Drilling Air Relief Holes in a WX11 Mouthpiece

The current state of affairs:

As others on the windlist have mentioned, if you are used to delivering a lot of wind for a sax or flute, then the airflow through the WX11 can cause what I call the oboe-effect; beet-red face, strong desire to exhale, and a general distraction to the music after playing a long passage.

The most obvious solution is to let air leak out of the lips, a condition that Akai EWI players are required to do. I've never been happy with that, preferring to find a way to let more air go through the WX11.

Experiment #1:

I drilled a 5/64" (2mm) hole into the left side of the WX mouthpiece. This is about the equivalent cross sectional area of the breath passage hole in the rubber boot inside that protects the pitchbend and breath pressure sensor. The front-to-back location was about the same distance as the 'reed' (pitchbend) attach screws are located. Too far back and the rubber boot would block the hole. Too far forward and the player's lips would block the hole.

Results: Don't grab your drill just yet. :-)

1) As for the oboe-effect, this added breath relief hole felt great! I finally was moving the air that my lungs wanted to supply. Lucky guess on the hole diameter. Score 10/10

2) As for breath pressure/velocity sensitivity, no apparent change in performance. It felt very natural. If I monitored the volume parameter while changing from no-hole to hole (via covering/uncovering the hole with my finger), there was about a 25% decrease in volume upon opening up the hole. I could easily play to max volume, yet playing at the softest end ( near note-off) was an improvement since I wasn't dealing with the bodily need to exhale - even after playing a series of long, soft passages, which is where I notice the oboe-effect the most, and where I start to lose fine control of the soft passages. Score 10/10

3) As for equipment noise, the sound of the air escaping from the mouthpiec hole was unacceptable. IT DROVE ME NUTS! I tried baffeling the air away, but it was always too loud. A 4" (100mm) length of plastic tubing pointed down by the keys worked just fine, but it looked stupid and would be hard to attach to the mouthpiece. Score 1/10

Experiment #2 (10/21/96)

I completed Experiment #2 in drilling holes in my WX mouthpiece to relieve the "oboe-effect". If you will please recall, the 2mm hole originally drilled in experiment #1 worked fine except the air escaping was too noisy.

On the suggestion of Dave Brown :

"I wonder what would happen if you made lots of really tiny holes instead of one (relatively) big hole?"

So, for Experiment #2 I proceeded to drill a total of 9 holes (.5mm each), with three holes on each face. With each hole, I test-blew into the mpc while covering up the large opening (where it fits onto the WX body) with the palm of my hand. The 9 holes were working reasonably well, but it still was more backpressure than the original 2mm hole.v

Ignoring math, I grabbed a .64mm (.025") drill and one at a time enlarged each hole. This time the back-pressure felt equivalent to the original 2mm hole.

On assembly onto the WX, performance was the same as the original hole, but with no noise! Success!! Dave Brown's idea worked!!! I chose to distribute the 9 holes across three faces of the mpc (2 sides and top). This worked fine.

Below is a flatbed scan of my workbench notes if you'd like a better feel for the hole location.

Coming soon to a WX near you: Experiment #3 - a long, thin slot on the top which can be covered with a sliding/swinging door.