I've been printing for close to 4 years with an HP Z3100 and now an Epson 4900. I have a fine, well-calibrated monitor, used home-brew profiles on the HP printer, and have been using the Epson profiles for the 4900. I'm quite adept at softproofing and using adjustment layers to bring the softproofed image back as close to the original as possible. I have a Just Normlicht print viewer which is adjusted so that my prints show no surprises compared with the softproofed versions on my displayMy images usually cover the full tonal range with fairly well saturated color, and I have settled on Epson Luster and Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl for most of my prints and Canson Baryta Photographique and Ilford Gold Fiber Silk for exhibition and sales. These papers do amazingly well for reproducing the full tonal range of my B&W images as well as the range and degree of saturation in my color images. All this to say that I know how to make prints.
At the Photo Expo Plus exhibition this fall I looked closely at matte paper, and was impressed with the prints I saw there using Epson Hot and Cold Press papers, as well as matte papers of some other manufacturers. What surprised me was that they seemed to have deep blacks and better contrast and saturation, so I picked up some sample packs to try out. I was shocked when softproofing my images, in that for black and whites the contrast was reduced so much, and the blacks seemed much less dark on the B&W images, and the saturation and contrast on the color images were also very diminished compared with my non-matte papers mentioned above. No amount of tweaking the softproofed images was able to bring back enough of the dynamic range of the B&W images or the contrast and saturation of the color images to satisfy me, and the prints simply verified that, matching my softproofed images.
Am I missing something? Or were the sample prints I saw at the Photo Expo chosen with a limited range of blacks, and color that was carefully selected to maximize what the papers could do? I know that if I picked some of my images that called for less contrast and saturation they would probably do well on the matte papers, but in my own test prints of full-range images the results were disappointing.