As a Pearl flute owner I had to get in on this conversation. I bought my flute used from Brandon Fields almost two decades ago so my model is obsolete by now. Brandon sold it to me when he got a Haynes flute. I have to admit that I love my Pearl flute quite a bit. As a jazz player I especially love the fact that it has a very wide range of expressive tonal quality to it. In other words, I can contour my tone to the style of music/ emotion I am playing--it can play very sweet as well as very aggressive
. My Pearl was a replacement of a Yamaha flute. I personally do not like Yamaha flutes very much. While it is true that they play in tune and have a big beautiful tone, they are not very expressive. I like to describe the Yamaha sound as, "what you see (hear) is what you get." In other words, it sounds great but it always sounds the same no matter what. Therefore, I often recommend it to saxophonists who double on flute but aren't really serious about their flute playing. They can sound great with the least amount of effort. And while I myself play saxophone, I am a flutist who doubles on sax. The Pearl has done me very well over the years. The reason I was reading this post is because I'm now considering switching to a Haynes or Powell. The reason I'm moving away from Pearl isn't because of the quality of instrument but because of the lack of options and the poor customer service I've experienced with Pearl. I'm looking to upgrade to a higher level of and instrument and I noticed that Pearl no longer offers a C foot option which I don't like. I barely ever actually play a low B (although it's nice to have). But the extra note also changes the harmonic overtone response of the whole instrument so on tunes where I won't be playing a low B but will be playing some crazy overtone stuff, I want the low C foot. From what I can tell, Haynes still offers the option. As far as customer service, Pearl never answers my emails/ calls. I am also a professional repairman and I just can't get Pearl to accommodate my need for pads/etc. Last point: while their 'pinless' mechanism holds up very well over time (I've never repadded or serviced my own flute in almost 20 years of playing several hours/ day), I've worked on other Pearl flutes and the mechanism isn't very repairman friendly.