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Perceived loudness of various horn models

05 Nov 2008 08:54 #197 by Scott Hawkinson
Perceived loudness of various horn models was created by Scott Hawkinson
What's everyone's take on the common discussion regarding "loud" vs. "not loud" horn models? I play a vintage Alex 103. It's perfect for chamber music and solo lit, and it has the most wonderful sound; but in big ensembles I sometimes feel underwater.

In big ensembles I don't feel that I'm putting out the "mass" of sound I need to be heard. Looking online I see that many people who play Schmids and Alexes have the same impression of their own playing -- especially when in sections full of 8Ds. Often, however, they're told by observers that they can be heard very clearly.

Maybe the German horns project well; but I wonder if the sound is shrill or overly bright when forced to project over 8Ds or Paxman L and A bell models. Perhaps I simply have "Americanocornitis" -- a latent preoccupation with the Hollywood sound. Maybe I'll get over it.

London horn players seem very loud to me (check out the Haitink/LSO recordings of the Brahms symphonies), so I'd thought of trying a Paxman 20 M, E, or L to see if that helps.

I once recorded a Paxman 40X and an old Alex single B-flat using a Mac laptop as a digital recording station. Oddly, during loud playing you could see the increased amplitude modulation evident in the data for the Paxman's recording, more so than with the Alex, but the Alex actually sounded louder during playback! The Alex sounded louder (and as if it had a wider dynamic range) certainly because it had the wider range of tone color.

Please chime in with your personal observations!


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10 Nov 2008 11:03 #200 by Anna Leverenz
Replied by Anna Leverenz on topic Re:Perceived loudness of various horn models
I think there is often a difference between perceived loudness and actual loudness, and it's not necessarily related to the instrument. An interesting thing to try is to take a sound level meter that measures decibels, and practice long tones with it. I think many would be surprised at what players are (or are not) putting out of their horn. What sounds loud to you may not in fact be loud, but a pure, centered sound is often louder than you perceive it. Give it a try - the meters are cheap on eBay.

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18 Nov 2008 07:09 #202 by Jonathan Stoneman
Replied by Jonathan Stoneman on topic Re:Perceived loudness of various horn models
It's more complicated than we think! Perception of loudness depends on how loud and brassy we can make a horn sound, as well as how many decibels show on the meter.
Phil Myers wrote a fascinating piece about this, relating to his Schmid, and how loud he can play it. You can see it here

Jonathan Stoneman

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11 Dec 2008 06:57 #208 by Evan James Young
Replied by Evan James Young on topic Re:Perceived loudness of various horn models
Hi, I play a vintage Alex 103 as well but I feel like my sound really carries out in any hall. I dont feel like I have any trouble being heard when even playing at around Mezzo Forte if the ensemble isnt louder than that. Yes I sometimes play in sections full of 8D's, but my playing is mostly with people who play Alex and Schmid yellow brass horns.

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15 Dec 2008 04:21 #211 by Scott Hawkinson
Replied by Scott Hawkinson on topic Re:Perceived loudness of various horn models
I suppose I could look for a louder Alex. Each Alex is so differnt. Two people I know do have Alexes that are much louder than mine. They are louder when I play them as well. This is mostly because the tone on these horns is rather blaring as opposed to mine which has a pearly, lyrical sound.

The louder Alexes are hard to sound pretty on but if I had one of each who cares? Again, mine works well for solo and chamber playing. Perhaps I need a big ensemble horn as a partner to it.

Anybody out there have a Paxman 20 or 23 in M or E bell configs? How do those project?

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30 Dec 2008 06:31 #212 by Jeff Broumas
Replied by Jeff Broumas on topic Re:Perceived loudness of various horn models
I play on a 1999 Paxman 23EYTD. I can keep up with all the 8D's in the section. When I listen to our recordings it seems I get to the back of the hall better than the big bore horns. I do seem to get brassier than the big bore horns sooner, but that doesn't stop the sound from getting to the back of the hall when I have to tone it down a little.

Hope this helps.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Jeremy Cucco

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