I'm a Grade 7 flutist and I'm going to be upgrading from my Yamaha flute. After some research, I've found three models I've been interested in and that are in my price range: Yamaha 674H, Altus 907, and Powell Signature Model (Slightly expensive).
My question is, based off of experience or standards, which of these flutes would be considered 'the best' out of the three. I know that it differs from player to player and all, but I do plan to test out these flutes before I choose which to purchase. This will be my last upgrade so I'm going to be playing it through college only as a hobby but I'm going to be entering competitions as well.
Also, I am upgrading from a Yamaha 221. I've been playing it for a while and have had no issues with it, it responds nicely. In the case that I don't have the chance to test the other flutes out, I will probably be leaning towards the Yamaha 674H but my past and current flute teachers recommend upgrading to a different flute.
Actually, I'm out of the country where I cannot contact either of my teachers. However, I can recall some of the reasons they urged me to upgrade which mostly revolved around tone.
My current Yamaha 221, it is a closed hole and due to my thin tone, notes from B3 to D4 sound...shrill? Split? (It's quite confusing to describe). My teacher said that open-holed flutes would suit my thin tone better and help improve my high notes. (It's not thin in a bad way, just naturally thin and full but not airy.) My teacher also said that I have reached full potential on my Yamaha. I'm stuck at that level where I can't improve since I'm using a student model.
If your Yamaha flute is in perfect adjustment, you should be able to produce fine tones all the way up the scale. Open holes aren't the automatic answer to solve tone problems!
You might want to visit a good flute shop and put different headjoints on your Yamaha student flute -- and have your flute checked and adjusted. You'll be surprised at the difference a high-quality headjoint will make to a student flute.
Teachers always say that "intermediate" flutes (open holes, etc) must follow "student" flutes for the student to make progress. Most people think that is nonsense. :-)
It is the quality of the headjoint that makes the most difference. The Yamaha 221 is considered to be one of the best flutes in terms of reliability -- if it is adjusted and if the pads are all sealing correctly. Many professional flute players use the Yamaha 221 for recordings and shows. The "student" headjoint that it comes with, however, is usually replaced with something of higher quality
I recently upgraded to an Amadeus 900 from a Yamaha 221. I love it so much. I have had several issues with my old flute, so yamahas were out of the question for an upgrade. I would recommend a Powell sonare, as it would be cheaper than the signature flute but still excellent quality. I would have gotten a sonare, but the one I liked was out of my price range. I have also heard better things about Altus than I have about Yamaha. I knew someone who texted about 40 flutes and her Altus stood heads and shoulders above them all.
I second the Amadeus or Sonare. And don't get anything from gemeinhardt. You may find that you sound good on it, but it won't last you very long. The poor craftsmanship is enough to make it not worth it. It may be tempting cuz gemeinhardt intermediate flutes are much cheaper than intermediate flutes of other brands, but I never can and never will vouch for them. There's a reason most people dislike them and constantly make fun of them. xD
Personally, I find that the body plays a huge role in my sound. You'll always sound like yourself no matter what, but I've tried a few Powell heads on my Muramatsu body and I got the same characteristic of sound as I did with the original head. The body does make a difference.
Powell and Muramatsu really aren't that different. They're both top-quality flute brands with well-made headjoints and excellent body craftsmanship. No matter how you play, you'll probably sound good on both. Of course people have their preferences, but either will take you far. Now, if you had tried an armstrong, artley, or gemeinhardt headjoint on the muramatsu, that would give you a VERY different effect.