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Violinists cannot differentiate between Stradivarius and new violins, was: "golden ears"
kraut
post Jan 3 2012, 07:03
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not so golden after all:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocke...s-and-new-ones/

QUOTE
What’s more, no one has tested whether violinists themselves can truly pick up the supposedly distinctive sound of a Strad. The common wisdom is that they can, but Fritz and Curtin showed that this isn’t true. “Many people were convinced that as soon as you play an old violin, you can feel that it’s old, it’s been played a lot, and it has a special sound quality,” says Fritz. “People who took part in the experiment said it was the experience of a lifetime when we told them the results. They were fully convinced they could tell the difference, and they couldn’t.”


Having read the article first in the German "der spiegel", I do not have to wait for the usual excuse of those that will maintain those listening tests were done wrong, the wrong violins were chosen etc.etc., all the usual bull those of the golden ear persuasion come up with to not have to accept test results that speak counter to their religion that "everything influences sound and everything is audible".

QUOTE
The test was a true “double-blind” one, as neither the players nor the people who gave them the violins had any way of knowing which instrument was which. The room was dimly lit. The players were wearing goggles so they couldn’t see properly. The instruments had dabs of perfume on the chinrests that blocked out any distinctive smells. And even though Fritz and Curtin knew which the identities of the six violins, they only passed the instruments to the players via other researchers, who were hidden by screens, wearing their own goggles, and quite literally in the dark.


It seems to me reading through the article, that just about everything had been done to eliminate bias by double blind testing.

QUOTE
There are some issues with the study. Curtin, being a maker of new violins, has an obvious bias, but the double-blind design should have prevented that from affecting the results. The sample size – six violins and 21 players – is fairly small, but as large as can be expected when dealing with rare and incredibly expensive objects. There might also other variables that could affect the players’ perceptions – perhaps, for example, they might feel differently in rooms with different acoustics.


This post has been edited by kraut: Jan 3 2012, 07:08
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hlloyge
post Jan 3 2012, 07:57
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Thank you for interesting read - I was, too, for some time, very suspicious about that "Stradivari sound".
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hawkeye_p
post Jan 3 2012, 09:08
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QUOTE (kraut @ Jan 3 2012, 08:03) *
Having read the article first in the German "der spiegel", I do not have to wait for the usual excuse of those that will maintain those listening tests were done wrong, the wrong violins were chosen etc.etc., all the usual bull those of the golden ear persuasion come up with to not have to accept test results that speak counter to their religion that "everything influences sound and everything is audible".


Having read the discussion following the article in "Der Spiegel", your prediction turned out to be correct.
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botface
post Jan 3 2012, 13:17
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Am I missing something here? As I read it the test shows that 21 violinists comparing 6 violins - both double blind and sighted - failed to favour the ones with the highest reputation.

Is that it?
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dhromed
post Jan 3 2012, 13:36
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Did you expect a grand finale where the violinists don sunglasses and walk away in slow-motion from an exploding violin workshop?
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kraut
post Jan 3 2012, 15:15
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QUOTE
As I read it the test shows that 21 violinists comparing 6 violins - both double blind and sighted - failed to favour the ones with the highest reputation.

I guess not everybody is good at reading comprehension.
There is no "special" distinguishing sound that makes those violins special, they could not distinguish between an "old" and a "new" violin.
QUOTE
They played each instrument for a minute, and said which they preferred. Unbeknownst to them, each pair contained an old violin and a new one. For the most part, there was nothing to separate the two, and the players preferred the new instrument as often as the old one


I find this article especially interesting - for those I have to spell it out to: because if there is no distinguishing sound that you can seperate an old violin from a newborn one.....
and then there are those who can distinguish between amplifiers, losless codecs, dacs, cables, pennies on top of your speaker.....


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Porcus
post Jan 3 2012, 15:25
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Next task: Make the new violins look old, so people are still unable to tell the difference when the camera zooms onto the soloist.


--------------------
One day in the Year of the Fox came a time remembered well
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db1989
post Jan 3 2012, 15:25
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QUOTE (dhromed @ Jan 3 2012, 12:36) *
Did you expect a grand finale where the violinists don sunglasses and walk away in slow-motion from an exploding violin workshop?
Calling it now: Post of the Year. laugh.gif
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botface
post Jan 3 2012, 16:33
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QUOTE (kraut @ Jan 3 2012, 15:15) *
QUOTE
As I read it the test shows that 21 violinists comparing 6 violins - both double blind and sighted - failed to favour the ones with the highest reputation.

I guess not everybody is good at reading comprehension.
There is no "special" distinguishing sound that makes those violins special, they could not distinguish between an "old" and a "new" violin.
QUOTE
They played each instrument for a minute, and said which they preferred. Unbeknownst to them, each pair contained an old violin and a new one. For the most part, there was nothing to separate the two, and the players preferred the new instrument as often as the old one


I find this article especially interesting - for those I have to spell it out to: because if there is no distinguishing sound that you can seperate an old violin from a newborn one.....
and then there are those who can distinguish between amplifiers, losless codecs, dacs, cables, pennies on top of your speaker.....

I disagree. As you pointed out above they were asked which instrument they preferred not if they could discern a difference between any of the instruments. And yes, it was mildly interesting but I was expecting something to support the assertion in the thread title
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Takla
post Jan 3 2012, 17:57
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I think it's worth noting that the modern instruments are not just any new violin that was lying around, they are brilliant replicas, made by someone with over 30 years experience of reproducing those ancient instruments. The maker of the modern instruments is Joseph Curtin. From his website http://www.josephcurtinstudios.com/READinstruments.htm
QUOTE
Joseph Curtin has been building violins and violas since 1978. His body of work includes museum-quality replicas of Old Italian instruments, personal models based on those of Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu, and innovative instruments reflecting 21st century design and aesthetics. His clients include some of the most distinguished artists of our time.
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bred
post Jan 3 2012, 18:55
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I've never heard a Stradivarius.

But the sound of two violin should be very different, and the wood is not the only variable involved.
For example the quality of the string or the bow fog influences the sound.

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zipr
post Jan 3 2012, 19:14
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Here's another story on it, which includes audio samples:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/...e-strad?ps=cprs
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Jebus
post Jan 3 2012, 19:22
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QUOTE (Takla @ Jan 3 2012, 09:57) *
I think it's worth noting that the modern instruments are not just any new violin that was lying around, they are brilliant replicas, made by someone with over 30 years experience of reproducing those ancient instruments. The maker of the modern instruments is Joseph Curtin. From his website http://www.josephcurtinstudios.com/READinstruments.htm
QUOTE
Joseph Curtin has been building violins and violas since 1978. His body of work includes museum-quality replicas of Old Italian instruments, personal models based on those of Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu, and innovative instruments reflecting 21st century design and aesthetics. His clients include some of the most distinguished artists of our time.



Yes, and the claim being tested here is that violins produce a richer sound as they age. So the ideal scenario would have been brand-new strads compared to classic ones; obviously not possible.
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Carledwards
post Jan 3 2012, 20:08
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The biggest factor in how violins sound is who is playing it. I had an instrument made for me in the early nineties by a fine old luthier named Claude Watson. His instruments, which he called "Emanuel," were expensive and highly regarded. It took him almost two years to finish mine as he was very elderly at the time. When I took delivery, I asked him if it would sound better as it aged. He said, "It will sound better the more you play it because you will get better."
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Takla
post Jan 3 2012, 20:28
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QUOTE (Jebus @ Jan 3 2012, 18:22) *
Yes, and the claim being tested here is that violins produce a richer sound as they age. So the ideal scenario would have been brand-new strads compared to classic ones; obviously not possible.


The claim being tested is definitely not "that violins produce a richer sound as they age", it's "can the new instruments be distinguished from the ancient?".
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bred
post Jan 3 2012, 21:34
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QUOTE (zipr @ Jan 3 2012, 19:14) *
Here's another story on it, which includes audio samples:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/...e-strad?ps=cprs


In these two samples the sound difference is clear.


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andy o
post Jan 3 2012, 21:51
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The reasonable assumption is that the instrument the violinists "preferred" was the one they thought was the Stradivarius, so in a sense, yes, they could not tell the difference. Ed Yong has updated the post to indicate that one of the violinists actually commented there, and it's what he says.
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MichaelW
post Jan 3 2012, 22:39
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This test is another piece of evidence that there is no magic Stradivarius sound, but it's not the exposure of simple phoolery; it's more like testing handpicked $10,000 speakers against $100,000 dollar speakers, since a violin is a transducer. The outcome is interesting, precisely because you couldn't predict the outcome from first principles.

Most old violins that are still played are not in their original state, as they've been modified for changing playing conditions. And maybe, back then, with gut strings and smallish halls, the Cremona violins really were on average the best, but the best later luthiers have learned how to do as well. Interestingly, Hilary Hahn, who I think of as the nerd's violinist and who could certainly get the use of a Stradivarius if she wanted it, plays a 19th c. Vuillaume, though it is a Stradivarius copy.

On old instruments: I once had to ask a group of musicians and music teachers about depreciation on new instruments (bureaucratic requirement). I got a very detailed and helpful statement on concert-grade pianos (about a 10 year life before they're consigned to practice), but nothing on other instruments, either depreciation or appreciation.
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Takla
post Jan 4 2012, 00:00
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I didn't see any evidence that there isn't something fantastic about the sound of a Stradivarius, or that there was any "audio phoolery" to be exposed. It's interesting reading the reactions of the participants because they are not at all like the typical denial one encounters when an "audiophile" is presented with some real data. These people are not "audiophools"; they are people who have been open minded enough to put their assumptions to the test of reason and empirical investigation, and to appreciate the results. It's unfair to paint them as subscribers to "phoolery"; in fact to do so is "phoolish" wink.gif One of the best conclusions is from a participant linked to by andy o, who said, amongst other sensible things, "the best modern makers are as good as the best old makers". I don't see this test as having more than a superficial resemblance to abx vs sighted testing of magic pebbles or similar. The conclusion certainly was not that "all violins sound the same" so there is also no analogy with "audiophiles" who claim solid state amps that measure identically somehow sound different if they can see them. I also don't see that the reputations of those famous old violin makers have taken a knock. Their instruments sound as good today as they did before the test, for the most part being indistinguishable from the very best instruments that the best makers produce today. That is no small compliment, rather a testament and an endorsement. What has been shown is that the best modern makers are at least as skilled as their forebears, and more specifically that the best modern makers are expert at reproducing the sound and tactile experience of their illustrious predecessors.

This post has been edited by Takla: Jan 4 2012, 00:01
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MichaelW
post Jan 4 2012, 00:41
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I quite agree, Takla. I thought that was what I was saying. It was certainly what I meant to say.
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Takla
post Jan 4 2012, 01:13
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QUOTE (MichaelW @ Jan 3 2012, 23:41) *
I quite agree, Takla. I thought that was what I was saying. It was certainly what I meant to say.


I misunderstood, excuse me. I'd noticed that thread had originally been inappropriately entitled "golden ears" (yawn) and that some responses seemed to be trying to challenge claims which had not been made, debunk myths which nobody involved swore by, and unfairly associate nonsense with people who very had graciously offered their both their assumptions and almost priceless possessions for public scrutiny.

This post has been edited by Takla: Jan 4 2012, 01:13
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kraut
post Jan 4 2012, 02:00
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QUOTE
I'd noticed that thread had originally been inappropriately entitled "golden ears" (yawn)
.

I don't give a flying fuck about your yawning - a sign of ennui precipitated by ignorance, not taking into consideration that previous tests, including measurements, were done to disprove the notion of either superiority or difference.

QUOTE
However, the many blind tests from 1817[8][9] to the present (as of 2006) have never found any difference in sound between Stradivari's violins and high-quality violins in comparable style of other makers and periods, nor has acoustic analysis.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stradivarius

The term golden ear stands because despite since the 1800's accumulated evidence including this newest one that points to inaudibility of differences, there are still those who maintain differences are audible; justifiably then inviting comparisons between the audiophools of all couleur.
That has nothing to do with the participants at all - again, reading comprehension seems to be an issue - but with those that defend their indefensible stance contrary to evidence commenting about those tests.

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Takla
post Jan 4 2012, 02:11
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QUOTE (kraut @ Jan 4 2012, 01:00) *
I don't give a flying fuck about your yawning......

The term golden ear stands because .... but with those that defend their indefensible stance contrary to evidence commenting about those tests.


That's nice, and well done on the aerobatics. But the test wasn't about people making unreasonable claims and refusing to see reason or accept surprising results. It described people who were willing to submit their ideas and opinions to empirical analysis, and who met the results with good grace and good sense.

As well as the thread title being misleading and non-descriptive, your very first post went so far as to strongly oppose and castigate people who were not even in evidence and opinions which had even not been expressed, but you decided to assume that these wicked people with their bad opinions would inevitably arrive and start doing all kinds of things which, in fact, didn't happen:
QUOTE
Having read the article first in the German "der spiegel", I do not have to wait for the usual excuse of those that will maintain those listening tests were done wrong, the wrong violins were chosen etc.etc., all the usual bull those of the golden ear persuasion come up with to not have to accept test results that speak counter to their religion that "everything influences sound and everything is audible".


You do not have to wait for someone to exist or an excuse to be made before you start arguing with these (unmanifested) people and dismissing their (imaginary) excuses. This truly is the age of reason. Happy flying!


Edit: and the more I think about it the more I wonder how anyone can get angry on seeing such a well conducted and rational test! It involves people who are the best instrument makers, and people who are among the elite of performers, people who are immersed in the tradition and culture of these instruments which are virtually held sacred. And the result? They all seem to agree that the modern instruments costing a mere $30000 are a match for the legends of the past costing millions. What the hell has this to do with "golden ears" or audiophools and why would it be reported here in terms of frustration, or cause people to express their hostility to "the enemy", when it is clearly an episode which show the triumph of the rational!?

This post has been edited by Takla: Jan 4 2012, 02:20
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andy o
post Jan 4 2012, 04:18
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QUOTE (Takla @ Jan 3 2012, 17:11) *
But the test wasn't about people making unreasonable claims and refusing to see reason or accept surprising results.
Sure it was. That's why the prefacing bits about others trying in vain to distinguish the sound, through history.

QUOTE
It described people who were willing to submit their ideas and opinions to empirical analysis, and who met the results with good grace and good sense.
No study like this is about the individuals themselves. That's why sample size was a "problem". Do you think the scientists would have asked for, and the owners of the instruments would have lent, those expensive instruments just to see what those 21 people could hear?
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kawaiigardiner
post Jan 4 2012, 07:11
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QUOTE (zipr @ Jan 4 2012, 07:14) *
Here's another story on it, which includes audio samples:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/...e-strad?ps=cprs


I answered the question correctly but I have a feeling that those who answered was more a guess based on slight differences and then being unable to associate the differences to a particular violin. IMHO when ever I hear individuals go on about perceived differences it sounds like a re-hash of the 'pear cables' direction of some person's review claiming that the product makes the 'music really swing' (what ever the heck that means) - sorry I can't find the original review, it seems to have disappeared.
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