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Stradivarius vs. Guarneri—Test your audio system, test your critical listening skills


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On 4/15/2021 at 6:31 PM, ARQuint said:

 

Zero takers so far.😪

 

As the original post went up on 4/15, I'll withhold the correct responses until 6:30 PM on 4/29.

(If anybody wants 'em, that is!)

 

AQ

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Well, I'd argue that this isn't really "listening to music" but, rather, using musical material to judge recordings and playback gear. I'm fairly sure that, as an audiophile. you've done hours of critical listening to decide on purchases and set-up parameters. Once the work is done, we all kick back and listen for pleasure. Though, in truth—whether they admit it nor not—very few audiophiles ever get completely out of the critical listening mindset....

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Yes, it's very easy to pick the difference between the styles of the two makers, for the marked samples - just on laptop speakers. Okay, I now know the signatures of the makers - so, what's the point of identifying which variant was used for a particular recording ... it's like going back to school, 😉.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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22 minutes ago, fas42 said:

Yes, it's very easy to pick the difference between the styles of the two makers, for the marked samples - just on laptop speakers. Okay, I now know the signatures of the makers - so, what's the point of identifying which variant was used for a particular recording ... it's like going back to school, 😉.

 

With all due respect, Frank, could you put your money where your mouth is? My numbers are small to date (which is why I'd like so much to get AS community members involved) but most of the people that have tried to differentiate between the two makers' violins haven't done better than chance.  You're saying it's "very easy," so why not give it a whirl? It would take 15 minutes or less for you to listen to the FLAC version of the 12 unknowns (each sample is about a minute long) and, when the correct identities of the instruments are given on 4/29, if you do as well as you anticipate, I'd love to have you discuss in detail your approach. But you gotta take the trial...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Crickets.

It's been two weeks, and no replies via PM.

 

I've been thinking about why no one is choosing to participate in this exercise—or did, but hasn't reported his or her answers. Here are some possibilities as to what people are telling themselves.

 

• It wouldn't be any fun.

 

AudioDoctor put it this way: "You guys make listening to music a chore. Who wants to do that?" My response above was that, although a recording was being employed as the test material, this wasn't "listening to music." Honestly, this complaint surprised me the most. The obsessive nerdiness of what we sometimes do as audiophiles is a big part of this hobby. Is there anyone out there who hasn't had an audio buddy spend an afternoon with them moving loudspeakers around in 2 cm increments to find the best imaging and soundstage presentation? I think that audiophiles, God love 'em, are always listening analytically to some extent, even when the listening is allegedly purely recreational and not focused on achieving better sonic results.

 

 

• It's a poorly designed experiment so don't waste my time.

 

Fair enough. I did ask, nicely, that AS members accept the conditions of the trial as presented. But since when has that stopped any respectable AS forum member from complaining about anything they thought was wrong, intellectually or otherwise? I've not heard many objections to the design of the exercise. Bluesman's superb articles explored some important concepts and received 90 comments. This experiment was, potentially, a way to continue a vital discussion, potentially relevant to our experiences as individual critical listeners.

 

 

• I don't need no stinking test. Of course I can tell a Strad from a Guarneri.

 

This is what we heard from fas42, a prolific contributor to AS, and one who enjoys a good dustup without losing his cool. When I asked that he take the 15 minutes necessary to prove his claim, he said it would, But he hasn't—at least so far. I gather this is kind of what Frank does, wriggling out of providing specifics after he's made some pretty broad assertions. It's the Internet, and it's kind of hard to hold folks' feet to the fire, so to speak. Online, you can make your own rules, when it comes to proving an argument.

 

 

• I might embarrass myself.

 

I suspect this is a major factor and maybe the most important—even though I have  promised not to disclose any individual's score, or even the identity of any subject. At some level, some potential participants might imagine that the next time AQ is reviled as a tin-eared hack suckling at the teat of Big Audio, I'll come back with something along the lines of "Yeah? Remember the violin test? Well, stereogod99 only got 4 of 12 right!" I wouldn't. You'll have to take my word my on that.

 

                                                                                                                        •          •          •          •          •    

 

So here's what I'll be doing, assuming Chris approves. I'll leave the files up indefinitely. If I get between 1 to 9 responses, I'll send you—privately—your score, 10 out of 12 correct, 6 out of 12, whatever. If I get completed trials from ten individuals, I'll publish the right answers, identifying the specific violins and reveal the 10+ scores without naming names.

 

Why these stipulations? I worry that if I just put the answers up, those who did participate and did well would let us know about it and those that didn't do well would not. That's just human nature. My admittedly selfish motivation is that I'd like to get some more data to add to that I already have, examining the potential for people—audiophiles, musicians, and regular folk—to hear subtle differences of musical consequence with recorded music played back through a carefully configured stereo system.

 

So please (re)consider. Take a half-hour to listen to the identified instruments and then the unknowns. Rope in some interested non-audiophiles and run a group listening session. And send the data!

 

 

Andy

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Maybe young violinists such as TwoSet redditers can detect the difference of the luthier with their $1 earbuds...

I guess it needs training of ears, and it does not need expensive audio equipment

Sunday programmer since 1985

Developer of PlayPcmWin

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2 hours ago, yamamoto2002 said:

Maybe young violinists such as TwoSet redditers can detect the difference of the luthier with their $1 earbuds...

I guess it needs training of ears, and it does not need expensive audio equipment

 

I provide two sets of unknowns: One at MP3 quality and one at CD-quality FLAC. My numbers are small (which is why I'm pleading for audiophile volunteers) but my more successful subjects to date have done better with the higher resolution files. Those that didn't do well with FLAC didn't seem to do any worse with the lossy format.

 

Why not give it a go? I'll send you your results within a few hours. Instant gratification.

 

AQ

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On 4/30/2021 at 12:57 AM, ARQuint said:

I've been thinking about why no one is choosing to participate in this exercise—or did, but hasn't reported his or her answers. Here are some possibilities as to what people are telling themselves.

I'm missing an option: I don't need no stinking test. Of course I cannot tell a Strad from a Guarneri. 🙂

 

Semi-related (in case someone wasn't familiar with those already):

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47 minutes ago, danadam said:

I'm missing an option: I don't need no stinking test. Of course I cannot tell a Strad from a Guarneri. 🙂

 

Semi-related (in case someone wasn't familiar with those already):

 

Fascinating stuff. Thanks.


There's a slight difference between these studies and my exercise. The participants in the experiments you brought to our attention were really asking the question "which violins are better?" whereas I'm asking "can you tell the difference between the two makers' instruments?" I do think the latter question is sort of implied by the former in the studies you referenced: the test subjects surely all believe that, overall, the old violins are superior and wanted to show they could identify them reliably by proclaiming their superiority.

 

Anyway, thanks again for showing me these papers.

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Thanks for a valuable experience – even though mine wasn't the one you had in mind.

 

I'm a listener, not a gamer (no computer games, nor even bridge or solitaire).  So I used the files as a listening experience, many times over, and was enthralled.

 

I didn't listen comparatively for the different violin makers – though if pressed, I'd probably trade my Strad for a Guarneri, seeking a better match to my audio system.

 

Your files made me hear the exact tone and shaping of individual notes.  It's the first time I realized that if I were practicing  a string quartet and heard those slightly louder or more aggressive notes from the first violin's Dushkin Strad, I might intuitively respond in kind on my own instrument.  

 

Each track is such a beautiful minute!  And though I didn't play the right game, I'll look back for the results.  

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