Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: England, North East
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Yeah I agree with these guys, it's mostly the rider. Some boards will be more to your personal preference, some will make different parts of snowboarding easier, but at the end of the day if you're a decent rider you'll be able to shred ok on a board that isn't exactly how you'd like it.
That said, if you're trying to learn something, like say, you're brand new to freestyle, a soft, short, freestyle oriented board will make a positive difference. My first board was a Rome Anthem, 158 cm. I wanted to try some freestyle type stuff, and switched to a 155cm Rome Agent, it felt totally different.
As for some of the smaller differences between brands, and the incremental changes they make each season, I'd say that's less important. If you're riding a board that's designed for freestyle, you're not going to be worse off because you're missing feature X that's available elsewhere.
For example, I spent a few winters riding a 155 Nitro T2. It was a fairly stiff, twin tip all-mountain freestyle board. Something like the DH at the same length would have been more suited to my needs, but I got along fine on the Nitro...