After spending the day listening to my HM collections, I conclude that :
1) In medium and fast paced passages and brighas, they are in fact pretty even, were it not for the tanpura and acoustics of most sabhas.
2) In heavy akharas and staccato akharas vs brighas, CM is in fact more melodious.
3) Their increased working range comes from the ability to use mixed and head voices seamlessly. Some CM musicians have a weak sthayi, either up or down. I see Western violinists not losing tone even on the edge of the fingerboard.
4) CM voices of a lot of current singers are inaudible without a mic, thanks to apartment acoustics. When I tell you that a group of singers can be drowned out by their own tanpura, be afraid, be very afraid. But alas, real estate is too scarce, and neighbours too close!
5) HM musicians really rehearse and fine tune their brighas like WCM instrumental work.
6) HM musicians compromise words for melody. In CM, good pronunciation enhances it.
7) A tabla is feebler & makes a more "ringy" sound than a mridangam. I cannot understate the effect of this one variable with bad mic settings. They still play quietly even in rounds of heavy brighas and do not have as much effect on the energy level. Their main job is to set the pace.
8) It's the tanpura really.
9) The slow tempo at the beginning. In all forms of music I know, the tone really shines in the slow movements.
10) Much better mic settings.
11) CM does not teach tone (either vocal or instrumental) or for that matter even an overview of basic vocal anatomy!
Did you ever hear about things like -- Sympathetic resonance? Bow pressure? Contact point? Tonal colour? Tongue and palate position? Breath support? Tone production techniques? The root cause of this, in fairness, is that only now do noobs like myself have the means to know and 3-4 generations back, few even went to school. But that was yesterday.
12) Our private collections are of truly atrocious sound quality, but in consolation, we really couldn't have done any better.