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Thread: Miraphone 5050 vs Besson Prestige

  1. #1

    Miraphone 5050 vs Besson Prestige

    I'm in the process of testing new euphoniums that would possibly replace my current horn which is a Besson Prestige. Iíve owned my prestige since 2013 and itís a wonderful instrument, but Iím looking at Adams and Miraphone because Iím looking for a different sound. I am playing in a brass band but I want an instrument that would have a better pitch and blend for wind ensemble playing.

    I had the opportunity to visit Buckeye Brass and Winds in Plain City, Ohio. The owner, Rob Phillips, had a Miraphone 5050 in the shop that I was able to play next to my Prestige. Because his shop was formerly a Church, I was able to play in the old sanctuary where Rob and Dale, a local trumpet soloist and teacher, agreed to listen. Mouthpiece Iím using is a Parker 5G LaDuke.

    This is the feedback that I received:

    Besson Prestige: Rob stated that it has a tighter core, a sweeter sound but not necessarily a better sound that we agreed was more ďBritish.Ē Dale stated that the Besson was like being wrapped in.Ēcozy warm blanket.Ē

    Miraphone 5050: Rob stated that the Miraphone had more presence and had a bigger sound, maybe short of ďtubbyĒ but a different sound concept. Dale stated that the Miraphone had more color and depth and he preferred it. He did mention that he thought the high b natural was more in tune with the Besson, which was interesting because I have make an effort to play that note in tune.

    From the players end, the Besson valves are incredibly fast and are almost cornet fast. Everything is solid, and I would compare it to driving a BMW. The low B natural is a challenge, and the notes above high concert B flat are also note as easy to find due to the resistance. 6th partial is sharp and needs the trigger, but easy to play technical passages.

    The Miraphone was easy to play and free blowing, I could easily hit the high F and the reduced resistance may have been the reason. Pitch was reasonably consistent and I would tend to use the trigger less than I would with the Prestige. I was able to push both horns VERY hard with the solo form Mars and both handled it well. Miraphoneís valves were a bit more ďclunkyĒ and the position of the valve cluster seemed different compared to the Besson. The bell feels bigger and lighter on the Miraphone and it seems to ďringĒ more. I would compare it to driving a Lexus, everything is well built and well designed, does everything I want it to do, but different that the Besson.

    My next step is to play an Adams, which I played briefly at the Army Band clinic in 2020, right before the Covid shutdown. I only played for a short time there, but Iím hopeful to have an opportunity to play an Adams next to a Miraohone at Midwest next month. I didnít see Baltimore Brass on the vendor list this year, but I do see that Austin Custom Brass will be there.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Hi Scott and welcome to the forum!

    Iíve had my M5050 now for a little over eight years and still love it. Mine is without a trigger and really donít miss having a trigger. The worst note on the M5050 is concert ĎGí on the staff (treble clef ĎAí). Demondrae Thurman uses full trigger on that note but I use 3rd valve and itís perfectly in tune. The sixth partials are much better in tune than my Yamaha 641 and easily lipped. It is a big horn and weighs about 11 lbs. The lead pipe is mounted up higher on the bell than most other horns so you may be able to set it on your hip without having to hold it up or use a pad or pillow.

    The high ĎBí natural (concert) is in tune on my horn and easily played fingered with second valve.

    There are a lot of posts on the forum about the M5050 and here are three that you may find helpful:

    JTJ review (11 pgs long)

    Intonation and slotting:

    Shorter action:
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (recently sold)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank

    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    El Cumbanchero (Raphael Hernandez, arr. Naohiro Iwai)
    Greensleeves (arr. Alfred Reed)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Summerfield, Florida
    Welcome to the forum, Scott.

    I have owned 2 Besson Prestige euphoniums, one Miraphone M5050 (with trigger) and currently own an Adams E3 (with trigger).

    Just a few comments. My high B natural was close to "unobtanium" on the Bessons. It was a lousy note and I never played it in public. My first Prestige was a dog and I suspect just a plain lemon. The second was a much better horn. I had it for several years and liked it pretty good. The high B natural bothered me, of course. And the intonation was way off on the 6th partial. But I learned to play this horn and make it sound good, at least in my own opinion. But it never quite totally moved me.

    I had a Yamaha 832 in between the Besson and the Miraphone.

    The Miraphone, which I owned for a few years, was an outstanding horn. It had the best ever high B natural, and I challenge ANY horn to have a better, more playable high B natural. The M5050 was solid, a very nice sound, in fact, a huge sound. I soloed with this horn with a symphony orchestra, and it came through with flying colors. I loved this horn. It did seem to take more air than my worn-out lungs could sometimes produce. And that was the ONLY reason I opted for the next horn.

    I have owned the Adams E3 for 6 years or so. It is the best euphonium I have ever owned (or played). It is not twice as good as my Miraphone, or anything close to that, but in my humble opinion, it plays better and sounds better than any euphonium I have ever played. For me, it is just the ultimate euphonium. After 6 years, I am still excited to play it every day, and never tire of it at all. I love the sound/tone, and that is the number one thing I look for in a euphonium, everything else is secondary. The valves are good, not the best I have had, but good and solid. Ergonomics are good for me and my size. The horn is gorgeous, and I cannot tell you how many compliments I get on the horn. See my reviews and pictures, they are extensive.

    So, my short take on the three horns you are interested in. Hope you get a chance to really play an Adams E3 and put it through its paces. They are awesome horns. The Miraphone is as well. I have not played a Prestige recently, except for blowing on Steve Mead's for a little bit at ITEC 2019. As I was talking to him, he just handed it to me, and I stuck my mouthpiece in and away I went for a few minutes. It was nice, but I didn't get to play it long enough, and in a place that was quieter, to really determine how I liked it. I do think I did like it better than my previous Besson Prestige horns.

    Good luck in your journey. Looking for a new horn is such fun, few things in life that are better than that!!
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band, Ocala, FL (Euphonium)

  4. #4
    Thank you John and Rick for your helpful comments, I will keep these thoughts in mind as I continue to play test. I was quite impressed with the Adams instruments that I quickly tested in DC back in 2020, but I was unable to speak with Miel Adams nor find a quiet place to play at that time. I am curious to learn how well the sterling silver bell will project in an ensemble such as a brass band or large wind ensemble and I'm already prepared with list of questions about metal thickness and options. I do really want to put an Adams, my Besson, and a Miraphone side by side to make my best decision.

    Thanks again for your comments and advice.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Farmington Hills, MI
    Hi Scott. I canít comment on the M5050 nor directly on the Prestige but I chose an E3 Custom because of the reviews here and my perception of Prestige intonation issues. My Adams plays beautifully in tune, is very flexible, easily projects (SS bell, .6mm) and has a sweet tone. Itís also speaks well in the upper register. The only negative is the high cost with the SS bell.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Summerville (SC)
    Hi Scott, at ITEC 2019 I had the opportunity of trying out M5050, Prestige, and multiple variants of the Adams E3.

    My very favorite was the Miraphone M5050…. Shimmering with overtones, and the readiest/easiest to speak with a mere whisper of breath. Prestige sounded also gorgeous for its golden warm tone, while the Adams E3 with 0.70mm yellow brass bell was for me a close 2nd runner up.

    Having said the above, at MidWest it might be worth adding a visit to the S. E. Shires suite, and give a good playtest to its newest euphos…. The Custom euphonium and the Solo, which will probably start shipping spring 2022. I would also include the existing crop of Shires euphoniums…. The Q41 and Q40.

    By coincidence, Hiram Diaz has just posted his premere performance of the Davoren concerto for euphonium, which he performed on the new Shires Custom, using a 51D. In the URL below, his performance starts at approximately 12 minutes into the concert:

    Premiere of Euphonium Concerto by Tom Davoren - YouTube

    For the Q41, have a listen to Bente Illevold amazing interpretation of her own transcription of Tchaikovsky’s Variations On A Rococo’ Theme:

    Variations on a Rococo Theme - Euphonium and Piano - YouTube

    Please do keep us posted on your quest!

    Regards, Guido
    Wessex EP104 Festivo + DC4, SM4U, 51D

  7. #7
    I've owned and played a 5050, a Prestige, and multiple Adams euphs. I think, at an amateur level, it's largely a matter of taste and feel, what feels best to you and which sound works best for you. A good player can sound good, or even great, on any of them.

    If I had to guess I would say that an Adams is probably going to be the answer. But which configuration? If you do play one which you like and want, get that one, or one configured just like that, or you run the risk of going down the Adams rabbit hole of bell weights and metal types.

    For me, I have recently gone back to Adams after playing on a Yamaha Neo for a few years. The Neo is a great wind or brass ensemble euphonium and can blend with anything, but I missed the Adams free blowing feel, light playing touch and adjustable receiver.
    Last edited by JTJ; 11-25-2021 at 10:13 PM.

  8. #8
    I’ve owned 3 5050’s over 10 years. 2 were exceptional, and one was only very good. I love this instrument, and I have no desire to play any other euphonium. I’ve played the Planets with two different orchestras, and Bydlo with one, and the projection is great.

    I sold one of my prior 5050’s to a member of my quartet who has a very British sound concept, and he loves the instrument as well.

    As Rick said, the high B-natural is solidly in tune with 2nd valve and projects very well. As for tuning, it’s a very easy instrument to play in tune, and it’s very flexible. I use the trigger, as I prefer playing through the center of the pitch, but it’s quite lippable.

    For an example of the ultimate sound that can be achieved by this instrument, take a listen to the premiere of the orchestral version of the Barfield Concerto from last Saturday by Demondrae Thurman with the Bozeman Symphony linked below.

    I was in the hall for 2 rehearsals and 2 performances, and Demondrae easily soared over the orchestra.

    Don Winston

  9. #9
    I’ve owned the Miraphone 5050. I’ve never owned a horn with better build quality, and I’ve also had Hirsbrunner, Besson, and Yamaha.

    The weakness of the 5050 was the F E Eb above the bass staff. Alternates and trigger gave fine options. So I’d check out those, and check myself that I wasn’t overcompensating the horn when playtesting. It was awesome in orchestral setting on ein heldenleiben and planets. Fine in concert band. I went slightly smaller on the mouthpiece SM5 to get the sound I wanted.

    For brass band work, I preferred the British ‘ping’ of my sovereign, sweetly cuts through. Yam 642 was the best all-rounder, and if buying today Neo would be a good choice. I always preferred my Hirsbrunner on solo work, but it was home base since college so biased.

  10. #10
    I've owned a Miraphone 5050 and I currently own a gold lacquer prestige (floating lead pipe).

    The Miraphone valves are great. The trigger mechanism is ok, but a little bit fiddly in my opinion.

    The horn sounds very good, I would say more like a true tenor tuba voice than a traditional euphonium voice. Your sound profile preference should make it easy to make that decision. The 5050 did not work well at all for me in a brass band setting, as the euphonium voice needs to have more presence than I was able to generate with it. It's also a very large horn, so it takes a ton of air.

    The only real "problem" I had was the concert Eb in the middle of the bass clef was very flat, and the middle Bb was a bit flat (apparently a common thing on these horns).

    For me, the besson works better. The besson valves and trigger mechanism are my favorite of all I've tried in recent memory. (Adams, Yamaha, Willson, Geneva, Miraphone, Shires Q series)

    I have also owned 2 adams E3's, and they are very nice horns. This is all going to come down to preference. I will say that the besson 6th partial would be impossible to manage without a trigger, in my opinion. I don't get why they haven't addressed this design issue, but it is what it is.
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band

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