Two violins were investigated. The only intentionally introduced difference between them was the type of varnish. One of the instruments was covered with a spirit varnish, the other was oil varnished. Experimental modal analysis was done for unvarnished/varnished violins and a questionnaire inquiry on the instrument’s sound quality was performed. The aim of both examinations was to find differences and similarities between the two instruments in the objective (modal parameters) and subjective domain (subjective evaluation of sound quality). In the modal analysis, three strongly radiating signature modes were taken into account. Varnishing did not change the sequence of mode shapes. Modal frequencies A0 and B(1+) were not changed by oil varnishing compared to the unvarnished condition. For the oil varnished instrument, the frequency of mode B(1+) was lower than that of the same mode of the spirit varnished instrument. Our two violins were not excellent instruments, but before varnishing they were practically identical. However, after varnishing it appeared that the oil-varnished violin was better than the spirit-varnished instrument. Therefore, it can be assumed with a fairly high probability that also in general, the oil-varnished violins sound somewhat better than initially identical spirit-varnished ones.
The multi-stimulus test with hidden reference and anchors (MUSHRA) is commonly used for subjective quality assessment of audio systems. Despite its wide acceptance in scientific and industrial sectors, the method is not free from bias. One possible source of bias in the MUSHRA method may be attributed to a graphical design of its user interface. This paper examines the hypothesis that replacement of the standard multi-slider layout with a single-slider version could reduce a stimulus spacing bias observed in the MUSHRA test. Contrary to the expectation, the aforementioned modification did not reduce the bias. This outcome formally supports the validity of using multiple sliders in the MUSHRA graphical interface.