I have a cheap Romanian made fiddle and it sounds good. It carries very well. Granted, in the upper registers it isn't so great but part of that is me not knowing how to play up there. My teacher said that's the weakest part of the instrument anyway and rarely sounds very good except on very high-dollar instruments.
Her teaching fiddle is a 1920s Sears-Roebuck that used to belong to her granddaddy. Again, it sounds really good. Even a cheap instrument can sound good if it's set up properly, has good strings, and someone who loves to play it. :)