I don't have any of the big name handles you mention, but I do have Shavemac knots is a couple of my Rudy Vey custom handles. My starting nine on my brush team (with RV Muhle in the bullpen warming up). From left to right, Ever Ready, Rudy Vey, Wolf Whiskers, Omega, Rudy Vey, Wolf Whiskers, RazoRock, Rudy Vey, Ever Ready. One day I might search out a Simpson, Thater, Rooney or the like, but I doubt they are any better than what I have assembled. Just sayin.
I have sold off all of my badger brushes except for an original release New Forest, in favour of Shavemac 2-band silvertip knots. I have one Shavemac handle - a beehive. Then I have Shavemac knots in Rooney Emilion, Simpson Case and Simpson 58 handles. I also have one boar brush - a Semogue 610. These 6 brushes are what I have stuck with after owning at least 50 brushes through the years, including the true Rooney Heritage and Rooney Finest knots, Simpson Manchurian, Saville Row, Kent, Thater, Vie Long, Shavemac 3-band Silvertip, D01 and D01 2-band. I have yet to find a knot I like better than the Shavemac 2-band Silvertip (although I liked the true Rooney gel tips just as much). Having said this I haven't tried Paladin because they don't ship to Canada and I've stayed away from some of the newer brush makers because of the extravagant prices.
I have been using a boar bristle brush (I almost type bore; well I suppose it could be used to clean the bore of a cannon). Anyways, a Semogue 1800. Wonderful brush. I started my boar bristle use with a Semogue 830 for years but recently got the 1800. I like the handle shape of the 1800 much, much better. The bristles on both are pretty equivalent. I still have a nice Rooney (forget the model;style 1, size 2 or something like that) and a Dovo; both badger hair. The Dovo is 12 years old (my first shaving brush) and the olive wood handle is now gorgeous now that it has aged; very dark when I first got it. Got the Rooney not long after; probably have had it 10 years.
My favorite brush is a Vulfix Grosvenor handle with a Shavemac 3-Band Silvertip knot.
I think Kent could do a lot more business if they were to offer some lower lofts since so many people, including myself, just feel they are too floppy. I would definitely buy another Kent BK4 if they were to offer it with a 5-6mm lower loft.
Maggard SHD 28mm Bulb in a blue resin handle, also from Maggard. I have been picking this up instead of my Kent BK8, instead of my Muhle Silvertip, and despite the fact that it's a lather hog. I just like the way it feels - for me, it's just the right combination of softness and backbone.
There are definitely more options now when it comes to cheap brushes that are actually good; semogue, omega and modern synths do the job and cost about as much as a couple of coffees. For a badger brush though simpsons, shavemac etc are still superior. You can get something special from a brand that has existed for more than 5 minutes and will be recognisable 10 years from now. So yeh, lots of good deals in brushes, but not ALL the new brushes are great value; a homemade handle with a generic Chinese plug is no way no how in the same league as a Shavemac or Simpson.