I've been using Warchal Karneol on both my violin and viola this past month, and recently put on Warchal Brilliant on the violin. I've played mostly chamber music concerts with a string quartet and in a violin duo with my wife (who is also trying out the Karneol set on her violin) and here are our thoughts:
I'll start off with the most positive experience: the Karneol set for viola is stellar, especially when you look at the cost vs. performance. It has incredible sounding G and D strings, and the A is clear and not brittle in any way. The C is just okay, but for the most part the set is very well balanced. While I do prefer my previous setup at times, Praistro Obligato C/G/D with a Larsen A, it costs over twice as much ($90 as opposed to $40). Two of my private students have switched to Karneol, replacing Dominant and Helicore and both of them are very happy with the results in the sound that they can produce.
The Karneol set I tried on my violin (by Ran Dim, 2005, shop of William Harris Lee, Chicago) was fantastic. It had a very warm, gut-like sound, which rounds out some of the edges of an instrument that projects very strongly. I previously used Obligato and Vision, and I prefer the Karneol to both of them, although the others have lasted longer without losing their sound. On my wife's violin, a Mario Gadda, it still has warmth but doesn't project as well as her previous set of strings (Thomastik Vision). She is also finding some minor tuning stability issues as she plays them out. Regardless, we enjoyed them very much, and for $25 it's the best "bang for the buck" violin set you'll find anywhere...it's great to enjoy new strings every two months!
I just put the Brilliant set on my violin, we'll see how it does in concerts next week. It sounds great if you play very, very, close to the bridge. :)
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