Show off!

What is your go to album to show off what your system can do?


A true audiophile does not show off their system.  Instead the system shows off the audiophile.

Audiophiles always seem to bring over their own favorite "test discs". 

Non audiophiles ? It doesn’t matter because on my system, any decent-sounding CD is probably going to sound much better than anything they’ve heard. Whether they'll be able to actually perceive the difference is another topic.

I play vinyl --

For male vocal, Hugh Masekela's "Hope" album, especially the Stimela cut.

For female vocal, Rebecca Pidgeon's "The Raven" album, especially the Spanish Harlem cut.

And for jazz instrumental, "Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival."

Any LP from Harmonia Mundi France. They feature lots of banging on acoustic instruments. Lots of 3d and a fine sense of the recording space.

Michael Jackson's Thriller. 

The Beach Boys "Endless Summer" double LP from Capital.

Schubert's Fifth Symphony on an old domestic Angel LP, conducted by Otto Klemperer. String tone!

Bizet's opera Carmen on a DG box set conducted by Claudio Abbado.  Crowd scenes. Big tunes. Big voices.

If I have guests over that want to listen to my system, which is rare, because I have few friends and my system is well hidden in a room not frequented by guest, then I let them choose what to listen to. This has happened exactly one time and my guest was a young kid, a friend of my 18yo daughter. She wanted to hear Sour by Olivia Rodrigo. Actually, she brought the record with her and I cleaned and played it for her. After that, I bought a copy for myself. Then they played more Billie Elisha and so I purchased her records. Lastly, my 16yo daughter introduced me to a Korean singer BiBi. She might be the best of the bunch. I’ve only streamed two albums, “Life is a Bi…(more English)  and “Lowlife Princess: Noir”. So, best demo music is music that your guest like and if you are lucky like me, you might also like the music. Give BiBi a listen. She has quite a variety of styles, so fast forward if you don’t like something.

Guests normally like pictures so I play some tracks from the extraordinary Blu-ray Chris Botti in Boston.

On YouTube there’s hd videos of

Billie Eilish - Bad Guys

Alan Walker - Sorrow 

and a thousand more….


Or maybe a well recorded concert with great dynamics like

Joe Jackson - Summer in the city

If your system can play this one really loud without problem you have a good one.

Billie Elish debut album has too much bass in the mix. But it's amazing that a vinyl record can reproduce the subterranean frequencies so well. 

@noromance It’s a lot af bass but if you believe it’s to much then your system + room is not in balance down there :)

Or it has to do with the vinyl..

Sarah Jarosz - "Build Me Up From Bones" or "Follow Me Down"

The Cure - "Disintegration"

I like the stuff from Roger Waters. Amused to Death is almost 3d on mine.

Next is newer Steely Dan, Some Donald Fagan. Older standards is some of the Linda Ronstadt, Whats New, Etc. Well recorded. I would encourage anyone on here to at least give it a listen. Not everyones cup of tea. But is a good old standards collection, I listen to Supertramp. At least one song when I listen. There are a lot of really good and bad out there.

Blues always works.

"Blue Train" John Coltrane

"Blue" Joni Mitchell

"Famous Blue Raincoat" Jennifer Warnes


I do! A lot! In my opinion all tracks on this cd are perfectly recorded, mixed and mastered. Each single tone is as it should be. All bass tones, even the deepest and loudest, are clearly definable with individual start and stop. When you are able to reproduce this in your room (probably not in a car...) you can also enjoy the mids and highs and discover the dynamics and 3D. You will need serious dsp :)

Another popular "electronic" test song would be Anette Askvik - Liberty. Same here - not possible to understand in full before you hear it on a system + room in perfect balance.

a few years ago i purchased a classical symphonic work because it was highly regarded both artistically and technically as best i recall by those no doubt much more knowledgeable than myself i.e. to wit Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade Reiner Chicago Symphony Living Stereo Amazon link below

i just now learned of Grammy Awards for Engineering . i may consider increasing my collection from that list to impress no-one but myself  - Cheerios

Album, Stone Temple Pilots,Core  HDCD, Song, “Dead And Bloated”. Wonderful opening, bass hits hard. For vocals , Carly Simon, “Letters Never Sent”. For overall presentation I play anything by Foreplay.

Generally, people who aren't already into great sounding audio just don't care about your carefully assembled gear heap unless feigning interest to be nice. So since pretty much anything sounds great on a great system it sort of doesn't matter...I'll maybe play the most recent Julian Lage vinyl to show how good that sort of thing can sound, but meh...another one is "Bob is Not Your Uncle Anymore" from Walter Becker's "Circus Money" and still...meh...

Most common reaction tend to be "how clearly everything sounds". And that’s a good one I think.

What I prefer to show is the opening 20 minutes of the latest Bond "No Time to Die". It’s a film within a film and has all entertainment you could ask for. Great action, marvelous pictures, big sounds and finally the subtile Billie Eilish (again!) theme. Beginning and end. No need for more. If your public don’t beg for it...



+ 1 "Famous Blue Raincoat" Jennifer Warnes (Timpani drums or whatever they are are great in Bird on a Wire)

"Breaking Silence" Janis Ian - really well recorded, tons of detail, big sound stage etc.)

"Wonderful Sound of Female Vocals" - Analogue Productions (the whole album is a showcase)



Whatever they request because if they don't like the kind of music you play, they won't care what it sounds like. Talking about the common folk, not the experienced audiophile.

....a random selection from the massive play list of the weird and wonderful that I love....

If your mouth opens, I know you're still breathing.

If your eyes glaze, I know a few synapse have cooked, so I'll turn it down.

If the odor in the room changes....Towel, washer, dryer, and insanely strong black coffee the consistency of room temp honey.

I'm not a 'shrink' but look like one...("99.9% of doctors swear at this...")

Be not afraid. 😏

Sheryl Crow's "Tuesday Night Music Club", and some individual tracks like Dusty Springfield's "Son Of A Preacher Man" and the Hollies' "Long Cool Woman". A good copy of "Rock On" by David Essex is good, too.


The Blood Sweat & Tears (first album) was my first introduction to "real" high fidelity. It was in the showroom of David Beatty Stereo in Kansas City, MO. Macintosh amp/preamp (MX113/MC2015?) and ESS AMT1s. It was just "clear" beyond anything I’d heard to date. I bought a copy of the album. And, still have it.

Favorite Demos:

Dire Straights- Your latest Trick

King’s Singers- Hard Days Night

The Who- Underture



In our car audio days (1980s) we were invited to display our demo vehicle (Mazda 626 Turbo with 2-18"subs) in a shopping mall. After being very polite and a good neighbor for a couple of hours, I just couldn’t help slipping in the Toccata and Fugue in D minor CD and set the volume control at 11. After rattling some rafters above and gaining some attention, I ejected the disc and put on something more suitable for the venue.

I then decided it would probably be a good idea to survey the surroundings and make friends again with the shop owners if needed. A few shops down at a woman’s shoe store there was an employee missing around with a display of women’s shoes. The shoes were on a ledge tilted back a few degrees so they could be positioned vertically with their toes facing down. It seems that "something" caused a vibration, knocked some of the shoes off balance, triggering a domino effect causing all the women’s shoes on the display to tumble over -- and off the rack.

I just smiled as I passed by, and gave him a friendly gesture. I knew little about the merchandising of women’s shoes, so wouldn’t have been much help. The extended version of the story is the salesman actually worked for me at one point in his career, finished his law degree, and became an attorney.


Great story.  I'm surprised the bass did not destroy the Toyota.

Of course the Bach piece has far more merit than as an audio demo.  Written more than 300 years ago it is a masterpiece.

Thank you for responding.  Glad my post piqued your interest.


"I'm surprised the bass did not destroy the Toyota."

I did joke around with people and tell them my car made so much bass, I had stretch marks on the trunk lid.

"Of course the Bach piece has far more merit than as an audio demo.  Written more than 300 years ago it is a masterpiece."

Wonderful piece of work.  And, a great selection for showing off a "big boy" music system.