Thanks Scotty! Your experience indicates to me that it actually may be a difference in sound, however small. I dear not say that I have very sensitive hearing, but I suspect I might and that small differences in sound that others may not appreciate will be of decisive value to me.
That being said, I've decided to give the Suzuki SCX-48 a chance. I won't sleep well at night if I don't. I have not totally forgotten the Seydel though even though I think my next harmonica may be a Hohner.
I should tell you that I'm not the only one of my friends to feel the same way about the Suzuki 'sound'. It's been a topic of conversation among several people I know. I initially broached the subject and then slowly, others would carefully add their own experiences. We all have different levels of hearing as well, methinks.
I do need to add, though...that your initial description of 'the perfect harmonica at a reasonable price' might be translated far differently by different people. To MY mind, it meant the average player looking for a 'bargain'. Most harmonica players do not want to spend a lot of money on a single instrument.
When you then allowed $700 - $800 as 'reasonable', I confess I nearly fell of my chair
While I could afford to buy such an instrument, I simply would not since I like to play different keyed instruments within the same line, which would then become exceedingly pricey.
I'd guess that most people who are Slidemeisters and who log in here consider themselves fortunate to be able to spend $100 - $200 (tops) on their dream chromatic (at the high end). It most definitely is all in one's perspective.
Now that we understand your definition of 'reasonable',
it definitely ups the ante. I'd suggest contacting someone such as Joe Piccirrilli (a Slidemeister here), who custom makes the most stunningly beautiful instruments with all of the bells and whistles one could possibly wish for. I'm sure he could satisfy your needs using an original body by any of the previously named chromatics. It'd be your choice.
The only reason I don't yet own one of his is that I truly do want a CX-'16' in A and B more than anything else (they don't yet exist), and no one is making them after Brendan Power created/customized them in C for a while out of CX-12's (before my time). My other dream chromatic is an original Renny (made by Douglas Tate and Bobbie Giordano), which I think of as an unattainable dream because I simply cannot justify it in my life at this time.
Elizabeth (a/k/a Scotty)
PS: I do own several Super 64's with the Silverplate mouthpieces and find no difference in 'slipperiness' with the 12 hole Seydel Deluxe I previously mentioned. I'm a dry player and do like slick surfaces, ergo my reason for playing the CX-12's. They're perfect for dry players and have amazing tone for the music I play.