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The Best audiophile tracks to test equipment

Discussion in 'Music' started by deafmutelame, Mar 9, 2005.
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  1. freesole
    I love the stuff coming from Sound Liaison. Downloaded about 5-6 of their albums. I'll have to get this one too.
  2. Jazzbass12
    This being recorded in DSD, would there be a significant difference in quality if I went with 96K or 192K FLAC? Trying to save real estate. I listen on DAP mainly.
  3. christian u
    I'm not an expert but my guess is that on a DAP 24/96 is fine.
  4. Jazzbass12
    Did the 24/192... sounds great... I have 3 of Carmen Gomes... amazing sound.
  5. christian u
    The recording has been done in DXD, not DSD. DXD is from what I understand a very high, 352khz pcm, and it is somehow accepted to convert that to DSD.
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  6. PRTG
    Sumire Yoshihara plays Takemitsu: Munari by Munari (based on the work of Italian artist Bruno Munari, from a 1970's LP called "Percussion in Colors")
    A direct-to-disc recording from RCA. Stunning dynamics and clarity of instruments. Some (bearable) clicks and background noise.
  7. Tim van der Leeuw
    I have a playlist for headphone testing that tests various types of music. At the start of the thread was already mentioned staples like Pink Floyd - Time, another good track for testing is Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here.

    I also found Elvis Costello - The Other Side (of the Telescope), from "All This Useless Beauty", quite a good test track, and Ultravox - Vienna.

    However my ultimate test-track for headphones is Mike Oldfield: Orchestral Tubular Bells.

    I can't find it on any streaming service but I have the CD.

    It's purely instrumental so for voice-rendition you will still need additional tracks, but for instruments it gives you just about everything: detail, layering, bass, trebble, soft passages next to very loud passages.

    With a good headphone, this album is full of energy and you can hear a lot of details in various instruments, especially the violins.
    With poor headphones, not only will you find it lacklustre, you will miss the bass, you will also miss those details, and you can easily have sibilance in the trebble.

    That at least is my experience with this album!

    It's two very long tracks though so you need to know the music well and scrub back and forth a bit while play-testing.
  8. PopZeus
    Beck - Mutations, preferably the HD 24-96 version. An incredibly well-recorded album with a plethora of non-traditional instruments. Great for testing imaging, soundstage, as well as timbre of equipment. How many albums have a harpsichord AND bongo drums?
  9. PRTG
    Yes. 'Cannons' written in score is a feat unique to this particular musical piece. It is indeed extremely well suited for dynamic range testing. It should bring gut-wrenching experience at louder volume levels. Or, at least goosebumps. Or damage your speakers.

    Unfortunately there are many over-compressed or distorted recordings of this track, including Mercury Living Presence version. The cleanest version known to me is Track 3 - Overture on "Tchaikovsky, P.: Tempest (The) / Hamlet / 1812 Festival Overture (James de Preist, Oregon Symphony)". The first thunder-like cannon shots can be found towards the end of the mentioned record - first series of shots are fired at 13:25, then again at 15:45.

    Another version I find being as good and in some aspects even better is 1812 Overture by Yuri Ahronovitch & London Symphony Orchestra.

    The effect on headphones brings you not even close to experience you'd get from sharp transients capable bass speakers. With a pair of good subs you may get some necessary tactile impression. The cannon shots are panned between channels in this recording, so this is a rare case when "stereo bass" concept makes sense if speakers can deliver the transients well enough.

  10. christian u
    Interesting article here about the Mercury recordings; https://www.stereophile.com/content/fine-art-mercury-living-presence-recordings
  11. christian u
    A label that somehow builds on the Mercury Living Stereo recording method is Sound Liaison;https://www.soundliaison.com/ ..
    Their One Mic recordings are getting a lot of very favorable reviews at the moment and rightly so, but don't forget their earlier multi mic recordings. Albums like Road to Memphis and Thousand Shades of Blue continues to be favorites of mine.
    The label has 20% off on the whole catalog during their summer sale.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

  12. KT66
    My Home is in the Delta - Muddy Waters.Folk Singer MFSL CD

    The Man Who Sailed around his Soul - XTC. Skylarking MFSL CD

    Love in Vain - Rolling Stones. Let it Bleed DSD file

    Time Out - 45rpm Classic Records LP
    4th Time Around, Dylan, Blonde on Blone mono LP
  13. panic29505
    I always take Paul Simon's Graceland with me when testing new gear.
    Something big and live and rock and roll Gov't Mule or The Allman Brothers Band (I listen to a lot of live music on my gear)
    Almost any Zero recording
    The Division Bell Pink Floyd
  14. wuwhere Contributor
    Not for very small transducers like headphones.

  15. Ninth Wave
    This is a great thread idea as I've always had a selection of go-to tracks for showing off audio gear but have seldom come across people to show it off to! It seems most people don't share my love for music (and gear) so there's rarely a need to do any demonstrations of these tracks. In the era of customisable playlists, I've compiled an assortment of some of these tracks, you know, just in case I come across other music or gear nerds and I regularly tweak the playlist. As it turns out, I play through the playlist for myself only, when I run listening tests or tweak setups. Alone. Since nobody else wants to play. :pensive:


    Anyway, here's a sample of some of the tracks in the format of Artist - Track (Album, Year of Release):

    Queensryche - Della Brown (Empire, 1990)
    I just love the bass and the way this song draws you in with its lush production and descriptive lyrics. Just about any track from this album could be used for demo purposes but this one is less busy and allows for each instrument to shine - especially the bass, vocals and drums.

    Porcupine Tree - What Happens Now? (Nil Recurring EP, 2007)
    This band (or Steven Wilson at least) maintained exceptionally high standards in regards to sonic presentation and this track really emphasises that with its crystal clear recording and delicate percussive sounds as it builds up slowly. It sounds good on any gear but with good gear, it's quite incredible to listen to. I have seen raised eyebrows when I've demo'd this one.

    Van Halen - Doin' Time / Baluchitherium (Balance, 1995)
    Two instrumental tracks that are conjoined, perhaps like the siblings on the cover of the album. The first part is probably not what you'd expect from Van Halen; an almost experimental and largely percussive track which builds up in intensity throughout its minute and a half before transitioning into the larger band-effort, Baluchitherium. It's challenging to listen to because of the odd-timing of some of the elements - sound effects, hi-hat, tom fills and bass drum. But it develops a more consistent rhythm eventually, all the while throwing in more fills, hits and splashes which emanate from left and right channels. An underappreciated instrumental that I've never seen referenced anywhere!

    Tiamat - Four Leary Biscuits (A Deeper Kind of Slumber, 1997)
    Getting into the obscure now, this track is quite unlike anything else on the album it came from. It mixes Middle Eastern acoustics with eerie male and female vocal patterns - no real words to speak of, just wailing and groaning - and the track is driven by pulsing drums working seamlessly with the bass, working towards a crescendo that is hypnotic and majestic.

    I'll leave it there for now. I have so many more but these represent a good initial sampler of what I often love to hear, which is music with bass or drums at the centre of the experience. Not always, but often.
    loungecat likes this.
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