Kerry Optima review

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Mixmo
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Kerry Optima review

Post by Mixmo »

Hi all,

I just wanted to share my experience with the new Kerry Optima.

I ordered it two weeks ago and it arrived last week. Thats 1 week packing and shipping from the UK to Asia. I was so happy with that aspect of the purchase. (I also ordered from another maker and that piece of junk arrived in 3 months) So anyway, i open the package and it was like pulling Excalibur from the stone. Not that it was difficult, but that it shone with such a majestic beauty! Surely it was sent from the gods! The metallic silver body glimmered as I turned it over in my hands. I stood in awe for a moment taking in the craftsmanship, the finely polished aluminum, the weight; light, but substantial. Then naturally, I brought it to my lips and began to play. The low notes hummed and reverberated through my apartment. The highs sang out easily and without a shrillness common to other whistles. It was easy on the lungs, a breath of air lasting nearly as long as it would on my high Ds. Tune after tune erupted from this work of art and I began to suspect it was enchanted in some way. Never has my playing sounded so lovely. The neighbors have already disagreed twice, but what do they know? They listen to pop music. I found myself playing for sometime, not registering the time as the minutes passed. When I finally put it down, I knew that it was without a doubt the best 99 pounds Ive ever spent.

That other whistle? I wont slander the maker publicly, but suffice it to say it was returned for a refund (long story there. Too many swear words, too.)

In conclusion, the Kerry Optima is brilliant. And thats my two cents.
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Whistling Archer
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by Whistling Archer »

congrats!! Its great when you spend your cash, and get something you are happy with. I got 2 low whistles last week. One I will keep the other I will return. The more Mass produced is the one I will keep, "to me" it has a nicer clearer tone in F#E,D in the the 2nd.
the other has a great low octave, but even with , focusing it still is much more airier, hissier than the other, no a design flaw, just not what my ear wants.
again congrats, and hope you keep having fun.
Steve
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greenspiderweb
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by greenspiderweb »

Hello Mixmo, and welcome to the forum! I liked your heartfelt review! Yes, congrats on finding a whistle that you love to play-it's not always that easy. :thumbsup:

Until today, I would not have been able to comment further on your whistle choice, but since my Kerry Optima just arrived this morning, I can say without reservation, that it works great for me too!

I am delightfully surprised that such a lower priced whistle can sound very close to what is a pro level whistle, and had been one of my favorites-a Kerry Pro, until I had to sell it not long ago when I needed some cash. But this Optima, sounds very much like it-easy to tell it's from the same pedigree, anyway, and it's very pleasing to play and hear. It has a lot of character to the tone, and plays easily with really good response. Though, just looking at the fipple, or headpiece, you can see why it sounds like a Kerry Pro-same basic design, just in plastic instead of aluminum alloy. I do believe the Kerry Pro is still a better whistle overall (stands to reason-it's hand made), but this one is close enough for me, for now, and a fantastic whistle for the money spent.

So, I'm sold! My hat is off to Phil Hardy once again, for making the Optima happen-way to go Phil, and thank you! I even feel very lucky to have gotten it on sale for 59 GBP, which in USA terms is about $100, shipped! If they are still on sale (and just checking, it looks as the blue tint still are), now might be a very good time to get one, if you were considering an Optima before.

http://www.kerrywhistles.com/store.php
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Mixmo
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by Mixmo »

@ whistling archer: I have another low d too. A mass produced one if you will. I like it as well, but for different reasons. Its louder so good for the session, but theres something lacking in the tone. I dont know, not as "gentle"? But thats not meant to be negative. Still love that whistle!

@ green spider web: Thanks for the welcome. Yea, I saw the sale and Im little miffed that I didnt wait a couple weeks! Oh well, such is life. But can you believe 59£ for that?? Its totally worth it. If its great at 99£, then 59 is a steal!

Additionally, two side notes. I emailed Phil and he said he might consider a green tint clear head piece for all those who like green. :)
And I just got the Chieftain Mezzo D as a birthday present and holy crap! He's not joking when he says its loud!
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greenspiderweb
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by greenspiderweb »

Mixmo wrote:@ whistling archer: I have another low d too. A mass produced one if you will. I like it as well, but for different reasons. Its louder so good for the session, but theres something lacking in the tone. I dont know, not as "gentle"? But thats not meant to be negative. Still love that whistle!

@ green spider web: Thanks for the welcome. Yea, I saw the sale and Im little miffed that I didnt wait a couple weeks! Oh well, such is life. But can you believe 59£ for that?? Its totally worth it. If its great at 99£, then 59 is a steal!
Additionally, two side notes. I emailed Phil and he said he might consider a green tint clear head piece for all those who like green. :)And I just got the Chieftain Mezzo D as a birthday present and holy crap! He's not joking when he says its loud!


Yep, 59 pounds is a steal, for sure for the Optima on sale, and 99 is still a good price. If you're enjoying it as much as you are (and I am), it's probably worth more to us.

Heh, my Optima arrived on my birthday, so I'm considering it my birthday present too. Should get something for living this long, and Happy Birthday to you too! Enjoy your high D-that's just not for me-loud and high!

A clear green tint would be cool for the Optima, yes (depending on the green)! But despite the reference to the color in my screen name, I actually prefer the blues! :wink:
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Digby
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by Digby »

I concur with the comments above. I've been playing an Optima Low D for the past couple of months and it's excellent.

The Optima was intended as a 'stop gap' until I upgraded to a (ostensibly) better whistle (if I made reasonable progress with my playing).

No need the Optima gives me all I need so I will be sticking with it.

(I am tempted by the new V4 Chieftain though, I'm awaiting feedback from the current 'tour' before I commit to purchase)
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by Digby »

I've had an email from Kerry Whistles today (Fri 15th in UK) stating that it's the last day of the £59.00 Blue Tint Optima sale.
It's been sometime since the smile, upon my face
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greenspiderweb
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by greenspiderweb »

Just in case someone was considering an Optima on sale (blue tint)-apparently it's the last day at the sale price. I'm still well pleased with mine!

Oh, and also, another Optima player PM'd me and said he had found a good cross fingering for 2nd octave C#:

000xx0 gives a very stable second octave C# (try it you'll be amazed)


I haven't been playing much up in the nether reaches as yet, so haven't tried it, but I'm sure it's as he says it is.

Anyway, carry on! Just wanted to pass on the FYI.
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ubizmo
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by ubizmo »

I bought a blue tint Optima yesterday. At that price, I could hardly refuse. By all accounts, the Optima is a very quiet whistle, but I don't mind.

I did own a Chieftain Mezzo D for a while, but it took crazy amounts of wind to push those loud notes out, so I sold it.
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by greenspiderweb »

Good for you, Ubizmo! Yes, it's hard to pass up a nice low D for that price.

I would not say the Optima is a quiet whistle, but more of a medium volume. Even the low notes surprised me how nice and substantial they are in person. It takes less air than many others, so you certainly won't need Zeppelin sized lungs to play it! It can be played quieter, but it sounds and responds best when giving it a push (but it's not hard to play either).

Edit: Just spent some time with the Optima tonight away from home, and got to explore the upper reaches of the 2nd octave-the high A and B are very loud, and not that easy to sound. But like anything else, with practice it gets easier. I won't be playing up there much in my apartment though, this I now know!

Good luck with the wait now-it took 2 weeks for mine to arrive, and I'm just a bit North of you here!
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by TomGlos »

greenspiderweb wrote:Edit: Just spent some time with the Optima tonight away from home, and got to explore the upper reaches of the 2nd octave-the high A and B are very loud, and not that easy to sound. But like anything else, with practice it gets easier. I won't be playing up there much in my apartment though, this I now know!

I find second octave A ok but loud, to get the B above it without a real shriek XOXXXX works.
Mixmo
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by Mixmo »

Still annoyed that I missed the sale!! Arrgh! :moreevil:
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farmerjones
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by farmerjones »

TomGlos wrote:I find second octave A ok but loud, to get the B above it without a real shriek XOXXXX works.


Thanks! That's quite helpful, since I have a habit of leaving my pinky on the bottom hole, and XOO OOX makes a noisy honk.
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greenspiderweb
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by greenspiderweb »

TomGlos wrote:
greenspiderweb wrote:Edit: Just spent some time with the Optima tonight away from home, and got to explore the upper reaches of the 2nd octave-the high A and B are very loud, and not that easy to sound. But like anything else, with practice it gets easier. I won't be playing up there much in my apartment though, this I now know!

I find second octave A ok but loud, to get the B above it without a real shriek XOXXXX works.


Yes, thanks Tom. I'll check it out when there's no one around, next time! But, that cross fingering works great on my Reviol for Bb in the lower octave, and seems to work on the Optima for low Bb too. By ear, that is-not using a tuner.
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ubizmo
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Re: Kerry Optima review

Post by ubizmo »

I'm going to add my impressions of the Optima, now that I've had it for a week or so.

First and most important: I really like this whistle!

I have a few other low Ds: A Chieftain V3, a Dixon polymer (slightyly tapered bore), and a Guido Gonzato Low-Tech. I used to own a Kerry Pro, but sold it.

The tone of the Optima is just about ideal, for my purposes. It's breathy enough to sound unmistakably like a whistle. The V3 is similar in tone but needs a lot more air. The Dixon is the most breath-frugal of the lot, but the Optima is a close second. The reason why I sold the Kerry Pro was that it just emptied my lungs too fast. The Optima strikes a nice balance between the husky sound of the V3 and the low breath requirement of the Dixon.

The Dixon, as you'd expect from a low-breath whistle, can't be pushed at all. The Optima can be, and I agree that the results are more pleasing when it is pushed a bit.

The intonation of the Optima is very good, and it's tuneable anyway. The V3 tends to be noticeably flat, even when warmed up.

I have no trouble in the second octave, up to A, but the B takes a little work, as others have pointed out. It has a slight tendency to "bark". On the other hand, the more I play it, the less of an issue it is. If I needed a long, sustained high B (For what? Danny Boy?), I'd use the alternate fingering suggested above, just to take the edge off. Otherwise, the standard fingering is fine. It's just a matter of learning the right amount of breath to put into it.

The tone holes are very slightly smaller than those on the V3, but not so much smaller to make half-holing problematic. In contrast, getting that Eb for "Crested Hens" or "Bachelor's Walk" on the Dixon is a challenge. No problem on the Optima.

The bell note is okay, but certainly not bold. It's definitely stronger on the V3.

Like all whistles, the Optima makes compromises, but it has quickly become my favorite low D. Before it arrived, I was mostly playing the Dixon, but I found it a bit lacking in tone and has an overall "weak" sound and feel. The Guido Gonzato whistle has excellent intonation and is very responsive, but it has what I'll call a "reedy" tone that sounds a bit like an Irish flute. It's not bad, but not what I'm looking for in a low whistle. The Optima hits what is, for me, the sweet spot. The intonation is excellent; the tone is what I want. The bell note and high B are less than ideal but I can put up with them in exchange for everything else that I like about the whistle.

Incidentally, the way the high B plays on the Optima is nearly identical to what I experienced when I tried out the MK Kelpie. I only had a short time of playing the Kelpie, so my recollection could be off, but that's what struck me about it.
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