Music to take to an audition


I’ll never forget hearing flagship Infinity speakers in Alaska in the late 70’s. That experience put me on a path that I have been traveling on ever since. To this day, I remember the music they played at the time.....Toccata from Mannheim Steamroller’s Fresh Aire III album. That quickly became a yardstick for me and I still listen to that same Fresh Aire track when I evaluate new equipment.

It is important to have a fairly small set of diverse music selections you are very familiar with and have hopefully been able to hear on the best of systems. The music should not just be challenging to the equipment and listening room but also something you enjoy listening to.

I would be interested in what other people use to evaluate prospective components and why. Here are a few of my selections:

America-America-Donkey Jaw. (Great acoustic guitar, dynamics and holographic soundstage)

Mannheim Steamroller Fresh Aire III Toccata (Great recording, deep base notes with synth highs floating above)

Graham Parker-Another Grey Area-You Hit The Spot (Tight clean base control, holographic soundstage, nothing beats Graham Parker rhythm)

Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture on Telarc (A challenging recording for every piece of equipment in the chain, particularly the analog front end. Watch out for the cannon blasts!)

Badfinger-Straight Up-Baby Blue. (If you can get this right say no more)

ligjo
I've used John Coltrane's Love Supreme, Neil Young for acoustic (old man or maybe Harvest Moon), Derick and the Dominos Live at the Filmore East for a live album (Key to the Highway), and always something Beatles.
Thx jj228 for the response.  Would have thought there would be more interest in this topic. Agree with your selections 

This was a topic I could get into, back when I had need of such routines. Learned a long time ago, if you think you need "reference" tracks to judge stuff, don't bother. There's at least 50 other things going on, you think one is going to make any difference? You're not ready to evaluate anything.
Hey mc......think we’re birds of a feather here
Consider a couple recordings you know really well but are nothing special, even bad. You want to hear how the system deals with them.

Another somewhat odd piece of advice is to not spend all the time listening paying close attention. Pull out a magazine article or do something else while you listen. This is not a substitute for close listening, but the way something sounds includes less-than-intense-focusing, too.
Caution: I have had high end dealers pre-adjust tone controls to make something sound impressive in their space. Ask, check the preamp/tone controls before starting.

1. Listen to their best Demo CDs. CD’s, not LP’s. You don’t know if the TT system/cartridge alignment/anti-skate is properly done, so eliminate that potential problem. Something great might not sound great.

BTW, having both CD and LP versions of these at home is a great way to refine your system’s balance, then knowing the CD’s separation, make final cartridge/tonearm/anti-skate adjustments, then compare CD to LP.

2. Separation: 3 guitarists playing together, side 2, tracks 2 and 3. And, the subtle differences of the guitar type/string type variations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_Night_in_San_Francisco

3. Specific Voices

a. Casandra Wilson (including great musicians, lots of specific bass, and imaging).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Light_%27til_Dawn

If her voice wanders off center as frequencies change, no no.

b. Duet: Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer, incredible even if not your music type

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_More_Tears_(Enough_Is_Enough)

hear/identify their individual and blended voices, are these great speakers or what?

c. Richard Burton’s voice, and a whole hellofalot of sound effects

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Wayne%27s_Musical_Version_of_The_War_of_the_Worlds

d. Annie Lennox, Eurythmics, and Dave Stewart’s electronic manipulations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Dreams_(Are_Made_of_This)_(album)



Rebecca Pidgeon, Rose in Spanish Harlem (from The Raven)
Diana Krall, Errand Girl For Rhythm (from All For You)
Pat Methany, Into the Dream (from Imaginary Day)
Chet Atkins/Mark Knopfler, Poor Boy Blues (off Neck and Neck)

These are a few of the selections I used to use years ago as I knew them extremely well and on many systems at shows, and that helped me when critically listening.

And yes, many of us recognize there are plenty of variables in auditioning. That's why most of my electronics lived at home before being purchased.  But when you cannot, I have no idea why you'd want to listen to music that you are unfamiliar with while auditioning. For me, at least knowing the music removes one of those 50 other things...

The best audition song all time is Indian girl by the slick Rick. It have incredible dynamics and very delicate and nuances at same time. The overall architecture of song is fantastico.
Hey mc......think we’re birds of a feather here

Pretty sure the "reference" thing is a phase. Probably most if not all have to go through it. But it is kind of like going back and forth. You do that for a while in the beginning, just to be sure. Like it is hard to believe your own ears. (You see it all the time around here, some it seems refuse to believe their own ears!) After a while though you either move on or find yourself in a rut. I have no need to go back and forth. Heck I don’t even need to play the same track!

My great mentor Stewart Marcantoni, one of the best listeners I ever knew, hardly ever sat in the sweet spot. Hardly ever even stood still. Oh, he would do it. But you could tell it wasn’t his usual thing. Yet nothing got past that guy!

The "reference disk" is a phase. Like training wheels. They serve their purpose. Until you learn to ride.
Turandot with Pavarotti on London. Marriage of Figaro conducted by Vittorio Gui on EMI's HMV series. Clarity, dynamics, timbral accuracy and soundstaging galore. Marriage of Figaro is pure Blumlein-miked.  If the stereo set up is good you hear the vocalists chasing each other upstage, downstage and around the room.