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Top 10 Songs for Demoing Headphones

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I'm going to be going into a shop to try and compare a variety of headphones soon and I was wondering what songs everyone usually use to demo new cans?

post #2 of 4

I use a lot of different songs but here's one who has always helped me really well in the past:

 

Sarah Brightman & Tom Jones - Something In The Air

 

Its on her album 'Fly' from 1996 which is a great sounding album altogether. This song is really well suited for testing because it involves a very clear and high female voice + tom jones' baritone. The song gets reasonably complex with a lot of stuff going on at some points. Bad loudspeakers or systems really start to sound strained and chaotic when it gets loud. Its also a great track to check for 'PRaT'. Bad headphones or loudspeakers really make the song sound very clinical and Sarah Brightmans voice very harsh. Ideally her voice should be extraordinarily clear but without harshness and you should get a feel for the structure in Tom Jones' voice.

 

Here's another song I absolutely love to use for testing - but one that's admittedly harder to find:

 

Waylon Jennings with Reggie Young, Barny & Carter Robertson - Drift Away (Live)

 

This one is a wonderful live performance which is a great track for mid-range reproduction. Lots of different voices and natural timbres and A LOT of 'PRaT'. I've got it on Waylon's compilation album 'Covered by Waylon' from 2005, but I'm sure you can find it in other places.

 

Whatever tracks you end up liking, here's some friendly advice: Stay away from very simple music (clear female voice + piano) or stuff like that. Diana Krall, Eva Cassidy and stuff like that tends to sound good on EVERY system. Believe me, I've worked at an audio dealer and this is the stuff you use to make your cheapest speakers sound great. The more complex a track is the better to test the capabilities of the speaker or headphone. Bad headphones or speakers wont be able to keep up with fine detail in complex passages and will make everything sound harsh and strained. Anyway, that's just my two cents.

post #3 of 4

Rebecca Pidgeon singing Spanish Harlem on Chesky's Ultimate Demonstration Disc.

post #4 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meh View Post
 

I'm going to be going into a shop to try and compare a variety of headphones soon and I was wondering what songs everyone usually use to demo new cans?

I know it sounds obvious, but take tracks that are typical of what you are likely to be listening to. There isn't much point in having cans that sound great for orchestral music if you listen to electronic dance. Also take care to use the quality of recording you plan to play, don't judge on 192/24 FLAC if you're playing 256 MP3s or vice versa.

 

Whatever else you take, have four or five of your personal favourites on hand...

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