HMS Listening Booth – 4 Kanilea Tenors

So here’s another listening booth and this one has 4 gorgeous tenors crafted on the windward side of our island, Oahu. These all retail between 12-1500 usd, they are all Koa, and they are all Kanilea. This audio slightly differs from previous “listening booths”. In logic I did a stereo spread from the mono signal to “open it up” and hear it more realistically. But doesn’t that make it hard to compare across the board with the other comparison videos?

As of yet, mic distances are not emulated perfectly from one video to the next. So each of these videos is its own booth of comparison. I am still inching towards a true representation. I am giving it more raw than ever because my equipment allows. But, just like with video, I have yet to perfect my settings. Sometimes I have altered things to be more true. It’s kind of like with photos. Lenses can distort but proportions and be corrected after. Lights can either hide or exaggerate a flaw. The post production can bring it closer to reality or take it further into the fairy world.

The key is the equipment and your knowledge of it. This is what makes post production nearly non-existent when offering true sound samples of acoustic instruments. I’m still learning and growing, but at this point we can offer you a tool in deciding. It will never be perfect. Even if I measure out a distance and angle for the mic and get Corey and Aaron to sit exactly the same, they are gonna play differently on different takes. Dynamics will vary. Mainly because they aren’t robots. They’re makin’ music! It doesn’t come from the soul through a cookie cutter! Now, the other difference is something that may be hard to decipher. Dynamics within each instrument will differ. For instance….

The Super Tenor  (the one with the bigger butt…some guys like that…. I know I do………….what were we talking about? Oh yes, the ST!) with the lower bout you get a bigger sound…at times. When finger picked lightly it is actually softer than the regular body shape. But there’s more headroom once start diggin’ in with a strum.

In person, an ukulele can sound many ways depending on who’s pickin’ and strummin’ the thing.

BUT… despite all these factors that make it imperfect, this video gives you a fairly even, back to back listening of four similar models from one of the top choices for a pro level uke, Kanile’a. Now understand, one of the biggest factors in audio “coloring” is on your end. Put some good headphones on if you don’t have studio monitors. It’ll get you closer to being in the room with us.

Tell us what differences you can hear. Anything compare differently than what you would have expected? Which one did you love? If you say none then I don’t know man, you might wanna see a doctor. Nah, just kidding. Everyone can have their own taste. We don’t all like the same ice cream. But from these, which flavor did you prefer and why?  

Comments 6

  1. Another great sample Andrew! From what I hear, the K1-Deluxe Gloss has the most balanced sound in terms of warmth/brightness, clarity, and sustain. Both the K1-Deluxe Satin finish and the K2-T have the warmest sound. As for the ST, I definitely can hear the large dynamic range that you refer to in your post. Perhaps the larger “butt” makes the softer dynamic levels so because of the larger area within the body that doesn’t project the softer sound while allowing greater projection/resonating-space for louder playing? In any case, more dynamic range is always a good thing!

    Thanks for posting this! I find that these samples are a great way to be more critical about what we hear as well as to help inform our own playing. Oh, and if these were ice cream flavours, I wouldn’t be upset about having any one of them! Although, I think my favourite flavour would be the K1-Deluxe Gloss.


  2. The mic setup is a step up, listening on my higher end desktops. Felt right in the middle of the sound experience.

    I incline strongly toward the gloss finish models, here. Fuller, richer tone, especially in the sustain, it sounds to me.

    First choice is the K2-T Gloss.

  3. Great comparison and after awhile, they sounded the same but the satin was my favorite. I thought I would hear a bigger difference with the ST, but didn’t.

  4. I’m going to write this “before” I read the other comments so they don’t bias my responses.

    First, I prefer the tone of these gloss ukes over the satin. The gloss finish Kanilea’s seen to sound a bit “richer” in harmonic content. I prefer this sound over the “ever-so-slightly” thinner tone of the satin. As a solo instrument, I like a complex and detailed sound. For band situations, perhaps the satin tone would cut better.

    In order of my preference:
    1 T1-ST Deluxe Gloss
    2 (Tie): K2-T Gloss & K1-T Deluxe Gloss (The K1is an awesome looker!)
    3. K1-T Deluxe Satin

    Thanks again, HMS, for a terrific comparasion.

  5. Thanks Andrew for these wonderful comparisons! You are the only person I know of that’s taking the time to do this, so thanks again. Kanile’a obviously makes really fine ukes and I must admit I loved the sound of all of them. Very clear highs and nice mellow low frequencies with no harsh mid tones. That’s just about as good as you can get. As for me, I’ll take the K1-T deluxe gloss finish–just because I love the way it looks!

  6. They are all lovely, but the decay on both high gloss models seem to have more resonance; and of those two, I think the K1-ST Deluxe has the sweetest after glow! Would love to hear them live!!!

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