What music do you use to audition new gear?

Which albums do you use to audition equipment? I have been shopping for new speakers, and I've been thinking a lot about this (and listening a lot).

I want to be clear: I am NOT asking about favorite albums, or about the "best" recordings. I'm curious about the experience of judging components or speakers, which is a very knotty and subjective thing, and which involves both of those factors plus many others. For instance, some people might play, say, heavy metal to test a speaker's crunch and power, even though they listen primarily to soft jazz vocal. Some here will argue one should bring familiar recordings, while others might seek out and bring extremely well recorded material, period (or test tone records!) Others play poorly recorded material, just to see how the speakers reveal it.

To get the ball rolling, here's what I've been bringing with me to hi-fi dealers recently...

-Ockeghem's Requiem --- something beautifully quiet and concentrated----the idea of listening to essentially "one thing," which here is voice... this one probably about soundstage. (Ensemble Organum).
-Kraftwerk, Computer World ---- their production masterpiece. I like to audition something totally synthetic and electronic just to see what the speakers (and my ears) do without any real-world referent.
-Woody Shaw, Cassandranite, 1965 (released 1993 on CD--I listen only to CD) --- an old favorite, thus very familiar. Hard bop, great combo. Classic sound.
-The Pixies, Doolittle --- another old fave, this one with huge dynamic range from song to song: from surging guitar rockers to quieter moans and whispers.

There's so much else, too---but that's the beauty of this hobby!!
I'm eager to hear other people's thoughts or strategies.
Interesting question for me as I recently brought home a pair of Magnepans to audition. Kept them for a week but in the end they had to go back. The album that made up my mind was David Crosby's "If I Could Only Remember My Name." This album is a favorite of mine and sounded terrible on the Maggies.
Others I listened to were:
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Will The Circle Be Unbroken 2. There are a wide range of vocals on this one, Johnny Cash, John Prine, John Denver, Emmy Lou Harris, and many others.
Dead Man Walking Soundtrack, again for a variety of vocals.
Laurie Anderson - Life On A String. This is one of the best recorded albums I have. The bass on track 6 can rattle the windows.
Jane Siberry - When I Was A Boy. She does a duet with kd lang that blows me away. When the system is working I can hear two distinct voices in two distinct spaces.
Ani DiFranco - Up Up Up Up Up, another beautifully recorded album with solid bass.
I enjoy the sound of good raw edgy rock and high amp Jazz. Some of my favorites.

Perfect Night in London -- Lou Reed (see Stereo Times 2004 review which states: "What makes this recording an absolute audiophile gem is how the whole power grid of London seems to be channeled for this live session into Reed’s guitar strums and the sheer energy of his compatriots in the band. The sound that Lou generates from each strum of his acoustic guitar, (with his patented “Feedbucker” - a box that eliminates feedback”) is astonishing in its White Heat delivery and precision."

Tutu -- Miles Davis OK album but check out the track called Splatch. Excellent sonics

Naxos recording of the Water Music by Handel

Closer by NIN (Nine Inch Nails). Industrial rock, recorded wonderfully

Of course, if the dealer is acting like a jerk and trying to upsell you on some interconnects when you are there to listen to speakers, play some loud Iggy Pop or

I make an uncompressed comp CD of the music I'm both familiar with and will play very often. The genres range about and so do the songs within them. Usually I'll take a few with me.

If or when, I'm forced to listen to only the dealers music instead of my own, I tend to get on edge at that point and listening for accuracy naturalness, and detail become my keys... I've yet to buy any product I've had to audition using unfamiliar content unless my jaw was immediately fractured as it hit the floor.

So far the contusions have been quite few.
Another idea is Passion by Peter Gabriel. Well recorded and very varied in tones because he uses instruments from all over the world.
Peter Gabriel

Thick as a Brick
Jethro Tull

Hero and Heroine

Steely Dan


No Frontiers
Mary Black

Waves, The Bossa Nova Sessions
Eden Atwood
For many years I’ve used Cinemagic by Dave Grusin. The CD dates from the late 80’s. It’s not particularly well recorded but I know the album. It has low level strings and piano passages along with boomy brass and orchestra sections. The key is I know the recording and remember what its sounded like through the many changes in my system.
Funk music.
For me that's the real test.

Aja- Steely Dan

Twentysomething- Jamie Cullum (must listen to entire cd)

Welcome to the Jungle- Guns N Roses (check out Rocket Queen)
redbook cds: Tangerine dream--"dream sequence"
Phillip Glass--'mishima"

sacd: Pink Floyd--"dark side of the moon"
Roxy Music--"avalon"

hdcd: The Cars--"the cars"
Bryan Ferry--"boys and girls"

dts: Mannheim Steamroller--'fresh aire 8"
I use the Reference Recording Big Band Basie for spaciousness, Harmonia Mundi Corelli Concerti Grossi Op. 6 1-6 for timbre, and Columbia Records Time Out, especially Take Five for depth of soundstage.

I've thought about replacing my Proceed PAV/PDSD pre/pro with a modern processor like the Integra 9.9 or 80.1. Recently a nice man invited me to listen to a system with a 80.1, and I took my 3 discs. As soon as I got home, I played the discs on my system. His system had preserved spaciousness, but was less good with timbre and depth of soundstage. Could I conclude the difference was a Proceed/Integra issue? No. His speakers and ancillary equipment were different as was his room setup, so any judgement was confounded. That would be true also of an evaluation in a dealer showroom. Replacing the Proceed units became much less urgent, because I was so satisfied with my system after the comparison. Still HDMI 1.3 would be nice.

I take the best recordings I can, but in addition I always take at least one early 1960s vintage Rudy Van Gelder Blue Note recording. They all have very similar recording qualities - the awful piano that sounds like its in a box, and often too much hard left-right imaging. But they are a good test of how well a speaker can perform given challenging source material.