Listen to part of a lecture in a history of musical instruments class.
Professor: So musical instruments evolved in ways that optimize their acoustical properties, how the instrument vibrates and sends those vibration through the air to our eardrums.
Now, professional musicians are very particular about their instruments, they want instruments that help them fully express the intent of the composer, which of course translates into a more enjoyable listening experience for the audience members.
Yet most audience members probably aren't even aware of how much the instrument matters.
I mean, OK, think about the last concert you attended.
When you applauded, what went through your mind?
Student: I recently heard a violinist who totally blew me away.
So when I applauded, I guess I was showing my appreciation for his skill, the hours of practicing he must have put in.
Professor: And his violin?
Student: Didn't really think about it.
It looked exactly like mine, which is inspiring in a way knowing my violin could also produce beautiful tones, that maybe I would sound that good someday.
Professor: I hope you do. But if your violin isn't as good as his…
Student: You mean he might not sound as good playing my violin?
Professor: As I said, tone quality differs from instrument to instrument.
The question is why. Why does one instrument sound more beautiful than another, even if they look identical?