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I bought what was supposed to be a sax mute, for quiet practising, but it doesn't work. It's similar to a trumpet mute, which fits in the bell end. It seems that a lot of sound would emanate from the bell, because that's where one attaches a mic to amplify a sax. Saying to me that a lot of the sound actually does come out of the bell!

We have a question on how to mute a Sax, but where is the best place to fix a mic - is it at the bell?

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    The thing is that although the bell is the path of least resistance for the sound coming from a saxophone and probably where most of the sound comes from, the sound also comes out of any and all holes that are not closed off by pads. I bet your mute works pretty well on the low Bb, not too helpful. I saw something online that looks like a case and it completely covers the horn except for the neck and has 2 holes for the hands to go in and play. It is about $600, ouch! Dec 19, 2022 at 7:49
  • @JohnBelzaguy Where most sound comes from even depends on what note you’re playing. The higher you go the less influence the bell even has.
    – Lazy
    Dec 19, 2022 at 8:01
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    @Lazy I agree. I do still believe the bell is still the primary overall source of the sound since the air is going in that direction. There has to be a good reason why saxophones are pretty universally miked at the bell. Dec 19, 2022 at 8:21
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    @JohnBelzaguy Saxophones are not miked at the bell, but either some distance away, or a bit above the bell, to give a nice blend of body and bell. If you mike a Saxophone directly at the bell you’ll get a very bright, tinny and nasal tone, as the depth body and richness does in fact come from the body. Here’s a short demonstration by AT of how to record a sax: youtube.com/watch?v=RhpuQ6l4SZU
    – Lazy
    Dec 19, 2022 at 10:46
  • I posed the first part of the question as a prequel to the second, but it seems that was ignored...
    – Tim
    Dec 19, 2022 at 15:57

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People often think the sound of a saxophone comes all out of the bell, but a large part of it comes from the tone holes, particularly for the higher notes. Aiming a mic directly at the bell gives you a thin, bright sound.

To get a fuller sound from an alto or tenor it's best to position the mic above the bell pointing at the body of the instrument at a distance of about 30cm. You'll need to experiment to find the best position.

For a straight soprano the best position is above the bell aimed at the body of the instrument.

For baritone most of the body is below the bell so the mic needs to be about bell height but offset so it picks up more of the body sound.

Fixing a mic to the instrument is sometimes necessary on stage, but it rarely produces an optimal sound.

Here's a video demonstrating this:

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    It should be noted that these microphone techniques will typically not be suitable for a live stage, at least not in a louder band context. Close-miking would be necessary, typically with a dynamic microphone (e.g. Shure SM7, Sennheiser MD441, Sennheiser MD421, Electro-Voice RE20, Shure SM57) on a stand or a small-diaphragm condenser clipped to the bell (e.g. dpa 4099, Audio Technica ATM350, Sennheiser e908, Shure Beta 98, Audio-Technica Pro35 or the specialized SD Systems LDM 94). Dec 20, 2022 at 13:21
  • @JörgWMittag I agree close-miking is sometimes necessary on stage, but it doesn't produce the best sound.
    – PiedPiper
    Dec 20, 2022 at 15:47

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