Re: Buffet EX soprano v Buffet S1 soprano
So the Buffet Expression (EX) - a stencilled early Keilwerth SX90 I believe - has arrived, and is in pretty nice condition. There were some issues out of the box, which I thought might be down to the poor packaging it got shipped in from the US. Upon closer investigation the issues were actually down to pads that been 'seated' with a minimal amount of shellac. The type in question was similar in texture to a Beaugnier on its original factory pads (a consistency and look of tahini sauce when heated up), which made me think the pads were probably the original factory ones (domed, rivet-less metal).
Here is what I mean by minimal:
So having applied a proper amount of shellac to a few of the pads that were most obviously not perfectly sealing, and having replaced the neck cork, it was ready to have a go, next to the Buffet S1.
The EX has a slightly larger bore entry than the S1 (8.57mm vs 8.33mm) whereas the S1 has a slightly larger bell flare by a couple of mms. That says the cone is likely more pronounced on the S1 given its shorter body. The S1 is shorter than any other modern soprano I've tried, and I feel there is something unique about its body shape which perhaps lends it its distinct character. Both have quite large bore entry measurements compared with my Conn New Wonder II soprano (7.48mm).
Key work on both is very comfortable. Build quality of both is very high and both feel like solid professional horns. The S1 weighs in heavier at 1420 grams vs the EX's 1352 grams. There's no unwanted movement in either mechanism.
I played both with 2 mouthpieces - a Riffault R4 opened up to 5* and a Drake Jazz 6.
The Keilwerth has a smooth tonal quality that allows it to play warm and clean. There's a nice buzz to it and it's got plenty of power and projection when pushed. Very even across the registers. Tuning is nice and altissimo is amazingly easy with a full sound.
In contrast the S1 has more grit. It might even be a shade warmer than the Keilwerth, but it feels brighter and a bit more direct, because of that grit. There's also a grain to the S1's sound that is incredibly alluring - a touch of huskiness. The S1 delivers bottom notes smoothly and effortlessly comparatively, but that may also reflect a few more pads that will need attention on the EX.
I'm delighted to have picked up the Buffet Expression, especially at a price reflecting a poor description on eBay. It offers something else. Compared to the S1 it feels like a more modern horn, offers a cleaner sound, yet competes with the S1 for warmth and adds some tonal silkiness. It's also a little bit more spread.
Here are some pictures:
View attachment 268304