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Don Noon

8 violin clips for tone evaluation

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Duuuh.... I can't count.  There are really only 7 clips.  But I can't edit the title.

 

Rather than burying this in another thread, I thought it would get more response as a new one.  It is related to the "firewood fiddle"( http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/334867-firewood-fiddle-a-test-of-the-worst/), as that is one of the fiddles in the test.  Also the recent thread about recognizing violin qualities from recordings (http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/334891-recognizing-special-sound-qualities-from-recordings/) is a good reason to post separately.

 

There is a variety of different quality violins in here; the firewood fiddle is one, also an ultra-light top experiment, regraduated Pfretzschner, along with a few of my "better" violins.  

 

8 is a bit much for ranking, but I would appreciate comments about what is good and bad, and if you'd care to pick out your choice for the one made with Walmart firewood, be my guest and go out on a limb.  Don't worry about diplomacy here, or being "right".

 

For me, this little exercise has proven to me (again) that trying to judge violins from recordings is a bit like trying to judge a car by watching a video of it driven down the street.  There's very little information about what it's actually like to sit in the driver's seat and take it for a spin.

 

By the way, if you get a sudden craving for ice cream while listening to this, it may be because it is a tune I hear all the time blaring from the local ice cream truck (Redwing, B part).

 

Firewood comparison.mp3

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I suspect I heard a (intentional?) pattern or series.  #1 seemed like the mellowest of the group. 

The rest seemed more and more intense call it.  Could just be my imagination too. Very

similar, except to me, there was something going from #1 to #2.

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I found this a very difficult test of sound memory.

 

The one that stuck out as 'not nice'  was #2 in the lower ranges.

 

May be useful to put the recordings in pairs or triplets - the better/best being selected from a smaller group.

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If listening to a few fiddles consecutively is difficult (and I agree it is), one wonders how accurately anyone could tell anything from sound clips spaced apart by days, played by different people, under different recording conditions.  

I'd agree that #2 is the least favorite of mine from a player's standpoint, for a number of reasons that I'll mention later.  But (spoiler alert) it's not the firewood fiddle.

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Thanks for this interesting test Don. After listening to your sound sample six times i must admit some sensory overload. Some samples I can say that I prefer the bass side to the high side and some samples are vice versa. There is no clearly outstanding winner to me. I think that if I listened to it twenty times and made notes on each sample it woukd take some of the confusion out of trying to break down eight samples. I have a new found respect for judges at violin competitions and fiddle contests. So hard when I have to try it for myself. Yikes.

And nice playing Don, will go to bed tonight with Noon's 16 bars of Redwing replaying in my mind.

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I only heard 7 violins. My favorites of those were #2 and then #3. They sounded the best in the upper registers. The bottom was best in #2.

#1 was too scratchy.

#4 had that typical VSO sound

#5 sounded thin...but it was okay

#6 no. Thin on both the top and bottom.

#7 no. Thin as well...but the bottom sounded better than #6

Don't know if that was useful or not...but there you have it.

p.s. I didn't read any of the comments ahead of listening to the clip and when I read the just now I thought it was funny that I liked #2 and someone else picked it as their worst...

So personal preference either is a very strong factor or we are listening for different qualities. ..or both...

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I'll have to go through them a couple more times to rank them in my mind, but one thing that really stood out as an obstacle for me is the sound of the room.  I suspect you were on a concrete floor, or there are a lot of glass windows or plain drywall, probably a low ceiling too.  It isn't a great-sounding room (apologies) and so I think I'm hearing those harsh reflections as much as I am hearing the sounds of the individual instruments.  Either this sort of thing should be done in a room that has more air, acoustically absorbent surfaces, and fewer parallel walls, or you should put a bunch of carpets on the walls and floor. 

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Well, for what it's worth I think recording are important and lots can be gleaned form them, but as you say, one can not get an idea of how it plays and all that goes with that.

 

That being said , somewhat as I predicted, there is no one that jumps out and says, "ah' I am the one that was made from a log that was destine for death in the oven"  which is another post in itself related to the "validity" of tone wood. I have stated several times in the past that great instruments can be made from "wood" that does not have the word "tone" in front of it.

 

I will need to listen several times more in order to try to pick out the "ex depot' "  But for me these posts are some very important things that put the reality in some of the chaff.

 

Being a scientist, perhaps you have an aversion to the spirit of it all, perhaps that is propaganda laid on your field of endeavor from media sources, but to me I liken this to saving a puppy that was doomed to the big sleep. Now instead of the wood becoming a pile of ashes, it now has the potential to live hundreds of years, and who knows, maybe way into the future they will praise it as your best one? " Yes, the "Noon ex depot'" one of his most natural works" :D

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I'll have to go through them a couple more times to rank them in my mind, but one thing that really stood out as an obstacle for me is the sound of the room.  I suspect you were on a concrete floor, or there are a lot of glass windows or plain drywall, probably a low ceiling too.  It isn't a great-sounding room (apologies) and so I think I'm hearing those harsh reflections as much as I am hearing the sounds of the individual instruments.  Either this sort of thing should be done in a room that has more air, acoustically absorbent surfaces, and fewer parallel walls, or you should put a bunch of carpets on the walls and floor. 

Well I think that's part of the challenge of it all....things we can assume

 

1. this is not intended to be a pro recording

2. Don as we all know is not a pro player, yet plays competent enough to "hear" what we need to

3. super great players can make crappy violins sound great and visa versa

4. If a Strad was mixed in, it would be at the same disadvantage, or advantage as the others as the recording, player and room are the same.

5. after picking "wrong" most people come up with some "something" like what you just posted as to why they weren't able to pick the Strad out form the China fiddles :lol:

 

yes I to need to listen more....but like I said, it doesn't jump out like it was "oh, that's the one" ....which says something about the need to listen to something over and over again to try to pick up subtle "bad things"

 

Really I think one of the most beneficial things that can be learned is that if you are just starting out, that you don't need to spend 100usd for AAA grade tonewood to get started and make ok stuff.....why you can just head down to "Le Depot' " and ask the gar'sawn in orange if you can peruse the fir' er' tone wood pile :lol:

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Don: apparently it is time for a padded room!

 

Apparently... I can't count correctly to 7.  And yes, there are only 7 clips.

 

The recording is indeed in a very lively room... hardwood floors, drywall and hardwood cabinets elsewhere.  It's all part of the problem of evaluating sound clips.

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I'll let a few more folks chime in before the big reveal.  The results so far are even stranger than I had imagined  :) .

 

I'm particularly waiting for Carl Stross' opinion.  How about it, Carl?

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Interesting reading everyone's responses.  Just shows how varied our tastes are.  For me, playing just for my self, #1 is a clear winner.  I like the mellow even tone across all the strings.  I can also see how this fiddle might get lost in a jam session, so it depends what your looking for and why.  I disliked #2 most because of the raw upper register followed closely by #3 that had an improved (for me) upper register, but a rather dull lower strings.  My ranking of of 4 - 7 seem to change as I listened to the series repeatedly.  4 and 5 seemed more similar to each other than they did to 6 and 7, and 6 and 7 were somewhat similar #7 having a stronger upper register.  However I thought 4-7 were all decent fiddles as much as I could tell from the recording.  Fun test.

 

-Jim

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With due respect the last rec was utterly atrocious playing and sound. 

I didn't listen to the others. 

That's my honest opinion and I have no further comment. 

 

No, it wasn't and I am getting tired of your off the cuff, patronizing remarks. Don is not a professional player and I prefer his honesty and willingness to show his results to the BS of some crypto-experts here, nobody ever saw or heard a violin from. Please show some decorum towards one of our most valuable members.

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 .

 

I'm particularly waiting for Carl Stross' opinion.  How about it, Carl?

 

Please, give me 3 hours or so - I am updating ( windows update  :angry:  ) my computer. Since yesterday...  It's the computer with the headphone amp, unfortunately.

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I would love to get a good violinist and pro recording equipment in an appropriate music hall to perform these tests.  As soon as I get a grant from the government or some philanthropic foundation, I'll get right to it.  For now, it's just what I have.

 

And I guess I won't be hiring professional listening judges to give their opinions... just whoever shows up on MN.  Good enough (and some I think are very good at this).

 

Good luck with your computer troubles, Carl.  I'll wait for your opinion as your ability to hear through recording/playing conditions is better than most.

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I think the quality of the performance and recording here is fine for the comparison.  My suggestion was to dampen the reflections so we hear more of the instruments and less of the room.  While you can hear distinctions between the instruments (and I will weigh in...), it is as if we were looking at a variety of colors on a wall but someone had doused them all with a wash of gray--they'd all look sorta gray, and some colors would be more affected than others.  You can do a lot with blankets and rugs, old towels and sheets--it needn't cost too much, or anything, really.

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... or, I could just carry my stuff into another room that has a carpet and drapes.  Maybe next time.

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