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Also Can't buy a Thrill
Here are a couple I used when looking for speakers. They may or may not be useful for anyone else, or for headphones.
Audioslave - Like a Stone
Fine Young Cannibals - She Drives Me Crazy
Five Finger Death Punch - The Bleeding (acoustic)
Stevie Ray Vaughn - Life By The Drop
Pachabel - Canon in D
Harry Connick Jr - Blue Light Red Light
Tut Tut Child - Dragon Pirates
My most recent guilty pleasure is Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger/Sugar
I have a new favorite track of late:
Marcus Miller's "Cousin John."
Especially if you have a pair of headphones (and a matching amp) that control and reproduce the bass with the requisite amount of slam, I predict that that recording will put a big smile on your face every time. It's also a very good track for judging timbre and soundstage... but when it comes to hearing what best-ever bass reproduction can sound like, nothing else in my library comes close. I'm listening with an Audeze LCD-4 played through a high-end Schitt stack (Yggdrasil and Ragnarok). Heaven.
A lot of Miller's work is a little too much on the smooth-jazz side for my taste, but not "Cousin John." Other tracks of his worth checking out are "Funk Joint" and "Milky Way."
For testing soundstage, "Disgustipated", by Tool
I know what you mean.. I kind of pick and choose with Miller but he does have some great stuff and.. that tone. I like the track Power off of M2. Also, I have an album that is pretty hard to find of his called "Live + More" that has a great version of Panther.
About this Radiohead album. They have or simple straight forward sounding tracks - useless for testing or play with distortions and similar effects, difficult to distinguish between author's intentions and where headphones fail.
Xiu Xiu. Spectrum is not everything, but once again, if we will reject sound experiments, all tracks from the album are extremely simple and again - intended distortions. Even worse then Radiohead. Impossible to distinguish between headphones problems and authors content.
#1 is a great song, I agree with many things, BUT:
- "old school" bass, so for modern hp's its nothing. If they lack lows here - big problem.
- sibilance. Actually not much space for them, and again - if you have sibilance here, your hp's are really bad.
+ soundstage. A big one. Not a huge, but you have to be sure that your gear is good, since in several parts of composition we have not only width, but depth (in front of you and behind). So good cans must reveal depth also.
#2 also is a great song, but rhythm actually is quite simple. The major fault of this track lies in narrow spectrum, so you’ll need additional tracks. So I use two other tracks from Dire Straits:
“Private Investigations” and “Money for Nothing”. The second one is especially important:
A) Guitars should sound very clean, but not too aggressive and bright. If you got such sensation it could be a problem of headphones or gear
B) The same clean guitar sound can sound “veiled”. It’s difficult to describe, but in good cans they sound detailed, but smooth. If you have enough experience you can separate loss of details due to veil from smoothness.
C) Drums play only with a lightest punch, we have some. But perfectly infused in other instruments, so you virtually play no attention to it if not paying attention to this detail. So if you don’t get any, its one problem, take a note of punch immediately – an opposite problem. Even in Denon’s D1100 which are considered bass heavy you feel it very light and gentle.
Time by Pink Floyd was recorded in 1973, the attention to detail " for its time" (no pun intended) was the game changer.
Not a big fan of Massive Attack, but we talk about test tracks, so only relevant comments:
4) I agree with comments, but for trained listener or musician I'd suggest to pay attention to lack of harmonics (in general) or on the contrary - high level of odd harmonics.
3) Way to simple. “Risingson” is much more complicated and bass heavier. If you now how to distinguish “boomy” rumble composed in track from boomy lows played by headphones. Also it has a good amount of treble and if you don’t get it, your headphones won’t sound good, since there is no balance of lows and highs. If your hp’s have recessed mids, vocals will sound dull and lifeless. To forward – an opposite problem.
2) Agree except pace. If headphones fail in this song, its just a garbage. But if you want to test treble, separation and details you need the first track of the album - "Way Out"
1) Full spoon of messy bass. Potentially shows if there is a control in lows, but only a hardcore listener could separate rythm from hp's sound defects. Treble. Not too much above 18KHz, overpowered by another frq. Not a value to check mids. Want something better - take The Rasmus - "Livin' In A World Without You"
The Crystal Method is very good sounding band to enjoy, some of their tracks can be used to double check details and overall balance. So interested persons have to take a look at another albums.
No doubt. Its in my list. Exceptional for testing many things at once, except extended bass and treble. I have another tracks for that.
Several additional comments.
1. Look for original, 8:17 or 8:19 track. None of remixes could be used for testing.
2. Don't focus on bass extension. We are talking about control and separation in lows.
3. Neither of bass density. It is full body composition, but you should look for “sharp punch” first. You won’t find much body in open cans,
4. It has perfect balance of lows and treble. So if only bass is prominent but you look for a full spectrum w/o drops, search fro another headphones, may be better amplifier.
5. Getting some experience you can check pace not only for lows (point 2), but in mids also. Using instruments (requires experience) or voice-over effects (much easier).
6. It may sound strange, but this song is quite open and airy. Vibrant and full of life. So if you find it dull – big problem.
7.BIG SOUNDSTAGE. Not only in width, but in depth also. Big depth!
A) Many instruments should sound slightly behind you
B) Voice position vary. At sides sometimes, but in the first half of the track in many occasion it comes from behind. In the second half slightly from the front.
NIN - “Slipping Away”. Very thoughtful artificial distortions. If you have reference headphones to proceed with A/B test, you may strip out quality tag from many headphones afterwards.
0% complexity. Bad mastering. Little soundstage width, no depth.
Clean warm sound. No soundstage at all. Zero complexity.
Yes, it does have very low bass extention, so you can hear it in capable cans. But this extension is just a simple low BPM rumble and won't tell anything about control and separation of lows.
As a music all the album is good. But for testing you'll need only "Trains". It is used by several reviewers on the Net, btw.
Sara K - "Miles Away". Good track to check if instruments sound clean and natural, but nothing special. There are thousands of songs to check this and more in one shot.