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Here are 4 selected "gut string" violins from round 1.

 

Which do you prefer?

Which sounds more "Old Italian"?

 

Of course, any critiques would be welcome.

The venue wasn't great... player was standing ~6 feet in front of a hard wall.  Recording is from ~10 feet away.

Don, understanding and giving due weight to your caveats, this has been a very useful thread for me with my limited gut exposure (aside, that is, from my one-pack).  Many thanks!

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This has been a useful thread for me, too.  There are obviously some experienced ears out there that can hear things in a way that I can't yet.  

 

I'll drop a clue to the identity of one of the instruments, and it probably isn't too difficult to hear which one it might be:

post-25192-0-79070200-1413855436_thumb.jpg

 

This is the worn-out experimental fiddle where I sliced, weighted, and did anything possible with the only goal to get the impact spectrum to look kinda like what I thought would resemble and "Old Italian" spectrum, primarily killing off the peaks around 1 kHz.  I probably mortally wounded some other things, too... but it was interesting.  The external cleat on the upper trebel bout was to correct for a longitudinal knife slice that went too deep... i.e. completely through the top, with negative tonal consequences.

 

The VMAAI listening judges scored it 7th out of 31 played (just barely ahead of my "good" one); the playing judge scored it 27th.  That differential was expected, as it's a real energy hog, requiring a lot of bow to get it to go... in addition to its aesthetic unappeal and careless setup.  My "good" one scored much better with the playing judge.

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Thanks for this topic, Don. As usual, you've given us a lot to think about...

Deferences in hearing perception

Differences in personal taste, and how that might be linked to perception

Under ear vs in the hall

Anything else?

I'd still love to play #4. :)

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Oh, yeah, one more, for the professional makers, how did your typical tonal results influence your picks here?

On the playing side, for me, #1 reminds me of what I'm playing now, but when others play it it sounds more like #3. I thought #4 had a super rich, strong high end, without much in the noisy range. Very "old Italian."

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Difficult to judge without real speakers, and the headphones ..ergh...headphones, I do think the engine doppler effect on top of take #3 is cool, #4 has a pleasing lower register almost there - - higher register would give me some more engineering work -  all 4 could make it to an album, they certainly would add nicely one to another in a string section... #1 has interesting lower frequencies and more open, but the other 3 have a more packed up low mid....good thing I never had to engineer with headphones...I am allergic to headphones... .

 

,..oh well, sorry nothing concrete there..either way I got inspired by Don's brilliant quote and felt like making one myself,....pertaining to the recording...and life in general... :rolleyes:

 

"All possibilities are possible" - Carlo Bartolini

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A few more votes:

 

4, 1, 3, 2 - me, at the event, not knowing beforehand which violin was being played

3, 4, 2, 1 - one listening judge

1, 3, 2, 4 - the other listening judge

4, 1, 3, 2 - the playing judge (his vote counts twice)

 

I noted that the two listening judges scored instruments quite differently, but in comparing round 3 to round 1, the judges were quite consistent in their own scores, with the conclusion that the difference is primarily in personal preference, rather than inconsistency of some other sort.

 

The grand tally of MN voters looks very close between violins 3 and 4, with 1 a distant third, and 2 well established in last.  And they are:

 

1 - my VSA violin.  4th in final tone score, 2nd place overall (including workmanship).  At VSA, it did not make it out of the first round in either tone or workmanship.

 

2 - my crude fiddle shown earlier.  Sounds better than it plays.  I thought the experiment successfully killed off the offensive midrange to give a pleasant tone, but in the process came out bottom-heavy and muted.

 

3 - Alan Copeland's violin.  2nd in final tone, 1st overall due to his usual immaculate workmanship and varnish.  However, like mine, his did not advance at VSA.

 

4 - Zoran Stilin - 1st in final tone (and Wallace tone winner).

 

Other VSA notes:

In steel string, my fiddle came in 2nd in tone, first overall.  The first place tone instrument in steel string (which I also thought sounded best) had strange arching with almost no recurve, and was graduated to a numerology-based system of ratios, taper rates, and whatnot that made no technical sense to me whatsoever.  Zoran's tone winner was the complete opposite - no measurements whatsoever, everything by feel.

 

Go figure.  Or not.  :)

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A few more votes:

 

4, 1, 3, 2 - me, at the event, not knowing beforehand which violin was being played

3, 4, 2, 1 - one listening judge

1, 3, 2, 4 - the other listening judge

4, 1, 3, 2 - the playing judge (his vote counts twice)

 

 

This sort of random result is caused by the fact they all sound very nice and somehow in the same direction. The recording is not "revealing" : the microphone is the wrong kind and neither close enough nor far enough to make other things stand out, given the volume of the room. The room ( small hall ) has the same problem - there is not enough space, in particular height, for the sound to start doing it's thing. In a drier room, we would've heard way more difference between the violins but in the same time these differences are not relevant. In a much larger one, other things would've come into play and we would've heard a large difference in two aspects of the tone. 3 and 4 particularly would've sounded very different.

 

Where I sense an issue is with the playing and the example used. The playing is done in a way which equalizes the violins and causes some degree of dullness where ( maybe ) there is none. The example is way too short and way too low on the violin to even start discussing "tone" in a serious way. And lots of dead time in it, when would've been more profitable to hear notes. :)

 

All 4 are very nice. If I'd be to chose one for my own entertainment, I'd chose 3. If I'd have to actually play something with a piano, in a half decent hall, I'd take 4 - it's got a bit more core.

 

Of course, above it's all in my completely incompetent opinion - I'm basically just ranting.

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What was the RH at the competition venue?

 

I'm sure it was variable.  

We did have some light rain one day, and sunny/warm some other days.  The air conditioner was turned off during the playing (with slowly rising temperature), and turned on again during breaks.  I don't recall too much trouble with pegs letting loose, so my guess is that the humidity didn't get exceptionally low... this year.

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Why is this always so hard to 'standardize'?

 

Can't the violin PTB have a sound booth...that can be set up at various shows...that uses the same conditions every time...and record from the sound booth?

 

Have the player always play the same test tune too?

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I'm sure it was variable.

We did have some light rain one day, and sunny/warm some other days. The air conditioner was turned off during the playing (with slowly rising temperature), and turned on again during breaks. I don't recall too much trouble with pegs letting loose, so my guess is that the humidity didn't get exceptionally low... this year.

Don,

One last question, were all these violins recorded on the same day, and was it the rainy day?

Okay three last questions. Was the judging done all in one day?

Thanks.

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Same day

Don't remember... but the "rain" was just a brief shower, and I don't believe it affected things much

Violas, cellos, quartets on one day,  gut violins another day, and steel string fiddles (and Wallace overall tone competition) on a third day.

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Well to me this re enforces the fact that its "easy" to make a "all right" sounding fiddle, in that you just have to be able to put it together, carve it to base thickness and have a little luck with wood selection. Your #2, all though it came in last, as may have been predicted if one knew ahead of time, really doesn't stand out as horrible compared to the others, just not as good. This, along with the harsh reality that there are many 50$ fiddles that sound ok, kinda drives the ugly facts home.

 

Now, related to 4, to me it has the more "Italian" sound, a sound which like ear training in theory, has a certain quality that can be recognized, identified and remembered, a sound that is more "round" "smooth" buttery"to me. However one may describe it, it starts to become something that one can recognize.

 

This statement is not to say that all the blind tests proving that it is not possible to "pick the Strad" are wrong, but I do think its possible to pick violins that have an "Italian" sound , be they old or new, made by Italians or Lithuanian midgets, excuse me, little people.

 

Also, it has been said many times that "recordings are not good ways to judge sound." I kinda disagree with that. I think its one thing if we are trying to hear something after its been through someone like Carlo's hands, "fixed" and another to hear things "raw", knowing the source, and over all parameters, as noted by Don, then we know that things are "even". And assuming we are not listening through crappy headphones like Carlo {poor Carlo :angry: }, I find recordings like these the most accurate way to REALLY LISTEN to the individual instruments core tones and character, as I can hear it back over and over in rapid succession.

 

It would be my hope that any members who have high end fiddles would do some guessing game tests as these as I find them very fun and educational with many things to discus during and after.

 

I have done some with mine in the past, it would be great if others would too.

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