Not so much difficult tracks but whole albums because of compression. I'm talking exclusively about CDs. Anything by Haim and Paloma Faith. They are so compressed that it's painful on the ears. My Elicit and KEF R300 combination just doesn't like those two artists at all. Even worse on headphones.
If you're worried about sharp high notes then most of the tracks on Joni Mitchell's marvelous Blue album will give your system and your ears an outing. The Elicit can really control those highs and the KEFs respond accordingly. It's something than can fatigue with the wrong combination but I'll happily put all my Joni albums back to back. They are really well recorded.
I'm not sure we can blame that on Rega and KEF
RS87, I too feel cheated when I find an album that suffers from compression and the loudness wars...
Another one that I find difficult is deliberate clipping and/or volume cycling...
Low's Double Negative and Bon Iver's I,I are recent examples.
I like the albums despite BJ Burton's treatment, not because of...
Of course none of this can be fixed by Hi-Fi gear...
The quality of the source is paramount.
It's not the angle I was going for but it does bring me on to a subject I was going to broach a little later, that I have stumbled across quite a bit recently, and that's the 'Dynamic Range Compression' and Loudness Wars.
My favourite website I have been using a lot recently has compiled a databased of a lot of albums based on different media/"Source" showing the dynamic range of the album and also the loudness of the published recording in decibels (db) when you click on a specific album:
The gist of the issue is that the music is compressed onto the media more and more from the mastering process meaning music is sounding flatter, harsher and muddled. This is generally coupled with the fact that when CD's were released in the 80's, the recording was generally accepted, across the industry, to be released at -20db (off top of my head), give or take. However, during the 90's, the loudness war began and publishers began increasing the db on the CDs in an attempt to out-do each other. This loudness had a direct impact on the quality of the music when being replayed by the end consumer in the form of frequency clipping (imagine the spikes in the top and the bottom of the frequency graph having the points chopped off, therefore missing that final piece of sound). On low level systems, this may have seemed ok but the moment the music was played on any system even remotely capable of revealing quality music, the inverse happened... the poor quality was revealed.