Anyone out there who is a woodwind player knows the nightmare that is having to deal with reeds. They are expensive and finicky. You are lucky if you get a couple in a box of ten that are good. At one point I used to be one of those individuals who would sit there an sand my reeds, tweaking them to try and get them to be better. It was a pain and it honestly never worked.
I have had my eye on various artificial reeds now for a while. Reviews are mostly positive about them, but you always see purists who just won't have anything of them. I noticed that someone in my section was playing on a Légère reed a few weeks ago and she said she loved it since she picked it up. That was it for me after dealing with another night of a sub-par feeling Vandoren.
I ordered a Légère the very next day. It was not cheap, around $30 on Amazon. When it arrived two days later I put it on my clarinet and the difference was noticeable right away. It was immediately responsive when playing and I knew right then and there that I would probably never play on a cane reed again. Why had I waited so long to get one of these?
Now, playing on the Légère does feel a bit different than a traditional reed. First off, the surface is incredibly smooth and my bottom lip was initially sliding all over the place. The overall reed characteristics are also different than a normal reed. The tone is for the most part excellent, but if you aren't careful with your embouchure, the open holed notes like the middle G, A and Bb can sound very "plasticy". The rest of the notes above the break and in the low register sound great though and with a little bit of careful playing the open tones sound fine as well.
I initially had some trouble playing the high register notes well above the staff, like the high E, F and G. I think I may have been biting down on the reed too much, causing it to stop vibrating. I think most of that will just come with some time on the reed.
I'll also have to see how long the reed really lasts. Will it last a year? More? Less? We'll see, but I am super pleased with my initial impressions.