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What is the best instrument you’ve ever heard?


Arbos

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Cheap ass solid body fiddles plugged into craptastic amps will sound like ass. Especially if one is trying to imitate an acoustic violin. A good rig (instrument + amp + other bits) is a beautiful tone machine. I think the folks dumping on electrics have never heard or played a good one (or know how to).

If the transducer in the bridge is just a single crystal, it's going to sound like an angry bee in a jar. You need to get a nice bridge but those run more than some folks think one should spend on the entire rig. A good rig will run thousands of dollars.

I've spent a lot of time and money putting together my electric rig and love it. It is every bit as rewarding and complex as my acoustic violins. It's just very different and that's the point.

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24 minutes ago, Spelman said:

Cheap ass solid body fiddles plugged into craptastic amps will sound like ass. Especially if one is trying to imitate an acoustic violin. A good rig (instrument + amp + other bits) is a beautiful tone machine. I think the folks dumping on electrics have never heard or played a good one (or know how to).

If the transducer in the bridge is just a single crystal, it's going to sound like an angry bee in a jar. You need to get a nice bridge but those run more than some folks think one should spend on the entire rig. A good rig will run thousands of dollars.

I've spent a lot of time and money putting together my electric rig and love it. It is every bit as rewarding and complex as my acoustic violins. It's just very different and that's the point.

Put up a recording or a link to something similar? I’m curious.

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On 1/14/2024 at 1:37 PM, palousian said:

Electric guitars can sound wonderful, but... they sound nothing like a great acoustic guitar.  Too complex to imitate that sound, just as it is with a violin.

Gabriel Weinreich discusses why good violins sound better than poor ones and why electric violins sound different from acoustic ones in this presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqrsL6fntkQ

 

 

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On 1/31/2024 at 10:15 PM, Dr. Mark said:

Pretty much unlike a guitar or an acoustic violin even w/o distortion:

 

I sort of want one, just for the range.

I don't have one because: I can't stand the tone, and they're always completely sold out anyway.   Whenever I go look thinking maybe I'll just make an impulse purchase, the one I want isn't available.  Because I hate the tone I dont feel bad when I can't find one.

 

I'm surprised more luthiers dont make things like this, since they're in such short supply.  Maybe one of these days China will flood the market.  If they can make excellent $150 electric guitars, no reason why they can't pump a million or two of these out.

 

 

https://www.electricviolinshop.com/violins/violins-by-brand/wood-violins.html

 

If I really want one, I pay $7,000 now for custom order, and hope the guy doesn't croak sometime in the next 2-3 years while he gets around to building it.

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On 1/31/2024 at 10:22 PM, Dr. Mark said:

or:

I'm done now...

 

Yeah, I've done this.  Probably nearly everyone who has plugged in a fiddle at some point in the last 15 years has.  As I've said before, I'm just so completely burned out on overdriven reverbing flanged delayed amp sound.   Yes, I can do "wicked" metal solos through a $50 pedal that surpass the "greatest ever guitar soloists." Who cares?  Aging gen-Xers, that's about it.

 

Maybe acoustic violin really is the absolute pinnacle of tone and expressiveness.  Maybe there really is nothing else that will ever surpass it.  It is just about the only instrument a computer/synth can't replicate.

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8 hours ago, Aston4 said:

Maybe acoustic violin really is the absolute pinnacle of tone and expressiveness.  Maybe there really is nothing else that will ever surpass it.  It is just about the only instrument a computer/synth can't replicate.

I see nothing impossible about replicating the acoustic transfer function of a wooden box using a synthesized equivalent.  I didn't say "easy", as it certainly is not.  It's complicated.  But if there was enough $$$ available for a serious R&D program, I think it could be done failrly well.  

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9 hours ago, Don Noon said:

I see nothing impossible about replicating the acoustic transfer function of a wooden box using a synthesized equivalent.  I didn't say "easy", as it certainly is not.  It's complicated.  But if there was enough $$$ available for a serious R&D program, I think it could be done failrly well.  

 

Go to 8:35

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On 2/1/2024 at 12:10 PM, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Gabriel Weinreich discusses why good violins sound better than poor ones and why electric violins sound different from acoustic ones in this presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqrsL6fntkQ

 

 

Weinreich points out that the high frequency sounds from a violin's flexible surface go off in many narrow beams in different directions.  George Bissinger for example uses a spherical  microphone array with 266 different positions to capture these.  In a real life performance these narrow beams of sound go out and bounce off the hall walls and ceilings and hit the listener from many directions.  Weinreich calls this effect "directional tone color".

The frequency response curve of a violin has many peaks and valleys so when a note is played some of its harmonics are strong while others are weak.  Each note has a different combination so these narrow beams comming off the violin are constantly changing and hitting the listener in different directions for each note.

The use of vibratio makes the frequencies of the notes also constantly change which furthers this changing direction effect.  All this complexity makes the sounds much more interesting to the listener.

This directional effect is nonexistant with a solid body electric violin which simply take the string vibration to produce sound through a speaker and I find its sound in live performances to be rather boring regardless of the player's ability.

That's my story officer and I'm sticking with it.

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@Marty Kasprzyk That's a great explanation! What I usually tell players is if you're in the audience and you can close your eyes and point right at the precise spot of the center of the violin, it's not a very good violin. If the sound is more of a wide blur, without a hard and easily audible point of origin, that's a good thing. As implied in your post this has real ramifications for delivering a varying or shimmering spectrum of sound quality as opposed to a more boring dead flat tonal quality over time.

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14 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

What I usually tell players is if you're in the audience and you can close your eyes and point right at the precise spot of the center of the violin, it's not a very good violin. If the sound is more of a wide blur, without a hard and easily audible point of origin, that's a good thing.

Won't that have as much or more to do with the acoustic properties of the room one is listening in, as the violin?

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22 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

The frequency response curve of a violin has many peaks and valleys so when a note is played some of its harmonics are strong while others are weak.  Each note has a different combination so these narrow beams coming off the violin are constantly changing and hitting the listener in different directions for each note.

Ouch.

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@Michael Darnton, interested in your observation. When I - not an expert - was helping my daughter choose her violin one of the ways in which the one we bought stood out was that the sound seemed to come from a bigger volume than the violin occupied. That was in ordinary sized domestic rooms not a concert hall.

Mind you, this wasn't a famous "best violin", the price was about three zeros short of that!

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So a starting point for getting a handle on this:

https://community.sw.siemens.com/s/article/sound-fields-free-versus-diffuse-field-near-versus-far-field

A radiating surface with dimensions >~wavelength adds some complication.  This looks like a reasonable starting point for analysis:

https://jontalle.web.engr.illinois.edu/uploads/473.F18/Lectures/Chapter_7b.pdf

e.g. plot 7.4.2 where wavenumber k = 2*pi/wavelength so the radiated wavelength is (piston diameter)/8.  This admittedly idealized analysis has the far-field at this frequency accurate beyond 3.5 piston diameters. So for a distributed plate we can see where the far-field definition applies.  I don't think 'narrow beams coming off the violin' is an accurate description of what's happening.

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4 hours ago, Dr. Mark said:

>

https://jontalle.web.engr.illinois.edu/uploads/473.F18/Lectures/Chapter_7b.pdf

e.g. plot 7.4.2 where wavenumber k = 2*pi/wavelength so the radiated wavelength is (piston diameter)/8.  This admittedly idealized analysis has the far-field at this frequency accurate beyond 3.5 piston diameters. So for a distributed plate we can see where the far-field definition applies.  I don't think 'narrow beams coming off the violin' is an accurate description of what's happening.

If you look at figure 7.4.5 you will see the narrow beams beginning to develop.  

Daniel Russel has a good animation of this in 2d at https://www.acs.psu.edu/drussell/Demos/Bipole/Bipole-kd.html

He has a 3d illustration which is more like a violin.  As I mentioned before, George Bissinger uses 266 microphone positions in a spherical array to capture all these highly directioal sounds.  The attached papers show some photos of his rig.

At high frequencies the violin's plates break up into many small antinodes with alternate in or out phases.  These act as more and more multipole sources as the frequency goes up which in turn create these narrow sound beams.

A long time ago I visited the violin researcher Oliver Rodgers and he had a violin set up that had its bridge attached to a one end of a plastic straw which had its other end connected to a speaker coil.  With a frequency generator he could drive the violin's top to vibrate at various frequencies to have the violin produce these sounds.

At low frequencies I could stand anyware around the violin and hear the same loudness (monopole source) but at higher frequencies the sound became more directional.  At a very high frequency (I can't remember 2000Hz-3000Hz?) he had me stand in certain place and had me slowly move my head around left and right and up and down. Suddenly I heard this loud sharp piercing sound that reminded me of my ex wife.

art19_testing instruments part 4.pdf 0707biss.pdf

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27 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

If you look at figure 7.4.5 you will see the narrow beams beginning to develop.  

Yes, the central main lobe and side lobes resulting from constructive and destructive interference of the pressure wave propagated from the various points across the piston face - lol so I see now what you were driving at above.

On 2/3/2024 at 10:36 AM, Marty Kasprzyk said:

This directional effect is nonexistant with a solid body electric violin which simply take the string vibration to produce sound through a speaker and I find its sound in live performances to be rather boring regardless of the player's ability.

The transducer(s) on an electric violin will pick up more than the string motion, depending - I guess someone could try to capture the vibration of the entire instrument - but an electric violin emulating an acoustic instrument is more likely going to attempt to reproduce tone color electronically.   Ignoring all of the practical complications, to emulate a Strad just record the Strad spectrum and the electric fiddle spectrum and store the ratio.  When you play the fiddle multiply it's spectrum by the ratio and convert it to a pressure/time series to get instant Strad.  Store your del Gesu transfer function CD on a shelf next to the Charles IX and generic Bergonzi disc.  And an electric can radiate simultaneously in any directions you'd like if that's how it's designed.

I agree with Mr. Noon that, with enough thought (money) and effort (money money) we'd be able to get a pretty dang good reproduction albeit likely with a very complicated transfer function and set-up - not that I'm that enthusiastic about it without really good incentive (money money money - A Mark, a Yen, a Buck or a Pound - it makes the world go 'round... ). 

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