I went mad and bought myself the Aulos Symphony in a pre-Christmas sale, so I thought it might be as well to report on what I found. In short, there is virtually no difference at all between it and the Yamaha. In fact, I would say I slightly prefer the latter having now tried both. There is very little difference in tone: the Aulos might be ever so slightly less bright, but there is not a lot in it. Both are brighter than my wooden instruments. It all comes down to taste really: some people pay a fairly hefty premium for instruments in grenadilla or ebony specially to get a brighter sound. A few points:
- The Aulos has a separate hole for C# whereas the Yamaha has a C key that has a hole in the pad which is opened for C#. I think this makes the Aulos slightly easier to play and a slightly stronger note. They both operate with similar keys, plastic and fairly fragile-looking. The ones on the Yamaha look like they are probably a bit stronger, but overall there’s not much to differentiate them.
- Finger hole spacing and key placement is virtually identical.
- First octave G# on the Yamaha is 012-456- whereas the Aulos needs 6 to be half-holed. I prefer the Yamaha arrangement, but that comes down to personal preference.
- The notorious E-D trill is really easy on the Aulos because 0123456- gives a good in-tune D (very flat on the Yamaha).
- The 2nd register is more in tune on the Yamaha: it’s quite flat on the Aulos, especially from A onwards.
- Both play a good high C# with Ø1-345-7 – it’s particularly in tune on the Yamaha
- The Yamaha seems to have a very slightly better finish. They are virtually identical in weight at about 370g.
Overall, they are both pretty good instruments for the cost, and which to choose comes down to small items of personal preference. Since I have both, I’d probably use the Yamaha more, but I’d use the Aulos for the E-D trill which is great! If I were to buy one, quite honestly I would get whichever was cheaper.