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Stradivarius? Can a violinist tell the difference?
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Arthur Stone
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#1
2nd January 2012
Old 2nd January 2012
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Stradivarius? Can a violinist tell the difference?

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3rd January 2012
Old 3rd January 2012
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yes, it's the same thing.

When I tell my clients that I use sblive they are like

when I tell my clients that I use emu e10k they are like

absolutely the same material, same old 16 bit sound-card, same quality. ABSOLUTELY the same.
Arthur Stone
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3rd January 2012
Old 3rd January 2012
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I'd like to see more of these tests before I'm convinced...with different instruments too e.g. cello. viola

If the glue used is critical to sound, then perhaps modern manufacturers have managed to replicate the formula.
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3rd January 2012
Old 3rd January 2012
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People can tell the difference...

...between a new, plywood, chineese bouble bass and an old, carved, german one.

And there is definetly a difference between an RME, and a Soundblaster soundcard.

When it comes to music instruments, I would say, it is not as much about the subtle sound difference, but more about the feel of the instrument itself. 90% of the sound comes from the fingers (technique).
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3rd January 2012
Old 3rd January 2012
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I have many times heard the same acoustic guitar sound terrible in one pair of hands and beautiful in another.
Arthur Stone
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3rd January 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adimus View Post
People can tell the difference...

...between a new, plywood, chineese bouble bass and an old, carved, german one.

And there is definetly a difference between an RME, and a Soundblaster soundcard.

When it comes to music instruments, I would say, it is not as much about the subtle sound difference, but more about the feel of the instrument itself. 90% of the sound comes from the fingers (technique).
Yeah - strange result really. They couldn't distinguish the Strad on sound but they could tell a difference in playing quality...and preferred the modern versions. Seems to be the opposite with guitars as many people prefer the vintage ones for tone and playability.
#7
5th January 2012
Old 5th January 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
Yeah - strange result really. They couldn't distinguish the Strad on sound but they could tell a difference in playing quality...and preferred the modern versions. Seems to be the opposite with guitars as many people prefer the vintage ones for tone and playability.
Well, yes, a player's skill and touch is far easier to differentiate that the subtle nuances of dessicated woods cut, shaped and glued to almost exactly the same form.

But what you're saying about guitars should be true of violins too.
What the study implies is that should some guitarists be blindfolded and handed a selection of guitars, that the best of the modern ones can rival the best old ones.

They're saying we listen with our eyes. That our judgement is flawed when any expectancy is introduced. Though I have no idea how well the study was performed, I do agree with the idea.
I think most people have no idea just how much we bullsh!t ourselves when it comes to sound. There is an entire mythology worshiped by hordes of people wanting to prove their "inside", arcane knowledge of and skill in the subject:
The magick exists and they know about it, people take them more seriously in their job because they know about it. They can sense it.
Arthur Stone
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5th January 2012
Old 5th January 2012
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I agree - there's a couple of psychological processes involved that lead to people making false asssumptions (although these were hopefully designed out of the Strad experiment): the Asch Conformity Paradigm e.g. a, b, and c say x equipment is better than z equipment, so people believe that based on group pressure rather than personal experience; and 'the appeal to authority'- a more conscious process whereby an 'expert' will influence a laymans perception based on their 'authoritative position' e.g. x equipment is better than y because I say so and I'm an expert.

These mechanisms are exploited and unduly influence people in many spheres of life. I do find Gearslutz quite a level playing field as people will often provide audio samples for independent analysis.

An example is the statement that 'Soundcloud has bad audio' - no-one has posted a sample on two sites to allow a comparison. Perhaps it is worse but no-one has been able to demonstrate this.
#9
5th January 2012
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Yes, I love all that stuff. Confirmation bias seems to be a way of life for most of us.

Hah!
Bizarre. I have just been discussing people's sudden disappearance when asked to post evidence or undergo ABX.
#10
9th January 2012
Old 9th January 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
"Study finds musicians cannot tell from sound alone whether they are playing an old classic instrument or one made last week"

How many notes would a virtuoso violinist pay for a Stradivarius? | Music | The Guardian

I thought this might offer some interesting parallels with Gearslutz comparison tests.
There were some flaws in the test, but basically, these results have been known for decades. There was a better test some years ago, whereby dealers who regularly handle Strads, and players who regularly play them, could not tell the difference in sound from a Strad and a high quality 'working' violin (IIRC, a J.B. Vuillaume was tested, a Pressenda, a Roca, and I believe some top modern violins) when blindfolded. However, concert violinists were able to tell instantly when playing one.

I don't think that it's surprising that your average competition-level violinist doesn't have the skill to make use of these instruments, or that even a trained audience can't tell you don't have one. It's not that these people aren't highly skilled. They just may not be on that rare level for whom the difference is important, or desireable, and they may not have handled enough Strads to know how to get the most out of them.

In the same respect, I don't think the average or even highly skilled engineer can necessarily tell the difference between the sound of, say, a vintage LA3A and a reissue, on a finished recording. Someone working the controls who is looking for something specific, however, might not be able to get what they want if they get the wrong unit. It's not that either are better or worse. It's just whether that one particular quality that you're looking for is there or not. However, if you don't know that you're looking for it, you might not do any worse if you don't have it.
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- Jazz is not dead - it just smells funny.
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Arthur Stone
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#11
9th January 2012
Old 9th January 2012
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Good points - I couldn't tell the difference between x and the y re-issue whereas a studio vet could. As a chef I could tell the difference between Madagascan Vanilla and vanilla from neighbouring islands (purely from experience) whereas a chef more capable in other food-types might not; as long as it makes a good brulee that's irrelevant to some degree. Wine is similar too.

It's quite interesting how the human mind can negate the technical differences though...probably some evolutionary advantage to it.

The research did sound a bit limited. There's quite a big emphasis on getting academic papers published nowadays. Good PR for the institution, whether a journal or mainstream press.

Must have been a slow day at the newspapers...hangovers probably
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