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Old 06-26-2019, 02:08 PM   #1
Michael Kazmierski Dunn
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Default What happened to Omega Drone reeds

Hey pipers,
So ever since Christmas of 2018 I had been reading the excited feedback about Crozier Omega drone reeds enough that I just couldn't resist trying to purchase a set. I'm a huge fan of tonal adjustability and so this is why I thought of the Omega reeds... plus, I'm terrible when it comes to rubberband bridles and seem to do better with screw bridles after having some experience with Kinnaird Edge drone reeds.
Having said that, here's the problem. Most every website I look on these days, they all say that Crozier Omega drone reeds are discontinued! WHAT????? I guess I should have started Highland pipes much EARLIER! Thing is, I get excited about a product... say a Deger pipe for example - years go by and it's all of a sudden discontinued! Mom, we have to get those things NOW!!!!! (My mom doesn't like the pipes at all so when I mention to her that I want to buy something bagpipe-related, she tells me that there are far more important things than drone reeds for example. So it's not my fault for waiting).
My apetite for drone tone is insatiably bass-heavy, and I haven't heard any reeds that can be set up in my pipes to have a huge bass and softer tenors. But then again, on my shoulder the sound tends to be more heavy on the tenors than when I listen to myself on a recording. I heard that Omegas can be set up to meet the needs of the insatiably bass-dominant piper (myself), plus again I'm more familiar with screw adjustment for bridles and whatnot, compared to traditional rubberband bridles which are a hassle to use for me.
So... Does anybody know what happened to these reeds? Are they really discontinued? If so, does anyone have a set they're willing to part with? I can give back my Kinnaird Edge drone reeds in return if that's fair.


Michael
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Old 06-27-2019, 01:44 AM   #2
William McKenzie
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Default Re: What happened to Omega Drone reeds

I believe the Omegas worked by bending the body instead of the tongue and it just didn't catch on. Most reeds have a slight slope cut into the body anyway and by moving the bridle you are pulling a straight tongue in or away from the body in the same fashion. I hear you on the screws vs rubber argument though (I have a set of Kinnaird Edge). I think Omegas went away because they didn't have any advantages over any other reed in real world usage and they were expensive to manufacture and buy. Especially with drone reeds where once they're set up it's set for months there isn't much need for it (unless you're going between pitches or reed pressures but even then a second set of setup drone reeds solves this).

You've got the right idea recording yourself, that's the best step. Myself having just gone through and recorded these drone reeds-

Armstrong X-Treme
Armstrong X-Treme hydrophobic coated
Auckland
Canning Carbon Fiber
Canning Polycarbonate
Canning Blue
Crozier Cane
Ezeedrone regular
Ezeedrone inverted
G1 Cane
Henderson Harmonic
Henderson Harmonic Deluxe
Kinnaird Edge
Kinnaird Carbon Fiber
MG White Mamba
MG Carbon
Redwood
Selbie

-for playback in my pipes, I will say that they all have qualities to them that are for the most part distinct and it's hard to paint them with simple adjectives like "tenor ring" or "bass dominant". Even within those I notice categories like the electric zinging sound of brighter tenors vs a simple light 'eeeeee' ring of others. Same with bass reeds and a growl vs a crackling vs a butter smooth tone where you don't even hear a reed at all it's just a solid tone.

What I'm trying to say is it's more complex than what you're asking but we're here to help try and figure it out.

If for example you really did want your tenors to sort of 'melt away' into the overall sound then I would go with the original Canning tenors. They are subdued and disappear into a solid background tone. If you wanted your bass to 'growl' then I would go with a Crozier Cane bass; it sounds like actual cane only louder and super deep/bold. The Kinnaird you have is not far behind the Crozier Cane. The Auckland bass reed is also really prominent and has lots of cool overtones, but not as deep as the Crozier.
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Old 06-27-2019, 10:35 AM   #3
Michael Kazmierski Dunn
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Default Re: What happened to Omega Drone reeds

That's a pretty interesting set of descriptions for drone sound. I did upload some videos of me playing my pipes with Kinnaird edge reeds in them. Thing is though, I was wearing a pair of microphones that go in your ear, so it captured the sound just as I heard it for the most part. Also it's best to wear headphones while listening to such a recording. I'll let you figure it out but on my shoulder, as in the recordings, they sound a bit on the tenor side for me. In the first video I describe how the reeds sound in terms of voiced vowels (bass sounds like "Ah" as in choir warmips, tenors sound like a buzzy "ng").
Also sorry for the sidetracking! Almost everything is recorded, including assembling the pipes, so skip forwards if you must.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izNxJkxSV7A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZmwO8DzDV4
And some competition recordings where I used these reeds - and wore those in-ear microphones:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtuKW_gX7gc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-7iqblEXno
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd5chrw4PVw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35apjCuPzCU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b87cjanO_8M
Again, this is how it sounded to me, as the mics are in my ear. Here's a link to the mics:
https://www.soundprofessionals.com/c.../item/SP-TFB-2
I have not recorded without the in-ear mics with these reeds yet. Maybe I should do that and I'll hear an enhanced bass. I did record with other drone reeds though, and the sound is what I would call a good blend. Mind you, the pipes are a Peter Henderson (reproduction 1924 Henderson) set by Alastair Dunn, so that may explain the rest.
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Old 06-28-2019, 05:47 AM   #4
John McCain
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Default Re: What happened to Omega Drone reeds

Quote:
Originally Posted by William McKenzie View Post
If for example you really did want your tenors to sort of 'melt away' into the overall sound then I would go with the original Canning tenors. They are subdued and disappear into a solid background tone. If you wanted your bass to 'growl' then I would go with a Crozier Cane bass; it sounds like actual cane only louder and super deep/bold. The Kinnaird you have is not far behind the Crozier Cane. The Auckland bass reed is also really prominent and has lots of cool overtones, but not as deep as the Crozier.
If you repeated your recording with another set of pipes, you'd likely find all of this assessment would change.

At least that's what I find and I've been doing high-quality drone reed recording for years in various sets of pipes.

Omegas are fun to fool with if you like that sort of thing. Good reeds. Quite heavy.
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Old 06-28-2019, 07:35 AM   #5
bob864
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Default Re: What happened to Omega Drone reeds

That sounds pretty good to me.

I listened on headphones and it sounded like I was playing. Really cool!

Regarding the Omegas, they are heavy and finicky. Most people probably don't want to spend the time it takes to set them up.

Given your stated tone objectives, you probably want to replace the tenors. Kinnaird tenors are loud and buzzy. I like buzzy tenors. If you play in a band you can probably find someone who will trade you for something else. Look for EZ Drone tenors, or some other brand that has small plastic tongues instead of carbon fiber or fiberglass.

And yeah, as others have said, it's specific to your pipe and how you've got it set up. Even changing the chanter reed can change how your drones sound.
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Old 06-28-2019, 01:26 PM   #6
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: What happened to Omega Drone reeds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Kazmierski Dunn View Post
My apetite for drone tone is insatiably bass-heavy, and I haven't heard any reeds that can be set up in my pipes to have a huge bass and softer tenors.
Have you tried X-treme? Big bass, softer tenors. Get the regular, not premium, for more durability. The have a rubber bridle; it is what it is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Kazmierski Dunn View Post
So... Does anybody know what happened to these reeds? Are they really discontinued?
I can only guess. I've seen a few with cracked bodies, perhaps due to the body bending adjustment along with the aging plastic.
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Old 06-28-2019, 11:42 PM   #7
William McKenzie
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Default Re: What happened to Omega Drone reeds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Kazmierski Dunn View Post
That's a pretty interesting set of descriptions for drone sound. I did upload some videos of me playing my pipes with Kinnaird edge reeds in them. Thing is though, I was wearing a pair of microphones that go in your ear, so it captured the sound just as I heard it for the most part.
That is a fascinating way to hear yourself play Michael. Much like a singer and in ear monitors, you can probably set something up to hear how you sound to an audience as opposed to what you hear in your own head through vibrations and proximity. With the Zoom H2n microphone that I have I could theoretically connect it to headphones and hear what it is hearing as I play across the room, but it seems like a lot of hassle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Kazmierski Dunn View Post
I'll let you figure it out but on my shoulder, as in the recordings, they sound a bit on the tenor side for me. In the first video I describe how the reeds sound in terms of voiced vowels (bass sounds like "Ah" as in choir warmips, tenors sound like a buzzy "ng").

I have not recorded without the in-ear mics with these reeds yet. Maybe I should do that and I'll hear an enhanced bass.
You're playing is brilliant. Thanks for sharing these videos, I listened to these with my headphones.

I know exactly what you mean by the voiced vowels as well, a good way to describe sound.

As far as tenors Bob is right, the Kinnaird tenors are a dominant style and Ezeedrones would be smoother. I also think John is right in that what I've recorded in my pipes will likely sound a bit different in another type of pipes such as your Hendersons. However, I will say that Henderson Harmonic Deluxe (the carbon fiber ones) and the Armstrong X-Tremes (fiberglass?) that Patrick mentioned are very good and very smooth. And again I'll say that Canning regular tenors (non Blue) are very smooth and subdued.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John McCain View Post
If you repeated your recording with another set of pipes, you'd likely find all of this assessment would change.

At least that's what I find and I've been doing high-quality drone reed recording for years in various sets of pipes.
That's fair to say. I do feel though that most drone reeds have a sort of overall signature sound to them regardless of the pipes that they are in. Ezeedrones just mentioned for example, we all recommend them knowing how they sound in most any set of pipes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick McLaurin View Post
Have you tried X-treme? Big bass, softer tenors. Get the regular, not premium, for more durability. The have a rubber bridle; it is what it is.
And the rubber bridle is the same used on the newer MG reeds. It is very robust, wide and thick which makes it easier to manipulate since it's not a tiny sliver of a rubber band you're trying to adjust.
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