Science can tell us only so much about Stradivarius violins

So in their latest study1, Fritz and colleagues blind-tested instruments in two concert halls in Paris and New York City. Expert players performed both solo and with an orchestra on old and new violins, including several by Stradivari. Listeners, including violinists, violin-makers, composers and music critics, were asked to rate the instruments according to how well their sound projected, and to give their overall preference.

The results were stark: new instruments were consistently preferred and judged to project better. At face value, this questions the wisdom of many violinists who strive to play on a Strad if they can.