As an ex-violinist I can say that the general consensus amongst professional players is that an instrument that sounds bright and loud is one to be avoided. Not only because it is fatiguing to play, but also because in general such instruments have virtually no carrying power in an auditorium or hall. In actual fact, the very best instruments (and I am not just talking Strads and Guarneris - I am talking about good Italian instruments up to the Storioni era and to a lesser extent the more modern makers such as Scarampella) actually sound rather intimate, warm, detailed yet subdued under the ear. I distinctly remember the first times I played really good instruments - a Carcassi and a Nicola Gagliano. I remember being "unimpressed", such was my naivety back then. They sounded subjectively gutless and anaemic under the ear. But the thing was that they carried wonderfully, and people 20 feet away would say how fantastic they sounded compared to the ones that sounded nicer to me under the ear. It took me a long time to develop my sensitivities to what made a good violin and what made a bad one. I lament the fact that modern violin string technology has in my opinion detracted from the sound of these wonderful old Italian instruments too. And you can hear the results on recordings too. The string sound on all those "golden age" recordings was just not on account of the engineering side of things during that era - it was the strings the players used as well. Typically they would use aluminium-wound gut on the A string, and silver or aluminium- wound gut on the D and G (with the E usually being steel). This gave a detailed, warm sound with lots of overtones compared to modern strings that have a higher tension and stifle the sound. It also afforded the player more control over the tonal characteristics of the instruments and afforded better articulation and dynamic control via bowing. There are a few soloists around these days who still prefer to use the classic non-synthetic strings such as Eudoxa and Olive, and you really can hear the difference even as a listener. Incidentally, I just got a great violin and piano recording last week. Kyung Wha-Chung "Con Amore" - one of those K2HD 100 khz remasterings of the original early digital Decca recording. To this date, this remastering is the best recorded sound I have heard of violin and piano, equal to a classic Living Stereo recording of Heifetz playing the Beethoven "Spring" Sonata (a Kevin Gray Cisco reissue on LP but sadly not CD).