Sonare by Powell PS55BEFK Flute – The Best Flute in 2017?

You won’t believe which is becoming the best flute in 2017!

We are excited to add the Sonare by Powell line of flutes to our offerings at Hyson Music. We had received a sample a while back and wanted to put it through the paces before deciding it was worth adding to our intermediate and pro flute line-up.

Evaluating the Flute

We took delivery of a PS55BEFK model flute, part of the PS-505 series. The PS55BEFK model denotes that it’s a PS-505 series with an offset-G, a split-E, and a 9K Aurumite lip plate on a sterling silver head.

About a week after receiving the flute we attended the New York All-State NYSSMA Winter Conference in Rochester, NY. As an exhibitor, we always bring a collection of step-up and professional level instruments, as this festival is loaded with some of the finest high-school musicians throughout New York State.

Each year we find a buzz around a particular instrument, for example last year it was the P. Mauriat System 66 Unlacquered tenor saxophone that was getting all the attention. Of course it didn’t hurt we were the only vendor who decided to bring the horn for demo! We had brought some other ‘cool’ instruments with us this past year, like the new Yamaha CSV-R clarinet, which we sure would be a fan favorite, but to our surprise a very talented student politely asked if he could try some flutes. After playing through several brands he landed on the Sonare flute and his eyes opened wide. He spent significantly more time playing the Sonare than he had the previous flutes, and when done was overwhelmed with joy and excitement over the tone and ease of play on the Sonare flute.

It was no surprise that within an hour of him running off we started to see a line of students building up to check out the Sonare PS55BEFK. “Hey, we heard this thing is awesome, can we play it?” exclaimed one student, followed up by “Woah! Is this that wild gold blended with silver lip plate the other kids have been talking about?”.

It was a long sad weekend for many of the other instruments we had brought on the trip, but the limelight remained on the Sonare PS-505 the entire weekend. In all fairness, the particular model we had with us, which was the PS55BEFK was one of the more unique flutes. Powell calls their lip plate material 9K Aurumite. It’s described as a patented blend of rose-gold and sterling silver. Their claim is you get the projection typically found in a sterling silver head, coupled with the warmth many flute players seek in gold plated lip plates. All the technical function of the material aside, it just looks really cool!

Variations on the PS-505 Series

There are many options available on the flute, but we strongly recommend sticking to the PS55BEFK model in most instances. It never hurts to have the split-E, even if you don’t think you ‘need’ it. There is something special about the Powell USA headjoint with the 9K Aurumite lip plate, and the price increase for this option is minimal, so why be boring? Lastly, there is the option of the Offset-G or Inline-G, and while we respect many professional flute players employ inline-G flutes, we have found over the past decade a large shift in thinking from many flute educators. Throughout the 90’s (yes, we were around back then) we found many educators were encouraging their students to move to in-line flutes. At the time their was a belief that the design of the offset-G sacrificed some level of tonal quality. While this may have been true at one point, I’m not sure anyone claims this in any flutes made today. We now find most educators now take the stance “why change?”. If you’ve played an offset-G on a student flute for ten years, why suddenly shift to an inline-g? Perhaps this will be its own article in the near future, but for now we do recommend the offset-G and the 9K Aurumite upgrade.

Summary

The PS55BEFK is simply a fantastic instrument, as is the entire PS-505 series of Sonare flutes. Is it the best flute in 2017? Well, it’s shaping up to be one of the top flutes, but flutes are subjective. While we share the love of the PS55BEFK that the students did, some flute players will always prefer the classic Yamaha playability and tone, or the ease of play on the Azumi, or increased resistence of the Geminhardt flutes.

We look forward to soon visiting the Powell factory not too far from our offices in New York and will be sure to give some factory tour updates along the way!

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