I use the best recordings to see if they sound better than usual, and my worst recordings to see if they sound bearable.
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I don't change anything I just play what I normally Play you will hear a different it may not be right away but you will here it. I guess that's because things happen slowly The differents may not be right away but you will get it. I guess that's because things have to break first, and give you time to stop concentrating and start enjoying. If that makes any sense.
Sorry Infection I should have explained my point. If your asking for tracks that specifically showcase certain aspects like imaging/clarity/dynamics etc thats a different question. When it comes to auditioning gear I am with Roxy, at the end of the day I want a system that allows me to enjoy all the various types of music I listen to especially bad recordings.
I use the same 7 tracks from a burnt CD compilation :
1. Spanish Harlem - Rebecca Pidgeon (Chesky Records CD)
2. Handel - Arrival Of The Queen Of Sheba, Scottish Chamber Orchestra (from a 1985 Hi Fi News Demonstration Disc; HFN003)
3. The Bass Walk - Bert Kaempfert (from a special Avantgarde Acoustics demonstration disc called "Nice to Meet You")
4. Goin' Back - Devendra Barnhart (regular CD)
5. Somewhere Down The Crazy River - Robbie Robertson (from the MFSL gold CD)
6. Mercy - Duffy (regular CD)
7. The Garage Door Or The Dynamic Range Of Real Life - Mike Skeet (from a 1985 Hi Fi News Demonstration Disc; HFN003)
All 7 tracks are excellent recordings and I now know intimately how each track sounds on my system. Hence, when I use these tracks for demonstration purposes it is easy for me to say; better, worse or different when comparing equipment. If you have never heard track 7 (Mike Skeet); you need to. This is a great track for making people jump with fright the first time they hear it. Absolutely incredible dynamics, nothing I have ever heard compares to this. Track 3 (Bert Kaempfert) will make you realize just how good some vintage recordings still sound on modern equipment, absolutely glorious.
The majority of my listening is to classical music. In doing evaluations, tweaks, adjustments, etc. I generally focus on some of my best sounding recordings, but like Roxy54 I also usually assess a few mediocre to poor sounding recordings, often 1960's rock, pop, or folk.
Following are some of the best sounding recordings, that I use frequently. Unfortunately many are out of print, but may still be findable.
Dvorak "New World Symphony," Horenstein/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Chesky CD31 (CD).
Beethoven "Waldstein" Sonata, Paul Badura-Skoda playing an 1815 Hammerflügel, Astree AS73 (LP)
Beethoven, Sonata for Violin and Piano Op. 96, Abel/Steinberg, Wilson Audio W-8315 (LP)
Chopin, Piano Sonata No. 3, Hyperion Knight, Wilson Audio WCD-9129 (CD)
"Images Galantes de la Renaissance," Polyphonia Antiqua, Pierre Verany PV 4791 (LP)
"Danses Anciennes de Hongrie," Clemencic Consort, Harmonia Mundi France HM1003 (LP)
Others that range from excellent to poor sonically but are often useful:
"A Dorian Portrait" (sampler of tracks from the Dorian classical catalog) (DOR 90004) (CD)
Giacomo Puccini, "Greatest Hits," CBS MLK-45809 (especially the arias sung by Dame Kiri te Kanawa) (CD)
"Silver Linings, songs by Jerome Kern," Joan Morris (mezzo-soprano) and William Bolcom (piano), Arabesque Z6515 (CD)
The Seekers, EMI Recordings 1964-1968 (4 CD Set)
"Projections," The Blues Project, Verve Folkways FTS/FT-3008 (LP); also contained in "The Blues Project Anthology," Chronicles/Polydor 31452-9758-2 (2 CD Set)
I use the Brahms Clarinet Quintet Op 115 with the great Thea King on Hyperion as a gatekeeper.
If something can't reproduce the lovely harmonic interplay Of Thea's Clarinet with the Gabriela Qt strings its nothing I want . Not to mention Op 115 is about as serenely beautiful as music gets .
Many years ago an old-timer told me listening to audience applause was a good way to test speakers .It is .
Sure that is clear but I have to ask do you listen to your system and get lost for hours or do you constantly play the same tracks over and over or just play certainly parts of songs because they are the best a showcasing your systems abilities? I find the approach of using certain tracks to audition gear a bit strange. When I audition a new piece of equipment I listen to music I actually enjoy and if I forget the new piece of gear is in my system because I am lost In the moment I consider buying it. If I obsess over certain tracks thinking about things like sound stage or macrodynamics trying to quantify what I like or dislike about it, I pack it up and return or sell it. I know far to many audio enthusiasts who have great systems but end up on the gear swap merry go round because they are always listening for the "differences". That is nothing but agony. Use the music you love, if it draws you In you have a winner, if you start over thinking it cut and run. I know my answer was not what you had anticipate when you started the thread and for that I apologize, I should have just abstained. Good luck.
@Chrshanl37- you're confused. Everyone else seems to understand...
@Schubert- interesting re: audience...What are your findings?
"If something can't reproduce the lovely harmonic interplay Of Thea's Clarinet with the Gabriela Qt strings its nothing I want."
This is exactly my approach but with different music.
For me it's tracks from At Action Park by Shellac & Psychic Maps by Dysrhythmia.
I think auditioning equipment using only very simple stripped down tracks does not allow you to discover its capabilities.
I like to start with solo guitar, solo piano, gradually adding complexity. I want something that works well for classical chamber and jazz combos and is pretty good with a rock band or full orchestra. I think it's good to mix well-recorded and so-so productions since I'm going to be listening to both. I've used Ashkenazy/Beethoven, Miles Davis (stereo), pop tunes such as You are the Sunshine of my Life, Sweet Dreams (Patsy Cline), Aaron Neville's version of Save the Last Dance and especially Joan Baez' medley of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair and Danny Boy.
I'm confused? The fact that you actually posted this question when there are countless threads on every audio website pertaining to this very subject tells me you are the one who seems to be confused. Any member of this forum could probably have guesses what 80% of the responses would be to your question as its always the usual suspects.
My point that you seem to be missing is using demo tracks to audition gear will not tell you a damn thing in regards to how much you will actually enjoy a piece of gear in your system regardless of how well it portrays a list of songs or as one member suggests audience applause. Building a system based on this criteria is asnine to say the least. But to each their own. Good luck professor.