Music for Auditioning Equipment
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chillysalsa

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Just thought I’d share the musical selection that I’ve made for a test CD to audition equipment. I found myself listening to my records, and every so often came across something that really does something special in terms of testing fidelity. I’ve now cut it down to 74 minutes worth of tracks, and it goes as follows, (with notes behind what I look for in each cut):
(Format is Band - Song, Album)

Stereolab - Baby Lulu, from Sound-Dust
- Test of dynamics: a great mix of acoustic percussion and electronic sounds, with exceptional female vocals. See if the vocals are drown out when other instruments come in, and check the imaging and detail of the voice.

Pluramon - Tel Bell, from Render Bandits
- Another combination of electronic & acoustic sounds. The drumming has good pace and rhythm to make your toes tap, if they don’t then something’s wrong. Snares should sound crisp and ‘immediate’. The notes in the healthy bass line to reveals whether a speaker is boomy.

Autechre - Leterel, from Tri Repetae
- A splurging barrage of clicks, pops, thumps and thuds that are fed in so many layers, only a good system can digest it, and let you dissect it (or vice versa).

Bach - Concerto for Two Violins, performed by J. Brezina & F. Eliaz
- The lushness of the strings either comes through or it doesn’t.

Smashing Pumpkins - Cherub Rock, from Siamese Dream
- A classic heavy rock track which easily gets compressed when the second set of guitars kick in after the intro. Listen to how much detail is Billy’s voice on top of all this rockin’ out.

Miles Davis - Blue in Green, from Kind of Blue
- The quieter track from this timeless jazz recording. Soundstaging and placement are a challenge for systems to do perfectly.

Neil Young - For the Turnstiles, from On the Beach
- Some truly superb male vocals on this recorded, which are closely mic’ed and accompanied by bango and steel guitar. The instruments should sound like you could reach out at touch them. The intimacy of the performance is really something, and should ideally sound like you’re listening in on a late-nite jam-session in a barn somewhere.

Download - Glassblower, from The Eyes of Stanley Pain
- The violence and ferocity of these soundwaves make it almost impossible to hear, or notice, that there’s actually a vocal track. A good system will uncover this vocal track and make it an integral part of the recording, as it should be.

Bjork - Aurora, from Vespertine
- I’ve found this track to be a good example of how the delicate, breathy voice of Bjork should strike fear in the hearts of harsh tweeters.

Massive Attack - Angel, from Mezzanine
- Excellent electronica for gauging the midrange clarity of a speaker. The female vocal is well recorded: a good system will allow you to imagine her opening her mouth for each word (ie. at 2:08), but a great system will make you think you just got saliva on you.

Slowdive - Rutti, from Pygmalion
- A brutally low noise floor on this cut, and lush texture to the sweetly-processed guitars. A system that gets this wrong should be sold in RadioShack.

Sonic Youth - The World Looks Red, from Confusion is Sex
- The recording is poor quality, from the early days of the band. A good system should resurrect it, making the vocals of Thurston come to the front, while bringing impact and depth to the otherwise flat sounding drums.

Sonic Youth - Diamond Sea, from Washingmachine
- In contrast, a very well recorded song by them. The supple nature of the high-hats and ride cymbal should be spatially separated from the toms and snares of the drum-kit. Thurston’s singing is well recorded and has lots of detail. The bass guitar should sound smooth and clean. The psychedelic jam session after 4:40 should not be compressed on a good system.

Pink Noise, 20 seconds
- Created with CoolEdit. Purely diagnostic, to sort of give the ‘signature’ of the system.

This represents a cross-section of stuff I listen too lately (except the pink noise!), I’m not sure if a system could do it all.

I wouldn’t mind hearing what little jewels others have discovered.

If only I had the money, so I could take this to a music store and audition stuff without being a poser.

Happy listening!
 
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blip

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Great choices!

One of them is my personal favorite track for auditioning equipment: angel by massive attack. The vocals are really well recorded and clarity of the precussion is simply astounding. Plus it definitely displays the color of a system.
 
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