Stradivarius violins - The sound of perfection


Stradivarius is the preferred instrument compared to other violins due to the particular balance found in the properties of its sound timbre. Published in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, the study entitled A listening experiment comparing the timbre of two Stradivari with other violins offers results of the experiment by Carlo Andrea Rozzi (CNR Nanoscience Institute), Alessandro Voltini (Cremona International Violin Making School A. Stradivari), Fabio Antonacci (Milan Polytechnic), Massimo Nucci and Massimo Grassi (both from the Department of General Psychology of the University of Padua).

What makes the sound of one violin preferable to that of another? Do Stradivarius violins have a special sound? To answer these questions, the research team asked 70 liutai  (violin makers of the Cremona area) to listen and evaluate the timbre difference between two modern, one factory and a Stradivarius violin. The results suggested that what makes the Stradivarius the preferred sound is a particular balance in the properties of the instrument's timbre. Based solely on listening to five simple notes, listeners showed a marked preference for a particular violin, in this case, the Stradivarius. The researchers then identified a kind of 'signature' that distinguishes the preferred violin sound from those considered less pleasant. 

Stradivarius violins are recognized worldwide as excellence in craftsmanship, a model for instrument makers, and an unachievable desire for collectors and musicians. However, several studies show that violinists, when blindfolded, seem to prefer modern violins to the mythical Stradivarius.