What Are Your Reference Discs? or Specific Reference Tracks


Looking for new gems!  My reference discs are: Graceland, Paul Simon  Avalon, Roxy Music  Brothers in Arms, Dire Straits  So, Peter Gabriel  Ten Summoner's Tales, Sting 

What are yours?

wweiss
Roger Waters, “Amused To Death   SACD
Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here”   SACD
Kim Simmons & Savoy Brown, “The Devil To Pay”  CD
Legacy Audio, “Music Sampler 3”   CD
Muddy Waters, Folk Singer”   MFSL CD

You are able to evaluate using only certain tracks? Fascinating!

Rather than list tracks, I'd refer you to this video and comment:

"If you want to learn to evaluate sound equipment, the most important factor to start with is being comfortable with your stereo. Just take many hours, listening to a variety of music you like. 

Do not use a limited number of records because they sound so good. That’s ear candy, used in every hifi demo room all over the world. 

Simple jazz combo’s making impressive music will be impressive on a broad variety of equipment. That’s why on hifi shows you hear them in every room. 

Pop and rock know their ear candy as well: Dire Straits, Kari Bremnes, Diana Krall and so on. Nothing wrong with the music by the way but it’s not too difficult to reproduce properly. 

There is no need to play classical music if you don’t enjoy it but playing acoustically recorded performances might be a good idea. Think of folk music, Fado, flamenco and so on. 

Again vary in genre for each genre will use its own difficult instruments. 

Visiting shows and listening to all kinds of setups at that show can be very instructive if you are allowed to listen to music of your choice - and thus no ear candy."

https://youtu.be/lkgRzLygNrU


Pretty sure that is exactly what I said. ;)
My Dozen ….
01/12: Gounod-Faust / Bizet-Carmen RCA LSC-2449-45CVp  
02/12: Ballet Music From The Opera RCA LSC-2400
03/12: Grieg, Peer Gynt London CS-6049  
04/12: Massenet, Le Cid Klavier KS 522  
05/12: Walton, Facade Suite RCA SB-2039
06/12: Zero Mostel, Fiddler On The Roof RCA LSO-1093
07/12: Shchedrin, The Carmen Ballet, Melodiya ASD-2448
08/12: Albéniz, Suite Española Decca SXL-6355
09/12: Rimsky-Korsakoff, Scheherazade RCA LSC-2446
10/12: Offenbach, Gaîté Parisienne RCA LSC-1817
11/12: Arnold, English & Scottish Dances Lyrita SRCS-109
12/12: Casino Royale, Colgems COSO-5005
All the recordings mentioned are well recorded but might not challenge or tax a system to reveal its weaknesses. Beethoven Symphony No, 9/4th movement(Ode To Joy) will challenge any system. I have always played the Vaclav Neumann/Czech Philharmonic(live recording) Denon 81757 7575 2(CD format). Notice how few(if any) audio show demos of "Ode To Joy" on Youtube. 
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Michael Jackson - Thriller vinyl
Little Feat - Waiting for Columbus vinyl
Pink Floyd - The Wall Japanese pressing or MFSL CD
Steely Dan - Two Against Nature   CD
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Will The Circle Be Unbroken   vinyl
Supertramp - Crime of The Century   A&M Audiophile vinyl
Toronzo Cannon - The Chicago Way - Flac
@fuzztone What is your post referring to? 
The Orb - Cydonia Side 1  Song 1 
Joni Mitchell - Blue Side 2 Song 1
Band of Horses - Live at the Ryman Slow Cruel Hand of Time 
Black Dub - Black Dub All
Oliver Nelson - The Blues and the Abstract Truth Side 1 
Bill Evans - Sunday at the Village Vanguard Side 1
millercarbon9,537 posts06-12-2021 2:52amYou are able to evaluate using only certain tracks? Fascinating!
Let's put it this way. What albums do you go to when demonstrating your system? 

Anything but "Year of the Cat."
hilde45

Why do you not like Year of the Cat? LOL I have the new box set with the 5.1 Dolby and it is VERY well recorded on my system. My favorite and show off disc is Eagle's at Melbourne. Jeff Becks at Ronnie Scotts is a close second... But I think most on this forum prefer stereo. I like to be surrounded....  
Try Al DeMeola's Scenario. Along with Al's virtuoso guitar work, Tony Levin's bass stick will tickle your wobbly bits, and Jan Hammer's keyboard playing is on par with anything he's ever done. Rounding out the band with Phil Collins and Bill Bruford on Drums and an extremely well produced mix, you have a disc that can tax the best of systems. Caution: careful with the low end!
pedroeb, you have it right. My mistake if people thought I meant tracks to evaluate sound equipment. I watched the video and don’t agree with the term "Ear Candy". Sounds like Steely Dan Gaucho should be avoided because it is "too" well recorded. From my view point, I am a musician first, second a music lover, and lastly an "Audiophile" who puts equipment together to try to reproduce the artists message. If an engineer or producer is talented enough to reproduce life like music in your home, should that be avoided? Remember George Martin was the fifth Beatle or maybe the first, depending on how you look at it. I saw a video on YouTube and this gentleman stated he swaps out at least two pairs of speakers and two sets of amps every day! I would rather spend my limited time listening to music over playing with endless gear. Anyway I’m not here to debate. Spanish Harlem by Rebeca Pidgeon is my example of one of the best female vocalist, magically captured on a recoded medium, and if you have the right equipment - will take you THERE! Yes Ear Candy for sure.
Disco Duck by Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots

The Bird is the Word - by the Trashmen ( watch the video for the most intimate and unforgettable experience)

The Streak - by Ray Stevens

Kung Fu Fighting  - by Carl Douglas

I Lost On Jeopardy - by Weird Al Yankovich

Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer - by who and the Hell cares

NO doubt that these are only the best songs ever recorded but also with the best sonics hands down - no need for any more debate on this topic. Now go buy them in the unlikely event you don’t already own them (including  the MoFi 45RPM UHQR reissues)! 
Nuff said!!!!
These are my go to CDs:
Rosanne Cash—Rules of Travel
Rodney Crowell—The Outsider
KD Lang—Hymns of the 49th Parallel
Mary Chaplin Carpenter—Come On Come On
Steeleye Span—Hark! The Village Wait
Clifford Jordan—Live at Ethyl’s
Ron Carter—The Golden Striker
Jack deJohnette—in Movement
Ben Webster/Joe Zawinul—Soulmates
Gerry Mulligan meets Ben Webster

Motörhead 
jackson Browne 
y&t
donovan
john denver
forbidden
megadeth
helstar
def leppard (hysteria)
johnny winter
pat travers
yngwie malmsteen
others......
millercarbon9,537 posts06-12-2021 2:52amYou are able to evaluate using only certain tracks? Fascinating!

Let's put it this way. What albums do you go to when demonstrating your system?

Whatever my listener would like to hear. Whatever floats their boat. 

Seriously. I learned a long time ago that normal people just don't listen like audiophiles do. Heck, truth be told audiophiles don't even listen the way they think they do. They screw themselves over all the time turning what should be one of the most enjoyable and satisfying experiences a person can have- enjoying music - into drudgery. They do this all kinds of ways, the "demo disc" mentality being but one. Another is the audiophile checklist- extension? check! bass? check! dynamics? check! on and on? check! Did you even hear the music? What? Music? Oh yeah, you must mean "track 3"- check!   

What I do instead, ask what kind of music they like the most. Music they would like to sit and do nothing but listen to it. A lot of people hardly ever really even listen to music. In any case, I always ask them. Play what they are really into and they will listen, often times rapt. They will hear things in the music they find interesting they never would notice any other way. I had a guy one time notice the difference between a mixdown and live to 2-track. Could you even do that? He did. Simply by being so deeply drawn into it. 

Anyway that was why I started doing it many years ago, simply discovered most really only listen closely to music when they love the music. Then listening closely they will realize just how great the sound quality is, because then it has meaning. Without meaning, what a waste.  

That is why I started doing it. Now though there is another equally good reason for not doing the "demo disc". If the goal of the system is to reproduce whatever is on the recording, not to make it sound "good", not to make it sound anything, just to be an absolutely clean and clear window into the recording, well then if you do this properly what is there to demo? 

I can't honestly demo my system because in order to do that I would have to have a system that is doing something. But the whole point of my system, everything I have been working on my whole life, is to have a system that does not do anything. So how can I demo my system? I can demo recordings, sure. Cable elevators, interconnects, etc, no problemo. But the system? The question itself to me does not even make sense.
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Dominique Fils-Aime’s album Nameless is nothing short of spectacular. Canadian Jazz vocalist. The clarity, soundstage, and imaging is beyond amazing! 
As far as evaluating components, or loudspeaker or tweaks…or just enjoying his system …Chuck has referenced “Year of the Cat” several times over the years.


https://forum.audiogon.com/search/index?utf8=✓&query=Year+of+the+cat&username=Millercarbon
@njkrebs she is genius….thx
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Here are my favorite LPs
John Barry: Out of Africa Soundtrack
Lalo Schifrin: Bullit soundtrackElton John: One Night Only
The Police: Ghost In The Machine (1/2 speed)
The Who: One Night Only (Live)
Phil Collins: Hello I Must Be GoingRoxy Music: AvalonElla Fitzgerald: Ella Swings Gently (N. Riddle)
Pink Floyd: Pulse



Greig, Peer Gynt, Morning Mood
Steely Dan, Aja, CD or SACD
Steely Dan, Gaucho, CD or SACD
Chesky Classics, The Ultimate Demonstration Disc, it explains what you are 
         listening to/for
XLO/Reference Recordings, Test and Burn-in CD
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Cosmic Hippo
in short, if a proposed new system can make both "Brothers in Arms" [metallic-sounding even on the best systems] and "The Forward Look" (K.O.J.’s reference-quality live stereo recording of Red Norvo in 1957) sound close enough in terms of being able to outright relax and enjoy them both, then that system is doing something right. the former should sound at least listenable, and the latter should sound utterly alive yet relaxed at the same time, like the best of live unamplified music. aside from those selections, i also would play the 1960 RCA Red Seal Fritz Reiner/CSO recording of "Scheherazade" as that is a tough one to get right on most systems i’ve heard, all too often the low-end details get buried in the murk of a murky system, when you should be able to clearly hear all the little musical noises [musicians breathing, chairs creaking, music stands rattling, sheet music shuffling] that are plainly audible in this reference-quality recording. the climaxes sound have that "bigger and bigger" quality with no sense of strain, just a warm loudness. too many systems i’ve heard this played on sounded strained and veiled. Supertramp’s "Breakfast in America" is another one that is frankly not listenable [too GD bright] on most systems i’ve heard it on. the 1963 verve recording of Count Basie/Fitzgerald is another one that sounds weak/desiccated on not-well-sorted-out systems, you should get a palpable sense of the drummer in the background as well as the bassline, and Fitzgerald’s alto voice should sound warm but not too plummy, on too many systems her voice on that record sounds foggy to me, and the bass/drummer sounds too distant. then there is the infamous Telarc 1978 recording of The 1812 Overture with its booming cannons, that is the ultimate test of bass resolution and power handling, on weak systems that avoid bottoming out the woofers, you hear something that sounds like a boat oar hitting the side of a big barrel, when in reality the engineers on this one captured the sharp attack and quickly followed visceral deep bass wallop that a real cannon produces. lastly i have a recording of the Organ Stop Wurlitzer [Mesa AZ] playing "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" which has bass down to about 8 cycles per second on the climax at the end, no system i've heard this on can reproduce that at full volume, it vibrates the air in the room in a totally tight lock. 
Stan Getz - The Lost Sessions
Hot Tuna - First (eponymous) disc                                                    
Oscar Peterson with Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson
Most Chris Isaak discs
Jethro Tull - Stand Up  
I enjoy these 3 tracks in particular on any good system, all very well recorded too.
Late to the train by Lump (Laura Marling).
Red Right Hand by Nick Cave.
Think of Me by Jo Hamilton, a twee song but huge sound, a fine recording of female vocal.

I find that the best tool for evaluating new components in my system is human voice accompanied by solo piano. Try James Gilchrist on Linn CKD253 - Oh Fair to See - song cycles by Gerald Finzi. You should hear every inflection in Gilchrist's voice and a good system will bring out (forward) the piano - realistic piano sound too.
A good place to start is by searching for Paul’s Picks. This is from Paul MCGowan of PS Audio.  It is great. He also explains WHY each track is included.  Tidal had a play list set up of most of the tracks.   Another thing that is useful is his book and cd on speaker placement.  Very very helpful. 
A good place to start is by searching for Paul’s Picks. This is from Paul MCGowan of PS Audio.  It is great. He also explains WHY each track is included.  Tidal had a play list set up of most of the tracks.   Another thing that is useful is his book and cd on speaker placement.  Very very helpful. 
„The Look Of Love“ Dusty Springfield Casino Royale Colgems original 
I could make a large list here, I own several MFSL’s, I even got a one step Blood Sweat and tears.

Rather than that I will mention just a couple recently acquired that I’ve been impressed with.

Elton John: Honkey Cat 180gm remaster.

Vanessa Fernandez: Right On For The Darkness on Groove Note mastered and cut by Bernie Grundman.

@emfro Breakfast in America sounds fantastic on my system.
The period pressing and the 33rpm MFSL.
Good exercise OP!

Let's see ... many good ones above; what might I suggest:

Kamikiriad, Don Fagan et al. (Could be best produced work since Moving Pictures, Rush)
Widespread Panic
Big Head Todd and the Monsters:
Miles Davis
Beethoven Violin Concerto; Anne Sophie Mutter ... she gets more sound outta a violin!!
Oh, anything from Lyle Lovett ... IKR?  It's true!

AudioKnob

Jethro Tull “Thick as a Brick” one of the best produced albums ever IMO

Pink Floyd “The Wall” Great studio drum production

Doors “Morrison Hotel” sound stage and width

Stevie Ray “Tin Pan Alley” Great guitar breaks in 

Dire Straits “Live concert in NY HD” you tube video
you get the full live show sound coming through. No studio album has ever recreated concert drums and bass sound.
I'm with MC on this one.   
Allow an explanation:

I have a music system not a "HiFi."  
Any guests can pick music that they like, everyone's tastes are different.
There IS no better "demo" than hearing music that one knows and loves.
If I want to show off something unique Ican play some 4 channel tapes.
Since they are one offs it serves no purpose to list tracks here.
I tend to listen to something that I know well, because I play it a little more often and dig it.

As I like to travel, pretty much all over, if I can hear a system here and there, I'll make an effort. Sometimes that which I know well isn't available to listen to, I do think generally you can get an idea of timbre, cabinet resonance, breakout, and some idea of the driver interaction and integration.

@emrofsemanon - please use paragraphs sir?
You did say a fair bit. I did try to read it all, as you had some good points, but it was a chore only because there was no space to reference where I was.

I'm not trying to disrespect you sir, I figure if you're going to the effort to share well thought out information, the more legible the more Agoners will read it through.

The notion that there are no "test tracks" in audio is ludicrous.

Ever test drive a car? Of course. Why? Various reasons.
To test limits.
To test special circumstances.
To test normal driving conditions.
Etc.

Test tracks can be ear candy and test limits.
Test tracks can be normal stuff and that gives information, too.
Test tracks can be badly recorded or old compressed stuff.

One can pay close attention, or just listen relaxedly, or even pay oblique attention. One can even go out of the room and see how it sounds out there. (Ever get drawn into a room from the hallway at an audio show? Something brought you inside even though you were far from the sweet spot. What was that? That’s relevant, too.)

The argument against test tracks needs to be understood for what it typically (and inexplicitly) is - an argument against a track which isn’t comprehensively representative of the various kinds of music which could/will be played or the various ways we could/will listen to it.

It’s merely good scientific method to reject the pretense that a test can pretend to be more than what it is. But that doesn’t mean such tests don’t have any value -- only that their value needs to be specified in a proportionate way relative to the overall experimental question.

And as for "Year of the Cat" well that track is just fine. It’s just that MC testifies here against needing test tracks and elsewhere he mentions Year of the Cat multiple times. Kinda funny.

You are able to evaluate using only certain tracks? Fascinating!
- millercarbon

Rather than list tracks, I'd refer you to this video and comment:

"If you want to learn to evaluate sound equipment, the most important factor to start with is being comfortable with your stereo. Just take many hours, listening to a variety of music you like.

Do not use a limited number of records because they sound so good. That’s ear candy, used in every hifi demo room all over the world.

Simple jazz combo’s making impressive music will be impressive on a broad variety of equipment. That’s why on hifi shows you hear them in every room.

Pop and rock know their ear candy as well: Dire Straits, Kari Bremnes, Diana Krall and so on. Nothing wrong with the music by the way but it’s not too difficult to reproduce properly.

There is no need to play classical music if you don’t enjoy it but playing acoustically recorded performances might be a good idea. Think of folk music, Fado, flamenco and so on.

Again vary in genre for each genre will use its own difficult instruments.

Visiting shows and listening to all kinds of setups at that show can be very instructive if you are allowed to listen to music of your choice - and thus no ear candy."

https://youtu.be/lkgRzLygNrU
- hilde45


Pretty sure that is exactly what I said. ;)
- millercarbon

MC - It may have been heavily encoded in your first response mate, but I suspect what you said in your head, didn't make it to the keyboard brother!

I'm in a cheeky mood, but I'm going to call bovine excrement, and openly invite the same when I write such things; when, not if - I know I do it too. Have a great weekend, report ultrasonics please?

@wweis - Roxy Music, Bryan is a legend singer. One of my favs is Sonnet 18, it really shows off his excellent vibrato, accompanied by violin and piano only.


With Miller and Fuzztone. 

Focus on the basic / fundamental elements of music and instruments and how the whole comes together. 

Any music, any track serves the purpose, including music / tracks not heard prior to.
Ear candy is any disc put out by Analogue Productions.Also I want my not so well produced discs to be listenable.Greetings From the West - Fogelberg live has a little of everything.
Wow first hilde45 wants to pretend he doesn't understand the difference between liking a song and thinking it is a demo track, then Rick wants to pretend he doesn't know ;) is a wink and means, "kidding"! 

It’s merely good scientific method to reject the pretense that a test can pretend to be more than what it is. But that doesn’t mean such tests don’t have any value -- only that their value needs to be specified in a proportionate way relative to the overall experimental question.

It may have been heavily encoded 

I'll say! Can you run that one through your decoder ring, please? ;) 

While it's true you can tell a lot about a system from how it reproduces Howling Wolf's voice on a mono mid-60s Chess album, it ain't really demo material in my book...Here are some of my favorite music selections that also display the recording art and expose faulty reproduction:

Van Morrison; Virgo Clowns...from His Band and Street Choir - 1970 Warner LP...better than the 180gr. reissue.
NGDB; Tennessee Stud and Nine Pound Hammer...WTCBU...LP
Bruce Cockburn; Kit Carson...from Nothing But A Burning Light...CD
Ry Cooder; Face to Face That I Shall Meet Him...from Jazz...LP
Yuri Honig Trio; Walking on the Moon...from Star Tracks...Tidal
Norah Jones; I've Got To See You Again...from her 1st album...CD
Frank Zappa; Cleetus Awreetus Awrightus...from Grand Wazoo...LP
Mahavishnu Orch; Vision is a Naked Sword...from Apocalypse...LP
Grateful Dead; Uncle John's Band...Workingman's (45RPM MoFi)
NGDB; Tennessee Stud and Nine Pound Hammer...WTCBU...LP
Stravinsky; The Rite...Gergiev
Mahler's 6th...Zander, BYSO (I was at the concert).
Chopin; Piano Sonata #3...Gilels on DG LP

@millercarbon No, I do understand the difference. But if it helps you to think I don't, please -- help yourself. After all, it's the year of the cat, right? ;-)
Patricia Barber – Let It Rain (Companion)
Karrrin Allyson – My Bluebird, Bye Bue Country Boy (In Blue)
Rokia Traore – Mouso Niyalen, N'Gotolen, Yaafa N'Ma (Wanita)
Mary Stallings – The Thrill Is Gone (Live at the Village Vanguard)

Correction in my above post.
The Elton John album is called Honkey Chateau.

Let me suggest a fun track track to demo for people, its a 4 part acapella harmony by "The Fairfield Four" doing These Bones on the album "I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray" (it’s on Qobuz ect.)

Turn it up before it starts and watch the look on people’s face when the bass singer starts it off.

When the others join in you would swear they are in the room.

If you want a track to "test " your system let me suggest

Jazz Variants by O-zone Percussion Group off the album La Bamba
(also on Qobuz)

I highly recommend this track, especially for Tekton owners... hint hint.

Check them out, let us know what you think



It is whatever your perception of how a recording should be done to a certain extent.  Vocals, guitar, violins and whatever people can think of are "hard to record".  Long term familiarity with your system will sort out the good ones.  I hear songs/albums all the time and wonder why it was recorded that way.  Once again perception.
Qobuz? 180g remasters?  I thought the idea was to play stuff that sounds good??  (Hint hint.)