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best songs for audio testing

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
This is a pretty broad subject I know but I recently decided to look into buying a set of Senn HD650's or Grado 325i's. I realized that through all of my audio tests I didn't have set of songs to compare to all others. For years I used the Matrix, the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan, U571 for its low ends on the depth charges going off underwater, even Independence Day when he shots the can off the alien ship and all 5 our of you channels get hit to test my 5.1 surround sound. There are several others as well. When it comes to CD's and 2 channel audio I have a tougher time. I decided to go through my 3000+ cd's and try and make a test cd. Other people have tried it and I thought they did a pretty good job of looking at things at the surface but not any one captures everything I was looking for. Stereophile: Editor's Pick does a pretty good job on some songs and their test signals are worth the $10 alone but the classical music can only take me so far. It got very complicated to me when I listened to any of the Grado’s and compared them to the HD650’s. The 650 were bigger and had much better lows but when I put it Pink Floyds Comfortably Numb there were guitar parts that seemed to come out at me with the Grado’s but not the 650’s. This was key for me and so I added it to my testing cd. I am going to throw out my selections to everyone just as a point of reference and would love to get everyone else’s input on what they use as a staple for testing different headphones. I have Sound Forge but don’t have the spectrum analyzer or any of that so I can’t really tell you how low the lows go and how high the highs go. This is just my amateur opinion.

Bizet – Carmen Suite No. 1 : Intermezzo - a calm intro cd that brings out many instruments; flute, harp, horns etc. It is a very relaxing song to get it started.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Clarinet Concerto in A – Il Adagio – This song covers the usual range of symphony music with nothing too low and it also a good listen.

Trad., Arr Erick Lichte: “Danny Boy” (From Let Your Voice Be Heard, Cantus Cts-1201) from the Stereophile Editor’s Choice CD – This song just does a great job of covering a wide range of frequencies through choir.

Ellington , Arr. Harris: “The Mooche” (From Rendezvous, Stph013-2) – From the Stereophile Editor’s Choice CD – a nice jazz song that is well recorded if nothing else.

Adrian Legg – Cajun Interlude – Mr. Legg is a master guitar player. This song is acoustic guitar only and covers the very low frequencies on the guitar to very high frequencies. And he rips it up as well.

Michael Hedges – Jitterboogie – The same thing as before. He is a great acoustic guitar player and this recording covers just about all audible ranges found on a guitar.

Mike Gordon and Leo Kottke – Rings – These two guys use a wide range of musical instrument on this track. It sounds like they use djembe’s, shakers, bass, acoustic guitar, hand drums and off coarse Leo’s vocals are deep.

Pink Floyd – Mother – Great acoustic intro that is low key. At 1:40 the guitar comes in with the keys. 2:49 the drums are added in with electric guitar and round out the sound. One of my favorites.

Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb – Same reasons as Mother. At 56 seconds the acoustic guitar really kicks in and gives and new feel to the music. There is also a keyboard part in the background that comes out in the Grado’s.

Oakhurst – River and Sticks (from Dual Mono) – A local Denver jamgrass band that did a good recording. This song is more in there for audio bliss then anything else. The guitar, upright bass and guitar are all in stereo and then the banjo is in the right can and the mandolin is in the left can which is interesting. The wide variety of instruments covers a lot of high, mid and lows as well.

Burning for Buddy – Pick up the Pieces – A tribute to Buddy Rich cd done by some of rocks biggest drummers. I think this song was done by Neil Peart. Big Band song done with all of the usual big band instruments. It is clear and a well rounded song.

Dave Matthews Band – Ants Marching - This song has violin, bass, acoustic guitar, horns and drums. The bass is low but not that low. The kick drum is punchy which is why I like it.

Smashing Pumpkins – Whir – a little more rock and roll. The bass guitar is pretty low end which fits nice with highs of the acoustic guitar.

Leftover Salmon – Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way (featuring Hank Williams) This song is all about the upright bass that is combined with acoustic/electric guitar. Overall a great mix of tones.

AC/DC – Back In Black – a true rock song. It will forever be one of the greatest so why not add it to my tester cd. Good lows and mids.

Stevie Ray Vaughn – Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) – Again, a classic tune but the opening measures might be the best. Stevie opening with his guitar and the thunder drums following. The follows by one of the most mid to low frequency songs I have ever heard. It rocks if you like lows and mids. This is just one to throw out there that if you listen to it and hear the detail in the low and mids parts and then listen to them on some poor phones or some phones with lots of highs you it should be night and day.

The last 3 are dance music that I have found that have VERY low frequencies in their music.

The Crystal Method – Keep Hope Alive (There is Hope)
The Crystal Method – High Roller – some really good lows!!!
Massive Attack – Angel – Great low end stuff. A must in my opinion. This track must be included in my testing.

Again, this is what I have been using the past few months to test out can and speakers. The first entries are more high to mids and the last ones have some serious lows in them. What else do you all test cans out with?

post #2 of 23
What I use as test tracks tends to change from generation to generation because it's important to have music that one knows but with which one is not overfamiliar. That said, I usually test "speed" with "... And Justice For All" by Metallica (the track, not the entire album), I test lows with "Glory Box" by Portishead and I tend to test orchestral soundstage with something very colouristic such as Messiaen or Tippett.

Then it's just whatever favourite tracks I feel like at the time: the most important thing to me about any equipment is how it "pops" the music that I like.
post #3 of 23
Or you could just use. HYSTERIA.
post #4 of 23
I check everything against Radiohead's OK Computer. I've heard it on enough speaker systems of varying quality to know what the recording itself really sounds like, which helps to judge a system's overall "flavor."
post #5 of 23
Chroma Key - Graveyard Mountain Home

Very interesting to hear the background color used throughout this album. It's one of my favorites for testing for newly revealed details.
post #6 of 23
Andrea Bocelli FTW
post #7 of 23
I always have Kyuss' "Green Machine" on my test cd's. It's a perfect song for testing the highs. You're either wanting to push the headphones into your ears and turn the treble all the way up, or it sounds perfect.

Excuse my terrible grammar, I just woke up
post #8 of 23
Singing Winds, Crying Beasts from Santana - Abraxas (1st track). The chimes and the wind are awesome for detailing dynamic range.

Patricia Barber - any of her cds are great for vocals.

Also, Creep by TLC from Crazy, Sexy, Cool is another great track for testing vocals (used to use this track to test car audio systems).
post #9 of 23

Cursum Perficio by Enya for fullness in bass and vocals, otherwise, just a mixture of rock and sine waves from my S9.

post #10 of 23
For adjusting equalization electronic music doesn't work. It has to be acoustic. Who knows what a synth was set at, but a violin and cello are firm benchmarks to adjust with. I generally use orchestral music and string quartets.
post #11 of 23
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

For adjusting equalization electronic music doesn't work. It has to be acoustic. Who knows what a synth was set at, but a violin and cello are firm benchmarks to adjust with. I generally use orchestral music and string quartets.


Couldn't agree more!

post #12 of 23

When I test out audio gear I just take a handful of CDs that I am currently playing a lot and know pretty well.

post #13 of 23

I recomended this a couple days ago on a similar thread. Amazon has it new for $15, used $12


post #14 of 23

Electronic music is much more advanced to testing headphones... acoustic maybe for EQ adjust (why, if headphones are best... why?), or for instrument separations, but for everything else? I would recommend all of this for bass test (complex bass is killer for headphones! Every can play it somehow, but just the best can perform it right as they should!), but some freak synths for high frequencies too ;) You can use some of my older post, or...


Post From Another Thread



Beatles - Come Together (A-Skillz Remix)      /// FUNKY BREAKS


Crissy Criss & Youngman - Kick Snare (Quite complex bass, tricky for some headphones to play it lovely, naturally and 'whole' without dis)    ///  DUBSTEP


Überzone - Dreamtime (feat. Lida Husik) - He's the keeper, really amazing job on vocal ;D      ////



Überzone - 4 Bit - something what test your headphones well all frequencies, range, even some pink/white noises are there :) lovely!    //// BREAKBEAT/EXPERIMENTAL


N.O.H.A. - Mad Dreams - Lovely band with Czech member...    ////   BREAKBEAT/TRIP HOP/DOWNTEMPO







I hope some tracks help you, maybe some will interest you, in both ways that would be my 'Mission Accomplished' :D

post #15 of 23

Audio quality isn't about frequency extension and lots and lots of bass and treble. It's about achieving the proper balance across the board. Music with crazy amounts of bass or sizzling treble may be useful to car stereo salesmen trying to impress those who don't know what good sound sounds like, But someone who is interested in the subject is going to want to use balanced music to test and adjust with, not goosed stuff.

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