Yamaha Silent Brass System for Trumpet and Flugelhorn mutes, cables, and Personal studio showing what's in the box.

Yamaha Silent Brass System Review

This review covers the Yamaha Silent Brass system model SB7J for Trumpet and the PM 6X pickup mute for Flugelhorn. This is the latest version of their system. According to Yamaha, the Pickup mutes are the same. It’s the Personal Studio that has been updated with a newer version of their Brass Resonance Modeling software. Yamaha states this 2.0 version “cancels the characteristic closed sound of a mute” and lets you hear a more natural sound from the headphones.

Overview of Yamaha Silent Brass System

Yamaha Silent Brass System for Trumpet and Flugelhorn showing the Pickup mutes that I purchased.
This is the Yamaha Silent Brass System for Trumpet and the Pickup Mute for my Flugelhorn. The Trumpet Pickup Mute fits flush in my Bach trumpet bell. The Flugelhorn Pickup Mute sticks out slightly from my Yamaha YH635 flugelhorn.

I purchased this system (not sponsored) because I moved to a condo. Like most trumpet players, I needed a way to practice my trumpet and flugelhorn without disturbing my family, friends, and neighbors. I also use this system to help me warm up prior to performances and occasionally during performances with long rest periods between playing.

I have a straight mute, a cup mute, and now practice mutes. I tested my Bach cup mute and how it reduced the sound output below.

Yamaha Silent Brass Product Description

Yamaha Silent Brass System for Trumpet showing the Trumpet Pickup Mute out of the box and the front audio jack port
This is the Trumpet Pickup Mute. The jack in the front is where you plug into the Personal Studio. Or just use it as is to quiet down your horn.

This is a real “system” as it’s not just a practice mute that reduces your sound. That’s just part of it. The combination of the “PIckup Mute” (what Yamaha calls them) and the “Personal Studio” (also a Yamaha trademark) makes it a “system” for practicing quietly. The mutes are Yamaha designed to be more free blowing than a regular mute (more on that below) and the Personal Studio allows you to hear what your horn sounds like if it wasn’t muted.

The system is sold with a PIckup Mute for your particular instrument (trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, french horn, Euphonium, and Tuba) and the Personal Studio. Inside the box has all the cables you need to connect the Pickup Mute to the Personal Studio including some earbuds. I didn’t use those as I like my higher quality over the ear headphones.

The best thing about this “System” is that if you only want to reduce the sound output of your horn, you can purchase just the Pickup mutes. This will save you a little money. In this case, I purchased the System for trumpet which came with the Personal Studio, cables, and Pickup mute. I then purchased the Flugelhorn Pickup mute by itself.

Features of the Yamaha Silent Brass System

Yamaha Silent Brass System Personal Studio Top view
Here is the Personal Studio model STJ, top view. This shows where you plug in the mute, your headphones, and volume controls. Where my thumb is, there is a battery compartment for two double A batteries (not included). There is also a belt clip.

The Personal Studio STJ model connects to the PIckup mute and headphones with the included cables. This allows you to listen to yourself play. Yamaha states they use their technology called “Brass Resonance Modeling”. They sampled non-muted brass instruments and used that to correct the tone you hear through the headphones. It sounds very similar to playing un-muted.

Yamaha Silent Brass Personal Studio, side view
On the side of the Personal Studio, there are the Auxiliary in and USB-A out ports. The Sound changing switches, reverb control, and power switch. Don’t forget to turn it off like I did or you’ll need new batteries.

There are 2 settings and a reverb control. The settings are “Room” and “Hall”. I found the “Room” sounds kind of like what my horn sounds like un-muted. The “Hall” adds a bit of echo to it, sounds a little more open. I found the 2 Sound Modes more interesting. They are “Player” (PLY on the device) and “Audience” (AUD on the device). Yamaha states their Brass Resonance Modeling 2.0 that is in the Personal Studio STJ cancels the closed sound of a mute (along with the sharp lower notes and flat upper register), adds your horns natural sound, and adjusts the left/right balance to make it sound more like what your audience hears. And if you forget to turn it off and put it in your case, the batteries will drain. Don’t ask me how I know that.

Use your headphones and listen to these samples from Yamaha. I tried to make similar ones, but these are way better quality than what I made.

The Personal Studio also has an AUX in so you can connect your phone or other device with backing tracks. I use iRealPro on my phone for example. It also has a USB-A out so you can record your playing and backing track together. Yamaha has a free “Rec n Share” app which allows you to record and share your playing/backing track as a sound file or movie. I want to try this app and will update this review when I do.

Benefits of Using the Yamaha Silent Brass System

Beyond being able to practice when ever I want, the benefits of using this system are happier neighbors and convenience. I’ve asked my neighbors if they hear me practice and they said “Used to. Then nothing so I thought you moved”. That’s a big one. My neighbors thought I moved away because they didn’t hear my trumpet playing anymore.

The convenience is the biggest one for me. I can play at night, early in the morning, or whenever I feel the urge/have some time. I used to focus my practice time during the the middle of the day. I figured most people will be out of their condos working or going about their daily lives and I wouldn’t disturb that many people. That meant there were days I didn’t practice at all because of other commitments. Now I don’t have an excuse to not practice.

I’ve found this System to be great for warming up quietly and when I have to rest for a long time between playing. It’s quiet enough to let me keep my chops loose during a performance. I’ve rarely had to do this, but it sure came in handy on a few occasions.

User Experience with Yamaha Silent Brass System

For this review, the thing I was most interested in was how loud my horns were un-muted and muted. My initial impressions of the Pickup Mutes are they were made from thick plastic. When I accidently dropped them, they bounced and showed no damage. If I dropped my metal mutes, they definitely were dented from the impact. The quality of the neoprene gasket or sealing surface feels on the high end and that it’ll last a very long time. Like I do with all my mutes, I breathed into my bell to provide a little moisture so the mute slipped into place easily.

Initial impressions: Relatively easy to play. Noticeable reduction in sound output. LIghtweight, didn’t notice them while playing. Not stuffy feeling, but you do know you have a mute in.

Positives and negatives

Positives:

Resistance. I found the Pickup mutes to be a little less restrictive than a straight or cup mute. I did feel the resistance, but it’s not as oppressive as I would have expected. The Pickup Mutes have a neoprene pad that is wide and goes all the way around the mute (see the picture at the top of this article). This means it seals all sound from escaping from around the mute. My cup and straight mutes have cork pads that hold the mute slightly away from the inner walls of the bell. That allows some sound to bypass the mute. The Pickup mute forces all sound through the it and I really thought it would be hard to blow, but it wasn’t.

Weight. I didn’t notice the weight. They are pretty lightweight and that really helped. They are solid in construction so they should last a very long time.

Quality. The quality of the product is evident and the lengthly documentation was very clear. The packaging was very high quality as you’d expect from Yamaha. The cables are decent.

Sound. These were definitely better at reducing the sound output of my horns verses the other mutes I have. See below for the test results.

Negatives:

So many cables. When I set up all the cables, that was a little odd. I had a cable from the mute going to the Personal Studio unit I had hooked to my belt. Then I had a cable going from there to my phone which I put in my pocket. All the cables and extra devices took a little getting used to. On more than one occasion, I would catch the cable from the mute on my music stand which was annoying. The earbuds aren’t anything great. I used my own over the ear headphones so I could hear what was coming from the Personal Studio better.

Storage. The Mutes while solid in construction, could get damaged so having a soft bag or case to store them in would have been a nice touch by Yamaha to include. I had to use some old cloth shoe bags to store them in. The trumpet mute I can easily store in my trumpet bell as it fits flush. The flugelhorn mute however sticks out a good inch or so which means I couldn’t store it in my flugelhorn bell. It’s pretty big so finding a way to carry it safely can be an issue.

Audio out. Having a USB-A port is nice, but a USB-C would be much more useful. Bluetooth would be even better. Not sure how it would affect battery life however.

Price. This system isn’t cheap. When you consider a regular mute can cost well south of $100, the system is more than 3 times that price. You can do what I did and just buy the pickup mutes for your horns if you just want to practice quietly and not record/listen to your self playing with the sound studio unit.

Sound pressure tests

I set up the following tests to compare how loud my trumpet and flugelhorn were unmuted and muted. The tests I did are:

  1. Trumpet unmuted
  2. Trumpet muted with Yamaha Silent Brass Pickup Mute
  3. Trumpet muted Bach cup mute (plastic)
  4. Flugelhorn unmuted
  5. Flugelhorn muted Yahaha Silent Brass Pickup Mute

Equipment used: Bach Stradivarius with a #37 bell, Allen Vizzutti Yamaha mouthpiece. Yamaha YH635 flugelhorn with a Bobby Shew Flugelhorn mouthpiece. Bach plastic cup mute. Yamaha Silent Brass System for Trumpet and Flugelhorn Pickup mute. All equipment used was purchased and not sponsored. Iphone 12 Pro with Decibel X: Sound Level Meter app version 9.7.0.

I tried to play the same notes and at the same loudness as possible. I played a variety of notes using the G scale. I tried to keep my bell the same distance from my phone with the sound pressure app.

Sound pressure levels explained

Before I get into the tests, an explanation of sound pressure levels is needed.

Sound level is expressed in decibels (db). It’s a logarithmic scale where perfect silence is 0db. According to Soundear.com, a sound 10 times greater intensity is 10db. A sound 100 times greater in intensity is 20db, etc. This chart shows common noise sources with their relative sound level. Note that it goes from “Hazardous” to “Highly hazardous” very quickly.

Sound Pressure Level chart from BoomSpeaker.com
From BoomSpeaker.com

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the US), 85 db is the threshold for having hearing protection in the workplace. But we can use that as a reference for life in general. If you are subjected to 85 db or higher, your hearing can be damaged. This gets worse the longer the exposure. Ever have ringing in your ears after using or being around power tools in use? That’s because the noise level is “Hazardous” and your hearing was being affected.

It’s important to note that if the noise level is high enough, even a short duration of exposure can cause permanent hearing loss. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, being exposed to a single gunshot can cause hearing damage or loss.

Test 1. Trumpet unmuted

Sound pressure meter reading of 114.6 for an unmuted trumpet.
My Bach trumpet reached a peak noise level of 114.6.

The sound level app I used has a “high water mark” showing the loudest sound level. For my Bach trumpet, it reached a peak of 114.6. According to the chart above, that is “Highly hazardous” and about what a chain saw sounds like. Hopefully I don’t sound as awful as a chain saw. Thankfully our bell is pointed away from us when we play. When I was a kid, I remember my bandmate blowing his horn in my ear as a joke. I had some ringing in that ear for a while. Now I understand why.

Test 2. Trumpet muted with Yamaha Silent Brass Pickup Mute

Trumpet with Yamaha SIlent Brass Pickup Mute in
My Bach trumpet with the Yamaha Silent Brass Pickup Mute for Trumpet.

Using the Pickup Mute in my trumpet significantly reduced the sound output. It dropped down to 83.4 db. This is below the OSHA standard for noise level needing hearing protection. It’s about what a “Busy restaurant” would sound like.

Test 3. Trumpet muted Bach cup mute (plastic)

Trumpet muted with a Bach plastic Cup Mute sound pressure level
Trumpet with a Bach plastic cup mute.

For comparisons sake, I tried my Bach plastic cup mute. It had a similar resistance to the Yamaha Pickup Mute but a significantly louder output of sound. 102.7 db which is way louder than the Yamaha mute. Definitely in the “Highly hazardous” range.

Test 4. Flugelhorn unmuted

Yamaha YH635 Flugelhorn unmuted sound pressure level
Yamaha YH635 Flugelhorn unmuted.

My Flugelhorn was not much quieter than my Bach trumpet. I was surprised at this as I thought my flugelhorn was quieter than my trumpet. It isn’t. Or not enough to be noticed. 114.2 db is right there with my trumpet which was 114.6 db. Chainsaw noisy territory.

Test 5. Flugelhorn muted Yahaha Silent Brass Pickup Mute

Yamaha YH635 Flugelhorn with Yamaha Silent Brass Pickup mute in sound pressure level
My Yamaha YH635 Flugelhorn with the Yamaha SIlent Brass Flugelhorn Pickup Mute in.

SImilar to the Trumpet Pickup Mute, my flugelhorn was much quieter with the Pickup Mute. It wasn’t noticeably louder than my trumpet, but the meter tells the truth at 89.5 db for a PIckup Mute flugelhorn verses 83.4 db for a PIckup Mute trumpet. My flugelhorn is louder when muted. Still, it’s only at the upper end of a “Busy restaurant”.

Sound Pressure Tests Summary

Here are the test results all together.

  1. 114.6 db – Trumpet unmuted
  2. 83.4 db – Trumpet muted with Yamaha Silent Brass Pickup Mute
  3. 102.7 db – Trumpet muted Bach cup mute (plastic)
  4. 114.2 db – Flugelhorn unmuted
  5. 89.5 db – Flugelhorn muted Yamaha Silent Brass Pickup Mute

These tests weren’t done in a silent sound proof room or anything like that. They weren’t conducted with scientific precision. I just wanted to see how much of a difference the Yamaha Silent Brass system made for a trumpet and flugelhorn. And while the numbers aren’t super precise, they told the story very clearly that this system works. It reduces your sound output dramatically so you can practice at home or other places and not disturb your friends, family, or neighbors. Additionally, your hearing is less at risk when using these because the sound output is much lower

Please remember, practicing with a practice mute is better than not practicing at all. But, the resistance can affect your playing. It’s recommended to play unmuted for some time so your chops remember what it’s like to play normally. After I use my Yamaha Silent Brass pickup mutes to practice at home for example, I’ll play soft and medium loud passages in my closet, pointing my bell at my clothes to help reduce the sound.

Hope this helps and as always, thanks for playing along.

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