Posted by Lew on April 22, 2002 at 12:52:23:
In Reply to: Mirafone vs. posted by ED on April 22, 2002 at 10:29:37:
I would also suggest avoiding the St. Pete, primarily due to the quality of the workmanship. The Yamaha 631 is the only compensating horn among those you mentioned, and it is a 3+1 valve configuration (ie the 4th valve is played with the left hand). Whether you like this configuration is a matter of personal preference, but I prefer 4 valves in line.
There are differences among the others, but which one is best for any one person will vary based on the player. I don't think that cost is a good indication of the capability of the horn. I really like the sound and playability of the new King 2341. I too had an older model and much prefer the new model. The VMI 103 and Cerveny 681/686 play very similarly to me. They both have a more focused sound than the King when I play them. I prefer the broader "American" King sound. Of the Cervenys I really prefer the 686 to the 681. The MW-25 is a very well made horn, but the ones I have played all felt a little stuffy, especially in the low range. I have played some 186s that I have liked a lot. They had a little more complex sound than the VMI or Cerveny and were a little freer blowing. I have only tried a 2 Miraphone 191s, but both of them played well and had a very nice sound. I would rate it a little better than the 186. Part of this may be the compact design of the 191 that puts the bell closer to the players ears.
If I had to rank them I would put them:
1. New King 2341
2. Miraphone 191
3. VMI 3301
4. Miraphone 186
5. Cerveny 686
6. Meinl-Weston 25
7. VMI 2103
If you are planning to spend this much money on a new tuba then it is worth a 4 hour drive to try them out. If you buy from a large dealer they are likely to have a trial period, but even so you would end up paying for shipping cost both ways if it turns out not to be for you. Be thankful that you can find someplace to try out many different horns within 4 hours. Taking a day and doing this is certainly better than buying something on reputation or someone else's recommendation and finding that it just isn't right for you.