Gear Review: Fox 40 Classic Eclipse whistle

Late in 2011, the Fox 40 company announced the first major revision to its’ flagship Fox 40 Classic pealess whistle since it was introduced over 25 years ago. The new Fox 40 Classic Eclipse ($8.50, plus shipping) retains the sound of the original Classic, but adds several new features, some more useful than others.

The first thing you notice about the Eclipse is the sleek styling. Where the Classic has a squared-off look, the Eclipse is swept-back, with rounded edges. This really changes the aestheic of the whistle, but, unless you’re a whistle freak like me, that won’t matter to you much.

The finish of the Eclipse is now a glossy black, rather than the flat black of the original Classic. In addition, Fox 40 has included a color additive called “SpectraBurst” that allows the whistle to glow in the dark. The company materials say that the whistle will glow the same color that the whistle is. Since my whistle is black, that may explain why I’ve never seen it glow in the dark. Glow-in-the-dark is not something that matters to me at all. However, someone using the whistle for safety reasons may find this an appealing feature. In that case, I think I’d pick a color other than black.

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The most significant change in the whistle is the inclusion of an integrated, co-molded Cushioned Mouth Grip. This is different than the CMG versions of the Classic, which had a cushioned mouth grip added to the finished whistle. The mouth grip on the Eclipse was designed in from the beginning, resulting in a sleeker profile. In the mouth, the Eclipse isn’t quite a cushy as the Classic CMG; I find that I prefer the feel of the Eclipse over the CMG, but that’s just a matter of personal taste.

All in all, I find that the Eclipse is a worthy addition to the Fox 40 lineup. It looks cool, feels good in the mouth, and still produces the classic, er, Classic sound. The price is higher than the original Classic, but you do get more features for your money. For me, I think I will probably stick with my Fox 40 Sonik Blast whistles. I still find the Blast the easiest to blow, and the tone is slightly different from the Classic, which is handy in crowded parks. If you prefer the Classic, you should try the Eclipse.

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Gear Review: All About Whistles

PLEASE NOTE: Most of the audio recordings of the whistles are missing.  I am aware of this problem and am in the midst of updating.  Thanks for your patience.

There are about as many different whistles available for purchase as there are styles of refereeing.  I thought it might help to review the numerous whistles I have so you can make a more informed decision about what type of whistle you want (and don’t end up spending a good chunk of your hard-earned fees on whistles).

Fox 40 Classic

For many referees, the Fox 40 Classic is the standard.  The Fox 40 company was started by a basketball referee in Canada who was dissatisfied with the quality of whistles on the market.  You might say he was sort of like the “Dyson of Whistles” in that he figured that there must be a better way to make a whistle.  He came up with a unique pea-less design that has gone largely unchanged to this day.  The primary advantage of pea-less whistles is that the pea doesn’t stick or get jammed.

In my experience, the Classic is a very reliable, predictable whistle.  Players recognize the tone instantly, and it can be blown very loudly when needed.  On the downside, the Classic – and pea-less whistles in general – are bit harder to get a “tweet” out of (that is, a short, quick burst), especially at a lower volume level.  When I’ve used the Classic in small-sided games, I’ve had players cover their ears more than once.  A traditional pea whistle might be a better choice for small sided games.

Fox 40 Pearl

Almost identical to the Fox 40 Classic, but with a lower tone, the Fox 40 Pearl is an ideal whistle for crowded parks.  The lower tone is easily distinguishable from whistles on nearby fields.  Like most referees, I prefer a more biting, high-pitched tone, but the Pearl is great when you need a differentiating tone.

Fox 40 Sonik Blast

You have to be careful with this beast.  The Fox 40 Sonik Blast is one LOUD whistle, and it is fairly easy to blow to boot.  It has a unique four-chamber design and features a piercing, high-pitched tone.  I keep this on my wrist lanyard as my backup.  For upper level games, I use this as my primary whistle.  If you like the Dolfin, you might find you prefer the Sonik Blast.  The combination of loud, shrill and easy to blow makes for one great whistle.

Acme Whistles

Acme, based in England, is one of the oldest whistle makers in the world.  Their pea-whistles were the world standard for many years, and, in fact, I still own a “vintage” model from the 1970s, when they were still made in England (the pea models are now made in Taiwan).  When Fox 40 came out with the pealess design, Acme was relegated to a seconday role in whistle production.  Now, Acme has a complete line of pea-based and pealess whistles, all of which are quite good.

Vintage Pea

For reference purposes, let’s look at the vintage Acme pea whistle.  For years, this whistle was the sound of soccer/football referees all over the world.  I still prefer to use this whistle for small-sided games.  It is easy to tweet, has a familiar sound, and players don’t cover their ears when I blow it.

Acme Tornado 2000

The first thing you notice is how large the Acme Tornado is.  If you need a bit more surface to grip, this whistle might be a good choice.  In terms of tone, it is very similar to a Molten Dolfin, being very high pitched and quite loud.  It is relatively easy to blow, although it can be a little hard to get a soft tweet from.

Acme Cyclone

This pealess whistle is similar in shape to the Tornado 2000, but the surface area on the Cyclone is a bit smaller than the T2000.  In terms of tone, the Cyclone is pitched a little higher than the T2000.

Acme Thunderer

Give a listen to this small metal pea whistle.  Not sure you’ll ever want to use this in a match, as it is pitched much lower than the other whistles, but at least you’ll know what one sounds like.

In Summary

All in all, I prefer the Fox 40 whistles to Acme.  They have a better “feel” in the mouth than the Acme whistles.  That being said, I have used the Cyclone in matches and have found it to be entirely reliable.  And, as I said earlier, the small Acme pea whistle in the black plastic variety is still a very good whistle for small-sided games.