an online community for flutists.
I'd say this was the forum for your question, but I noticed you've also asked it in a different forum.
In case the reply you have over there gets lost, Here is a link to it (just click on the highlighted word Here).
I am new to Flutist Connect and saw your inquiry. I've been teaching and playing for over 30 years and have tried all kinds of flutes. Have you tried Di Zhao Flutes? I couldn't help but notice your exclamation about cheap "Chinese" stuff, but not everything is cheap from China. Most flutes now are made in China. Armstrong I believe is made there now also. Although Di Zhao flutes are assembled in China, the head joints are hand carved in Boston by Di Zhao and they are hand finished also here in the United States. Di Zhao is probably the most renowned flute maker in the industry today. Having worked as Powell's master flute maker and Vice President of Quality, and then Vice President of Manufacturing for Wm. S. Haynes, he comes with outstanding credentials.
I wouldn't call Di Zhao's flutes cheap (but you might think so from the price), but I would call them extremely affordable. Visit www.thefluteloft.com. There you will find detailed descriptions for each model flute, prices, sound bytes, and testimonials.
I personally own these instruments and LOVE them. Many members of my professional flute ensemble Flutatious (www.flutatious.org) also own Di Zhao Flutes.
I hope this information is helpful.