Street Price Alto: $1579-$1679 (depending upon finish)
Street Price Tenor: $1799-$1899 (depending upon finish)
Horns tested: Alto and Tenor
Finishes Available: Lacquer, Black Lacquer, Silver Plate
Other horns in the same class: Yamaha 475, Antigua Winds A-521 and T551, Jupiter 800 series, Keilwerth EX90
Finishes Tested: Lacquer
Date Tested: January 2006
Selmer La Voix Alto Saxophone Alto – Lacquer
Selmer La Voix Tenor Saxophone Tenor – Lacquer
The Selmer La Voix is the latest addition to Selmer USA’s line of saxophones. This �step-up� instrument is available in alto (AS-220) and tenor (TS-220) and replaces their previous step up models the AS-200 and TS-200. These new models are made in Taiwan and feature an Ultra Bell design, red brass construction, high F#, double arms on low C & B, and a Selmer Paris S80 C* mouthpiece.
This new horn is in many ways an admission by Selmer USA that they are now competing against a variety of house brand horns coming from Taiwan. The plus for the player is that the La Voix is a better made product than the one it replaces. Selmer USA has been fighting quality control issues for years and as indicated by my AS-110 review (Here). By outsourcing the manufacture of the horn to another party they are able to supply a better product. Conn-Selmer reps have stated to me on a couple of occasions that they have no intention of producing a USA made professional saxophone. Perhaps if the La Voix is well received they will introduce a new top of the line offering since they discontinued the AS-110/TS-110 last year with something better that is also made off shore like the La Voix.
Inevitably, the question comes up about where these horns (and others made in Taiwan and China) are really made. Selmer isn’t saying but others indicate that it is the Ping Factory (not the golf clubs). The makers in Taiwan and China for the most part are not making horns under their own names and there are generally a number of makers in the same area. What I can tell you is that the Selmer La Voix bears a striking resemblance to the Antigua Winds Power Bell A-521 and T-551 models (which are also suppose to be made in the Ping Factory in Taiwan). Multiple sources have indicated that they are the same horn with the only difference being the formulation of the brass.
I was surprised by the build quality of the horns. Both the alto and the tenor felt solid in the hands. They have a familiar feel to them as they are Selmer Super Action 80 serie II copies. The finish of the lacquer was flawless and the engraving was acceptable (it is laser engraving that is tasteful but sparse on the bell). The pearls feel synthetic to me but had a nice dish and hand feel. Overall, these are nice feeling horns in the hands.
Playing these horns was a pleasant surprise as well. They’re powerful horns with a decidedly spread sound. The tone seemed to be brighter than what I have experienced with the Serie II horns from Selmer and sounded a little metallic when approaching the top notes on the horn and when moving beyond high F sharp. This was more apparent on the tenor than the alto which seemed a little smoother up top. Some players like that sensation of tone and others don’t. I don’t believe that it is something that the audience hears. Earlier I mentioned that these were powerful horns. They flat out project. When partnered with a bright mouthpiece these horns can compete against the guitarist that the budding saxophonist is bound to encounter at the local jam session.
The intonation of these horns was more than acceptable. I found that middle D and E had a bit of stuffiness to them but this is a common issue with almost all saxophones. The high G to high A transition was nice and the horns didn’t show any real tendency to break up on these notes. The overall tone from the horn was acceptable. Neither horn exhibits the richness of character of a modern Selmer Paris saxophone nor does it approach that of my Selmer Mark VI’s but it wasn’t one dimensional either.
Overall, I would rate this as a great buy for the beginning player who wanted to start out with a well made quality instrument or to the aspiring musician who wanted to have a near pro quality saxophone for a fair price.
Yamaha YAS475 Alto Saxophone Alto Sax
Yamaha YTS475 Tenor Sax Tenor Sax
Jupiter 869SG Artist Alto Saxophone Alto Sax
Jupiter 889SG Artist Tenor Saxophone Tenor Sax
Keilwerth EX90 Alto Saxophone Alto
Keilwerth EX90 Tenor Saxophone Tenor