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Blind testing - of flutes.

Don Hills

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Apparently flute players tend to be as prone to biases as audiophiles are.


Flute Tone Investigations - Intro


Near the beginning it refers to a test done using a range of flutes from a top manufacturer, which differed only in the materials they were made of: "... differing from each other only in that they were made of 7 different alloys, ranging from silver-plated base metal through the various gold alloys to full platinum. ..."


In summary, despite expectations, they all sounded the same. The conclusion:

"Gregor wraps it up hoping that his experiment will put paid once and for all to the suggestion that different metals produce different sounds. Fat chance. I'd be convinced, but I don't think the flute buying world will be. They will go on believing that upgrading from silver to gold, or gold to platinum is going to completely revolutionise their playing, and the manufacturers are certainly not going to tell them otherwise. And once they've stumped up for the tenfold increase in price they are certainly unlikely to go back. Dismal news for the science of acoustics, but probably better for the economy this way!"


The author, a flautist and flute maker, then goes on to investigate why flutes sound different, using many of the tools and techniques familiar to audio and electrical engineers - which he was for for much of his life. He ends the introductory page with Lord Rayleigh's famous line, " What we cannot measure, we do not know".


"People hear what they see." - Doris Day

The forum would be a much better place if everyone were less convinced of how right they were.

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There was a similar story a while ago about carbon fiber violins vs. Strads.



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Yeah but you can actually tell the difference between the sound of different violins. Its indeed conceivable that a carbon fiber violin might someday sound better than a strad -- similarly its physically possible that different flutes sound different.


The problem with USB cables is that the discussions are just whacked. Just because quantum entanglement exists doesn't mean that it explains people that think that they can hear differences in Ethernet cables before and after burn-in. Einstein knew the difference between religion and science.

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It was/is Galway with the gold flute.


No - or rather, Rampal was first, as they both played gold flutes ;)


Jean-Pierre Rampal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


"As the owner of the only solid gold flute (No. 1375) made, in 1869, by the great French craftsman Louis Lot, Rampal was the first internationally renowned "Man With the Golden Flute". Rumours of the survival of the 18-carat gold Lot had been circulating in France for years before the Second World War, but no one knew where the piece had gone. In 1948, almost by chance, Rampal acquired the instrument from an antiques dealer who had wanted to melt the instrument down for the gold—evidently unaware that he was in possession of the flute equivalent of a Stradivarius.[nb 8] With family help, Rampal raised enough funds to rescue the precious instrument, and went on to perform and record with it for 11 years.[nb 9] In interviews, Rampal said he thought the gold—by contrast with silver—made his naturally bright, sparkling sound "a little darker; the colour is a little warmer, I like it".[9] Only in 1958, when presented during his debut US tour with a 14-carat gold instrument made after the Lot pattern by the William S. Haynes Flute Company of Boston, did Rampal stop using the 1869 original. After one final recording in London,[nb 10] he consigned the golden Lot to the safety of a bank vault in France, and thereafter made the Haynes his concert instrument of choice."

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There was a similar story a while ago about carbon fiber violins vs. Strads.



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I once heard an interview on Boston's WCRB (via Internet radio) of a string quartet who all used Luis & Clark Carbon Fiber viol instruments. Since they travel a lot, they said that they especially value carbon fiber's stability in the face of changes in temperature and humidity. They mentioned a particular tour where one winter day, they were playing in Calgary Canada, and the next night they had a concert date in Guadalajara Mexico! Normally this would be impossible, they said, due to the wood's need for several days to adjust to such drastic changes in humidity and ambient temperature. Not so, they said, with the carbon fiber instruments. "They were in tune when we put them on the plane in Calgary (in the luggage compartment - they don't need to buy a seat for their cello and string bass any more) and they were in tune when we took them out of their cases in Mexico." They also said that the carbon fiber viols sound as good as any fine violin. They certainly sounded fine when the quartet played in the WCRB studio. Yo-Yo-Ma has a Luis & Clark carbon fiber cello, and he loves it. So there must be something to this technology for stringed instruments. I wonder if anybody makes a carbon fiber Spanish Guitar?


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Not sure abour Spanish guitar but Chris Stein plays a superb XOX Audiotools CF model.


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I wonder if anybody makes a carbon fiber Spanish Guitar?

There's a nylon stringed classical guitar of composite material made by Leviora that's reported to be excellent.




Rainsong has made a full line of carbon fiber guitars for several years. They play well and sound great - I'd buy one in a minute if I were on the road. I don't think they yet make a nylon stringed version, but it's only a matter of time. There are others, like Blackbird (who do make a nylon stringed model), but I've never played any of them except Rainsong.

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