Which CDs to test a component?

What CDs do you like using to test new components?
Jennifer Warnes - The Hunter - all tracks but mostly 1,2,8
Eagles Hell Freezes Over - Track 6 Hotel california
Jude Swift - Music For Your Neighborhood
Beatles - And I Love Her from the red greatest hits double cd
along with the sceond disc.
Steely Dan - Two Against Nature and Aja
Julia Fordham - Porcelain
James Taylor - Greatest hits LP
For what it's worth, I take at least four from this list(all are very well recorded):

1). Francis Dunnery - Tall Blond Helicopter. Best CD that no one knows about. Awesome guitar work, songwriting, vocals, dynamics, speed, and sunshine. If the component plays this one as it is meant to be played, you should buy it.

2). Dar Williams - Mortal City. The female voice, at its best. A terrific songwriter, with a beautiful, tender, lush, and mellow tone.

3). Lucinda Williams - Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. A fabulous femal counterpart to "Tall Blond Helicopter", leaning a bit more to the bluesy/country side. I don't care how good a component does this or that, if it doesn't do justice to this disc, I DON'T WANT IT!!!

4). Steely Dan - Aja. Do I even need to explain this???

5). Sonny Rollins - Theme from the movie, "Alfie". One of THE best jazz albums of all time. Sonny paints every emotion there is in this CD with his sax. No one plays with more cojones.

6). The Cure - Mixed Up. This is just me, I don't expect a lot of audiophiles to understand. But, handling this disc will guarantee that no one will EVER come over and say, "That's nice, but you should hear my friend's Bose!" Good house mixes of some of The Cure's finest.

7). Bjork - Debut. See my comments on The Cure. A lot of people don't care for her, then again, some say Bjork is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. "Violently Happy" can be hynoptic.
Music that you enjoy and are familir with. I always bring a variety from all genres and ages of recordings I enjoy most. Vocals, orchestral and of course Jazz. Bring the music that you are the most excited about listening to.
Have fun.
I agree with Chelillingworth I always use things that are famaliar to me, ie things I have been listening to lately. I tend to use male and female vocals, we hear them all day long and any inaccuracy is easily heard, nothing is more ear piercing then a shreeking female vocal that shouldn't sound bad. Always real piano recordings, they sound much better then digital/electric piano's(preferably a steinway), listen for the real sound of the piano, make sure it sounds linear at all frequencies. The ultimate test is if it(a piece of music) gets your foot tapping at home, it should to the same to what ever your listening to, or keep moving.
As others have already mentioned it is important to use CDs that you are very familiar with. A great piece of advise that someone gave me was to listen to each CD that you bring with you to the audio store right before you leave your house so that you can have some idea of how it sounds in your system. As always, attempt to have a setup that includes as many of the components that you have at home.

Unlike many of us, I think that it is important to test components with great and poorly recorded material. It is not hard for a component to sound good when it is given quality recordings. The majority of music is not well recorded and that does not stop us from listening to it, well it does not stop most of us from listening to it. It is also important, IMHO, to bring along different kinds of music. Rock, jazz, folk, and classical are always part of my music mix when auditioning equipment.
dire straits"private investigations" off love over gold
All good points above and I agree re using music that you know and like. Some for me are:
1. I agree with Trelja on L. Williams "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road"-- quite a diversity of music on this CD.
2. A Cliche' I know, but Jennifer Warnes "Famous Blue Raincoat" is still excellent, especially for vocals.
3. Enigma "Cross of Changes"-- complex music.
4. Loreena McKennitt "Book of Secrets", vocals and bass.
5. Melissa Ethridge "Brave and Crazy", because I know the music so well.
6. G. Thorogod "The Anthology", for Pace, Rhythm, and Timing.
7. Cowboy Junkies "The Caution Horses" for low level vocal and instruments.
8. Many others would do, as I have lots of favorites. Cheers. Craig
I recommend using Benny Green's "Testifying", track number 8 - "Down By the Riverside." I used this cd at CES 2002 to test many speaker systems and I received many favorable comments from exhibitors (many exhibtors wanted to buy this cd, even Jeff Joseph from Joseph Audio went out to buy this cd the same day he heard it). Let me tell you, Track 8 has many dynamic swings that test speaker systems to separate the "men from the boys!"
I agree that it is essential to use music you know well. Some of my favorites are K.D. Lang Ingenue, Eric Clapton Unplugged, Toni Braxton and Jerry Lee Lewis. I also agree with Drewfidelity that you must try different kinds of music as to get the full capability of the equipment with different music.
Eric Clapton-Unplugged. On the first track, the percussionist Ray Cooper is hitting a triangle. It should sound clearly like a triangle. This gives me a good impression on the distinctness and clarity of the high range.

Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields-Vivaldi The Four Seasons. On the first track I listen for the harpsichord. It provides a good mid-range and shouldn't get lost in the music.

Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington-The Great Summit, The Master Takes. The first track on this cd is Duke's Place. You have clearly delineated bass, piano, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, drums and of course, Satchmo's voice. On this track I mainly focus on the bass, piano and voice, as well as, the soundstage.

Joe Jackson-Heaven & Hell. Joe Jackson has always produced excellent sounding recordings. Heaven & Hell incorporates rock, classical, opera, and jazz together. It is an amazing accomplishment from someone whom I consider one of the great artists of the eighties. The first two cuts feature a dimensional soundstage and broad dynamic range.

There are a few others, including Pink Martini-Sympathique, Jennifer Warnes-Famous Blue Raincoat, and Narada World-A Global Vision an excellent 2-cd compilation of world beat.
Flim & BBs-Tricycle DMP Gold
Time Warp-Telarc DDD
The Rippingtons-Curves Ahead Grp
Yellow Jackets-Live Wires Grp
Jazz at Pawnshop-Proprius
In the past I have used Pink Floyd's "the Final Cut" and "The Wall" ...However for the past several years I have used only one CD, Ennio Morricone's original sound track from the film "The Mission" I believe This recording offers the most "competitive" range of sounds found on any recording. It may not be the music I Would listen to every day ... but the timing of the mix of instruments by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, with the choral performance of London Voices and Barnet Schools Choir, will quickly separate the men from the boys in speakers and equipment.
Try it, with the right audio gear, and It'll make the hair stand up on the back of your neck!
by Catalogwiz
after doin' the usual female/male vocal voice tests ( i recommend "the unaccompanied voice" on the secretly canadian label; fairfield four, "standing in the safety zone"; lyle lovett, "joshua judges ruth"; and, eva cassidy, "live from jazz alley," among many), you should move on to some more complex stuff with which you're familiar. my choices (this week) include: phish, "rift," bands 3&4; radiohead, "kid a"; pink floyd, "the final cut" band 1; mark knopfler, "sailing to philadelphia"; and, the eagles, "hell freezes over." i then move to some "dynamite" tracks as a final test; these include, by way of example: stephen stills, "stills alone," "treetop flyer"; lou reed/john cale, "songs for drella," "open house"; "strike a deep chord: blues guitars for the homeless," "brother can you spare a dime" and "america the beautiful" (dr. john & odetta); the eels (i have this on a cd done by a dutch radio station), "susan's house"; rickie lee jones, "pop, pop," "dat dere"; and, hugh masekela, "hope," "stimela." with the cd's listed, i can listen to any component in any system and judge it within an hour or three. it must again be emphasized these are MY test discs/tracks. you should develop your own, based on YOUR tastes and YOUR listening experiences. moreover, MY choices change from month-to-month and week to-week. -cfb
cfb-Your intrest in Kid a surprises me, I found it to be way to confusing, perhaps I don't have the cerebral capacity to compute it. Any way enjoy it :)

Everyone-Thanks for some new suggestions!!! keep 'em coming!
Want to try "punishing" your amp and speakers ? Throw on a disc by Master entitled "Faith is in Season" and crank the volume. This will tell you how well a system ( speakers especially ) can hold up doing very fast, long excursions and still sound cohesive. The most ferocious attack of low frequency kick drums that i have ever heard. Do NOT play this at high volume with speakers that lack excursion, especially those with small drivers that are vented. The driver will be "unloaded" and you WILL do damage to them. One salesman told me "this is the kind of stuff that breaks equipment". I have no idea what would happen with panel type speakers. Keep in mind that this is "real" metal, so you might not like the music or some of the graphics inside the disc. You have been warned. It IS offensive and it DOES "jam".

You might also try Ian Anderson's "Divinities: Twelve Dances With God". One track has an excellent recording of a bell that literally floats foot by foot across the soundstage. Quite a nice disc to listen to also. I've brought this disc with me on a few occasions to demo used equipment at individual's houses. Everybody has loved it and i've gone through about four copies so far : ) NOTHING like Ian's Jethro Tull days though, so don't expect that.

How about Loreena McKennitt's "The Mask and the Mirror". If you are not totally engulfed in a 3-D soundstage on the opening cut, you've got work to do.

Another good disc is Patricia Barber's "Companion". Not a bad recording overall with some very quick and lively percussion. Some spots are excellent for judging instrument seperation, attack, body ( especially on the bongo's, as most systems make them sound "thin" ), etc... There are also some very quick and hard bass "slaps" that may startle both you and your system. This disc was recorded live, but may surprise you.

Much like "the Cornfed One", i use different recordings at different times. Sean
Anyone can think of typical favorites- Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, etc.

However, here are a few of my absolute personal favorites you may not have heard:

1) Tears for Fears "Seeds of Love" CD... Track 1 "Woman In Chains" is just awesome! Listen for Phil Collins drums as well as Oleta Adams (guest vocalist) soaring in middle of track! Also- Track 2 has great variety of sounds...as well as male & female vocals. BTW- if your system can pick out what they are saying in the background conversations on the last track...you got a winner!!!

2) Sting "Soul Cages" Check out "Islands of Souls" and "The Wild, Wild Sea" Very different soulful CD from Sting. Recording is terrific!

3) Eurythmics "We Too Are One" CD Trust me...listen for the bell tones and rain sounds on "When the Day Goes Down" and Annie's voice on "Angel"...Heaven!

4) Roxy Music "Avalon" Listen to "Avalon/ India" back to back and just keep on grinnin'....

5) Blue Road-eo "Five Days in July" Go find this CD and kick back and get blown away by Track 6-"What is This Love" and Track 9-"Know Where You Go/ Tell me your Dream". Dont worry...not a "country" group as the name sounds! Sort of a mix of Neil Young and Cowboy Junkies- A+++

Then, let me know what you think!!!
RALGTO @ aol.com
* Patricia Barber: Café Blue
* Holly Cole(Trio); Don’t smoke in bed
* Enya, Water Mark
* Sade, Lovers Rock
* Dire Straits: Sultans of swing: the very best of D.S., hdcd
* mark Knopler, sailing to Philadelphia, hdcd
Happy testing :-)
Fidelis Records "Piazzola"