ICYMI: We take Yamaha’s new digital saxophone for a spin

by Jeremy

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Our reviews focused mainly on unique audio devices this week, including a “magic radio” and a digital saxophone. James Trew tried out the Vlogger Kit from Rode and quickly became a fan of the microphone, the light cube, and the windscreen filter. He also experienced Teenage Engineering’s OB-4, a “magic ratio” that can record loops, play FM radio and act as a turntable. Meanwhile, Jess Conditt brushed off her saxophone skills to play with Yamaha’s YDS-150, a digital instrument she says is best kept for studio musicians. Also, Devindra Hardawar screened Studio Ghibli’s new movie Earwig and the Witch… and had nothing nice to say about it. Ouch.

Rode's Vlogger Kit
James Trew / Engadget

James Trew has been searching for a while for something that would aid him in propping his phone and recording an interview on the fly, and he found a good option in Rode’s Vlogger Kit. Including a shotgun mic, a phone grip, an LED light cube (with diffuser filters), and a tripod, the kit is available in an Android, iOS, or universal version. While the universal kit won’t let you monitor audio with wired headphones, it does come with a double cold shoe and a Rycote Lyre shock mount, so there’s a trade-off to consider.

In testing, James found the LED cube light could brighten up indoor videos and was enough on its own to illuminate those who do a lot of recording at night. He also said that the tripod is fine, and the ball and socket joint made positioning easy, but he wished he could extend it. The microphone here is the star of the show — additionally, he was a big fan of the furry windscreen cover for the mic, which looked hilarious yet worked quite well. All versions of the kit retail for $149, and for the first time, it supports USB-C connectivity for Android devices.

Yamaha YDS-150

It’s been a while since Jess Conditt played the saxophone regularly, but she was game to check out Yamaha’s YDS-150 — a digital saxophone with a matte black body, pearlescent keys, and a brass finish on the bell. The YDS-150 is closest in size and shape to the soprano sax and relatively light to hold, and it comes with a slim carrying case that can be slung over the shoulder like a yoga mat. It also uses four AAA batteries or a micro-USB power cable, the latter of which allows it to connect to a speaker or headphones (via a stereo-mini cable) or to receive input via Bluetooth from a phone, tablet, or computer.

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