This is not the best method to select components. You need to judge an audio component based on the type of music you actually listen to, and not a bunch of test CD's. If you don't, you'll never get if right.
17 responses Add your response
I think one might well learn from a detailed list like the above, with notes as to what other are hearing for comparison.
But what Zd said deserves emphasis: at moderate (and even not so moderate) pricepoints, it is difficult to craft a system that does everything well, so it pays to make very sure that the equipment under consideration can shine on the material that is most important in *your* listening.
As Jim Smith says, pick demo material that moves you.
An annotated playlist such as presented in the article can be a very useful tool in optimizing a system and setup parameters. The list is not comprehensive in musical styles, but it does offer enough variety to get the job done. It's a far better method than randomly selecting music that you like, but of unknown recording quality.
"The list is not comprehensive in musical styles, but it does offer enough variety to get the job done. It's a far better method than randomly selecting music that you like, but of unknown recording quality.
Onhwy61 (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)"
I know we don't always agree on everything. Sometimes we do agree, but with regards to the above quote, unfortunately this is not one of them. I think we all use test CD's to get an idea as to how something will sound, but if you don't match your components to the music that you actually listen to, how can you ever expect to be happy? Its like cutting your nose off to spite your face. I made this mistake myself many times and can tell you from experience that if you don't like what you are hearing, you're not going to listen to the system. Its just that simple. The only thing you'll be listening to is your test CD's.
The process of choosing music that you like is not random. Who buys music at random? For the most part, I don't. Once in a while I'll take a chance, but the music I buy is bought because I like it. Also, the recording quality is not unknown. How could it be? You own the cd and can listen to it any time you want. There's nothing random about any of this. That's the whole point of using music that you listen to when judging equipment. If you don't do it that way, then you are guessing a random.
I can only conclude that you haven't read the thread the OP refers to. He's not talking about "test CDs", but referring to music tracks from readily available music CDs. The intended purpose of listening to the specific music tracks is to judge performance elements of a system. I think you're reading way to much into what the discussion is about.
I can only conclude that you haven't read the thread the OP refers to. He's not talking about "test CDs", but referring to music tracks from readily available music CDs. The intended purpose of listening to the specific music tracks is to judge performance elements of a system. I think you're reading way to much into what the discussion is about."
I went back and read everything again and I still come up with the same conclusion. I don't see any difference as to whether a whole album, or just single, selected tracks are used. That said, maybe I wasn't clear in my first post. I'm not saying that you shouldn't use these types of tracks in helping you select gear. Its always fun to see how far you can push a system with special test tracks that highlight certain areas. My point is that you still need to build the system around the music you listen to. Your music can be very different than your test tracks both in terms of recording quality, and how they push your system.
If you read through many of the threads where people are having issues with they're systems, its easy to see that not judging a system using the music you really listen to, is one of the main reasons people fail. I'm no exception, either. I've has some spectacular failures due to this very issue. Everything sounds great in the store using test CD's, but the minute I get it home and start listening to the music I prefer, my CD's come out and the test CD's go back in. Then, of course, its another trip to the store for new gear.
What I like about the discussion is that they are using real music, and music which one might already have ,and if not, is easy to come by.
I think we all have a piece of music that we use as reference and I would like to see some examples of what other forum members use.
Here is the complete post:
''My good friend and fellow audiophile Gerald k and I have made a compilation of music files which we feel are perfect for testing new equipment.
We wanted to use music that we not only enjoy listening to but which also has the abillity to reveal flaws in the signal chain.
I listen mostly on Headphones (Sennheiser/ Audeze/ Audio Technica) while Gerald listen only on speakers (Tad, Kharma/Linn/Naim).
We have spend many an evening and several bottles of Cotes de Rhone wines arguing and eventually agreeing on this list of audio equipment test music.
This is what we came up with, please feel free to comment or post alternatives, if possible with a link as to where to purchase the music that you feel is ideal for this purpose.
We also looked for reviews that we felt agreed with what we hear in the recordings.
Sound stage and definition
1. Carmen Gomes inc; '' I'm on fire'' from Thousand Shades of Blue
Sound Liaison Music Shop
Placement is perfect on this young audiophile classic as well as the near perfect natural recording of the voice, but the real test for audio equipment when listening to this recording is it's ability to separate the kickdrum from the upright bass.
The two instruments are playing the same pattern. On less than optimum equipment it might be difficult to separate the two, but with good setup you clearly hear the upright at 10.00 and the kick dead center with a nice decay that one generally do not hear on commercial recordings.
There are lots of speakers and headphones with ''extended lows'' but low with definition is a whole different ballgame.
2 Alban berg Quartet; Bartok String Quartet no.1 in a minor 1th movement. (LP,EMI)
in the beginning of this movement the 4 instruments all play mainly in the same middle and upper register. Despite all that mid and high information the music should not sound harsh.
This recording has the same perfect sound stage as the Carmen Gomes recording.
We believe that this kind of sound stage with such a sense of depth and realistic placement is only attainable when you are recording the musicians in one room at the same time.
3. Frank Sinatra; ''What's New'' from Only the Lonely.
Frank is maybe a bit too prominent represented but one should still be able to notice all the different lines played by the various instruments in this incredible Nelson Riddle arrangement.
4. Me'Shell Ndegéocello; ''Levictus:Faggot'' from Peace beyond Passion.
Here we have the opposite, the voice is a bit too soft in this optimum funk piece yet you should still be able to hear every word.
easily optainable http://www.amazon.com
Depth and Space
When talking about depth and space we had to include a couple of Reference Recordings tracks. This label has allways done justice to it's name and consistently produced recordings of very high quality.
5. The Concord Chamber Music Society;''Danza del Soul'' from Brubeck and Gandolfi works.
6. Doug Macleod '' the Night of the Devils Road'' from There's a Time
here you have two completely different pieces of music, one by The Concord Chamber Music Society and one by blues legend Doug Macleod accompanied only by guitar and kick drum. But the depth and the space of these two recordings is simply outstanding.
Enjoy the music.com;
Reference Recordings Complete Audiophile Classical Music Orchestra and Jazz HDCD Catalog
7. Andre Heuvelman; ''Oblivion'' from After Silence
8. Joni Mitchell; ''Comes Love'' from Both Sides Now
Andre Heuvelman's rendition of Astor Piazzolla's master piece have a great sense of depth. Every instrument sounds rich and full with a gorgeus natural decay. On lesser equipment the sound of each instrument can become a bit of a blur while on good equipment the sound of each instrument should be clearly defined with a clear sense of the room this recording have been recorded in.
Same goes for Joni's wonderfull standards collection, it is a big hall you are listening to.
Sound Stage on the Sound Liaison recordings;
Sound Liaison Music Shop
Both Sides Now won a
9. Miles Davis; ''Stella by Starlight'' from the Complete 1964 Concert
10. John Scofield; ''Just Don't Wan't to be Lonely'' from Uberjam Deux
we use these recordings to check for spill between left and right channel.
The Miles recording was done on a 3 track tape machine and therefore there is this very wide sound stage and separation between the instruments; piano complete left, horns and bass dead center, drums completely right.
drummer Tony Williams sometimes does not play at all and on those moments all one should hear on the right channel of the piano is a faint echo.
John Scofiel's cover of the old Main Ingredient hit has a complete left right separation. The organ is audible on the left channel only and the rhythm guitar is on the right. The separation is so extreme that if you were to disconnect the right channel you would not hear any rhythm guitar at all, just like on the early Beatles stereo LP's.
11. Trevor Pinnock; Mahler symphony no. 4
this delicate chamber orchestra arrangement of the great Mahler Symphony is a real beauty.
the all music review said;
Linn Records - Mahler: Symphonie No. 4
12. Iona Brown and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra;''the Spring'' from Grieg two Elegiac Melodies.
the Grammaphone review puts it well;http://http://www.naimlabel.com/recording-grieg--tippett--beethoven.aspx
Batik; '' The Bird'' from the Old Man and the Sea
just about perfect imaging, left to right evenly laid out for your eyes and ears to see, piano, bass, drums, guitar and again a one room recording. Unbelieveable why sofew companies do this when it can yield so very satisfactory results.
John Scofield;'' Never Turn Back'' from Piety Street
the drum intro has a small imperfection, there is a soft ringing sound on the left channel probably coused by a sympathic resonance in the drum set or in the room.
The moment the organ enters it kind of cover up the problem, although if you really listen for it you can hear it through out the track. Wonderful old fashioned sound stage.
I have three CDS any one of which are very revealing.
I use Sportin Life (all tracks) by Weather Report. This disk was used in the 80's by Leonard Radio (Manhattan NY) to demo all of their equipment at the time. They sold rather high-end and pricey items.
I also use Denon Audio Technical CD . Not simply the spot frequencies but they have about 10 tracks with sample music that covers the entire gamut of frequency range, dynamic range, imaging subtleties, etc.
Sony Music Super Audio CD Sampler
2015 was a year of major audio system upgrades for me, including moving my system from our 13x24 living room (with a pair of stand mounts) to a 24x26 "man cave", for a few months, shopping for a pair of floor standing speakers.
In addition to bringing along a bunch of excellent-sounding CDs, I also brought a 1982-era CD of Mozart's Violin Concerto #3, The Beatles "Sgt. Peppers" and Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run", as these CDs had an "edge" to their sound, and I didn't want to select a speaker that was fatiguing to listen to my musically great, but maybe not the best technical quality stuff in my music library.
As a result, I rejected a number of excellent, but "unforgiving" speakers.
I have the Carmen Gomes as a 96/24 download from Sound Liaison but a friend of mine bought the Thousand Shades plus a couple of more CD’s straight from Carmen herself. You can just google her.....ok I’ll do it....
there you go;http://www.carmengomes.com/
But the 96/24 download really sounds superb. That you can get here; http://www.soundliaison.com/