very little concrete understanding out there on broad questions like "What does changing from x to y metal for the outer slide do to the tone?".

Steve, could you clarify something for me that I can't make out from your first post? I think that the graphs are FFTs of the response to a single input frequency, but I'm not sure. The other possibility is that they are a response to a frequency sweep, but I think this isn't what you mean. Could you clear that one up for me? In the below comments I'm going to assume that it's the former.

Stepping away from the general, right away Steve gets valuable insights into his personal collection and how to play them. Swapping out such-and-such an individual slide broadens the response peaks - at least for the single frequency tested. One gains new appreciation of the subtleties of the instrument in question. How would you characterise the change in feel on the note in question between these two instances of these set-ups?
There's some low-hanging fruit that could be collected with follow-up questions: What happens with other frequencies? What happens in other slide positions? What happens when the input frequency doesn't match the slide position? Do all badly-matched slide-position-to-input-frequency combos have the same output? Does the Shires slide go on the Bach inners and vice versa - what does doing this do to the responses? If the bell section had a valve, we could wonder how things changed with it engaged. We can learn a lot about the actual instrument components being tested relative to each other. To learn general lessons we need to make distributions of properties within single allegedly-identical set-ups, an expensive and arduous process, and not one that I think we're going to be able to produce here, unless Steve's pockets and patience are both astonishingly deep. But the specific lessons are well worth taking, and show us a profitable way to think about new specific comparisons that we run across.

Keep it up, Steve; you're coming towards interesting territory. This thread has been much better so far. To talk scientifically we must be able to speak bluntly and without emotion.
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« Reply #31 on: Jan 03, 2017, 07:13AM »

Doug,  if a trombonist is overly focused, why don't you change it at the mouthpiece instead of changing the horn! After all, this is your specialty! Give him a better focused horn and a more  diffused mouthpiece! Ha ha, gotcha! All in good fun!

I think it's rather ironic that you see to be tone-deaf to how your audience will "hear" your comments when they see them on their computer screens. The literal message here as you see it on your screen is "I'm kidding around" but the perceived message from your readers is quite abrasive and more inclined to provoke an angry reaction than further reasonable discussion. Perhaps you should invest in e a "Perceived Snarkometer."
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« Reply #32 on: Jan 03, 2017, 07:45AM »

I still think that the OP just doesn't understand that what he does with a particular setup will be 100% duplicated by another player. Thinking about this from an Engineering standpoint might have merits, to him, but not to everyone else. I'm also not sure that I'd use a violinist's ears as my standard when running these tests but who knows. I play, I listen, I hear, I speak with other players, we share thoughts. Where we play, how we play, and what we play matters to each one of us for our own reasons. Happy practicing.
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« Reply #33 on: Jan 03, 2017, 08:49AM »

I think it's rather ironic that you see to be tone-deaf to how your audience will "hear" your comments when they see them on their computer screens. The literal message here as you see it on your screen is "I'm kidding around" but the perceived message from your readers is quite abrasive and more inclined to provoke an angry reaction than further reasonable discussion. Perhaps you should invest in e a "Perceived Snarkometer."

I know that Steve really is kidding around with ME, but you're right that it would be perceived differently by others.

This stuff is interesting from a design standpoint but I totally understand players resisting it.  I'm on both sides - designer and player - and so is Steve.
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« Reply #34 on: Jan 03, 2017, 12:09PM »

I am quite amazed to see how little we truly seem to know about trombones or brass instruments in general. We are able to fly to the moon, blow up our planet, genetically engineer plants and animals (for the good or the bad) etc. but we don't know for sure the acoustic properties of nickel versus brass slides. Why isn't the International Trombone Association or a similar organization asking for donations/grants and fund scientific research on trombones?
Part of it stems from instruments being "designed" and not "engineered.". There is also a TON of manufacturing variation that comes into play, and so forth.

Brass instruments are, after all, closed-ended tubes that have been modified enough to act somewhat like an open ended tube in terms of harmonics. I mean, sure someone could probably try to move braces to scientific locations, based on the nodes and anti-nodes of all the notes in all the positions, but in the end it is probably simpler and easier to use trial and error.  This is also why everyone talks about "face time" and "getting fitted" for a modular horn. You really never know how things are going to turn out until you try them.

The player is also something that is pretty much impossible to describe objectively. So, even if we find out that "material X causes Y to happen" that doesn't mean it will actually help us make better horn choices.
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« Reply #35 on: Jan 03, 2017, 01:09PM »

Been there seen it, done it....
Four years helping Mick Rath testing different materials, treatments etc. Having the side builder change outer tubes on the same slide... doing blind tests... groups of listeners.... This test of yours is a non-starter as you have slides from two different makers.... variables unlimited there... inners may have more impact than outers....
Rath is sitting on a pile of information.... that's why he is an expert builder....

Chris Stearn

Couldn't agree more having also been present during the same period at Rath's.  This experiment really doesn't prove or disprove anything except may be Bach slides play differently from Shires slides...............

Try putting to 'identical' LOL  Bach slides on the same bell section for starters cause they won't play the same as each other.

Have fun

BellEnd
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« Reply #36 on: Jan 03, 2017, 01:28PM »

Since the question is strictly materials, and their responses, why not take the trombone out of the equation, and run the tests with two identical tubes, one for each material? Or run tests for other materials as well.

Then, we will know with clarity, how each material reacts, and when building a trombone, you will know which material to use to get the desired effect you want.



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« Reply #37 on: Jan 03, 2017, 01:49PM »

There seem to be a lot of people here who object to the entire idea of objectively testing equipment, and I do not share that attitude. I was critical of the other two tests because I didn't think they were well controlled and I didn't feel they showed us anything that we didn't already know, but not because of any blanket anti-technology feelings. I think this is a great step in the right direction. Sure, it's far from perfect, but it's a better attempt than anyone else is making.

Some of you seem to be asking: Why don't we just play the equipment and use our ears? Well that is how we do it, and it obviously has worked for hundreds of years, but the human brain is not a very objective device. Just read the forum: nobody can agree on even the simplest descriptions of material properties. "Nickel is dark" "Nickel is bright" "Gold brass is dark" "Gold brass is bright" "Thicker bells have more highs" "Thinner bells have more highs". Absolutely no agreement at all. Customers ask me every day, "Should I get a copper leadpipe?" "Should I get a nickel leadpipe?" etc. I think I do a pretty good job explaining how I hear the effect of each material on what comes out of the bell, but I still imagine if we had some kind of database where we could actually look at graphs of the sound that the audience would hear with each of these different materials. It also would silence those who dogmatically insist that the material of the instrument cannot possibly affect the sound of the air column. It might serve to reduce the rampant speculation and pseudo-science that seems to constantly get applied to brass instruments to "explain" their properties. I think I recall in another thread, someone was actually talking about the tested reflective qualities of different coatings and how it would apply to lacquered vs. plated horns, completely forgetting that the sound wave reflects off the INSIDE of the horn, not the outside.

I suppose it's just a dream, though. I certainly don't have the time or money to undertake something like that, and I don't know of anyone who does. Nice to imagine, though.  :)
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« Reply #38 on: Jan 03, 2017, 02:01PM »

We're inching towards tests from which we can think about being able to learn general things, which is great progress. Using an impulse response device is a strong step towards consistency. But - sorry - we're not there yet. Too many uncontrolled variables - two different makes of slide, with potentially differing gauges and compositions of inner slide metal, lengths of inner slide, lengths of stockings, stocking-outer tolerances, end crook geometries - to pick the first few items that come to mind. Does the leadpipe sit identically in them? Yes, these are nit-picky points, but this is a highly nit-picky problem if it is to be approached in a general fashion, which is why there is very little concrete understanding out there on broad questions like "What does changing from x to y metal for the outer slide do to the tone


I have a Shires.562 nickel slide and a Shires .562 brass slide. Maybe we could test those?
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« Reply #39 on: Jan 03, 2017, 02:08PM »

Been there seen it, done it....
Four years helping Mick Rath testing different materials, treatments etc. Having the side builder change outer tubes on the same slide... doing blind tests... groups of listeners.... This test of yours is a non-starter as you have slides from two different makers.... variables unlimited there... inners may have more impact than outers....
Rath is sitting on a pile of information.... that's why he is an expert builder....

Chris Stearn

I 100% seriously doubt that Mike Rath or anyone else has the signal processing expertise to devise an innovative way of doing mechanical non-player impulse excitation waves and doing periodogram spectral analysis on those outputs like I did. I have never seen published an output spectrum like mine from such excitation. If you are aware of such, send it, put it out there. Words and bragging are meaningless unless there is real substantive output... I have tirelessly put out my own work, explained it, and even put out my own playing recordings and examples. I see NOTHING but a bunch or bragging and boasting and complaining and criticism and back-seat driving on the freaking forum.

I again tell people, "PUT UP OR SHUT UP." I have been 'putting up' and all I get is loud mouthed criticism without any real substance to show for it. Sickening.

Best,
Steve
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