What is your favorite reference music?

I just got started in this downward spiral of a hobby, and I have found myself going back to the same 3 or 4 artists and songs to test new pieces of equipment. Here are some of my favorites:

1.) Rodrigo y Gabriel - Diablo Rojo
2.) Air - Universal Traveler
3.) OutKast - Morris Brown
4.) Turin Brakes - Average Man

What is your favorite reference music?
Despite your "downward spiral", there is still hope if you are not yet listening to test tones, the Sheffield drum record, steam trains, or anything by the Mannheim Steam Roller.

Happy New Year
Welcome to the 'gon. Check the archives. This post has been done just a few too many times, but there are oodles of tunes to keep you busy. And regardless of what I just said about the archives, there will, still, be a bunch of us who will give you some tunes, anyway. Why? Reference tunes will change just like a pair of speakers... Have a ball...
The last 4 "Air" albums are my reference material for sure.One of the absoluttly BEST bands around in many years.."Despite your "downward spiral", there is still hope if you are not yet listening to test tones, the Sheffield drum record, steam trains, or anything by the Mannheim Steam Roller" or Nora Jones endessly.
I like to use Opus 3 records TEST 4.1 cd.

Opus 3 Records
I really like this, it shuts up the salesmen in the audio salon as well.....
Joni Mitchell "Court and Spark" is still one of the best. So is her rival Ricky Lee Jones first three. Stay away from Diana Krall. Beside the fact that you may become dull and lifeless from likstening to her, you will find that she has killed a talented guy named Elvis and stuffed him. Just listen to the last two albums.
Animusic 2

I am going to have to buy that one for kicks! Is it half as funny/pathetic as I imagine??

Heyitsmedusty, Nine Inch Nails The Downard Spiral is a great test disc, and it comes in SACD to boot.... "Hurt" is amazing!

Finding an album with many good tracks is tough...finding the odd well recorded song is much easier. Here are a few suggestions for albums where everything is outsanding;

"Homage to Duke" engineered by Dave Grusin (also plays piano) - this recording has everything, including a tremendous dynamic range. It is an excellent test CD due to the variety of individual instruments that are clearly audible. This is the one rare album in which every track is well recorded and engineered.

Another exceptionally well engineered album is "Swing while your Winning" by Robbie Williams.

The only pop/rock genre album that I can think of is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits (all of these are well recorded/produced and therefore makes a good test CD).

Classical is, of course, much much easier...plenty of good stuff out there from Telarc - so many I would not know where to begin, although The Very Best of Erich Kunzel: Top 20 is a good starting point as it has some good dynamic range - especially the Batman Theme, a crescendo that will easily exceed the capabilities of many consumer systems at high SPL but a great way to detect at exactly what SPL level the system starts distorting badly.

Telarc Catalog #: 80259 Rachmaninov Piano Concertos 2 and 3
Performer: Horacio Gutierrez => this is excellent because of the piano....a piano is by far the most reliable test....a piano is tough for many systems to reproduce properly (suprisingly pianos have huge dynamic range including sharp transients) or perhaps our ears are very good at recognizing accuracy in a piano.

A final test which will fail on more than 95% of audiophile systems is Yim Hok Man Chinese Drums and the track "Poems of Thunder"...if you jack this up to realistic drum live music levels then most two way speaker systems will be heavily distorting. All the drum music on this album is well recorded (uncompressed drum sounds are so very rare), however, no matter how exciting this is, it can get boring after a while - so it is not a good general test CD.

The above suggestions have plenty of real instruments (even Tom Petty) - so they are a good test... piano is the most reliable test..I tend to stay well away from electronica (Black Eyed Peas etc) for system testing as it is simply too hard to tell what sound is actually right - as there is no real reference for electronically generated stuff!
You have not lived until you have heard Pat's salsa-tinged version of "Stairway To Heaven". If you rig allows you to stay in the room, then it is tuned just right.
I'll buy it, but I doubt I could vever stay in the room with it playing!!!

Well, I did buy it, and it's here, I can't imagine actually playing it on anything other than my computer, as I fear my system will implode should I, but the version of Enter Sandman is pretty funny!


I got a copy of the Rachmaninov Concerto. Trying to learn more about Classical, but having a hard time finding a style/genre that really engages me all the time. The entire performance is really beautiful and engaging.

Anyway, to the point. It just destroys the soudstage on my system. The piano is all over the place. The registers are often backwards (high left, low right). The orchestra is pretty well placed and stable. It sounds very good in farfield, but of course no placement.

It was really an eye opener. I listened to the Concerto through headphones for a reference and the piano's soundstage was correct and stable 95% of the time. I really felt like I was sitting in front of the piano keyboard, not out in the audience.

Wanted to say thanks for a great Classical reco, and to confirm it really is good test of playback. It showed a great weakness in my sytem as configured, that really hadn't been a problem before.

Jim S.
If you do not like it, I would be happy to purchase your copy from you.
Marty, drop me a line! I doubt it will see much play.... outside of humor!