Don't tell their owners!
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Like all tests where the tester has a preconceived bias or a vested interest or just wants to debunk tradition, both the way the data is collected and the results need to be put in context. Rarely are any tests, which apparently "disprove" accepted theory, are done where they are completely and utterly on a level playing field. I tend to avoid this sort of thing - it does seem to be a modern trend.
As with most "tests" of this kind, some very important factors are conveniently overlooked. What makes some instruments (not just violins) great are characteristics that are not uncovered by a minutes-long playing session. Ironically, sometimes a great vintage instrument feels more difficult to play when a player unfamiliar with it first plays it than a "more responsive" modern instrument. These old instruments can have such strong sonic personalities (a good thing) that the player needs to live with it for some time in order to learn how to coax the very complex, beautiful, and potentially superior sound that it is capable of. Not to mention that how an instrument feels/sounds in a small room is a completely different thing than how will project in a concert hall.
It's why as an audio nerd I was so fond of blind tests (as are a number of UK magazines). Sometimes, what we think we know isn't what we in fact know.
The points about concert hall projection are certainly valid. A point could also be raised that more experienced violinists know how to extract the maximum from an instrument, in the way that a great guitarist can make an instrument do things that a less-skilled player can't.
But these violinists were performing in an international competition (most likely the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis), so it isn't as if they were sucky players.
As usual, both sides will take from it what they need, and agree to disagree. But stories like this are always fascinating for what they say about expectations. And the parallels to the audio hobby are abundant.
I think that most people's judgement is affected if they know what the "correct" choice is supposed to be. It's not that these people are stupid or dishonest, it's just human nature. Perception is affected by many factors other than the physical object or effects being judged.
I can understand that audio reviewers wouldn't want to do every review blind but I think it would be interesting if they were given a blind test every year or two.