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What do you listen to when auditioning new headphones ?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Although I've been an audio geek since I was a kid in the 70s it has been only recently that I've been focusing on headphones .
When buying speakers I always brought familiar tracks that I could play in the showroom to help evaluate the range and dynamics of the speakers in question.
I do the same with headphones but I find I tend to use different music all together and not even what I feel is from my main musical interests list but tracks that have a certain something that let's me find out just how good the headphones are .

Here is a list of what I bring

Joe Walsh -ordinary average guy
Cranberries - them
Radiohead - creep
Beatles - I'm only sleeping

These songs are what I listen to first when deciding on what to buy and I keep them on my phone in flac just in case .

So what tracks do you use to put a new set of cans through their paces ?

Sent from my SPH-L900 using Tapatalk
post #2 of 7

One Evening by Feist: a good track to test for PRAT. Any competent hi-fi system would do well on these but you can catch bad designs that would sound slow. I had a cheap tube preamp before and I noticed it sounded "slow," of course actual run time isn't affected, but tht it sounds "faster" when I switch over to my NAD integrated amplifier. I had a tech open it up thinking it was broken, and he recommended replacing the cheap-***** ceramic caps with Mundorfs that were on half price at the dealer (the last four pieces) and that preamp together with a Class A dual mono Technics power amp just came alive right out of the box. Note that I don't believe in "burn in" of inert components and I would not have bought these at regular price, which would have been about $8 each, and didn't notice any other changes over time.



Fantasmic by Nightwish : good track for testing PRAT and how well a system - but mostly the speakers - can sort out detail considering how many things are going on in this track, almost like classical music, but of course with the percussion and beat of modern music. By no means is it 3D but you should still be able to sort out each instrument instead of a lot of them coming from some undefined point in the middle of both speakers or some hard to pin down area inside your head.



Sensorium and Illusive Consensus by Epica : metal tracks also good for checking PRAT - the bass lines and percussion has a "groove" to them, almost like dance music, on the HD600, and also speakers like the Stella Utopia (if a little too flat-sounding to the point of boring for some) and also the likes of the Cremona Auditor and Volla. Various amps used but suffice to say that an amp with enough voltage and current for whichever of these is hooked up to it should add that "groove," although stereotypical tube sound may exaggerate the bass lines over a more nimble and neutral amp.



Deceptively Yours and Things You Don't Have To Do by Norah Jones, from Chance and Circumstance : More PRAT and dynamics, this time in more blues-y guitar music; less tendency for sibilance than Norah Jones' first album, but dynamic range is still important. Some car audio systems are still sibilant on these but surprisingly enough the stock Scion FRS/Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ 3-way speakers, despite the midrange and tweeter aimed right at the windshield, don't have this problem.

post #3 of 7

Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb - because I know exactly how it is supposed to sound and to make sure the sound doesn't disappear during Gilmour's solos.


Rush - Tom Sawyer - To see how lush those first keyboard notes sound.


Steely Dan - Babylon Sisters - to see how crisp, quiet and warm it sounds all at the same time. 

post #4 of 7

I should add that the Mad Dogs play all three quite well.

post #5 of 7

Very high quality recordings with which I'm familiar.


At this point, there are quite a few of them...

post #6 of 7

Steely Dan-Aja

Rush 2112  Japan 25p

The Police- (MFSL) Synchronicity

Miles Davis - (09 Japan DSD) Kind of Blue

Metallica- (Original Megaforce) Kill them All


These are my Keys to make a good choice....

post #7 of 7
I have an entire folder for Audition tracks to listen to new hps on.

Most of the tracks are not HiDef, but ones I am very familiar with. 320 or FLAC.

a sample:

REM - Little America from Reckoning. The mic the lead singer used on this track is far too hot and sibilance are all over this track. Any headphone that can play this and tame the Ssssssss is a winner. Other tracks on the LP not anywhere near as hot.

King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King. This track is muddy 4-track from 1969, even with the new remasters. The ability to make it clear and clean is what I look for.

Stevie Wonder - Superstition. Muddy as well, the more clarity and clean the better.

Paul McCartney - Yesterday. The woodier the guitar and the more detail to his voice, the better. Bonus points for enhanced string detail in the left hand channel and background noise as the quartet prepares to play.

The Clash - Revolution Rock. The best sounding track on LC, listen for soundstage and instrument separation.

Streisand - Doing the Reactionary. Early solid state recording with the lack of body and warmth inherent. The more life to the recording and atmosphere, the better.

Beastie Boys - Hey Ladies. Subsonic bass intermittent, listen for it as a good key to bass response.

ELP - The Sheriff, Trilogy. The beginning of the track has the drummer working his entire kit, mic'ed from above. An excellent test for soundstage and accurate drum sound.

Michael Jackson - Various. Whilst not an MJ fan, he would do 50 or 60 takes of songs and was a perfectionist with Quincy in the studio. It shows, as many of his huge hits are stellar in sound. Billy Jean, Beat It, Thriller, Another Part, Scream, Remember the Time, Dangerous...
Edited by marone - 3/21/14 at 8:17am
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