I have been playing my Emeo digital sax for a few weeks now and am really excited about the instrument. It is the only MIDI wind controller, which I am aware of that both has actual saxophone key work and uses 100% true saxophone fingerings. The Emeo is a relatively new offering that was designed and I believe is assembled in Israel.
At $1550, it’s not cheap, but it really delivers on it’s promise to allow you to work on finger technique and improvisation at any time and in any place.
The up side is that it plays and feels more like a sax than any other MIDI wind controller. The potential downside is that it’s made by a fairly new company, so long term viability and service are not guaranteed. Likewise, it has no onboard sounds and instead relies on Apple products to produce sounds. I am using an inexpensive Apple iPod Touch, which I have dedicated to just the Emeo.
An alternative product for silent practice, also with true sax fingerings, is the Roland AE-10 at $880, which I have also played extensively. The downside of the AE-10 is that it does not have saxophone keywork. Instead of saxophone keys it has buttons that activate switches. The AE-10 is therefore less ergonomic than the Emeo. The upside is that, like the Emeo, it also uses true sax fingerings and in addition has onboard sounds. Also, Roland is a well established company that is likely to be around for years to come to support the product.
The Yamaha YDS-150, which I previously reviewed on 47 Reeds is another MIDI wind controller with true saxophone fingerings and onboard sounds. It has plastic key work that more closely resembles sax keys than the Roland and Yamaha is a company that will no doubt be around for a long time to come. For me the fatal flaw of the YDS-150 is poorly designed switches below the keys, which can necessitate the use of too much pressure, which in turn could lead to hand injuries in addition to developing poor technique. Likewise the design of the octave key and left hand side keys make those keys difficult to play.
My personal ranking is:
2 Roland Aerophone
3 Yamaha YDS-150
For more info you can search Youtube for the many videos that have been posted on the awesome Emeo and the very nice Roland AE-10 and it’s big brother the AE-30 and also the Yamaha YDS-150.
You can also visit the companies’ websites at www.emeomusic.com, www.roland.com and usa.yamaha.com.