WX7 Wind Controller First Impressions

WX7 Wind Controller From a windlist posting by Art Whitfield dated April 1, 1997:

Many who own WX11s have wondered just how different the WX7 is from the WX11. If you first learned WC on a WX11, how does the WX7 perform? Well, last month I bought a WX7 used off the net, and here is an informal review comparing the WX7 to my original WX11. When it arrived I spent about an hour playing it after the initial clean-up.

I wouldn't say the complete outfit was in mint shape, but the the WX7, cables, BT7 were indeed little used. Some dust on the keys indicated it sat out a lot. The dissapointment was the case and the manual. The manual had the front and back covers off and very dog eared. Fortunately, 30 minutes and some clear contact paper brought back the manual to acceptable shape. The case problem was about the damn stickers on it. There are 4 bumper stickers on it. After liberal application of Goo-Gone adhesive remover, everything cleaned up very well.

In comparing the 7 to my 11, they are very similar. As predicted, I really like the pitch bender lever by the right thumb. Too bad it isn't for a different controller than the reed bend, as it only transmits PB, but it is a significantly wider range than the reed bend. Very ergonimic to just extend the right thumb and bend away. The dip switches are nice for the hold modes, key settings (Eb, Bb, C), and AfterTouch setting. There is also a switch for mapping breath control on a linear vs convex response curve.

Playability it is almost identical to the 11 if you set it up that way. When I received the WX7, the breath response (gain and zero) was only 'fair', and pitchbend was maximum flat! Unlike the 11 with only it's lip bend zero pot being user available (unless you remove the little plugs), the 7 presents you with 4 available pots to tweak, including a small screwdriver to tweak them with. Lip gain and zero are available, as is breath gain and zero. The breath gain and zero took a while to get set to a comfortable level. I followed a setup procedure of blowing into the 7 turned backwards (keys facing my body, trimmers facing out) with the tail of the horn held between my knees. This allowed me to see the screwdriver and the VL display at the same time. I'd estimate I spent a good 45 minutes tweaking breach gain and zero to behave similar to my original WX11. On the VL, some patches are more responsive to breath attack than others, so breath zero vs. gain had to be tried on many patches. Remember, I am very used to a certain patch behavior based on how the WX11 is set-up, so getting the patches to feel the same with the 7 was important to me (and to my duet partner, since we've adjusted my playing of some 'slower to sound' patches (cello) for a smoother duet performance). I now am really satisfied with how I've dialed in the lip and breath pots, but I can see why Yamaha removed those from normal customer use when they designed the 11.

The octave key resting position is better on the 11 due to a raised up bump between the octave buttons. The 7 is flat and lower where you rest your thumb. Sort of like not having a thumbrest on a saxophone. The thumbrest bump on the 11 allows you to rock the thumb up or down to get to the first switches, instead of physically picking up your thumb. Guy Zumpetta tells me that Yamaha made and sold a stick-on thumbrest for the 7. I did aquire one and it's working fine. For those without one, you can improve the 7's thumbrest with a stick-on rubber bumper like you put on the bottom of an appliance. It's ok, but try to get a broader thumbrest.

Overall key action seems a bit slower on the 7 than the 11 due to longer key travel. The 7 does come with some stick-on shims to lower this action. I haven't done it yet, but will seriously consider it in the future. Also, the 7 closes the switch at the 'all the way down' position, whereas the 11 closed the switch at *almost* all the way down. I've glitches longer notes (whole and half notes) when my right ring finger has gotten lazy and let the key up a small fraction. Not unlike a sax or other padded horn - no air-leaks allowed! But, the 11 is more forgiving.

For archive reference purposes, I paid $375 for the used WX7. All in all, it was worth probably about $325 at best until I did the additional work on the manual and general clean-up. I'm very happy to have a 7 now, and will probably make that my main axe.

WX7 Second Impression - The morning after

From a windlist posting dated May 2, 1997

Ok, now that I've had and played the WX7 for a couple of months, I feel obligated to again express my feelings on comparing the (WX)7 to the (WX)11.

Here are my thoughts to date:

The 7 is *NOT* truly superior to the 11. It has some nice features, especially the thumb bender, several note-hold modes, and VOL(cc#7) mode, but otherwise it's no better than the 11. I like the 7 just for those extra features, but that's not a difference in playability.

Even after having used the 7 for a while, I still long for the familiarity of the 11. Key action on the 11 is faster (less travel, though I haven't put in the little stickey shimms onto the 7), and the ergonomics of the octave key/thumb rest is better on the 11. Additionally, I'm still struggling to get comfortable with the pot settings for breath control, where I never needed to touch those on the 11. That's either because the used-7 I bought was way-altered from the factory settings, or because of different breath sensor electronics in the 11 that are just more behaved to my way of blowing. Then again, maybe it's because I learned WC on the 11 and am most comfortable with the Yamaha breath settings. Who really can claim what it is. But, even though I'm not shy about twisting pots, I can see why Yamaha removed them from customer access on the 11.

But, I can't claim a major difference between the WX11 and the WX7 other than the fancy features on the 7. Do I want to give up the WX7? No, I am willing to admit that it still hasn't been all that long and I'm still learning how to deal with the WX7. And having 2 WCs has allowed my duet partner to also play WC at the restaurant with me, making the gigs all that much more fun.Just thought you'd like to hear how I feel about the WX7.