Stretto vs Boveda

Edited: November 19, 2020, 12:44 PM · As mentioned in a recent thread I do have an inexpensive warm mist humidifier and one of David's control units. My luthier has strongly suggested I add an in-case humidifier given where I live, and my instrument has obviously had previous cracks. A beautiful sound, and it's also had it's adventures over the last 100+ years.

I've a Boveda I bought last year but never used as it wouldn't fit in my previous case. Unsure I like it against my instrument. The Stretto seems to be recommended as well, though it is more expensive - and the bags seem to last longer?

Pros and cons of both in-case options? Leaning toward the Stretto based on reviews.

I don't think I will need to add the in-case option for a bit longer so I've time to research a bit. My humidifier will likely go on in the next week or so - when my room hygrometer drops <40%. It does get tested periodically with the saline test.

Thanks in advance!

Replies (21)

November 19, 2020, 12:14 PM · Boveda will last a few months, normally. Stretto, I think, requires regular re-filling, and that involves a modicum of skill and irritation.

The big problem with Boveda is, as you say, finding a place to put it. It is easiest with cases that have a lot of open space, like the oblong Timms style. I have found that with more tightly-constructed ones, you can put one under the scroll, and perhaps wrap a handkerchief around it.

November 19, 2020, 12:44 PM · My new Bobelock case has plenty of room for it, and for some reason I didn't think it lasted as long as the Stretto. Good to know!
November 19, 2020, 2:18 PM · As long as it has a gelatinous consistency, you are OK. When it starts feeling granular, it has had it. If you have to use it to hydrate a case and violin in 8% RH, that may come sooner. But we are normally talking weeks or months instead of days.
November 19, 2020, 5:08 PM · Good to know, also finding out the humidity levels differ in my apartment. If this holds I may store my instrument in a different room than I practice in.
November 19, 2020, 10:24 PM · We just had our daughter's cello repaired at Potter's. The luthier there saw that we were using a Boveda system, and he advised us to use two Dampits instead and to refresh them daily. This is a $9000 cello. Yes it's possible to refresh Dampits in such a way that they do not drip water inside your instrument.
Edited: November 20, 2020, 7:18 AM · Good to know Paul! I'm too nervous to try the Damipts right now, but will hold that option open. I'm also hoping the better/tighter construction of my Bobelock case will help manage this as well.

It's rather interesting to see just how much the humidity differs (lower) in my music/home office room than the rest of my apartment. Somehow I didn't think that it could differ that much in an apartment but I guess it goes down to the construction - and is why my luthier is recommending both room and in-case solutions.

My cheap humidifier is FAR too loud for either practice or working so I've ordered a slightly more expensive cool mist ultrasonic that is highly rated for a quiet operation and also for efficient use of water. Pity my first humidifier sprung a leak after 2 years... I won't make any changes regarding which room to store my violin, and place the humidifier, until full winter arrives. The humidity plummeted yesterday as the weather patterns change so it's time to experiment.

Edited: November 20, 2020, 7:39 AM · One difference with the cello is that when you hang the Dampits in there, they don't dangle all over the inside surfaces of the instrument. I use an old-fashioned steam humidifier in the room where I keep my violin and my viola.

"Cool mist" humidifiers are terrible unless you charge them with distilled water, and that's going to be expensive and cumbersome at $1.50 per gallon from the supermarket. Cool mist devices spray droplets of LIQUID water which still contains all of the minerals in your tap water and when the water evaporates from the droplets (which is the whole point) then the minerals will deposit on everything in your room -- your instruments (unless they are in their cases), electronics, artwork, etc. I am wanting to know what "efficient use of water" means because it sounds like advertising BS from the manufacturer. Steam vaporizers will always be the best unless you have a baby crawling around who could be scalded.

Edited: November 20, 2020, 11:25 AM · After several different cheaper humidifiers and a leaky Dampit, I switched to a Venta airwasher, to humidify the apartment. Quiet, easy to maintain, and it does the job. Highly recommend this brand.
November 20, 2020, 8:06 AM · I always use distilled or purified water in any humidifier - our water is VERY hard. Apparently this one doesn't use a lot of water - and the reviews (if real) bear that out. Of course that's a huge assumption - good point on the cool mist ultrasonic style of humidifier, thanks!

I suppose I don't HAVE to use distilled water in a steam humidifier - hmmm

November 20, 2020, 8:34 AM · No, you don't HAVE to use distilled water in a steam humidifier. Some of them won't even work with distilled water, because they rely on some mineral content to make the water conductive to electricity.
November 20, 2020, 8:49 AM · Thanks David - pity my current small Sunbeam vaporizer is so blasted loud...I've canceled the order I made last night to give me a bit more research time.
Edited: November 20, 2020, 11:49 AM · My practice studio is the same room as my home office. I find that the vaporizer (steam) is quiet enough that I can ignore it while I am working. If I want pure quiet while I am practicing, then I just unplug it for that interval. As David has correctly noted, generally the steam vaporizers require the water inside to have some modest electrical conductivity so the owner's manual will suggest adding a pinch of salt (I use baking soda) to the water, but only a small pinch. But our water is pretty soft, maybe around 50 ppm total hardness. (In the lab course I teach at Virginia Tech, measuring the total hardness of the local tap water is one of our experiments. All around our geography is limestone/karst so you'd think the water would be harder, but the New River is actually fairly soft.) However, if your water is really hard, you'll find that scale builds up on the electrodes of your steam humidifier pretty quickly. If you have an in-home water softener then your tap water should work fine, because the magnesium and calcium (and possibly iron) in your water supply will have been mostly exchanged for sodium in the softener, and ionic compounds of sodium are much more soluble. Otherwise, again you should follow the manufacturer's instructions for de-scaling your steam humidifer. I suppose you could also consider rainwater or snowmelt collection for your humidifer.

If you're getting condensation on the inside of your windows then you're kind of maxed out on how much moisture you can pump into your room air, because all you're doing then is transferring water from the humidifier to the window. You can super-saturate the air a little, but only a little. I'd be interested in any comments from anyone who has a feel for how much supersaturation is possible in a typical room with maybe a couple of windows. But if your windows are old single-pane jobs or otherwise energy-inefficient, you might consider a vinyl replacement window job for your studio.

Edited: November 20, 2020, 3:35 PM · Catherine, you don't find the bubbling sound pleasant and soothing, like the sound of a babbling brook? ;-)

I do like Paul does, unplugging mine when I need to listen to instruments critically. The low-humidity alarm on the control unit comes in handy when I forget to plug the steamer back in, which has happened several times. I think I've set my low humidity alarm to go off at 35% humidity.

One nice thing about the Sunbeam model 1388-800 "warm mist" vaporizers is that when they build up internal mineral deposits to the point where they stop working well, it's very inexpensive to just buy a new one. I often find them on the internet for around $15.

Catherine, the "Venta Airwasher" will indeed remove minor amounts of pollen and dust from the air, but then these end up in the water reservoir, where they are a growth medium for mold and bacteria. When this contaminated water is evaporated from the wheels, some of the growths will go back into the room air. As an allergy sufferer, I did not find this acceptable. Nor do I find the price acceptable. My goal has been to provide people with the lowest-cost options which are capable of doing a superior job. If a humidification setup gets too expensive, most people will simply not do it, and that would defeat my purpose.

November 20, 2020, 1:06 PM · The thing about apartment dwelling is I can't change the windows :-) They are 2-pane however, and they just replaced the window on my studio/home office. I need to get used to bubbling sounds and I CAN unplug it when I need to do so.

Also David - both of your units doesn't have an alarm do they? I don't think mine does, just checking to see if I missed that.

Edited: November 20, 2020, 3:36 PM · Again I agree with David that the low-price steam units are basically disposable, although it seems a shame, particularly when you consider that the low price is only because (a) it's probably made in a sweat shop somewhere and (b) it's mostly made of plastic, for which we never pay "full price" if you consider the environmental impacts of petroleum extraction and plastic in our waste streams. The 2-gallon water reservoir is high-density polyethylene, however, which is recyclable. What I wish is that Sunbeam would just sell the head portion alone, or that they would design it with more invasive maintenance procedures in mind instead of just molding and snapping the thing together so that you can't take it apart without destroying it.

What would be really great is a "humidifier" that is JUST the head portion that would be designed to sit on the top of a standard five-gallon pail.

Maybe one of us should make a video on de-scaling your humidifier head. Should be at least as popular as the hundreds of YouTube videos that show you how to take the door off your microwave oven.

Edited: November 20, 2020, 3:39 PM · The Sunbeam 1388-800 "warm mist" vaporizer, combined with the Willhi humidity control unit are what I am pushing right now (and what I use myself), the result of years of testing multiple things. Back when the Greenair controller was the best thing on the market, I pushed those too. If something better comes along, I'll be all over it.

Here's a link to one source of the Willhi controllers: (I can furnish them, but it will cost more than purchasing them from other sources, since I need to buy them at retail unless I order something like 1000 pieces).

November 20, 2020, 7:03 PM · I really appreciate the comments, and I will stick with the bubbling Sunbeam and upgrade my controller with the one David linked to with the alarm. The Dayton won't go unused.
Edited: November 21, 2020, 6:33 AM · Oh, the Dayton. The advantage of the Dayton is that it's very simple to use. Just turn the dial to set the desired humidity. The disadvantages are that it will only control a humidifier (not a dehumidifier), and that it has no other features such as alarms, the ability to set the spread between "on" and "off", or the ability to correct the humidity level shown on the display.

The Willhi requires going through multiple programming steps to set all the various features. The procedure is complicated enough that even though I have done it many times, I still need to refer to the instructions and maybe make more than one attempt. But it should be manageable by anyone who can find their way around a smart phone, or the touch-screen settings on their car. Or one can get the kids or grandkids or neighbor kids to do it. They grew up with these sorts of things, and are often much better at things like this than I am.

I grew up in the era of cars with manual roll-up windows. LOL

The Dayton:

Edited: November 21, 2020, 1:08 PM · David, as you noted on your website, the Dayton readings aren't trustworthy. So I test my other hygrometers and use that to estimate the best setting for the Dayton. That being said, now I've invested rather more in my "new" instrument I want more accuracy to hopefully help prevent an avoidable expensive repair and the price isn't bad. Thanks again for the recommendation!
Edited: November 22, 2020, 3:19 AM · "I grew up in the era of cars with manual roll-up windows. LOL"

You struck a chord there! When we had satellite TV installed the guy was explaining how the remote worked and it started to sound like something between quantum mechanics and deep space exploration.

I guess the look on my face gave me away, because the guy said, "do you have any kids?" To my positive reply, he said, "don't worry, they'll figure it out in two minutes." Which they did, of course.

November 25, 2020, 7:18 PM · The new humidifier controller suggested by David works well and the programming is straightforward. I decided on the Boveda for now - I thought it best to go ahead and start using it before winter really settles in to keep consistent conditions.

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