What do you use to check for brightness?


I'll post this in computer audio because that's what I'm dealing with, although it applies more broadly. Sometimes tonal brightness is obvious, even painful. But most of the time it's more subtle and too easy to get used to; i.e., where "I just know" might not be so reliable. Do you have any recordings, music files or online audio sites that you fall back on, where you know that if a system sounds like such and such, it says "bright?"
highstream
"Do you have any recordings, music files or online audio sites that you fall back on, where you know that if a system sounds like such and such, it says "bright?" "

You answered your own question. Pick some recordings you know well and use them.
I think you miss the subtlety of the question.
If I did, point it out. I gave you an honest answer. Bright, is subjective. The best way for you to judge that, or any other character, of an audio system is to have a reference. We all have them. Get to know some records or CD's very well, and use them as a basis for comparison. It doesn't happen over night. The more experience you get, the easier it becomes. Theres no easy way or short cuts. Experience is everything.
My ears.
If you get the CD remaster of Jimi Hendrix, this is quite harsh on all but the very best systems.

Likewise, if the bass in Flight of the cosmic Hippos drives you out of the room, you have bass problems in your system.

Both of these problems can usually be solved in digital systems by lowering the jitter and or improving the preamp.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I Agree with Steve that jitter is an issue in digital brittleness.

The other thing that could make a system seem bright is lack of bass.
Most systems are plagued with high frequency problems of various types. Especially when the volume is turned up. We tend to accept a great deal of noise and distortion without too much complaint. Pretty easy to blame the recordings and just live with it.
One CD that comes to mind that has some high notes that can be overly piercing is Roger Waters Radio KAOS. I love the recording but some notes can make it easy to detect
a cable, equipment or speakers characteristics (spell check).
Thanks for those ideas. Developers and reviewers have certain tracks they use for testing equipment. After awhile, one can get overly used to one's own. I envy those with perfect pitch who don't need reference points.