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DOWN BEAT Magazine Product Review

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Sound Back for Trumpet and Sax : Hear Thy Self

Horn players know the pain all too well: They blow their brains out, but still can’t hear themselves. On the job, they battle for stage volume with over-amplified keyboards, booming bassists, deaf guitarists and drummers who think louder is better. And even if they’re lucky enough to play a room with monitors, horn players have to compete for space with the vocalist and are helpless to the whims of the soundman. In desperation, they often overcompensate and end up blaring out of tune.

Sound Back has come up with a way for horn players to regain control of how they hear themselves in situations where microphones are involved. A circular piece of lightweight clear plastic (about 10.5 inches in diameter), Sound Back mounts itself and deflects your sound back at you. You don’t have to stick anything into or onto your horn. And you won’t have to bother the soundman with the details, either. Just play right into the mic like you always do. Only now, you’ll actually be able to hear yourself.

You can adjust the angle on the saxophone model to direct the reflected sound. If the angle is wrong, it can seem like the device doesn’t work at all. When you get the angle right, though, it almost sounds like you’re wearing a pair of headphones.

The trumpet model is actually two panels that can be rotated into open, semi-open or closed positions. This allows for an adjustable mix of your deflected sound and your overall sound in the room.

Another nice feature of Sound Back monitors is that they provide horn mics with some much-needed isolation on stage and in the recording studio. And since they do a nice job of preventing feedback, who knows: Maybe that soundman finally will turn you up in the mix. --- Ed Enright


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