Plenty of test records out there that can give it the 'ol acid test'.
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I don't know how demanding this is for a cartridge to track, but it will surely tell you if your system is up to snuff: Sheffield Drum Track LP.
This uncompressed direct to disk recording is extremely dynamic. You will be able to tell very quickly if the amp/speaker match is good, how much distortion is in your system and how well your turntable is isolated. It is also a resolution acid test.
I often use this LP to test components under audition and what friends' systems are capable of. It can be very humbling and may cause ear ringing if played at appropriate levels. Use caution.
I'd like to try the Sheffield Drum Track. I've been thinking of other LP's I own that are tough. Rick Wakemans' Myth & Legends of King Aurthur, Merlin the Magician also fits the bill. There are some extremely demanding passages on that as well. If the cartridge setup can track and handle that song well then I know I got it all goin' on. Smiles all the way. The turntable set up as noted above plays everything very well. Joni's Court & Spark always makes my wife come in and sit down with me too. It's like Joni is singing in our home.
I also use Sheffield's Drum Record, especially the side with Jim Keltner. Compare your listening experience with that of the liner notes. If your system doesn't match up, then, your system has a weakness.
I also play Mozart's 2 piano concerto. If I can clearly identify which piano is playing, that is the better piece of equipment.
One of my favorites and most demanding to play is a Japanese Direct to Disc 45rpm recording of Bethoven's Appassionata on the RCA label. It is very dynamic and exciting to hear. I got it in the 80s and have played it on some good systems. I have heard mistracking on most systems with this record. I can play it with my current cartridge but the stylus has to be perfectly clean. The other record to try is T's 1812 overture on the Telarc label. You can plainly see where the canon shots are in the grooves. I have seen that record (not with my copy, fortunately) throw tonearms off the record! If Peterayer ever invites me over to hear his turntable, I'm bringing these two records with me.
Tonywinsc, I also have that Beethoven "Appassionata" on 45 RPM
RCA. Kamiya is the pianist and it is a Bosendorfer Imperial piano. It's a very
fast, dynamic performance. I prefer slower versions, musically, so I don't play
This is a difficult to track LP. I listened to it again tonight just to make sure.
The LP played all the way through with no problems on my rig. I find the
beginning of side one to be the most demanding. Unfortunately, this is
another one of those LPs where the recording and sound quality is excellent,
but I don't really love the performance.
You are certainly welcome to visit any time. Please send me a message via the
Yes, that is the same album. I found my copy in the 80s in a cutout bin for $2. What a jewel of a find. Now that you mention it, the pace of her playing is fast. I'm used to the record so the one time I heard it live, I felt the live player was a bit slow. It is surprising to me that performers at such an accomplished level would change the tempo so much. Different interpretations maybe. Also, the way the piano is miked on this record makes you feel like you are sitting very close to the piano. (Could you hear her breathing in the quiet passages and the strings rattle on that one loud passage?) The live presentation is very different since I was sitting a good distance away from the piano. That is the other thing about hifi, I think- we have our own intimate presentation to enjoy for ourselves that is not often experienced live.
I have a couple of Digital Mastered records from around 1980 like the Telarc 1812 Overture that I enjoy; but my analog hifi buddies in the 80s turned their noses up at these digital renderings. Especially when their tonearms skate across the record during the canon fire. (Nothing a penny couldn't fix :0) )
The Telarc recordings from that time pushed the bubble in terms of dynamic range as a means of demonstrating what digital was capable of during its nascent phase in home audio. Unfortunately few tables were able to track the recordings effectively as mentioned. As the digital age progressed things were toned back down on most mas market vinyl accordingly. Not much market beyond audiophiles for recordings that nobody could play. Of course CDs and the gear needed to play those to best effect is another story....
Dear Jsd52756: Most demanding for a TT&system?
well there are some tracks that are really demanding ones that are a challenge for any audio system.
Telarc 1812 Overture is probably the most demanding one and IMHO it's demanding all over the frequency range and very especial to test the system bass management.
Other extreme LP test is the 45 rpm RR Dafos on side two. As with the Telarc one this Dafos is a challenge over the whole frequency range and yes a hard challenge to evaluate the system bass mangement.
I agree too with Tonywinsc about the DD 45rpm RCA Appasionata and the Peterayer advise on the Sheffiel Drum one. Both are excelents tests.
Here we can see some of the LPs I mentioned and other we can use it:
The DD Flamenco Fever is great for test and great to listen it and all in this picture are great tests:
Winds for War and Peace is a recording made by Wilson and an extraordynary test LP too. The one at the right medium column here:
Michael Ruff by Sheffield Records and Midnight Sugar by Three Blind Mice are good ones too:
Te UHQ Mobile Fidelity of Pines of Rome is really good as is Panaraima ( the third one on the first row ), here:
Of course the one mentioned Mapman Telarc Firebird as two other Firebird: the one by Sheffield Records and of course the one by Mercury.
Now, on each one of those LPs we really can detect and be aware of system problems starting with the cartridge tracking abilities.
Some one mentioned Test torture test made by Shure and exist several other by other companies. IMHO those " torture tests " could say/means almost nothing, I prefer real recorded music and not only test tones or the like.
Now, an important issue is that when using those music LP tests: against what ( reference ) are we comparing the system quality performance level? and what are we looking for on each one?
Regards and enjoy the music,
Hi Raul, I have not had a lot of different cartridges over the years- maybe 8 or 9; but I had a Koetsu Black that played it wonderfully until it became a bit worn. It still sounded great with other records so I just put the Appassionta away. Now my current cartridge, the Benz plays it perfectly. These two have been my favorite cartridges. I wore the Koetsu down to a nub almost. I still have it and keep planning to get it retipped. I enjoy the Benz so much that I haven't gotten around to it. I think the Benz cartridges (I have had two of them) and the SME tonearms are a great combination. Couple that with a tube preamp and it is hard to leave the room.
I haven't played the 1812 in years, truth be told. I don't think that I have even tried it with my curent Benz. I think the bass was a little soft with the Koetsu; but then I think MC's cartridges in general do not develop that gut punching bass like MM's can. I'm thinking back to the early 80s and liked listening to Rock mostly back then. I heard the helicopter from Pink Floyd's The Wall on at top end system once in the 90s; but it was a CD. (Top end being Wilson Watt/Puppies and all ML electronics). My analog system does not quite get to the level of POP POP POP from the helicopter blades like that system did. (I do not have the CD). The closest is just recently with additonal isolation under my turntable.
Dear Tonywinsc: Yes dedicated active subs are a must here, no one passive full range speakers can do it with aplomb.
Btw, there are some cartridges that can ride all the cannon shots with no " apparent " tracking trouble but the important subject here is not only if can ride it but the quality level of the reproduced sound and it's here where belongs the differences and where we really can aware of which one is a top tracker and not all the ones that ride those grooves we can considered: top trackers, I mean top trackers beteen top trackers because any cartridge that can ride those grooves are top trackers but inside that performance level exist the top top trackers.
When you heard those grooves under the control of a top top tracker the experience is unique and non-imaginable!.
Regards and enjoy the music,
The Shure Era IV tonearm resonance test and the Telarc 1812 Overture.
My old SL1200 was fitted with a Shure V15 III cartridge. With the cartridge brush down I thought it could track the 1812. A close look at the cannon shot grooves showed the cartridge/arm skipped over the shot leaving a detour scratch.
With the brush up this combination literally flew off the LP during the resonance test as do most other arm and cartridges. My current Well Tempered / Benz Micro RubyZ can track my other unscratched copy of the 1812. In my limited experience the Well Tempered arm is the only arm that manages the Shure tonearm resonance test all the way through. There must be others.
The Shure V15III had no brush; the V15IV and V did. I could always play the Telarc cannons with Shure M95E and up, and all Audio Technica cart's. If you look on the back of the jacket, AT distributed the record, so it's not surprising their cart's can do it justice. My Denon servotracer arm on the 62L has always played the cannons with ANY cart. I've used, even their 301II, also MMs such as from Ortofon or Stanton, whereas I could never get these brands to track on non servotracer arms. I spent an hour or so with an audio dealer who carries Project and Music Hall TTs; none of the Sumiko cart's could play the cannons, but a Goldring 1022 GX played them flawlessly. The Rega Elyses or Exact cartridges also cannot usually play the cannons. One exception was on my previously owned Rega P5 which had an Exact cartridge but a different arm than on my currently owned RP6.[RB303] The RP6/ Exact cannot track the cannons.
Vicdamone: thanks; No wonder you didn't recall the exact model Shure; I bought my original in 1976, and have an unused MR stylus [original] from Shure before they essentially abandoned replacement styli except on their lower end. That said, like Raul, I'm surprised your V15 IV couldn't track the cannons!