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  1. #1
    LiveJazz's Avatar
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    Question Roudnitska on side-by-side comparisons: Useful or not??

    I was reading this comparison of Eau Sauvage and Eau Sauvage Fraicheur Cuir on Scented Salamander the other day, when I came across this quote:

    [Fragrances smell different]..."depending on whether one is smelling it in comparison or in isolation. This is perfectly natural since one's nose will pick on different nuances "by comparison" and as relative to each other. Edmond Roudnitska took a strong stand against this practice and to a large extent he is right."

    I always found it useful to compare fragrances side by side, especially when the scents are in the same basic category. But now I'm not so sure. There are indeed many cases where I might like a fragrance by itself, for daily wear, but when I compare it to something else...even something I don't like as much...I start nitpicking it and don't like it as much. Is that good or bad?

    What do you think? Are side-by-sides useful, counterproductive, or neither?
    "It's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing; it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing."

  2. #2
    mr. reasonable's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roudnitska on side-by-side comparisons: Useful or not??

    I suspect (experts required here) that a form of 'phase cancellation' may come into play if going quickly from A to B if both have common elements.

    e.g. if A has a slug of, let's say immortelle, and B also has immortelle, then after smelling A . . . B may seem weaker (or at least the immortelle note not as strong) and the other notes may be more apparent because the nose has just had a blast of immortelle in A and become accustomed to it, or at least slightly de-sensitized to that note, and doesn't notice it as strongly in B as one would if smelling B 'cold' so to speak, with a fresh nose.

    At least that would be my assumption, so in the rare cases I do an A & B (as I did with two different batches of Santal Noble recently) I would take a bit of time between each . . .

    No scientific basis for this - just a hunch.

    PS To answer the question, though, I think half the fun of all this is in comparing and contrasting different scents and different perfumers variations on a theme etc. - that's how I learn . . .
    Last edited by mr. reasonable; 5th August 2010 at 02:06 AM. Reason: PS

  3. #3
    PaulSC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roudnitska on side-by-side comparisons: Useful or not??

    I think you're right, mr. r. For instance I once wore samples of Amber Sultan and Amber Absolute on opposite wrists. They have a lot of common elements, and when I smelled them in close succession, whichever one I sniffed first seemed far more powerful than the other. Still, by giving myself time in between sniffs and varying the order in which I smelled them, the test told me a lot about both scents. Even the "cancellation" effect is informative.
    Spray it, don’t say it…
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  4. #4
    LiveJazz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roudnitska on side-by-side comparisons: Useful or not??

    The difference in side-by-sides for me isn't necessarily in the strength of the two fragrances in question, but whether I like them or not. For instance, here's a pattern I've noticed: If I'm comparing a relatively sweet and a relatively dry/astringent scent in the same category, in the side-by-side, I tend to gravitate to the sweet and reject the dry/astringent. But for full wearings, with no other scents present, I vastly prefer the drier option.

    I hate that idea that my nose can be tricked into thinking I prefer something I really don't!
    Last edited by LiveJazz; 4th August 2010 at 06:55 PM.
    "It's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing; it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing."

  5. #5

    Default Re: Roudnitska on side-by-side comparisons: Useful or not??

    I find side-by-side tests useful when comparing old and new versions of a fragrance, or different concentrations of that fragrance; EdP on one arm, EdT on the other. Comparing more than one fragrance side by side, though, does seem to "cancel out" some of the nuances of the frags that would be apparent if I were wearing them in isolation. It also enhances the relative sweetness/dryness of some scents; I like Le Mâle just fine by itself, but worn next to something like Azzaro it strikes me as obnoxiously cloying and sweet.

  6. #6
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    Redneck Perfumisto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roudnitska on side-by-side comparisons: Useful or not??

    I believe that sniffing side-by-side has its uses, primarily in detecting differences, but not only does it skew perceptions based merely on comparison - there is a dangerous olfactory "bleeding" of one scent into the other that one needs to watch out for. I have noticed that notes may persist or even fatigue certain receptors, and the perception of the other scent may be distorted. I've developed ways to minimize this in my own sniffing, such as randomly testing a larger number of scents or intentionally varying the order of sniffing.

    Comparison sniffing is an essential tool, not least of all in fragrance development. However, sniffing something "cold" and "alone" is the most reliable way for me to get a real feel for what a fragrance smells like overall.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Roudnitska on side-by-side comparisons: Useful or not??

    I find side by sides useful if you are working within a certain genré and you're looking for certain aspects. For example, I love ambers, preferably dry ambers, and I love to compare them side by side to see which one is the driest. I think you need to set your criteria beforehand and look for specifics when doing this type of comparison.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Roudnitska on side-by-side comparisons: Useful or not??

    For me useful only when comparing different concentrations of the same fragrance.

  9. #9
    zztopp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roudnitska on side-by-side comparisons: Useful or not??

    I find side by sides very useful. Infact, I detect more nuances when comparing side by side..
    -

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