Jennifer Warnes - The Hunter
The Eagles - Hell Freezes Over
The Eagles - Hell Freezes Over
Add to above;
Tony Bennett-Here`s to the ladies
Tony Bennett-the Ultimate Tony Bennett
Mary Black-Babes in the Wood
Fourplay-Between the sheets
Etta James-Love songs
Norah Jones-Come away with me
Norah Jones-Feels like home
Diana Krall-All for you
Diana Krall-Love Scenes
Diana Krall-When I look in your eyes
Chris Rea-The road to hell
Dire Straits-Brothers in Arms
Dire Straits-Love over Gold
Dire Straits-On every Street
James Taylor-October Road
Jennifer Warnes-Famous Blue Raincoat
I think you raise an excellent point - there is no use in auditioning equipment with music that you don't listen to. Ever notice that sales personnel can get pretty antsy if you try to use your own CDs? A well recorded CD can go a long way towards hiding shortcomings in a setup. Often, people get equipment home and wonder why only 10 recordings sound good. The following suggestions may help:
1. Always listen to music you know well.
2. Always listen to music you like.
3. Be polite about accepting listening suggestions from sales people, but be aware that they are using the recordings that they think will help sell gear.
4. Always take some recordings that you know are difficult for a system to reproduce (I have a few favourites that drive sales staff nuts).
5. Try to listen to a variety of tracks and styles.
6. Don't be taken in by excuses about why a piece of equipment doesn't sound right. Your ears will tell you everything you need to know.
7. IMPORTANT - in all fairness to sales people, try to book an appointment to listen, so that they can have time to set up gear properly for your visit, and so you can be given some quality time in a room by yourself to properly evaluate equipment.
8. Relax and have fun during the audition - do not pressure yourself to buy any equipment that you are less than thrilled with.
9. Make sure that you listen to a piece of equipment more than once.
I know that I strayed from your thread a bit, but I strongly believe that this information is more important than obtaining specific disks to audition equipment with.
Just my 2 cents (2.6 cents Canadian, eh?)
I agree that you must pick music that you like or you will be wasting your time. Also, if you don't know how the track is supposed to sound you will have no reference. Here are disks that I currently like for music that is important to me. I usually bring these along with several other CD's. I like to bring about a dozen to an audition. My choice of tests disks does change from time to time.
Gattaca Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
**Tracks 1 & 3, melody line not completely in unison and complex harmonic chords that seem to straddle the crossover between mid and woofer. I have only heard one speaker under $2000 that does well on these pieces.
Duke Ellington & Friends (Verve/BMG D 160384)
**Track 11 - It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got that swing). Recorded live in 1966. One of the best live recordings I have ever heard. Excellent test of soundstaging, vocals, and highs(with the trumpet at the end). Dirt cheap CD if you can find it. (I bought at Target for $2.99).
Dire Straights, Brothers in Arms (Imported XRCD version $39.99 at amusicdirect.com)
**Track 2, Money for Nothing. For speakers, initial guitar solo and synth drums must sound right. For amps, there must be dynamic contrast between the beginning of the song and the guitar solo. I listen at higher volumes and stop after the guitar solo.
**Track 11, Brothers in Arms. Good lower register test for speakers. Also good for male vocals.
Other tracks on this album are also useful for listening as mentioned in other posts.
BluePort Jazz Sampler.
**Tracks 1 & 2. Excellent live recording & female vocals.
Michael Jackson, "Bad." (get the remastered special edition version of this album)
**Track 9. Dirty Diana. Good lower register test.
**Track 10. Smooth Criminal. Excellent mid-bass slam test (I like my system to ROCK). After the heartbeat, the midbass line should sound forcefull and tight, not soft in any sense. Excellent for amplifier control and speaker testing - must be played at higher volume.
Harry Connick Jr. Blue Light, Red Light.
**Track 2. A Blessing and a Curse. Listen for the accuracy and tonality of the string bass line in the background.
**Track 8. The Last Payday. Listen for String Bass, Trombone, Pool ball crack & hits, other instruments.
**Track 11. Just Kiss Me. Good for dynamic range test. Many other attributes to listen for.
Stereophile Test CD (#1).
**Track 10. One of my favorite piano performances. Excellent recording and a great song. Manager should be easily heard saying "Bravo!" in the background at the end of the piece.
**Tracks 20-31. Warble tones, only if I suspect a room or speaker resonance. If you have a buzz instead of a warble, there is a resonance somewhere.
just in case you'd like to try something other than rock:
"Tango Ballet"(Astor Piazolla) Gidon Kremer/Kremer Baltica (the entire CD)
"Maria de Bueno Aires" (Astor Piazolla) Gidon Kremer/Kremer Baltica,track "Yo Soy Maria" vocals by Julia Zenko
Radio Tarifa "Rumbo Argelina" track 'Baile de la Bolla'
"El Tango" Gidon Kremer track 'Che Tango Che' vocals by Milva
"Sergio & Odair Assad Play Piazolla" track 'Escualo'
"The Clown" Charles Mingus track 'Haitian Fight Song'
"The Complete Africa/Brass Sessions" John Coltrane Quartet, track 'Song of the Underground Railroad'
"Nuevo Latino" Putumayo World Music compilation, tracks 1,3,4,10,11
I second the Dire Straits, Diana Krall stuff for critical evaluations. Probably just because I like that stuff and know the songs so well but also since piano and vocals are harder to get right. Other than that any unamplified performances you know really well. I always take along a few songs I know well but are not that well recorded too.
I do this for a business, so I need the best. I like to use the following jazz track because of the intense piano passages. If your system does these well, without halos, echoes, reverberation or sibilance, then you have arrived:
Gene Harris - the Concord Years, disk 1 - track 2, 4 and 6
Great piano and string bass - very dynamic.
Some of mine (that I don't think I saw in the list above):
Dianne Reeves - Never Too Far (title cut and "Hello") -
(jazz tinged R&B: excellent female vocal, check for midrange presence and choral mass voices on "Never Too Far")
Shirley Horn - "You Won't Forget Me" (jazz): Close miked, female vocal - top to bottom presence (check the decay on "The Music That Makes Me Dance" on the last cymbol strike).
Michael Franks - "Dragonfly Summer" (smooth jazz?): another intimate, lower mids test.
Herbie Hancock - "Dis is da Drum" (hip-hop/jazz): highly cooked, wild imaging that should fool your ear (end of "Butterfly '99" with Hubert Laws flute), good, deep synth bass too.
Duke Ellington & Ray Brown - "This One's for Blanton" (jazz): simple piano and bass. Should be right there in the room with you if all is right.
Grace Jones - "Slave to the rhythm" (Pop): Extreme imaging! ("Don't Cry - It's only the Rhythm[?]); wild left right tricks plus a single triangle strike that tests high frequency response to somewhere around gamma radiation! ;-)
Lots more but can't think of them.
P.S., Bring a recording that SUCKS that you love; if it does not make your foot to tap or move you, forget what you're auditioning (not all recodings will be perfect and you got to get what will work for you on the majority of your recordings).