What music do you use to test new headphones?
Jun 10, 2009 at 3:26 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 33


Headphoneus Supremus
Jul 8, 2008
Hi, I will be going to a demo of headphones on friday and I was wondering what you guys use to test (all the aspects of) new headphones? I was thinking of getting together some pink floyd tracks, some beach boys, some female vocals, some instrumental (piano or violin) and some metal or hard rock maybe....
Any thoughts?
Greetings, Anouk,
Jun 10, 2009 at 3:34 PM Post #2 of 33
The most important thing is familiarity. Take music you have listened to a thousand times on all sorts of different systems. My personal #1 test disc is I, Robot by Alan Parsons for precisely that reason.
It is also good to have something that is exceptionally well recorded with an immense soundstage. My choice there is Seven Veils by Robert Rich.
Finally, you need some huge bass. Massive Attack is my favorite for that purpose.
Jun 10, 2009 at 3:34 PM Post #3 of 33
Generally, you want to play music that you know very well. You'll be able to pick up subtle differences and see how it works with music you enjoy.

Though I always make sure to include music with voices (both male and female), piano, violin and throw on Dark Side of the Moon to see how it does overall. Piano and violin are especially difficult to get right. And if vocals are off, the headphones will never sound good. I can put up with the highs and lows being rolled off a little, but voices have to be right.
Jun 10, 2009 at 4:11 PM Post #4 of 33
If you are just demoing on the spot, pick things that you know really well. As for vocals, Uncle erik is dead on. Make sure that you have a lot of different vocals male and female. Expanding on his comments, just try to think of any instrument that is particularly important to to you or the music you listen to. Find good examples of said instrument(s) to test out.

Make sure that the phones are good for what you will use them for. For example, if a phone doesn't do electric guitar well, I can't listen to it.

Also, I like songs with nicely recorded cymbal crashes to test out the high end of a phone. If cymbals sound right, the highs usually pretty good to my ears.
Jun 10, 2009 at 4:41 PM Post #5 of 33
Eva Cassidy would be a good choice for your female vocalist
Jun 10, 2009 at 4:48 PM Post #6 of 33
I agree with Uncle Erik with "Dark Side of the Moon". My audiophile friend with a discretionary income that I'll probably never achieve exclusively uses the album as a benchmark for any of his high purchase audio equipment. For female voice, you might try Dar Williams, or Sarah McLachlan with her earlier albums.
Jun 10, 2009 at 6:48 PM Post #7 of 33
I think most will agree that its best to try a varied style of music , acoustic , vocal to eletro bass heavy.That way you dont have to change phones to suit your future musical preferences.
Jun 10, 2009 at 9:10 PM Post #9 of 33
x2 (or 3...) to those who emphasize familiarity. I would also recommend you listen to both simple (e.g. a capella vocal or jazz trio) and complex. Also, I steer clear of most recent recordings (too much dynamic compression, even with bands that care about how their music sounds). I like late 60s or 70s recordings.
Jun 10, 2009 at 9:12 PM Post #10 of 33

Originally Posted by terriblepaulz /img/forum/go_quote.gif
x2 (or 3...) to those who emphasize familiarity. .

I use my own recordings. I know exactly what I sound like!!

Jun 10, 2009 at 9:21 PM Post #11 of 33
Another + 1 on familiarity. I used to work in a high end stereo / home theater store, and I had a CD wallet with 12 CD's / DVD's in it that I used as my reference for various systems. (2 of which were test discs, Digital Video Essentials, and Stereophile's demo / test disc volume 2 I think) I forced myself to have no more than that because I needed to know exactly what I was supposed to hear, and there's nothing but familiarity with your source material to do that. After a while you get to where you can sorta "fingerprint" a sound signature based on how a known material sounds. The biggie for me is imaging. If you know exactly where instruments and vocals should be spatially and how the soundstage is presented, you can tell if a set of phones or speakers is presenting things accurately.
Jun 10, 2009 at 9:26 PM Post #12 of 33
Here's my "Headphone Test" playlist :

1. Tri-State (Robert Nickson Intro Remix) - Above & Beyond
2. Drongo - Moshic
3. Pleasure Impact - Sundial Aeon
4. Five Lines - Asura
5. Exiled (Gaudi Remix) - Tripswitch
6. Pharaoh - Eat Static
7. Emergence - Trifonic
8. Memloop - SYNC24
9. Deep Structure - Deadbeat
10. Cruise - Solar Fields

It's a good mix of different genres of electronic music that I love, and as many said, familiarity is important and I know how I like these songs to sound
Jun 10, 2009 at 9:29 PM Post #13 of 33
Rage Against The Machine (self titled album). I've heard that this CD is almost "audiophile" quality. IMO, it's got good instrument separation, and an excellent soundstage. I'll email you a few tracks if you'd like...
Jun 10, 2009 at 9:29 PM Post #14 of 33
Hellu uncle Eric and others, Thanks for the brainstorming help everyone! I agree midrange is the most important for me as well. Pink floyd seems to be quite good for testing headphones! I myself quite like the first song of 'the final cut' post war dream. For bass I tend to use a song from the velvet revolre album contrabant because I listen to it quite a lot. I also use some songs by dragonforce and blind guardian to test bass as well. I guess I will also take some songs by queen and the beatles (queen especially for the vocals) and probbably some roxette for vocals and guitar. Can someone recommend some songs to test cymbals by? I do not really like overly harsh (cough cough grado cough cough) phones or phones with no soundstage, although the last part is quite easy to hear with almost any kind of music.

Greetings, Anouk,

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