From time to time I am sent emails from manufacturers regarding various products to review. Recently, I received an email from a Mr. Hsiao, who is the inventor of a product called the Timbre Trainer. According to Mr. Hsiao, the Timbre Trainer seeks to help expedite the break-in process with your instrument by allowing for increased vibrations, resulting in an overall more free-blowing, resonant and rich sound.
The way this device works is so unique, that you really need visuals to understand it properly (see link and videos below).
In a nutshell, the Timbre Trainer is a device that connects to any usb-ready audio-playing device (iPod, iPad, smartphone, etc), and from there attaches to the neck of your horn, where the sounds from the digital audio device are transmitted onto the horn itself. The concept here is that the sound from the recordings, such as classic jazz albums, will actually “soak” into your horn, and bring about the same ageing process as the horn would get from decades of being exposed to the sounds of live music. According to Hsiao, it’s the years of exposure to live music that give instruments that highly sought-after, rich “vintage” sound.
To see for myself what the overall results would be, I decided to test play this device on a Lupifaro Platinum tenor saxophone I have been play testing over the past couple of months.
About the Product
According to Hsiao, “The Timbre Trainer is a vibration generator which uses the sound waves from your favorite music to directly vibrate your instrument. These vibrations continuously play in your instrument, ageing it and opening up its sound. In today’s market, vintage instruments played over many years are more valuable and sought after than newer instruments. Overall, the older instruments have a better sound due to the vibrations over many years. Their materials have gotten used to the frequencies of the particular vibrations they were exposed to, thus leading to instruments responding better to players’ commands. Vibration releases the mechanical stress of the instrument material. Mechanical stress is the stress between metal crystals (in saxophones or brass instruments) or plant fibre (in guitars). Stress reduces the resonance of vibration which needs time to be ‘released.’ Although we know this, how often and how long can we play our instruments a day?”
So basically, the Timbre Trainer converts musical sound waves into vibrations and directly applies them to your instrument.
Since I have been test playing a Lupifaro Platinum tenor saxophone for the past couple of months, I decided to use this horn as my test subject over using my Mark VI tenor saxophone because I was told by Hsiao that he has seen greater results with newer instruments over vintage instruments.
The Timbre Trainer is easy to connect to the neck of your saxophone. In regards to which music I selected to play thru my saxophone was Chris Potter’s Gratitude album, but it is completely up to you which music you choose to play thru the Timbre Trainer.
I tried the Timbre Trainer for 2 weeks and used the device between 3 and 4 hours a day. For the Lupifaro Platinum instrument I noticed a bit of a difference by day 7 in terms of the overall response of the instrument and by day 14 found that the Timbre Trainer opened or enhanced the sound of the Lupifaro tenor saxophone with regards to adding some additional edge, resonance and projection.
For me, every time I picked up my saxophone after the Timbre Trainer was applied for 3 to 4 hours a day, I felt as if the instrument was already warmed up and ready to go, which is similar to why some players prefer synthetic reeds over traditional cane reeds.
The Timbre Trainer is a device that can generally speed up the break-in process. I believe this device must be used on a consistent basis to see the greatest results.
I would have to say the Timbre Trainer will not turn that stuffy Mark VI into a real player but do believe that you will notice a difference using the device, whether it’s a major change or small enhancement.