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Woodland

Boxy, honky nasal sound.

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7 minutes ago, martin swan said:

Boxy ...

I suppose the most literal application of the word would be something having the acoustic signature of a box ie. a square object. The sort of box people think of is probably rather bigger than a violin, but boxes all do sound like boxes!

So it would have an absence of ring, a lot of direct reflection (which you might hear as "reverberant"), and an over-emphasis of midrange frequencies. If a violin has a big and sonorous G it's hard to describe it as boxy, and rich high harmonic content would also mitigate against that description.

"Boxy" is like "harsh" but lower down the frequency spectrum, and with a spatial sense of the sound being inside the instrument rather than in the room. 

 

I don't know whether this is an accurate or generally acceptable description or not, but freaking good effort!  thumbsup.gif

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2 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I don't know whether this is an accurate or generally acceptable description or not, but freaking good effort!  thumbsup.gif

Much obliged ... I wouldn't make any claim to accuracy, everyone is wrapped up in their own sound world.

I think it means different things to different people. That's just what it means to me.

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1 hour ago, Michael Darnton said:

There are always a couple of [the same] people who when discussions like this come up invariably say that they don't hear a difference. I'm happy to know who the deaf ones are so I can ignore them in the future--in fact, I think I'm going to go make ample use of the ignore feature once I post this-- but disappointed that discussions like this never fully draw out the people who CAN tell the difference. Invariably threads drift into theory, a safe topic because it's functionally meaningless, or jokes. It would be nice to see  forum participants drop their various obvious avoidance behaviors and just stay out of discussions to which they can't contribute. As far as this thread has gone, this thread is a stellar example of the problem.

I still want to know what "boxy" means to people.

Are we talking real or imaginary differences in sound?

A difference in playability when adjusting projection will affect how you get the sound you want won't it? But it that really a measureable difference in the actual sound. And didn't Martin make this very point a few days/pages back?

If Don Noon is skeptical of the efficacy of intervention x in tonal 'improvement' whatever that might be, then I consider his words carefully. 

I'm obsessed with tone and playability but I think there is a lot of illusion and  delusion around the subject.

If you have a specific point to make that is demonstrably cogent and not just an opinion then I'm all ears, but I know that sometimes we can imagine an improvement when there really is none. The kidology factor is something I'm very aware of.

I don't have a definition of boxy though.

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33 minutes ago, sospiri said:

 

A difference in playability when adjusting projection will affect how you get the sound you want won't it? But it that really a measureable difference in the actual sound. And didn't Martin make this very point a few days/pages back?

 

No.

Player perceptions, particularly the perceptions of great players or great listeners, go well beyond what is currently measurable. They aren't imaginary, merely very sophisticated, or only evident if you are highly sensitized. The fact that such things don't always show up in Don's experiments doesn't in any way diminish my respect for him, or make me less grateful for his ability to teach me stuff I want to learn.

Maybe just do a little research on who Michael is and what he does before you ask him if he might be imagining things - your post is just too funny :lol:

 

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It would be nice to know what OP mean by boxy . I could describe in a couple of ways what that could mean to me, but as Martin said it is mostly a personal intepretation of word in relation to the sound in generaly and a point of view (player, maker, listener, recording ingenier).

Something like trying to have a consensus about the labeling the jar with the unknown content.

I would say exaggerated mid to low frequences, if I had to write something on that jar.

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Slightly hollow sounding is what I meant by boxy. It does some to alleviate somewhat once the instrument warms up, and the sound is most noticeable on the open strings. Perhaps my ear gets accustomed to the sound after a few minutes of playing, the instrument is warming up, or both.

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21 minutes ago, Woodland said:

Slightly hollow sounding is what I meant by boxy. It does some to alleviate somewhat once the instrument warms up, and the sound is most noticeable on the open strings. Perhaps my ear gets accustomed to the sound after a few minutes of playing, the instrument is warming up, or both.

So you haven't abandoned the thread ...?

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No. There's been much to digest (in addition to being very busy). Michael, the bridge is around 36mm last I checked.

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18 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

A "boxy" sound happens when the violin is built sturdy enough to avoid the aging creep distortion, neck dropping, top sinking etc.

I suspect you're not wholly serious.

But if you are, the vast majority of violins are built sturdily enough for this, and yet they don't all sound boxy.

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37 minutes ago, Woodland said:

No. There's been much to digest (in addition to being very busy). Michael, the bridge is around 36mm last I checked.

Hopefully your stomach is fine.

At 5mm overstand and 36 bridge projection, the top of the nut is probably also somewhere below the extended line of the top edge?

If things didn`t change at all in a couple of weeks while this topic was runing, I would still suggest as in the start of the thread that there was a failure in your gluing process if dry-fit was fine, or you didn`t measure  the dry-fit projection correctly. 

I can not tell, perhaps someone can, if your boxy, honky, nasal sound is a consequence of the high neck set up,  but it would make no harm to reset the neck to widely accepted standard.

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42 minutes ago, martin swan said:

I suspect you're not wholly serious.

But if you are, the vast majority of violins are built sturdily enough for this, and yet they don't all sound boxy.

I'm always serious--sort of.

I think you get a" boxy" sound with a violin box which is too stiff.  A "tubby" sound is the opposite and you get that with a violin tub that is too floppy.   There's a continuum in between with good sounding violins strong enough to survive with good care.

There are three difficulties with the above statements. The world violin community needs a commonly accepted vocabulary to describe sounds.  These sounds should then  be correlated with some measurable acoustic feature (fundamental's strength, spectrum centroid, number and strength of harmonics and so on).  These acoustic features then have to be related to the violin's physical construction (all the stuff we talk about--arches, thickness, wood, etc).

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A little while ago I had a chance to hear two students’ string quartets, age 13-15. One quartet sounded clear, open. The other sounded closed and «boxy», every single instrument sounded like it was being played in a barrel.

I suspect the main difference is in setup, especially since I know that two of the «boxy» instruments sounded fine (to me) a few months earlier. We have two luthiers in this city...

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2 hours ago, Felefar said:

A little while ago I had a chance to hear two students’ string quartets, age 13-15. One quartet sounded clear, open. The other sounded closed and «boxy», every single instrument sounded like it was being played in a barrel.

I suspect the main difference is in setup, especially since I know that two of the «boxy» instruments sounded fine (to me) a few months earlier. We have two luthiers in this city...

Same room, same listening position?

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5 hours ago, martin swan said:

Same room, same listening position?

Same room, same evening, same concert, same position. The earlier clearer sound was in another room - but the «good» quartet sounded good in both and I know that at least two of the instruments were not changed since that time (1st violin my stepdaughter, viola on loan from me). I don’t know whether the «boxy quartet» had had their instruments adjusted, but their sound was definitely different.

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49 minutes ago, Felefar said:

Same room, same evening, same concert, same position. The earlier clearer sound was in another room - but the «good» quartet sounded good in both and I know that at least two of the instruments were not changed since that time (1st violin my stepdaughter, viola on loan from me). I don’t know whether the «boxy quartet» had had their instruments adjusted, but their sound was definitely different.

Well, this one is obvious.  The <good> quartet was playing modern Chinese student fiddles (or maybe well-set-up Markies), but the other quartet was playing Strads.  Everybody knows that beginners don't have the experience to handle a Strad, right?  :lol:;)

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2 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Well, this one is obvious.  The <good> quartet was playing modern Chinese student fiddles (or maybe well-set-up Markies), but the other quartet was playing Strads.  Everybody knows that beginners don't have the experience to handle a Strad, right?  :lol:;)

Well, the good viola IS a Markie... :D

But the good 1st violin is a modern Cremonese student work, Garimberti model. :P

I don't know what the other quartet are playing although I'm fairly certain that one of them is a Mittenwalder. :blink:

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1 hour ago, Felefar said:

Well, the good viola IS a Markie... :D

But the good 1st violin is a modern Cremonese student work, Garimberti model. :P

I don't know what the other quartet are playing although I'm fairly certain that one of them is a Mittenwalder. :blink:

I'm afraid I don't think this adds to the debate since there are so many unknowables! 

Also, you say one quartet sounded "boxy" (of course not the one featuring your stepdaughter or the one you loaned a viola to ...), but you don't talk about the quality of their performance. Perhaps you didn't like their playing?

Quartets  have their own sound which is not entirely to do with the instruments they are using. If the midrange parts are too dominant (tentative first violinist), you can feel it all sounds a bit "closed".

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Well, the "boxy" quartet is actually a bit better than my daughter's. It's not a performance quality assessment, just purely a reaction to the sound of the instruments (celli excepted). The repertoir had small solo bits for all the members, both quartets, so I am quite confident that it was just the sound of each instrument that was different.

I plan to set up my "Frankenfiddle" (cheap nasty VSO with 4 different woods in back and ribs) to see if I can replicate the boxy sound, and then see what I can change to alleviate it. I'll try making a couple of bridges with different thicknesses, move the sound post around a bit, and see what happens.

At the very least I know that the difference is more than Dominant vs. Warchal strings, and more than different bows too (carbon fiber / brazilwood / pernambuco / new or old hair)

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19 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I'm always serious--sort of.

I think you get a" boxy" sound with a violin box which is too stiff.  A "tubby" sound is the opposite and you get that with a violin tub that is too floppy.   There's a continuum in between with good sounding violins strong enough to survive with good care.

There are three difficulties with the above statements. The world violin community needs a commonly accepted vocabulary to describe sounds.  These sounds should then  be correlated with some measurable acoustic feature (fundamental's strength, spectrum centroid, number and strength of harmonics and so on).  These acoustic features then have to be related to the violin's physical construction (all the stuff we talk about--arches, thickness, wood, etc).

1

I snatched this from one or more threads sometime in the past.  Sorry, I don't have a link to the original post.

Edit: Originally posted by Michael Darnton.  Source:  http://www.faqs.org/faqs/AudioFAQ/part2/

Describing sound

Airy: Spacious. Open. Instruments sound like they are surrounded by a large reflective space full of air. Good reproduction of high-frequency reflections. High-frequency response extends to 15 or 20 kHz.

 

Bassy: Emphasized low frequencies below about 200 Hz.

 

Blanketed: Weak highs, as if a blanket were put over the speakers.


Bloated: Excessive mid-bass around 250 Hz. Poorly damped low frequencies, low-frequency resonances. See tubby.


Blurred: Poor transient response. Vague stereo imaging, not focused.


Boomy: Excessive bass around 125 Hz. Poorly damped low frequencies or low-frequency resonances.


Boxy: Having resonances as if the music were enclosed in a box. Sometimes an emphasis around 250 to 500 Hz.


Breathy: Audible breath sounds in woodwinds and reeds such as flute or sax. Good response in the upper-mids or highs.


Bright: High-frequency emphasis. Harmonics are strong relative to fundamentals.

Chesty: The vocalist sounds like their chest is too big. A bump in the low-frequency response around 125 to 250 Hz.


Clear: See Transparent.


Colored: Having timbres that are not true to life. Non-flat response, peaks or dips.


Crisp: Extended high-frequency response, especially with cymbals.

Dark: Opposite of bright. Weak high frequencies.


Delicate: High frequencies extending to 15 or 20 kHz without peaks.


Depth: A sense of distance (near to far) of different instruments.


Detailed: Easy to hear tiny details in the music; articulate. Adequate high-frequency response, sharp transient response.


Dull: See dark.

Edgy: Too much high frequencies. Trebly. Harmonics are too strong relative to the fundamentals. Distorted, having unwanted Harmonics that add an edge or raspiness.

Fat: See Full and Warm. Or, spatially diffuse - a sound is panned to one channel, delayed, and then the delayed sound is panned to the other channel. Or, slightly distorted with analog tape distortion or tube distortion.


Full: Strong fundamentals relative to Harmonics. Good low-frequency response, not necessarily extended, but with adequate level around 100 to 300 Hz. Male voices are full around 125 Hz; female voices and violins are full around 250 Hz; sax is full around 250 to 400 Hz. Opposite of thin.

Gentle: Opposite of edgy. The Harmonics - highs and upper mids - are not exaggerated, or may even be weak.


Grainy: The music sounds like it is segmented into little grains, rather than flowing in one continuous piece. Not liquid or fluid. Suffering from harmonic or I.M. distortion. Some early A/D converters sounded grainy, as do current ones of inferior design. Powdery is finer than grainy.


Grungy: Lots of harmonic or I.M. distortion.

Hard: Too much upper midrange, usually around 3 kHz. Or, good transient response, as if the sound is hitting you hard.


Harsh: Too much upper midrange. Peaks in the frequency response between 2 and 6 kHz. Or, excessive phase shift in a digital recorder's lowpass filter.


Honky: Like cupping your hands around your mouth. A bump in the response around 500 to 700 Hz.

Mellow: Reduced high frequencies, not edgy.


Muddy: Not clear. Weak Harmonics, smeared time response, I.M. distortion.


Muffled: Sounds like it is covered with a blanket. Weak highs or weak upper mids.

Nasal: Honky, a bump in the response around 600 Hz.

Piercing: Strident, hard on the ears, screechy. Having sharp, narrow peaks in the response around 3 to 10 kHz.


Presence: A sense that the instrument in present in the listening room. Synonyms are edge, punch, detail, closeness and clarity. Adequate or emphasized response around 5 kHz for most instruments, or around 2 to 5 kHz for kick drum and bass.


Puffy: A bump in the response around 500 Hz.


Punchy: Good reproduction of dynamics. Good transient response, with strong impact. Sometimes a bump around 5 kHz or 200 Hz.

Rich: See Full. Also, having euphonic distortion made of even-order Harmonics.


Round: High-frequency roll off or dip. Not edgy.

Sibilant: "Essy" Exaggerated "s" and "sh" sounds in singing, caused by a rise in the response around 6 to 10 kHz.


Sizzly: See Sibilant. Also, too much highs on cymbals.


Smeared: Lacking detail. Poor transient response, too much leakage between microphones. Poorly focused images.


Smooth: Easy on the ears, not harsh. Flat frequency response, especially in the midrange. Lack of peaks and dips in the response.


Spacious: Conveying a sense of space, ambiance, or room around the instruments. Stereo reverb. Early reflections.


Steely: Emphasized upper mids around 3 to 6 kHz. Peaky, nonflat high-frequency response. See Harsh, Edgy.


Strident: See Harsh, Edgy.


Sweet: Not strident or piercing. Delicate. Flat high-frequency response, low distortion. Lack of peaks in the response. Highs are extended to 15 or 20 kHz, but they are not bumped up. Often used when referring to cymbals, percussion, strings, and sibilant sounds.

Telephone-like: See Tinny.


Thin: Fundamentals are weak relative to Harmonics.


Tight: Good low-frequency transient response and detail.


Tinny: Narrowband, weak lows, peaky mids. The music sounds like it is coming through a telephone or tin can.


Transparent: Easy to hear into the music, detailed, clear, not muddy. Wide flat frequency response, sharp time response, very low distortion and noise.


Tubby: Having low-frequency resonances as if you're singing in a bathtub. See bloated.

Veiled: Like a silk veil is over the speakers. Slight noise or distortion or slightly weak high frequencies. Not transparent.

Warm: Good bass, adequate low frequencies, adequate fundamentals relative to Harmonics. Not thin. Also excessive bass or midbass. Also, pleasantly spacious, with adequate reverberation at low frequencies. Also see Rich, Round. Warm highs means sweet highs.


Weighty: Good low-frequency response below about 50 Hz. Suggesting an object of great weight or power, like a diesel locomotive.

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20 hours ago, martin swan said:

No.

Player perceptions, particularly the perceptions of great players or great listeners, go well beyond what is currently measurable. They aren't imaginary, merely very sophisticated, or only evident if you are highly sensitized. The fact that such things don't always show up in Don's experiments doesn't in any way diminish my respect for him, or make me less grateful for his ability to teach me stuff I want to learn.

Maybe just do a little research on who Michael is and what he does before you ask him if he might be imagining things - your post is just too funny :lol:

 

I think there is some miscommunication here that is inevitable and debating will only make it worse. My point was simple, a point you made earlier in the thread, we all find different set ups more or less comfortable and it help our playing and perception etc.

I know who Michael Darnton is.

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23 hours ago, sospiri said:

 It's beyond anyone's comprehension.

 

23 hours ago, Delabo said:

In that case you have just made me really interested.

Noli umquam dicere mori! :lol:

Ne cogitare nimium nec parum.

 

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