WX7 Wind Controller First Impressions
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
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.