Can you hear the difference between a $1 million cello and $5,000 cello? This cellist puts it to the test

21 October 2021, 13:19

Is there a difference between a $1 million cello and $5000 cello? This cellist puts it to the test
Is there a difference between a $1 million cello and $5000 cello? This cellist puts it to the test. Picture: YouTube / Wendy Law

By Sian Moore

Watch as this string player pits three cellos against each other, all with vastly different price tags...

In Reed Yeboah Fine Violins shop, New York, cellist Wendy Law was given the opportunity to find out how much difference there really is in sound quality between a more affordable cello, and one that costs a whopping $1 million.

To conduct her experiment, she played Bach’s eternal Cello Suite No. 1 on three stringed instruments with wildly varying price tags.

The first, a $5,000 cello by Jay Haide; the second, a $180,000 English cello by Thomas Kennedy; and finally, an Alessandro Gagliano cello worth $1 million.

See if you can hear a difference...

Read more: Virtuoso Ray Chen compares a $69 violin with a $10m Stradivarius. The difference is mad.

At the end of the musical test, Law leaves it down to her viewers to decide if there was any difference in the sound quality. And from a quick sweep of the comments, it’s clear there’s a common consensus among watchers.

Many agree that the final two instruments sound clearer and more crisp, with a fuller sound too.

One person commented: “The main difference I hear is that with the more expensive instruments you hear the instrument itself less and the music more.”

Read more: This cello quartet’s cover of the Bee Gees’ ‘How Deep is Your Love’ is sheer delight

Violinist Ray Chen conducted a similar experiment with violins last year, comparing a $69 instrument with a $10 million Stradivarius.

Watch as he tests the instruments with several pieces of increasingly challenging music, beginning with ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and culminating in Milstein’s ‘Paganiniana’.

Despite the astronomically different price tags, Chen still manages to make the music sound just as beautiful with both violins.

“Conclusion: You don't need a better instrument, you need a better violinist,” one person summarised on his YouTube video.