High technology equipment is a blessing for a modern saxophonist. A traditional worry for saxophonists has been complaints of noise while one is practicing. I experienced this many times many years ago when I lived in an apartment. Luckily, I was able to find a practice facility that was open to the general public for a reasonable fee.
Digital saxophones allow the saxophonist to plug in headphones for a practice session that is completely silent to friends, spouses, children, parents and neighbors. In this article, I will provide an overview of the digital saxophones that are currently on the market.
The Rowland AE-10
The Rowland AE-10 is a digital wind synthesizer that was announced by Rowland Corporation on September 16, 2016. The AE-10 had a fingering system that should feel very similar to a physical saxophone, allowing the saxophonists to hop back and forth between the physical saxophone and the digital saxophone very quickly. The AE-10 has a bite-sensing reed that allows for vibrato and pitch bends. The AE-10 alllows you to plugin headphones, AND you can also accept an input from an external sound source such as a smartphone, radio etc. This allows the saxophonist to jam to external music on the AE-10.
The Rowland AE-05
The Rowland AE-05 is the cheaper younger brother of the Rowland AE-10. The AE-05 is smaller and lighter than the AE-10. The AE-05 is also known as the Aerophone Go, and it has fewer on-board sounds than the AE-10. However, the AE-05 still allows you to plugin headphones, and you can also jam with external sources, just as you can with the AE-10.
The EMO is a digital practice saxophone that actually looks like a miniature soprano saxophone. The EMEO features an air pressure level sensor, wireless connectivity via Bluetooth/midi, and a host of other features.
The Yamaha YDS-150
The Yamaha YDS-150 is a digital saxophone manufactured by Yamaha Corporation, a very famous maker of physical saxophones. The YDS-150's fingering system is actually based on a physical Yamaha saxophone model, making the transition between the physical saxophone and the YDS-150 completely seamless.
The Akai Professional EWI Solo
The Akai Professional EWI Solo is a digital wind instrument designed to complement or replace a physical saxophone. It features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for maximum portability and flexibility.
The AKAI EWI USB
The AKai EWI is a plug-and-play digital wind instrument that connects to an external sound generator via a USB cable. Since it is not cordless, it offers somewhat less portability and flexibility when compared to the Akai Professional EWI Solo.
The Akai EWI 5000
The Akai EWI 5000 is the most expensive digital wind instrument in the Akai lineup. It has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and it has wireless stereo audio connectivity, making it a great choice for professional gigs.
Before introducing the YDS-150 in 2020, Yamaha manufactured two very popular digital wind synthesizer: the WX5 and the WX11. Both products were discontinued several years ago, but the Yamaha YDS-150 maintains Yamaha's long history and tradition of making high quality digital wind instruments.