Test CD


Can anyone recommend a CD to use that can test the frequency response of a speaker? And what will it cost and where can I find one?

Also, is a burn in CD required? In the past I've used Classical CD's in my collection that have a wide range of frequencies to burn in a new pair of speakers. Wondering if a dedicated CD would be better?
will62
John Atkinson, Editor of Stereophile, created a series of test cds with various tracks to help set-up a system. Frequency response was certainly one of them.

You might see if Stereophile still sells them on their site. If not, I've seen them come up on Ebay every now and then.

Test CD 3 has the Frequency Response tracks. It's the only one I have so I'm not sure about the others.

Edited to add: I just found them on the Music Direct site. So, there you go.
"Also, is a burn in CD required? In the past I've used Classical CD's in my collection that have a wide range of frequencies to burn in a new pair of speakers. Wondering if a dedicated CD would be better?"

Music is fine to break in speakers, but if you use white noise, it may get the job done faster. You won't hear too much on this from high end equipment manufacturers, though. There's a conspiracy throughout the industry to keep break in times longer than the average return policy. That way, if you don't like whatever you bought, you won't be able to bring it back. Its the only way they can stay in business.
Granite Audio has a couple but seem to be overpriced $50.
http://www.graniteaudio.com/phono/index.html
I bought 2 here on Agon in an auction years ago (CD-102 and CD-103). I used it to break in a replacement pair of speakers that had a flaw in the finish. The original pair of speakers took 400 hrs of just playing music on them. The replacement pair took 450 hrs playing music while I was home and looping on white and pink noise and frequency sweeps while away or sleeping at night.

That said I tried using it to set up a sub. Big mistake. What sounded like a perfect sweep sounded horrible when playing music (way too much bass).
This CD(http://www.musicdirect.com/p-6813-cardas-ayre-acoustics-ibe-burn-in-cd.aspx) contains Pink, White and Brown noise tracks, which can all be used to burn-in speakers or electronics. The Pink Noise track can be used, with a spectrum analyzer, to test speaker/room freq response.
I use the Isotek burn in cd to burn in my equipment and the Stereophile cd to set up the system.
Would it make sense to buy more than one of these CD's to burn in a new pair of speakers? Will one Test CD offer some advantages over the other with the kind of noise or music it contains?

I'm going to spend less than $500 for a pair of bookshelf speakers. I know the kind of sound that I desire in a speaker and have narrowed my choices down to around 5 models that possess these traits based upon both professional reviews and user reviews. With that in mind I am wondering if certain CD's will offer advantages for a speaker with a particular sound?
You can purchase test CDs from the Stereophile web site. http://www.stereophile.com/reference/1008speaks/index.html

The 1/3 octave warble tones will only provide a coarse map of the bass region. That may be sufficient for your needs. If not, you can download a CD of bass tones from the Real Traps web site.
"12-14-14: Will62
Would it make sense to buy more than one of these CD's to burn in a new pair of speakers? Will one Test CD offer some advantages over the other with the kind of noise or music it contains?"

No. Break in is break in. It doesn't matter how you do the break in, the end result is the same. The sound of your speakers won't change if you use different CD's.

"I know the kind of sound that I desire in a speaker and have narrowed my choices down to around 5 models that possess these traits based upon both professional reviews and user reviews."

I would do it that way only as a last resort. There's no substitute for demoing the speakers yourself. When you go by reviews and opinions, there's just too many variables at play to make it a reliable method of selecting the right speaker. So, even if the reviews say that the speaker has certain qualities that you want, you may not get the same results. That's one of the main reasons why some people have such a hard time putting together a good sounding system that they can live with.
Will62-

I concur, the Stereophile test CDs are more than sufficient.
I still use these discs to "touch up" my system.

Any of you guys use the DALI test cds? If so, please post your impressions!
Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
I got an Isotek CD free with some hifi mag...it's great (the "sound going
around your head" feature is cool), but I never use the "burn in"
feature because I think it's silly (maybe if I was a speaker reviewer or something
I'd use it). I also have the Stereophile test CDs and they're cool...I have a meter
thing in an iPhone to get db levels when I need to so it's nice to have a tone
generator around...like recently when a channel was losing level...bad tube...also,
why use a "burn in " CD when you can listen to a component burn in? Otherwise
you don't know from whence it burns...what the unburned sound is...when it
ripens...you know?...or you don't.
Had a thought after reading the following. Need some feedback.

A guy that also owns the Jamo C601 bookshelf speakers said he was able to measure the bass response on this speaker down to near 40hz. But it is rated by Jamo for 62hz. I've read other reviews that claim the bass is better than advertised. I tend to believe this since it creates a lot of bass in the smaller room where they presently sit.

In light of this, I am wondering if I buy another pair of C601's, use a Test CD to properly break in the speakers and then use my heavy duty speaker stands (3 large legs of steel) in the larger room where they will probably be used, if I can get just a little stronger bass? And is it possible to buy a new pair of IC's that will retain the high end and midrange of this speaker but add a little low end?

Any ideas?
Nordost website has details on a setup,and test cd
I got one free at an audio expo .... Worked better than all the others I've test driven
Highly recommended

Nordost System Set-Up & Tuning Disc:
Finally, all those invaluable test and set-up tracks on a single disc!

Nordost’s System Tuning and Set-Up disc contains everything that you need to get a system sounding its best – and keep it that way. An extensive range of proven diagnostic tracks – plus a few innovative and extremely useful ones – helps with speaker placement (and sub-woofer integration), performance checks and assessment, problem location and system conditioning.

The disc comes with its own instruction book as well as supporting PDF downloads, which clearly lay out the purpose and benefits of each track. A little practice and pretty soon you’ll wonder how you got along without it.

As well as basic channel and phase checks (boring we know, but oh so useful) there are discrete left and right channel pink and white noise tracks, as well as alternating ones, which are ideal for checking that speakers are working properly and voicing them in-room. The computer generated LEDR tests provide a repeatable method for mapping and adjusting sound-staging and toe-in while uncompressed drum tracks test dynamic range and rhythmic integration. As well as conventional sweeps, there is a timed low-frequency sweep that will allow you to identify principal room modes. Used in conjunction with the discrete low-frequency tones this is a huge help in diagnosing problem environments, placing speakers and integrating and optimizing sub-woofers. Throw in system burn-in and degauss tracks and you can see why we consider this an invaluable part of our audio armory. In fact, the only thing missing is the plinky-plonky audiophile music tracks that clutter up most test CDs!

It’s everything you need and nothing that you don’t.
"I'm going to spend less than $500 for a pair of bookshelf speakers. I know the kind of sound that I desire in a speaker and have narrowed my choices down to around 5 models that possess these traits based upon both professional reviews and user reviews."

"A guy that also owns the Jamo C601 bookshelf speakers said he was able to measure the bass response on this speaker down to near 40hz. But it is rated by Jamo for 62hz. I've read other reviews that claim the bass is better than advertised. I tend to believe this since it creates a lot of bass in the smaller room where they presently sit.

In light of this, I am wondering if I buy another pair of C601's, use a Test CD to properly break in the speakers and then use my heavy duty speaker stands (3 large legs of steel) in the larger room where they will probably be used, if I can get just a little stronger bass? And is it possible to buy a new pair of IC's that will retain the high end and midrange of this speaker but add a little low end?"

The problem of doing it this way is that you're trying to fix problems that you don't have yet. Who's to say that you will even need to buy a pair of IC's in an attempt to retain your highs, while adding low end? I would try to avoid putting myself in that position in the first place. If you need to start buying cables to fix your mistakes, you've already failed and are just making the problem worse.

Also, I don't think its necessary to keep focusing on break in. The speakers are going to break in regardless of what kind of CD you use. Its an issue that takes care of itself as long as you use the speaker.
ZD542. Makes sense. Did a test yesterday and have found the heavy duty steel speaker stands when positioned a certain way and with the front of the speakers elevated a quarter inch at the front are giving deeper bass. I am going to try this in the large room later this week to see if this will give me just a bit more bass in that room. If so, I won't need to get another pair of speakers. Midrange and highs are superb and comparable to the Castle Conway 3 towers which cost 2 grand that I had. Gave them to my brother. Just a smaller sound stage with the C601's but even that can be improved upon with some kinds of IC cables and positioning of the stands.
Zd542. Regarding the break in of speakers. Seems to me that a speaker will break in better if music containing a wide variety of frequencies is used. Thus not all music is suited for breaking in a speaker properly.

I noted a dramatic difference in the quality of the sound when I eliminated the cheap IC's that came with my CD and replaced them with Golden Gate's by AQ. More neutral sounding the bass tightened up a bit. And then when I upgraded to the IC3 by Audio Art I noted an improvement in the sound stage and also more depth to the instruments.

I suppose if I had spent a grand or more on speakers I may not have needed to upgrade the IC's. But for the $100 I spent on the IC 3 pair and then $180 for the speakers (originally sold for nearly $500) I would have to say I have speakers that sound like they cost far more than I paid. :-)
Akg ca. After reading about this CD I will likely purchase it. Has a great frequency range without having to spend a lot of money for the CD. Will definitely tell me how low my current speakers can go and should work well to break in a new pair if I buy another pair of speakers.
"12-21-14: Will62
Zd542. Regarding the break in of speakers. Seems to me that a speaker will break in better if music containing a wide variety of frequencies is used. Thus not all music is suited for breaking in a speaker properly."

A speaker is either broken in, or its not. Using a special CD may help speakers break in faster, but that's all. The end result is the same. With regards to the IC's, going from whatever they give you in the box to the level of improvement that you got with the AQ and Art, is not going to happen again. The improvements, if any, will be much smaller if you upgrade from your current cables. The only exception will be is if you bought a whole new system with much more costly and revealing components. Then there may be room for a big change in SQ from cables in a situation like that.

"I suppose if I had spent a grand or more on speakers I may not have needed to upgrade the IC's. But for the $100 I spent on the IC 3 pair and then $180 for the speakers (originally sold for nearly $500) I would have to say I have speakers that sound like they cost far more than I paid. :-)"

I understand, but you can't always expect the same results every time. Do the same thing again with different components, and you may have a completely different outcome. I won't tell you what to do, but for me personally, I don't want to put together a system where I expect, or even need, the cables to make a really big difference. If that's the case, I messed up on my component selection. I'd fix that first and get my system sounding good, and only then would I buy cables.
Zd542. It makes far more sense to buy or use a pair of speakers that has most of the audio traits that I want and then try to shore up the shortcomings with a superior IC and power cables vs. buying and trying lots of speakers with the hope that one pair may have everything that I need. Not gonna happen. Not only because of the cost involved by also the time issue. Buying and returning speakers over and over again is a great way to piss off a retailer.

One thing I've learned over the years, no matter how much you spend, you will find every speaker regardless of the price point at least in the lower end of the high end will have at least one or more deficiency. DALI Zensor 1's for example have apparently a bit of a bright high end which otherwise would mar what I would consider a great speaker for the price. Others may be too forward sounding and bright such as Klipsch and some other brands that I've listened to.

When I purchased my Mirage OM 10's I had to decide between having more detail in my music or a more spacious soundstage. Decided on the soundstage. Then I purchased the Conway 3's which sound quite different and provided more detail. But at the expense of the soundstage.

I can't afford to spend a grand or two grand on speakers this time around. Have to live within my means. Therefore, if I have to spend a couple hundred on cables to help improve the shortcomings in my current pair of speakers or potentially a new pair, then I will have to do that. Far less money will be spent by doing this than having to shell out a lot of money on something I can't afford right now.
I was just suggesting that you listen to speakers before you buy them. I never said that you should go out and buy and return a bunch of speakers. As far as using cables to fix the speakers you buy, all I can say to that one is, you'll see. Its like your stock broker tells you. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
How they sound in a showroom will not be representative of how they sound at home. I bought the Klipsch Heresey's back in the 1980' after listening to them in the store. Got them home and they definitely didn't sound right at all. Too bright and lacking bass and I don't even desire a lot of bass. Messed around with placement but to no avail.
"12-21-14: Will62
How they sound in a showroom will not be representative of how they sound at home. I bought the Klipsch Heresey's back in the 1980' after listening to them in the store. Got them home and they definitely didn't sound right at all. Too bright and lacking bass and I don't even desire a lot of bass. Messed around with placement but to no avail."

No question that's a valid point, but I still think you can benefit from doing store demo's. As an example, I'm very sensitive to high frequencies. I can easily weed out speakers that have HF issues that I don't like, right there in a store. Granted, its not a perfect way to judge SQ, but you can rule out speakers that you know you won't like. Also, the Klipsch speakers you mention are very odd. Your description of them is pretty much the same as mine. I wouldn't use them as a reference to compare other speakers to.

I should have mentioned this earlier, but I forgot. You may want to give The Cable Company a call. They have a program where they send you demo units of anything you want to try. I'm not sure if they'll send you speakers, but it wouldn't hurt to ask. They may do it. Also, Cable Co is the largest cable and accessory store there is. If you're still interested in a test CD, they probably carry every one on the market. If you don't live near any B&M stores, they can be a very valuable resource.
Hello,
I prefer to use music to break speakers in.
Pink noise is great for analyzing but can be hard on the mechanics of the driver if they are too still out of the box and you push the noise a bit too hard.
Also, music breaks in the speakers to match your musical preferences.
"Also, music breaks in the speakers to match your musical preferences. "

So a speaker "broken in" on The Rolling Stones music is going to eventually sound different than speakers "broken in" on by Mozart? Really??

I at least agree with the idea of "breaking in" speakers using music but not because it will sound different than speakers "broken in" on pink noise, or pink floyd, or the female singer Pink. This whole "break in" ritual is yet another opportunity for audiophiles to over think and over complicate something that is relatively simple.

Enjoy listening to your speakers break in. I suspect there is a mechanical process at work during the break in process that changes the sound in subtle ways but I think there is an equally significant process at work where your ear and brain adjusts to and adapts to the sound.
I use the ayre disk...has track 4 that can get the junk movin...no music can do that...track 3 pink noise.
"Pink noise is great for analyzing but can be hard on the mechanics of the driver if they are too still out of the box and you push the noise a bit too hard.
Also, music breaks in the speakers to match your musical preferences."

I don't suppose that you could back either one of those 2 statements up with some info on why that's so?
Additionally, I am interested in those Accuphase test SACD(s) as well. Anyone here own those? Keep me posted and happy listening!
Hello,

Pink noise has a very, very high continuous level across the entire audio spectrum with virtually no dynamics at all. Whereas music is quite the opposite. Pink noise is basically every frequency at full volume at once, not even today's pop music has the same high continuous level across the entire spectrum as pink noise. It's rare to see recorded music with a continuous level above 50% of the peak level (whereas pink is 90%+ continuous of the peak level). The older rock recordings from the tape days are 20-30% continuous.

Mechanically there are a few potential issues using pink noise, especially if used incorrectly. The first is heat. Pink noise generates heat in the voice coils far faster than music; because of the continuous level/nature of pink noise compared to the dynamic nature of music. If you run pink noise at or above the coils rated continuous wattage for too long you will blow the coil and need to get the driver reconed. My towers are rated at 130 watts rms and are a 6 ohm box. My bryston has been measured at over 260 watts at 8ohms, which is going to deliver well over 300 watts at 6 ohms. I can listen to music at the full capabilities of the bryston without damage to the coils because the peaks can't be more than what the amp can cleanly deliver. The peaks are high but the continuous level is within the rated ability of the coil.

I've seen several cones folded when they are new because they haven't been broken in properly. New speakers tend to have very stiff surrounds, especially if they have the accordion type surround. Listening to pink noise at a given volume works the speakers harder than the same perceived volume of music. The surround is typically stiffer than the spider. When the pink noise is turned up too high the coil pushes the cone forward into the stiff surround. If the surround doesn't give in the cone begins to flex, if it flexes too far it snaps and becomes a fold in the cone. Using music which has the dynamics will repeatedly lightly push into the surround slowly breaking it in giving the cone more and more room to freely move until it has full range of motion. Think of it like a muscle. After a 30 minute stretching can you keep your legs straight and touch your toes, or do you need to stretch for 30 minutes for weeks to be able to touch your toes without ripping muscles in your legs...

As the speaker components are used they do wear out. The surround and spider become less resilient. As this happens the speaker becomes less and less efficient at it's specified upper frequency limit. As an example, if you have a bass/mid driver running from 20hz to 2kHz and the tweeter taking over from that; the xover is limiting the bass driver to 2k. As the parts wear out it will have issues producing the 2k because it's not stiff enough to move fast enough. It develops a mechanical type cross over of 1.9k then eventually 1.8k, 1.7k and so on. The tweeter will have the same issue over time starting at its upper limit and working down. With the bass driver the xover may let 2k through to the driver but mechanically it just can't do it.

Playing pink noise speeds this wearing out process. 10 hours of pink noise is like playing music at a higher volume for 40 hours.

The music you listen to will change how fast the components of your system wear out. If you listen to heavy metal your tweeter will wear out far faster than somebody who listens to jazz or classical because the metal music has a lot of aggressive top end compared to jazz. They both have the same instrumentation but the mixing is handled very differently. If you use pink noise too much and or too hard to break in your system and you like classical music you could wear out the tweeter more than intended and miss some of the nice twinkley highs. And if you like classic rock you may wear out the bass driver too much reducing is ability to punch out the drums and bass the way you like to hear it.

Just remember that pink noise generates full throttle noise across the entire spectrum, where as music doesn't. If music did the same it would sound like pink noise.
A4bfamily,

"Just remember that pink noise generates full throttle noise across the entire spectrum, where as music doesn't. If music did the same it would sound like pink noise."

That's white noise. Pink noise is similar, but differemt. Regardless, your entire thread regarding the use of pink/white noise for break in can be summed up in 1 statement: If using pink/white noise for break in, go easy on the volume. Thanks for the tip.

"Mechanically there are a few potential issues using pink noise, especially if used incorrectly. The first is heat. Pink noise generates heat in the voice coils far faster than music; because of the continuous level/nature of pink noise compared to the dynamic nature of music. If you run pink noise at or above the coils rated continuous wattage for too long you will blow the coil and need to get the driver reconed. My towers are rated at 130 watts rms and are a 6 ohm box. My bryston has been measured at over 260 watts at 8ohms, which is going to deliver well over 300 watts at 6 ohms. I can listen to music at the full capabilities of the bryston without damage to the coils because the peaks can't be more than what the amp can cleanly deliver. The peaks are high but the continuous level is within the rated ability of the coil."

The problem with relying so heavily on specs, like you do in the above quote, is that you need to consider all of the specs. Otherwise you'll probably damage something in your system if you push it that hard.