Design of solo/mute icons on mixer
Last day I stumbled upon a pull request made by @SolarGranulation, where, among other things, new icons for the mixer were provided with "familiar visual cues to illustrate button functions". Currently, the icons for "solo" and "mute" are their first letters (first part of images 1 and 2).
@SolarGranulation suggested replacing the "M" button with a slashed loudspeaker (the standard sound icon), and the "S" button, with a slightly smaller sound icon which has two little slashed sound icons on the left (second part of image 1).
I really liked that proposal, but some objections were arised. I've come up with a few variations with the hope that the idea will be still considered.
The first variation (third part of image 1) is an attempt at making the two icons resemble a lot, which results in a lot of loudspeakers, which is exactly what @mkruselj didn't like.
The second one, an attempt at reducing visual clutteredness by using three little slashed loudspeakers for the solo button. The context is provided by the other button -big and one for this instrument, small and a few for the others-.
The last variation is the one I like the most. Instead of using slashed loudspeakers for the solo button, which refer to the other instruments, it shows a loudspeaker illuminated by a spotlight. The icon could also be taken for an isolation tube, another valid interpretation. It's kind of the same concept used by soundtrap (pointed up by @anatoly-os in the PR comments), but I think it delivers it brighter and clearer.
The second image was made from the mixer v1 of MU4 @Tantacrul showed us, contrasting it with the last variation I suggested.
The pros? People who don't speak English and/or don't have experience with mixing programs will have it -presumably- easier to understand the meaning of the icons, aligning with the intuitiveness aimed for the next versions of MuseScore.
The cons? First, and it's a very valid concern, it goes against the industy standard of using S and M. For people accustomed to this, it could end up being more counter-intuitive than some other icons, if those were not well designed! Second, I'm not very experienced in graphic design: the icons I made need some polishing if they are going to be used. Namely, the "solo" button is still a little bit visually overcharged.
All in all, I think a pictogram is more universal than a letter, because a person shouldn't need to be familiar with the latin alphabet to be able to make music. I think we should push for that change.
Anyway, that was it. What are your thoughts on the matter? How could these icons be improved?