Pirastro Perpetual Strings Review

October 4, 2018, 10:16 AM · Hello together, since the old thread is already archived, I start this one to help collecting information about the new Pirastro Perpetual violin strings. I made a video review of those strings in which I tested the string over 2 and a half months. I tried to give you as good as possible comparable sound samples of the new string compared to the same string played 2 1/2 months.
I think this string is an awesome all rounder for professional violinists who have some kind of a bankroll :D
But on the upside of the high price tag the string lasts very long and keeps its initial sound-characteristics very well even after a lot of playing. So the price tag is relative when you think about the longevity of the strings.
tell me your experiences with the string and maybe you also have ideas, how I can improve my review videos. Here it is:

Replies (57)

October 4, 2018, 12:46 PM · I can very much agree to this. Think it is like mid June when I put them first on, 2-3 hours per day, see no need to change them so far.

At that point, EP Gold already gave me problems in playability. Usually, I only became fully aware of the extend of this degradation when I put on a new set (before I started to compensate with rosin, thought it was due to humidity, temperature, etc.).

I am curious to see how it will be once I put a new Perpetual set on. Best case, the difference is very low.

October 4, 2018, 2:27 PM · Yow! $170 on amazon.

I may have spaced out and missed this if you included it in your video, but some feedback on clean/complex and bright/warm might help. I don’t know what your violin usually sounds like without them. And perhaps some comparisons to the sound of other strings. And now I’ll go rewatch the video to see if I just wasn’t paying attention.

October 4, 2018, 2:50 PM · I'm seeing closer to $100 at most places, David.
October 4, 2018, 3:03 PM · I have a principle about strings, that of course I doubt is the majority's view: any synthetic solution more expensive than gut strings is not worth it. This is why I do not favor Infeld Pi, and even the Passione/Passione Solo strings. Oliv are pricey, but at least they are gut strings. Do not agree with getting the violinist base to overpay for strings, as that will drive the price higher and higher every time. I would think the same even if I was well-off (I do not mind paying for gut strings.)

That said, I am glad Mr. Streuff went through the efforts of reviewing the set, as he's an honest forum member. My "rebuttal" for its longevity would be that I frankly doubt they outlast good quality gut strings anyway. But it's other people's money, and I should not mind-my qualm is that they appear to be criminally overpriced, regardless their "exuberant lustre."

There are many other Pirastro strings I would consider before these-the platinum E is good, though.

October 4, 2018, 3:53 PM · Hey Adalberto. I can agree to your thoughts, but the choice of gut vs. synthetic is not always about longevity or sound, but for tuning stability as well. With most synthetic strings tuning stability is a given. Even when the room or string temperature changes during playing or waiting for a concert.
I think the price is reasonable, considering it is a high end string (and I don't say this very often). Not everyone will need that qualities of this string and may also prefer a budget string like pirastro tonica to stay with the same brand.
For me gut strings are out of consideration due to their impracticality... sadly, because I love the sound of the good old Oliv stiffs! It is another world to be honest. Being the one with the stable A is a good thing though. Since I am playing synthetics I tune once a rehearsal or concert or maximum twice.
I do not think this string is made for the violinist base, but they try more to be a better "evah pirazzi" and a successor of the PI and other well known high end synthetic strings.

@David: This time I talked less and played more in my review. I thought it might be better. I don't restring my violin very often just to test strings so I do not do side by side comparisons. And my violin doesn't sound very well without a string on :D
No seriously, I usually played Larsen Virtuoso a long time, since I like the low tension and clarity of sound. I do talk a little bit about that comparison and to the PI in the video.
Regarding warm and bright I would say that this string is more on the bright side, but with a very good give to the bow, so that a gutsy sound is made possible. I think it is the full on compromise of very little of the bad factors and more than a little of the good factors combined with their longevity, which makes them so desirable.

October 4, 2018, 4:22 PM · Have you also tried Rondo by Pirastro? And how do these compare to EP strings that haven’t died?
October 4, 2018, 5:01 PM · The Rondo string is by Infeld and it is the next String I will put on my violin!
October 4, 2018, 5:53 PM · Just a verbal comparison. “They sound similar to xxxxxxx” or “brightness comparable to xxxxx”.
October 4, 2018, 6:35 PM · Similar in sound to a new set of PI but with more resistance to the bow and slightly less depth on G and D.
Brightness is hard to compare, many strings are bright in the beginning, this string holds some of the brightness very long, but it is a very characteristic brighness.
October 4, 2018, 9:28 PM · I'd describe the Perpetual as a very focused string. A lot of extremely good players I've run them by have really liked them. Someone who likes a "fuzzier" sound (like an Obligato) probably will not.
October 4, 2018, 11:04 PM · I also got a sample set a while back. I've been putting off trying them but maybe I should soon.
October 4, 2018, 11:06 PM · Someone who likes a "fuzzier" sound (like an Obligato) Or gut.
Edited: October 5, 2018, 4:50 AM · Some gut-core strings can be VERY focused (like Olive or Passione) if one gets the setup just right. The Pirastro Passion has an unusual construction much like the Pirastro Olive, with a fabric layer between the gut and the metal windings. I'd say the Perpetual is even more focused (probably even more than Evahs), but I haven't gone back and forth between all these strings several times on multiple instruments to try to nail down the exact differences.

A lot will depend on the instrument too. Some instruments will work well with a particular string, while others will not.

With the Perpetual, Pirastro seems to have solved the horrible durability problems of the Evah A.

October 5, 2018, 9:29 AM · I tried Pirastro Perpetual on two instruments. Overall, I like them and consider them a good “high-end” string option, and they are very different than anything Pirastro has currently.

Some positives…

I agree that they are highly modular in dynamic, going from ppp to fff is very accessible with these strings.

Good bow response in quick passages.

I appreciate the focus brought to the perpetual set. (I detest “fuzzy” sounding strings like Obligato more than most)

They seem to last a while — I still have them on my “backup” violin after 3 months — with only a small degradation in the initial quality.

Agree with David — the A string winding issue appears to be solved with this string. I don’t see any of the separation there that I would expect on an Evah at this point.

The response and playability of the E string is sublime — it might become one of my “top 3” E strings. I tried both gauges on both instruments and preferred the thicker one. Unlike most string sets, I didn’t notice much difference in the lower 3 strings upon changing to the thicker gauge.

Other observations…

Perpetuals lack some interest and color for me at times, similar to the sound of something like Larsen Virtuoso in that regard. I find Evah Green, Evah Gold, Peter Infeld, Vision Solo, and many other high-end synthetic strings to be more interesting sounding. Perpetual seem to be less on the “replicating gut” track and more on the “push the synthetic envelope” track in tonal regards.

They pretend somehow to be low tension and they do feel soft initially and for short bursts of playing, but playing a long concert or rehearsal on them you start to feel the tension against your fingertips. I could hardly believe it, because they felt so initially soft in the left hand. For long-term left hand comfort, I’d rather play on Evah Green than these (though those are not my first preference).

Like all strings, they are a mixed bag and have +’s and -’s. It will depend on the player and instrument to a large degree.

October 5, 2018, 11:35 PM · Thx!
October 6, 2018, 12:15 AM · It’s hard to tell much from a video, and so many factors are at play, but in Simon’s video, the sound color, evenness, and apparent speed of response reminded me of Kaplan Vivo strings. Maybe some of the newer Larsen Strings too. Very focused, even, brilliant, but maybe not terribly complex or colorful.
October 7, 2018, 5:10 AM · I hope they make a viola version.
October 7, 2018, 6:33 AM · Funny thing it's that we analyze every little detail of the string. Responsiveness, tension, balance, longevity... But in the end why we like a string or why we don't like, it's not always based in objective facts. Like wine, a holiday place or our partners...
There are intangibles.
Lately I have tried a couple of strings that were perfect... And I didn't like to play them. This thread reminds me of that.
October 14, 2018, 7:49 AM · I got a discounted set of perpetual's from Pirastro,(thank you Pirastro for the kind gesture). I put them on my C.1830 Jacquot and I was impressed by the concentration and loudness of the G, also the quality of sound on all strings. The D string has a bit more tension than the regular EP which I prefer to the EP. The A gives that freshness we all seek on the opening theme of the Sibelius concerto.
I found that the G sound deteriorated in DB's after a while, bringing it more in line with the EP G, but still better. This might be due to my taking it off a couple of times and also the peg snapping on another couple of occasions. I don't really remember what I had on the Jacquot before the change to give a comparison.
Later today I'll be taking my Guarneri Vuillaume out of hibernation (last 7 months)and as it has a new set of Vivo's on it, I'll play it with them for a few weeks and then put a brand new set of Perpetuals. I'll let you know.
Edited: October 14, 2018, 1:31 PM · Has anyone tried the steel A? I was looking for a simple sound comparison, but only found descriptions of sound (which can be subjective of course).

Since the A of the Perpetual is my least favorite across the four strings, that might be a path to choose. For me, it is a bit too much of the freshness mentioned in the post above.

October 14, 2018, 11:38 AM · I have a set of EP green with the Perpetual G on one of my violins...not a bad mix, as I needed to give my low end a punch on this particular fiddle. Anyway else mixing these two sets?
October 14, 2018, 5:56 PM · Hmmmmm Michael, what style of music are you playing? I find it unusual that one wouldn't want a fresh A.

To me, warmth should be reserved for D and G, and clarity should be desirable on A + E.

October 19, 2018, 1:06 PM · Erik, classical. Not sure if it relates to "freshness". Maybe a weird comparison: Sometimes eating corn, I have just a bit of taste of vanilla in my mouth. Sometimes playing on the A, I hear a bit of characteristic of a clarinet, and opposed to vanilla, this extra impression I do not like ;)

Today I changed to Timbre after four month. They still felt ok, but after the new ones were on, I realized they were past the point where I should have changed (this is not saying anything about Perpetual vs. Timbre because it is worn vs. new).

October 26, 2018, 10:35 PM · I finally got around to putting these on. Switching from Dominants with Goldbrokat E, I noticed the G and D sounded much more full and strong. A string was a bit muted, but better than Dominant's, and E was very dull compared to the Goldbrokat. Also had tons of whistling on the E as well. I will give them some more time to settle in. Overall, my preferred string set remains PI for my violin.
October 28, 2018, 5:36 PM · Ok, I want to throw in my personal analysis of these strings now that I've tried them.

I was given a sample set pf Perpetuals with a platinum E. Here are my thoughts:

These strings are very different from other strings I've tried. At first, they were different enough to where I questioned whether or not they'd be right for me (I'm always suspicious of things I'm not used to).
However, after adapting to them, and after having switched back to a couple of "old favorites" just to double check, I can say without question that these are my new *favorite* strings of all time. They really are my particular violin's "best friend." I've been searching for a string that would compliment my violin's natural temperament, which is truly powerful and soloistic instrument that punishes you strongly for any mistakes or "ambiguity" or "hesitation" in your bowing/fingering choices, and I really hadn't found "the string" until now. I think the best thing is they don't try to "Tame" the natural sound that my violin wants to project, but rather compliment it. They punish me in the same way my violin does, which sounds bad in writing but is actually precisely what I wanted, because I'm only have to adapt to one set of adjustments rather than two.

These are the characteristics that I found with these strings that made them such a great match for both me and my particular violin:

1) Hard to "crush" the sound on these strings. They are high tension but I think more elastic than some others, so they respond well to both soft strokes and very hard ones. I always hear that strings "do well in both ppp and FFF" and usually it's total BS, but in this case it seems to be true. At least for my violin, this is incredibly vital because it's always had trouble playing quietly in the past without losing clarity, so I'd have to switch to something mellow like dominants to play quietly. But in doing so, I would lose the ability to play with "punch" when I needed to, and I would lose all color to the sound. It was always one compromise or the other, so I was switching strings constantly.

2) Excellent "texture" to the sound, which was very important to me. They can "bite" very well with a good tug. Best texture of any strings I've tried so far, which my violin really desired. I've tried quite a few thomastik strings and they all played a bit too "sterile" for my violin's preference, and so options for coloration felt rather limited.

3) Awesomely balanced, in terms of "resistance" from the strings from the G through the E. With most other strings I've tried, the G gives good resistance to the bow and the E does as well, but the middle two strings feel way too soft. These are truly the first strings I've tried where I get an equally responsive, "meaty", "focused" and "Textured" sound on the G, D, and A.

4) The A is very "fresh" and "crisp" as noted by kypros above. I really like this, as getting too much warmth on the A really bothers me most of the time. I tend to want the A to be more more similar to the E than it is to the A, in the sense that it can really "sing out loud" in a soloistic way just like the E can, but with a bit more body to the sound. I guess the way I could describe this dilemma is that with most strings I've tried, the A sounds like it's "singing with its mouth open too wide." With the perpetuals, it feels like the singer is focusing these tones with a more closed mouth, and with a a tongue compression action that focuses the overtones correctly.

5) Despite the texture and bow resistance, the perpetuals have a lot of depth and "juice" when needed. Evah pirazzis greens, for example, had some of the characteristics that are desirable in these strings, but somehow they lacked that big, beefy sound when you needed it (at least on my violin).

6) One thing I will add is that people probably wouldn't consider the perpetuals an "easy-mode" string. You can't just lazily drift the weight of your bow across any sound point and still be rewarded with an adequate sound. You have to choose the right soundpoint and pressure, but when you do, the strings will give you what you want. I consider this an advantage, though, as it gives me more control and it encourages me to do things correctly.

Some of the other strings I've tried, and the things I found problematic with them:

Dominants: (med and soft tension): Too mellow, no texture, not that focused in high positions. Easy to play, though!

Peter-infeld: Lots of depth and excellent focus up into the positions, but too neutral and lacked different colors on my violin. Also, not enough resistance on D+A.

Vision solo (titanium and regular): Too "silky" and "flawless." Not enough "bite" when I needed it, although I recall this being better on the titanium. Decently balanced though, and really good overall playability.

Warchal Ambers: Good depth and balanced resistance, but response was a little bit slow on my violin, probably just due to wave-form incompatability. I still really liked these though. Main issue was lack of A-string crispness and just overall loudness.

Warchal Brilliant: A bit too "thick" sounding when I didn't want them to be. Like, sometimes I want a more "delicate" and "sweet" sound, and they seemed to want to be "thick" no matter how I played them. I also felt like my bow was always playing "on" the string rather than "in" the string. However, they did always play clearly no matter where I played and how lightly I played. I just found color changes to not be easily accessible.

Evah pirazzi (green): I think just a basic wave-form incompatibility here with my violin. Perhaps too much "ZZZZZZZZZ" and not enough "OOOOOOO". Wanted to only play loudly, otherwise wouldn't speak clearly. Not enough coloring options.

Evah pirazzi (gold): these really just didn't work on my violin at all. Sounded a bit "thin" and lacked fullness. Quite bright on my instrument, but in a way that I found unpleasant. And of course, the A needed constant replacement.

Jargar Superiors: Good strings, but felt similar to Peter-infelds and thus had a lot of the same disadvantages. Perhaps a bit more "muddied" sound on A and also in high positions as compared to PIs. Also, hard to play quietly and still achieve clarity.

October 28, 2018, 6:11 PM · But Eric, do you like them? LOL
October 28, 2018, 7:14 PM · Lol, david. Maybe I go overboard sometimes :)

Another thing to add: others are absolutely right when they say that these are not gut-like, nor are they trying to be be like gut.

For me, that is a plus.

Edited: October 28, 2018, 9:17 PM · Mr. Williams,

It's true synthetics do not sound like gut, but that's why I am so cynical about new synthetics, whenever they are more expensive than gut strings-which is quite often, sadly. I do not know your experience with gut strings, but some are really stable, brilliant, powerful, and "fast"-which makes me question whether it's even worth it to try all these new "super synthetics" released nowadays.

I actually *like* EP Weich a lot, but if I go there, it wouldn't be to emulate gut but to have the synthetic EP sound (with all pros and cons). Indeed, I do not think I will ever try Perpetual because they only come in "medium" gauge, which by their standards is a bit more than "true medium". Since EP Green comes in different gauges, they are the more reasonable product for me (full disclosure: I never tried the EP Gold for this very same reason-no "weich" was ever offered, which didn't make sense to me as a Pirastro-manufactured string.)

Do enjoy your Perpetuals-debating gut vs synthetics is definitely not what I had in mind.

October 28, 2018, 10:16 PM · That's an outsanding review, Erik. There isn't a question in my head about strings that you don't answer (except longevity, that I am sure you will update in this thread eventually).
I particularly like your mention about "texture". Although that will mean different things to each player, lately I have realized that response, projection, balance... don't mean anything if the strings don't have the "voice" (texture) you have in your head.
In that sense, I liked your mention of "silk" in the visions, because that's how I catalogue the "texture" of the sounds: by the impression we have of fabrics. Silk, linen, wool, cotton, hemp, polyester, leather, etc.
October 29, 2018, 9:06 AM · I wonder how many luthiers look at these pages of our "reviews" and think "Well, maybe if their violin was adjusted for that particular string set they wouldn't be complaining about them". A good deal of having a set work correctly seems to be the adjustment of the instrument.
October 29, 2018, 12:07 PM · Erik, do you think they're worth their price (especially with E platinum) ? They're not cheap.
October 29, 2018, 12:24 PM · I used to be a big fan of Pirastro. What made me look elsewhere was a constant tendency to increase the tension and short life span versus high price.
Please report back how do they sound after 200 hours. I am willing to bet that the zing will be gone. They are made to be disposable.
October 29, 2018, 2:20 PM · Rocky, out of curiosity, what do you use now?
October 29, 2018, 2:57 PM · They probably do think that Douglas, but they should know - in this particular case - that I'm actually very good friends with my luthier and I visit him almost every single week, and consequently have an adjustment done almost every single week. I have adjustments made every time I change a set of strings, as well, to make sure I'm getting the most out of them.

And on that note, The perpetuals are the first string set I've put on that we both agreed we liked. We butt heads a lot whenever I try new strings as he thinks that different strings are like "putting a different color lipstick on" and that the "True" sound of the instrument is mainly from the violin itself and the adjustments done to it.

But, in this case, we both really liked the perpetuals. A rare agreement!

Tammuz: They're worth it to me, because getting the right sound out my violin is something that haunts me constantly, and if that means spending an extra $20-$30 every few months in order to not have to think about my sound so much, it's definitely worth it on my end. Also, the other strings I was using before were almost exactly the same price, so the difference isn't really there.

With that said, I tend not to wear out E-strings, so chances are that I'll replace some of the other strings before I replace the E, and therefore it won't be as expensive to replace.

I really like the E but there are other Es I could live with. And without the plat E, the set is closer to $100, just like any other premium set.

October 29, 2018, 3:24 PM · Tammuz: Cantiga. The best deal for your money - the longer I use them, the better they sound! I also had a very good experience with Corelli Alliance from the same manufacturer - Salvarez
Edited: October 29, 2018, 7:23 PM · Thank you Rocky. Any specific guage?

Edited to add: I saw you recommended light gauge in another thread. However, the Sound Post in Canada only sells medium and Forte. Where do you buy the light gauge from?

Edited: October 29, 2018, 3:58 PM · Adalberto, it seems like Pirastro is continuing in same direction with gauges - they eliminated the light/heavy gauges of Obligato and Tonica violin strings.
October 29, 2018, 6:29 PM · Erik

What other e strings would you recommend to use with the perpetuals ?



October 29, 2018, 6:33 PM · What is always interesting to me is how different strings sound up close vs at the back of a good hall. I often notice a much bigger difference up close and under ear, and in the "feel" of the string as far as bow and vibrato response.

Erik -- good that you are adjusted for each set you test. I think you are in the minority in that regard.

Cantiga are good strings, I agree with Rocky. They are rather Evah like, but longer lasting and for less money.

October 30, 2018, 8:19 PM · Mr. Holland,

Just noticed on their website. Was doong calculations and now that Obligato is only Mittel, Evah Pirazzi weich would make sense for me 100% of the time (of course they do sound different, but share the same "modern" core.) It's also a pity for the Tonica, as it's also very comparable to EP Weich tension wise as well. No more Tonica weich for violinists who desired low tension synthetics.

With this change, only their gut strings have true low tension now. Must be a business decision, but I never saw the wisdom in taking away choice from a brand from which we have expected said choice for ao many years. Not everything that's new must be the best, I suppose.

Thanks for pointing this out to me, as I had not checked their website in a while.

October 30, 2018, 10:14 PM · Cantiga: Medium light. (Medium is one notch up compared to Dominants)
Edited: October 31, 2018, 6:13 AM · A little more information, now that I've done more setup and sound adjustments on violins with the Perpetual strings:

While the A string is much more durable than the Evah A, I still noticed some winding separation after removing and re-installing the same string a few times, more so than a Dominant for instance. This may not be an issue in more conventional use.

Adjustment of the instrument is about the same with the Perpetuals, as with Dominants, so one might just be able to switch between these two strings, without needing to have the instrument adjusted to optimize that change. This is not so with Evahs, as well as some other strings.

I'm not noticing much of advantage to the rather expensive Perpetual E, versus some of the popular and less expensive E's, like Hill or Golbrokat. But this isn't something I have yet tested by having a few hot-shot players switch back and forth several times, so opinions may vary on this.

October 31, 2018, 9:27 AM · @David and @Erik,
To confirm that when you review the A string, it's the Aluminium and not the Chromsteel.?
Has anyone compared both?
October 31, 2018, 10:44 AM · For me, it's the aluminum. I haven't tried the steel, because I've never played one I liked. Not enough "bow grab". But the Pirastro rep mentioned that Pirastro has been using some different surface finishes to enhance the grip on various strings, so maybe that applies to the steel A.
October 31, 2018, 3:18 PM · Same, Aluminum A with me.
October 31, 2018, 10:00 PM · Thanks. Usually, I like the sound of steel A strings but like you, David, I can't get away from the weird feeling in bowing. It distracts me a lot when shifting between D and A. I think that when I try the perpetual I will try both.
Edited: November 1, 2018, 9:50 AM · I also used and liked the aluminum A.

An update on these. The E string seems to be losing its luster quite literally, as the platinum coating seems to be degrading. When new, it was focused and responsive -- now it's a bit weird sounding. The other strings seem to not have changed much, and have been on for several weeks.

November 1, 2018, 11:06 AM · Talked to my wholesale supplier (International Violin) about these, roughly the same price as Evah Gold, which is well outside my usual price range, he said the Perpetual are VERY bright and make the bright sounding Evah Green sound dull by comparison, this does not appeal to me as I really don't like excessive brightness. does anyone else feel this way about Perpetual, that they are exceptionally bright???
November 1, 2018, 1:21 PM · Thanks for the review! I was wondering about these.
November 1, 2018, 1:25 PM · David Burgess, have you tried either of the Warchal steel A strings? (Russian-Style and Avantgarde) I haven't found grab to be an issue with either.
November 1, 2018, 2:19 PM · On the brighter of my two "go to" violins (a Strad model), I find the Perpetuals to be very full sounding and not overly bright at all. They are the best projecting string I've found for that violin. I also use the steel A with this set.
I like the Avantegarde string very much, but I haven't felt like I should replace the Perpetual A as it blends very well with the D and E of this set.
I've had this set on since early July and they are still going well. I like these strings very much.
November 1, 2018, 2:57 PM · Lydia, I've tried the Russian-style Warchal, and found "grab" also lacking. It might just be a matter of getting used to the steel A's though. I'm accustomed to the grab with aluminum windings. (I also miss the grab on silver D's.)

Lyndon, I wouldn't describe the Perpetuals as bright, as much as extremely focused. Some might hear that as "bright" though.

November 1, 2018, 4:05 PM · I was told by someone that the Perpetuals seems to have the effect of darkening bright instruments and brightening dark instrument. No idea if that's true, but if it is, it might explain the difference between Paul Fehrenbach's experience and Lyndon's dealer. I would personally describe the perpetuals as more "brilliant" than "bright," simply because they have a brightness, but it's built on a foundation of depth. It's not a shallow brightness.

Regarding "grab" with steel strings, I wonder if someone people have a different idea of "Grab" than others. I actually feel that most strings aren't as "Grabby" as I'd like them to be, but that's because I want an almost-crunchy snap-back when I dig into a string. I don't like strings that respond "politely" to pressure. Meanwhile, other people probably just think of "grab" as the string responding when pressure is applied, rather than the whippy, violent "pop" that I might personally expect.

November 1, 2018, 7:39 PM · Erik, that sounds odd. For a violin string? I would expect smooth response to even very heavy weight on the string. The articulation of an accent is created by the bow, not by the string. If you're not getting a crisp consonantal response on an accent (or even the deliberate initiation of any stroke), that's an issue with your bow.
November 1, 2018, 9:31 PM · "The articulation of an accent is created by the bow, not by the string."

I see both coming into play, as well as the rosin.

November 1, 2018, 10:05 PM · "I would expect smooth response to even very heavy weight on the string"

Hmmm, I expect something different. But this might be a perceptual difference.

"The articulation of an accent is created by the bow, not by the string."

Although I agree this is somewhat true, the particular aspect I'm talking about is the initial tugging of the string, before it enters a normal vibratory state. Think of a hard pizzicato in slow motion, where the finger "pulls" the string to the side before it's released. This initial pull before the release equates to a harder "snap-back", and strings that are more elastic tend to snap harder (in my experience). Steel tends to be less elastic, so because it stretches less before the initial release, we get less of that "pop" at the beginning of notes. Also, as david noted, a sticky rosin vs a powdery rosin makes a huge difference in this effect. A stickier rosin will "pull" the string sideways for a longer stretch before the string is released into normal vibration. This allows for a much better "punch" at the beginning of a hard-articulated accent, since the string is getting stretched further before "snapping" back into regular vibration.

So, I'd say Steel strings + powdery rosin tend to sound less articulated and have less "crackle" and "pop" as opposed to synthetic strings + Sticky rosin.

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Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine