1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What do you use as "test music"

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by mikehibbert, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. mikehibbert

    mikehibbert
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Messages:
    44
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Ratings:
    +0
    Is there anything like a definitive test CD that everyone agrees gives an audio system a good work out? It would be great if someone could point to a CD and time code and then say "listen for such and such if you can hear something then the system is good" etc etc.

    I have a fairly old CD player and would like to upgrade, but want to get something that sounds good and clear.
     
  2. cwick

    cwick
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2002
    Messages:
    2,207
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Location:
    Reading
    Ratings:
    +95
    I use this. The music isn't all to my taste, but the recordings are reference quality, and there's an announcer between tracks to tell you what, in particular, each recording should be telling you about your system. Very handy.
     
  3. alexs2

    alexs2
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Messages:
    13,896
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +1,674
    Another simple test is to use a piece of music you know well,and like,when you go and try other equipment...listen for things you havent heard before,better definition etc,and most of all,a sound you can listen to and enjoy over some time.

    There are loads of good recordings out there,and Beyond the Missouri Sky(Pat Metheny)is a beautifully recorded CD with some very demanding sections,especially the track "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".....surprisingly deep bass,and very sharp guitar transients.
     
  4. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2002
    Messages:
    7,529
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    86
    Location:
    Near London.
    Ratings:
    +208
    I agree with alex, the best test music is your favourite music that you've listened to hundreds of times and know exactly how you want it to sound.

    For particular tracks, it depends on your taste and what you're looking for, a few examples:
    Stiff Little Fingers - Doesn't Make It Alright (Complete John Peel Sessions)
    This track is a live recording and the bass drum has been mic'd up very close to produce some phenomenal, natrual sounding bass. Jake Burns, the singer, has a ferocious snarl too which I can't get bored of hearing.

    The Wildhearts - Just in Lust (PHUQ)
    This song has a blinding intro which bursts into an awesome song in it's own right. The transition is a few beats long and I want to be gagging for the next bit to start!

    Joe Strummer & the Mescaleroes - Bummed Out City (Global-a-go-go)
    This is an excellently recorded/produced album with absolutely everything in it. I enjoy this particular track as there's an honesty to the vocals.

    Naturally, they're suited to my taste in music (mainly badly recorded 70's punk :rolleyes: ) so wouldn't suit everyone. You can be sure that most HDCD and SACD recordings have been well recorded and mixed but if you don't know how the song sounds then what's the point? :)
     
  5. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
    AVF Reviewer

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    10,944
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +3,311
    I agree with Alex- it doesn't matter as long as you know it like the back of your hand.

    My little tester CD has
    Cinematic Orchestra Burnout. Fabulous open recording and a nice timing test.
    Chemical Brothers Under the influence. Not Hifi but has superb (if digital) LFE
    Cassius The Sound of Violence. Bloody marvellous
    Joan Armatrading Shapes and Sizes. A lovely recording nuff said.


    And normally some other stuff I like at the time.
     
  6. BAD Dave

    BAD Dave
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Messages:
    475
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    Dundee
    Ratings:
    +18
    Good choices, EvilJohn!
    Joe Strummer & SLF!!!
    I would add Armagideon Time (The Clash) to test out bass response and control.
    Golden Brown by the Stranglers is a good test track too. All frequencies get a work out and the vocals are/should be crystal clear. I never get tired of it, either!
     
  7. Antpink

    Antpink
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2004
    Messages:
    468
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Singapore
    Ratings:
    +103
    Well, when you go to most dealers they normally have a selection of nice easy guitar strummin' CD's to "test" speakers, at which point you could pull out Heavy Soul by P. Weller, Track 4, I think - guitar piece with masses of detail which will crack any speaker not worth it's salt. The rest of the album is a good mix with some wonderful placements and range of music.

    Then there's Gladiator s/t - a must in my book. Another s/t is Lagaan - both of these have a lot of layers to the tracks, and a good system will pick them out cleanly, a not so good one will be caught out.

    Other stuff - Mary Black for female vocal - is there a better proponent of the art?

    Massive Attack for some deep bass, especially Protection album with Tracey Thorne providing some beautiful vocals. A good test to see if the equipment under test can separate the ranges cleanly.

    Faithless (first album) has some quite stunning transitions, and a bit of operatic play on the last track.

    And, you can't go too far wrong with good old Richard Thompson, who has some clever little audio tricks in his songs that you might miss. As well as an uncanny ability to communicate with a guitar.

    Having said all that, there is no substitute for taking your best known, most listened to stuff and see if the audition peels back the curtains on some hitherto unheard detail - Marantz to MF to Meridian - each upgrade had me at home for the best part of the night going back through the collection in wonder at the stuff I had missed out on before :thumbsup: .
     
  8. mikehibbert

    mikehibbert
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Messages:
    44
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Ratings:
    +0
    I bet thats a great feeling! I listened to Deep Purple - Made in Japan last week on a mates system (no expense spared - Naim kit, preamps, power filters etc). I had only got a MP3 version recorded from vinyl as comparison. His version totally blew me a way, the crispness of the bass, even the drums sounded "percussive" not thudding!
     
  9. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2004
    Messages:
    1,501
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    41
    Location:
    Central London
    Ratings:
    +17
    Very good advice.

    Of my favourite music, I always use the most compressed and worst-sounding CD's during demos. Sounds crazy, but if the kit you're listening to makes it sound worse, what's the point in buying it (given that its your favourite music, and will spend a long time being played)??

    Reference recordings from the likes of Naim & MoFi are pretty pointless for testing IMHO - they sound awesome on any cdp ;)

    Also, if you're testing record decks, take a test LP (like the Hi-Fi news/cartridge man LP) along to see how the deck handles extremes of operation, and whether the dealer is knowledgeable enough to be able to make the necessary adjustments on-the-spot. If he isn't, don't buy from him!!

    DT
     
  10. overkill

    overkill
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    Messages:
    11,778
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Murkeyside
    Ratings:
    +1,194
    You can tell Tons works in the trade..... sound advice. Hifi shops have test CD's and sometimes HighDef disks and LPs, but from my own experience they will always be the best recordings the shop can find, hence this isn't bad advice:-
    Even some of the naffist kit we flogged could sound ok with a good recording.

    I use:-

    Julia Fordham (self titled). Despite being an A-1 recording, female vocal is hard to reproduce well, so it really tests kit in the mid range. LP
    Also Sprach Zarathustra, Strauss (Mobile labs recording) Sounds poncy I know but it's a good recording and it really tests the sound staging of the kit.LP
    Neil Young, Harvest, Simply the best DVD-A ever made (in my opinion). Great on LP as well. If every bit of detail shines thru you know you're on to a winner! DVD-A
    Nick Drake Five leaves left. Not a great recording, but I know it so well, and if the equipment can't dig out and control Danny Thompsons double bass, well then forget it! CD
     
  11. Crustyloafer

    Crustyloafer
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2003
    Messages:
    9,521
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Edinburgh
    Ratings:
    +1,239
    But at the same time also the worst, it has one of the poorest multi-channel soundtracks I've ever heard on DVD-A but the stereo one is superb. Another good DVD-A disc is The Doobie Brothers' 'The Captain And Me', absolutely superb in stereo and multi-channel. If you watn something more up to date then the new album from Crystal Method on DVD-A, 'Legion Of Boom' is stunning.
     
  12. Knightshade

    Knightshade
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2004
    Messages:
    1,971
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Ratings:
    +43
    A particular favourite of mine is Vanessa May - Storm. A poor system will just crumple when called upon to reproduce the dynamics.
    Antpinks already recommended it but Gladiator S/T is also a great disc for demonstrating how a system handles bass drums and timing.
    Bareneked Ladies - Maroon (Tracks 11 & 12) also a very well recorded CD that really shows up flaws in the soundstage.
    Lastly is Eels - Daisy's of the galaxy again well recorded and tons of detail.
     
  13. rags

    rags
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2003
    Messages:
    4,087
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    London
    Ratings:
    +303
    What no Snoop or Dr Dre ???!!
     
  14. overkill

    overkill
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    Messages:
    11,778
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Murkeyside
    Ratings:
    +1,194
    Not worried about multi channel. Too many of them are tacky and naff. The reason I bought it was for the stereo mix, so................ I have the 'Captain and me' on vinyl, and it's a superb recording on that media. The DVD-A's good, but not good enough to entice me to buy two copies of the same album. Again, I'm not interested in the multi channel version.

    The best Multi channel album I've heard (perhaps because it was orginally designed for the failed 'quadraphonic' system) is DSOM. It's also one of only three albums I have on one more than one quality (ie not tape or MP3) media. Funny, I never use DSOM to test new gear either. Wonder why? :confused:
     
  15. huwg

    huwg
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2003
    Messages:
    1,850
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Ratings:
    +121
  16. Mr Pumpkinhead

    Mr Pumpkinhead
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    Messages:
    245
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    North of the River
    Ratings:
    +12
    I'm going to have to add that to my list which currently has:

    Bjork - Homogenic, tracks 1, 2 and 4
    Tindersticks - Curtains, Track 1
    Mazzy Star - Among my Swan, Track 7
    REM - Out of Time, track 8
    Pixies - Doolittle, Tracks 1 and 8
     
  17. davehk

    davehk
    Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2003
    Messages:
    702
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    London
    Ratings:
    +45
    When I was auditioning new speakers recently, I made up a disc as follows (using EAC, a Plextor drive and Nero to get the best possible CDR i could).

    Sade - Is it a Crime (Jazz line-up, laid back vocals)
    Elton John - All Quiet on the Western Front (mainly for the toms)
    Dick Hyman plays Fats Waller - a direct to CD Master recording (amazing piano sound and very tricky timing)
    Tchaikowski 1812 overture - the Telarc recording with the live canon (see those cones fly + it's the choral version and on many speakers you can't hear the words clearly in the louder passages)
    Berlioz Te Deum - 2nd Mvt - Live recording (contains a lot of audience ambience and organ mechanical sounds at low level - huge dynamic range).
    Cecilia Bartoli singing Mozart Exultate Jubilat (Female voice - Mezzo)
    Barbara Bonney singing Mozart Laudate Dominum from Solemn Vespers (Female voice - Sop)
    Brynn Terfel singing Vaughan Williams (Male voice - Bass Bar)

    The idea being to have recordings I was familiar with that would emphasise certain aspects of the speakers. I'd suggest a similar approach using music you know and like.
     
  18. Commited

    Commited
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Queen - Made in Heaven - very harsh sound - a real test.
    Pink Floy - Dark Side of the Moon - awesome ;)
     
  19. The Duke

    The Duke
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Queen - "Made in Heaven", esp track 7 (cd out on loan) for vocals and some storming but not overwhelming bass, and some of the "atmosphere" in the other tracks makes all speakers seem electrostatic
    Faithless - the album with his fingers / hand on the cover (cd out on loan again!)
    Sneeker Pimps - "Becoming X"
    Tracy Chapman - used it many times and now I can't bloomin' well find it. The album with "Talking about a revolution" on it - might well be her 1st album.
    Texas - "White on Blonde" esp the 2nd track
    pj Harvey - "Is this desire", what an awesome album, tracks 6 & 10 your hifi will love you for! Tricky uses her as backing on some of his tracks - check out "Angels with dirty faces", hard work but your system will either cope or be found wanting!
    INXS - I use the "Welcome to Wherever you are" album. Hutchins's voice is something else in the right system
    Doves - "Lost souls" or "The last Braodcast" - just because they're not conventional and do not produce commercial albums in the truest sense of the word.....somewhat like....
    Pink Floyd, especially DSOTM & WYWH

    Ultimately, it's what you started testing gear with, and in my case it's typically been upgrading cables and speakers over the years.
    If you are familiar with the music, it serves as a point of reference.

    Now, having read this post, I must get out that Mary Black album I was given, but never litened to!

    ...................................................................................................................
    cd - Meridian 506 18bit with Trichord 3 upgrade
    pre- Audio Research LS7
    power - Proceed Amp 2
    Interconnects - Transparent (?) about £250 per meter - don't recall their name
    Speakers - Martin Logan Aerius i
    Speaker cable - Nordst flat line gold and Audio Note something
    Hifi rack that cost £650 3 years ago
    power lead from Transparent (£240?) and an Audio Note (£100?). The pre is hard wired so no options there.
    REL Storm Sub
     
  20. pwood

    pwood
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2003
    Messages:
    2,481
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Location:
    Central Scotland
    Ratings:
    +136
    My favourites are:
    Thomas Dolby - Aliens Ate my Buick....... Amazing use of stereo image
    Moloko - All Albums to date are stunning.
    Diana Krall - The Girl in the other room
    Kebb Mo- All albums to date


    One bit of advice I would like to give, is take along a disc you find to be a bit hard or poorly recorded as sometimes its easier to notice differences using less than perfect recordings.
     
  21. mikehibbert

    mikehibbert
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Messages:
    44
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Ratings:
    +0
    Thanks for all the great advice, (and some good music suggestions!), no doubt I will be back when I have some money saved up for Hifi gear!
     
  22. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2004
    Messages:
    1,501
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    41
    Location:
    Central London
    Ratings:
    +17
    Currently *luvin'* that Statues SACD.

    God, Roisin's voice on that last track is just beautiful.
     
  23. Tel2904

    Tel2904
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    I agree with the listening to favourite tracks, also with the pat metheny choice. You might like to try Riviera Paradise from Stevie Ray V on In step, Planet of New Orleans from Dire Straights, anything from Steely Dan (especially Aja) or Donald Fagin solos, Martyn Taylor, Tears for Fears sowing the seeds of love, the list is endless. I wish I could remember the name of the M People track with the deepest synth bass I've ever heard. Good luck Terry
     

Share This Page

Loading...