Best songs to test/showcase headphones?
Jul 12, 2009 at 11:15 AM Post #31 of 55

Originally Posted by jawang /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Right now I am using:

- "Muse - Supermassive Blackhole" for bass/impact
- "Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody" for mids
- "RHCP - Scar Tissue" for highs (lots of cymbals/etc.)

The bolded = insanely bad to test out equipment on.

Because they are extremely compressed recordings via the Loudness War.

If you want bass impact, try Rage Against the Machine's 'Take the Power Back'. Comes from one of the best mastered albums of all time (self-titled album) and quite a few audio engineers and roadies do use it to tweak their setups on bass wise.

My test songs/albums:


Rage Against the Machine - 'Rage Against the Machine' album
Michael Jackson - 'Off the Wall', 'Thriller' albums
Marit Larsen - The Chase (folk rock)
1200 Micrograms - 'Magic Numbers' album (psytrance / transient speed + bass)
Jay-Z - 'The Black Album' (well produced rap album, both in mastering and production)
Any Porcupine Tree album
Any Dream Theater album
Pendulum - Hold Your Colour (Drum n Bass)


Rage Against the Machine 'Take the Power Back'
Pendulum 'Slam'

Transient speed:

Pendulum - 'Sounds of Life'
the Amen Break

Instrument separation / detail:

Mae - 'Painless'
dredg - 'Mourning This Morning'


New Order - 'True Faith'

Mids (as in pure mids, very little bass or treble):

Bass Communion - 'Drugged' (both the 13 min and 24 minute versions)

Detail as in multiple voices / harmony

Westlife - Westlife album (well produced boyband album)

Here's an awesome test for detail:

None of my setups have ever passed this test:

The 17 second outro to Mae's 'This Time Is The Last Time' (time sig: 3:33 - 3:50), they are speaking but it's extremely hard to determine what they're saying until the very end.

However. as other people have said, use songs that are well mastered and that you enjoy and are familiar with. Above = exactly that for me.
Jul 12, 2009 at 1:18 PM Post #32 of 55
some relaxed electronical stuff:

-SCSI 9 - "the line of nine - senorita tristeza" (... the xylophone/ chimes-like sound gives a nice 3d listening feel)

- Pantha du prince - "this bliss" whole cd- (for instrument separation (all these spheric klicks and bubbles), and nice deep bass)
Jul 8, 2011 at 10:29 AM Post #33 of 55
My Benchmarks
Walk Of life - Dire Straits
Man In the Mirror - Michael Jackson
Get Low - Lil Jon
Tearjerker - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Another Brick In The Wall Pt 2 - Pink Floyd
November Rain - Guns N' Roses
Feb 24, 2018 at 2:01 AM Post #35 of 55
The Handsome Family - Far From Any Road (great binaural experience)
Norah Jones - Don't Know Why
Barbara Bonney - Ave Maria (my personal favorite test for vocals, specifically in the upper range)
Kansas - Carry On Wayward Son
Rush - Tom Sawyer
The Animals - House of the Rising Sun
Whodini - Friends
Grandmaster Flash - The Message
Outkast - Spottieottiedopalicious
Cher - Believe
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Feb 24, 2018 at 9:52 AM Post #36 of 55
My favorite test song are
Beatles - Dear prudence
Nine Inch Nails - Ring Finger
Maggie Rogers - Alaska
Pixies - where is my mind
Aimee Mann - Save Me
Coldplay - Magic
Daft Punk - Something about us
Awolnation - Sail
Zapp & Roger - More Bounce
Pink Floyd - Dark side of the Moon
Feb 24, 2018 at 3:38 PM Post #37 of 55
I have a demo disc made by Ultrasone that has a mixture of classical music and jazz as well as some nature sounds. Whenever I buy new headphones I use this demo disc for 2 to 3 hours a day, for the first few days, to help me explore their potential.
Feb 24, 2018 at 5:21 PM Post #38 of 55
Focal Labs has several demo disk that are very well recorded with a wide mix of music. I demo most of my gear with them.

As far as the "Poorly Recorded" music goes. That is one issue that I have struggled with for years. It seems the better your gear gets the worse the music you grew up on and loved sounds. I'm a 50yr old Gen-X'er and grew up with a love of Metal. Most of that stuff was so poorly recorded and mastered that It's almost painful to listen to now. I find myself playing that kind of music more through my truck system or my bluetooth Aiwa Exos-9 boombox. It just sounds better through them that my higher end gear. I guess what I'm saying is that Sometimes less revealing is a good thing. YMMV.

Feb 27, 2018 at 2:28 AM Post #39 of 55
I try all kinds and genres to get an idea of the headphone and gears since I will be listening to various tracks. I don't want to be constrained to specific genres that are recorded well, which they generally will sound great.

As far as recordings I reference the most that I find have the sounds I can really listen in on that I'm familiar with are these

Favorite for checking out vocals details, sibilance level(I try all kinds of tracks for sibilance as well)

Diana Krall - Turn Up The Quiet


To listen in on live ambient sounds, and general instrumentation

Jazz at the Pawn Shop

Another Live recording I like to just listen in on is

Eric Clapton Unplugged


I have listened in on this at times



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Feb 3, 2022 at 10:28 AM Post #43 of 55
There are a lot, but Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen seems to be one of the most universal songs to test/showcase headphones.
Feb 3, 2022 at 11:17 AM Post #44 of 55
For testing, I usually do Fleetwood Mac, Lady Gaga, Beastie Boys, and Van Halen.

I think most important is to pick songs you know intimately, so you can discern if something seems off.
Feb 3, 2022 at 1:22 PM Post #45 of 55
For testing, I usually do Fleetwood Mac, Lady Gaga, Beastie Boys, and Van Halen.

I think most important is to pick songs you know intimately, so you can discern if something seems off.
Exactly! Sometimes I feel like I’m doing it wrong by listening to my favorite songs, instead of songs that test the boundaries or may be technically better. My thought is, if the songs I like sound good, then what I listen to will sound good :).

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