What does it sound like?

This page is the result of an experiment I have been running. The idea was to record myself playing several instruments, using the same mouthpiece, same microphones in the same room, same equipment, same everything, and then be able to demonstrate the different sound each instrument makes. As you may have inferred by now, things turned out a bit differently.

The recording setup
All recordings were done in my living room; 21' x 12' or 6.50m x 3.80m, soft carpet and concrete walls. I used a pair of mid to late 1960's dynamic microphones. Granted not the best you can find, but a lot better than a computer microphone and the best I have available here and now. These were connected to a 1967 OKI 555 tape recorder set to "PA" with my computer connected to the speaker out. So I used the tape recorder as a pre-amplifier. These recordings were done directly to hard disk, and never to tape. So no signal loss there. On all instruments I used a Connstellation 5CW cornet mouthpiece, with a 1920's - 1930's cornet to trumpet mouthpiece adapter for the trumpets. This is my usual mouthpiece setup. A bit strange but it works for me. All these instruments are/were owned by me except the 36B Connstellation which I had on loan from an aquantance (I am sure it would sound a lot better without the leaking water key). I am playing the same tune on all recordings (Misty). The objective was the sound and not the song itself. All files are between 700KB and 800KB, MP3.

The recording experience
I found that recording yourself, solo, is a rather "interesting" experience. I almost always play in a band where you have the support of all the other band members. Here you are all by yourself. On the recording you hear absolutely everything; every hesitation, every slip-up, every time a valve or a slide doesn't cooperate quite like it should (from not being played often enough in most cases), every time the 3rd slide isn't in quite the right position. As you can tell from those recordings, in spite of having played the trumpet for almost 26 years at this point, I am not the world's best player. I think you will also be able to tell from these recordings which instrument(s) I play regularly and which I don't.

The results
On these recordings I experimented with playing at different distances to the microphones and in the end couldn't decide which I liked best. Since I have enough space on my server, I decided to use both the 6 ft. and the 6 inch distances. With all this done what strikes me is that it is pretty difficult to hear the difference between some of these instruments, eventhough they are quite different. As a player, I hear these differences quite a bit better than comes out on these recordings. That might be because the microphones I am using are not really suited to this kind of recording. Perhaps also because as I play the instrument I also get the feedback directly through the instrument. It's a bit like how you hear your own voice and how someone else hears it. But some other important factors can't be overlooked: Whichever instrument we use, we will always sound pretty much like ourselves. And also: the mouthpiece you use is probably an important factor. I do think it is possible to hear the difference between the instruments with (10A and 12B) and without a Coprion bell (the rest; the 6A has a brass bell but a Coprion leadpipe) a bit better. Especially on the Coprion bell instruments though the "live" sound is "richer" than it is in these recordings. The buzzing sound on the 12B and 22B "6 inches" recordings are the microphones, not the trumpet.

Conn cornet and trumpet sounds 1
Instrument Distance 6 ft. Distance 6 inches. Remarks
15B Director (1964) 15B from 6 ft. 15B from 6 inches Played this 15B for 25 years
22B New York Symphony (1948) 22B from 6 ft. 22B from 6 inches My usual trumpet these days
12B Coprion (1937) 12B from 6 ft. 12B from 6 inches -
36B Connstellation (1966) 36B from 6 ft. 36B from 6 inches On loan, leaking water key
10A Victor (1956) 10A from 6 ft. 10A from 6 inches -
6A Victor (1959) 6A from 6 ft. 6A from 6 inches -
77A Connquest (1957) 77A from 6 ft. N.A. -

To illustrate the difference the player, microphone and mouthpiece can make here is another set of recordings. These were all done by Mike DiMartino somewhere else. Mike doesn't remember what mouthpiece he used on these. All of these recordings on from 1 ft. distance, half into an omni microphone, the other half into a ribbon microphone. The 1956 10A Victor is the same instrument as above, the 1955 28A Connstellation is owned by Mike. These files are between 300KB and 460KB.

Conn cornet and trumpet sounds 2
Instrument Omni mic 1 ft. Ribbon mic 1 ft. Remarks
10A Victor (1956) 10A, omni mic. 10A, ribbon mic. Same 10A as above
28A Connstellation (1955) 28A, omni mic. 28A, ribbon mic. Owned by Mike DiMartino

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