Many years ago, a friend of mine had a high end Takamine that sounded unbelievable. The notes just jumped out of it. I've played other acoustics as well, although they weren't in the same league as the Takamine they were pretty good. I don't think I've seen any high end Takamines in the stores I go to. But they do have the brands I've heard of the most: Martin and Taylor. I've always heard of how great the D28 and D18 are... Yesterday I went shopping, prepared to lay down some serious cash for the right guitar. I played 2 D18's, an D28 and several Taylors with price tags similar to the Martins. I was pretty underwhelmed. I thought these guitars would be cannons, but they sounded weak and muffled. People talking a few feet away pretty much drowned them out. A $235 Chinese acoustic (Eastman?) was louder and projected better. So was it dead strings? On all of them? Do I have unrealistic expectations? Is it hard to judge sound in a wide open showroom? Please give me your thoughts and recommendations.