What piece of music do you use to gauge your system by?

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Reverb

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I know that all of you are tweaking your audio systems, so I was thinking there must be one or two pieces of music you play on each to gauge the quality of the sound.

What is your go to test music?
 
I have a playlist of precisely 338 tracks. I use different tracks for different purposes. Some aren't your typical audiophile stuff, and many even aren't particularly well recorded - but they all have a purpose for one aspect or another.
 
I use two types of tracks:

1- Solo grand piano recordings of pieces my father used to play on the Steinway grand piano at home. Mostly Lizt, Chopin, Rachmaninov
My ear is fine-tuned to that instrument, and I can tell when something is wrong (or better) with the setup.

2- Various tracks from Steven Wilson albums (usually 5.1 or Atmos)
These are Prog rock music, mostly instrumental, with a wide dynamic range and extremely well recorded and mastered. Some push the low end hard, others are massively layered and are great at showing if the system can fully resolve the mix or if it turns to a mush of sound.

The last one, and orchestral music at peak can clearly show if the room is treated right or not. Untreated rooms ring, have peaky bass, and sound turns to mush at higher volumes.

So, in general, pick music that represents a familiar baseline with roots in the real world, along with well-recorded music with enough complexity and dynamic range to exercise a system fully.

A good setup should shine on ALL types of music, not just one genre or class of instruments. And do so at varying levels of loudness.
For instance, my system gets solo and orchestral piano right, but it can also rock down the house at 100+dB with Prog Rock or Dance music.
 
Myself I use 4 different LPs, one main one and then the following 3 for different aspects.
1) The main one every time I add or change something.
Santana Moonflower LP
side 4, I love percussion and this has it in spades with great dynamic range.
2&3) I use these for vocals (2) and live performance (3)
2) The Best of Carly Simon
3) Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphany Orchestra

Then after that I sit down and listen to the entire Rickie Lee Jones Pirates LP

That gives me enough feedback to judge the changes(additions) made

And I totally agree with JonFo, a good system should shine on ALL types of music👍
 
I use two types of tracks:

1- Solo grand piano recordings of pieces my father used to play on the Steinway grand piano at home. Mostly Lizt, Chopin, Rachmaninov
My ear is fine-tuned to that instrument, and I can tell when something is wrong (or better) with the setup.

2- Various tracks from Steven Wilson albums (usually 5.1 or Atmos)
These are Prog rock music, mostly instrumental, with a wide dynamic range and extremely well recorded and mastered. Some push the low end hard, others are massively layered and are great at showing if the system can fully resolve the mix or if it turns to a mush of sound.

The last one, and orchestral music at peak can clearly show if the room is treated right or not. Untreated rooms ring, have peaky bass, and sound turns to mush at higher volumes.

So, in general, pick music that represents a familiar baseline with roots in the real world, along with well-recorded music with enough complexity and dynamic range to exercise a system fully.

A good setup should shine on ALL types of music, not just one genre or class of instruments. And do so at varying levels of loudness.
For instance, my system gets solo and orchestral piano right, but it can also rock down the house at 100+dB with Prog Rock or Dance music.
I think it's fantastic that you have the piano music of your father and his piano. What a good source to gauge by.
 
I have a few go to tracks that I like.

Son of a preacher man
Little green bag
California dreamin
Virtual insanity
Bittersuite (Motley Crue)
Bell-bottoms
Bring it on home (Zeppelin)
 
Here is one of my tracks that is far from well recorded.

I was there at the Basement in Sydney in 1996 when this was recorded - and have the recording from the evening.

This clip from a later doco - you can watch the whole thing, but video at the part which will test a system. A crazy amazing instrument for almost 30 years ago.

 
Here is one of my tracks that is far from well recorded.

I was there at the Basement in Sydney in 1996 when this was recorded - and have the recording from the evening.

This clip from a later doco - you can watch the whole thing, but video at the part which will test a system. A crazy amazing instrument for almost 30 years ago.


Neat. What do they call that instrument, it's one of a kind?
 
Roy Orbison's Black&White Night on blu-ray. Yes, it's just one band and one genre, but it is superbly recorded.
 
I use several pieces each for differenet aspects.

Enya - "Miss Clare Remembers" from Watermark has a good recording of a piano solo. It gives me a handle of how well a change I have made is true to the notes being played.

Amanda McBroom - "The Rose" from Dreaming gives me a sense of how well the midrange sounds. The coral in the deep sound stage tells me how well my system is able to keep focus and clearly present individual voices in a large group.

Amanda McBroom - "For Nothing" also from Dreaming if I don't get startled upright something is wrong.

A bonus for me is that I have actually heard Amanda McBroom perform these songs live through the same speakers (Sequels) as I have at a Stereophile show in SF.

Mary Black - "No Frontiers" and "Columbus" from No Frontiers for low level resolution and ambience.

Jennifer Warnes - "Bird on a Wire" from Famous Blue Raincoat has very low level high frequency chimes for the first 15 seconds or so before the slam. If you can't hear them either your ears are going bad or your system needs help. See if anyone you know can hear them to figure out which it is. The percussion is great to evaluate with and the layered corals and Leonard humming are also good.

Sibelius - "Finlandia" I use Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra / George Ormandy 1960 because it is reasonably well recorded. This allows me to assess how well my system reproduces many different instruments and how they place on the sound stage because I know where they should be. If I can hear the subtle nuances of the strings and brass I know I should be able to hear any subtle sounds in any recording.
 
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I use several pieces each for differenet aspects.

Enya - "Miss Clare Remembers" from Watermark has a good recording of a piano solo. It gives me a handle of how well a change I have made is true to the notes being played.

Amanda McBroom - "The Rose" from Dreaming gives me a sense of how well the midrange sounds. The coral in the deep sound stage tells me how well my system is able to keep focus and clearly present individual voices in a large group.

Amanda McBroom - "For Nothing" also from Dreaming if I don't get startled upright something is wrong.

A bonus for me is that I have actually heard Amanda McBroom perform these songs live through the same speakers (Sequels) as I have at a Stereophile show in SF.

Mary Black - "No Frontiers" and "Columbus" from No Frontiers for low level resolution and ambience.

Jennifer Warnes - "Bird on a Wire" from Famous Blue Raincoat has very low level high frequency chimes for the first 15 seconds or so before the slam. If you can't hear them either your ears are going bad or your system needs help. See if anyone you know can hear them to figure out which it is. The percussion is great to evaluate with and the layered corals and Leonard humming are also good.

Sibelius - "Finlandia" I use Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra / George Ormandy 1960 because it is reasonably well recorded. This allows me to assess how well my system reproduces many different instruments and how they place on the sound stage because I know where they should be. If I can hear the subtle nuances of the strings and brass I know I should be able to hear any subtle sounds in any recording.
We do things very similarly with different music selections obviously, I just wanted to say I couldn't agree more with you on your comments on Bird on a Wire, I listen to quite a bit of Jennifer Warnes that song is a great one to evaluate exactly what you said with your system.
What does your system consist of amp, preamp, which ML speakers, and cabling, and do you listen to mostly digital or analogue?
 
I love reading one of the responses that included "LITTLE GREEN BAG" !! One of my favorite "one-hit wonders!
I know it is an "audiophile" cliche, but for me the 1999 SHM-SACD of Steely Dan AJA is one of my go-to system evaluation discs. I have the about-to-be-released Analogue Production Hybrid SACD version on order and can't wait to do a comparison listen.
Also, the Mobile Fidelity SACD of Dire Straits BROTHERS IN ARMS.
Roxy Music AVALON and any Robbie Robertson solo are awesome as well. Rest in peace Robbie.
And, last but not least the 2002 SHM-SACD of Donald Fagen's THE NIGHTFLY!
 
I use several pieces each for differenet aspects.

Enya - "Miss Clare Remembers" from Watermark has a good recording of a piano solo. It gives me a handle of how well a change I have made is true to the notes being played.

Amanda McBroom - "The Rose" from Dreaming gives me a sense of how well the midrange sounds. The coral in the deep sound stage tells me how well my system is able to keep focus and clearly present individual voices in a large group.

Amanda McBroom - "For Nothing" also from Dreaming if I don't get startled upright something is wrong.

A bonus for me is that I have actually heard Amanda McBroom perform these songs live through the same speakers (Sequels) as I have at a Stereophile show in SF.

Mary Black - "No Frontiers" and "Columbus" from No Frontiers for low level resolution and ambience.

Jennifer Warnes - "Bird on a Wire" from Famous Blue Raincoat has very low level high frequency chimes for the first 15 seconds or so before the slam. If you can't hear them either your ears are going bad or your system needs help. See if anyone you know can hear them to figure out which it is. The percussion is great to evaluate with and the layered corals and Leonard humming are also good.

Sibelius - "Finlandia" I use Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra / George Ormandy 1960 because it is reasonably well recorded. This allows me to assess how well my system reproduces many different instruments and how they place on the sound stage because I know where they should be. If I can hear the subtle nuances of the strings and brass I know I should be able to hear any subtle sounds in any recording.
Great selection of well recorded female artists! I totally enjoy female vocals and have over 250 in my "harem" but lost count!
 
I have several Tonian Labs CDs that are very well recorded. I first heard them at a T.H.E Show when Tony Minasian was demonstrating his speakers.
They really help me evaluate separation, imaging, and depth of field.
My favorite Cd is one I bought at the last show, "Random Excitement". It's very simple- drums, guitar, and bass.
 
Here is one of my tracks that is far from well recorded.

I was there at the Basement in Sydney in 1996 when this was recorded - and have the recording from the evening.

This clip from a later doco - you can watch the whole thing, but video at the part which will test a system. A crazy amazing instrument for almost 30 years ago.



What is that squared oboe looking instrument that his is playing. It is amazing.

I went back up a few posts and saw the other reply about it. Now I'll have to go to the beginning of the vide.

And this is a good thread to get tuned in to other good musical selections.
 
What is that squared oboe looking instrument that his is playing. It is amazing.

For a very early example of a MIDI instrument, it is truly amazing.

It fits the common theme on this thread, that music we have seen live is what we prefer for testing our systems.

Seeing the above live (in an intimate venue like that, when I was about 18 years old) was beyond belief.

So today, it has become the standard to which I judge a system's ability to convey what I know can be achieved in terms of an auditory experience. You don't need no clichéd, passé, homogenised, soulless audiophile recordings of some ex-soapie star for that!
 
Hey folks, you’ve got my interest level way up on the MIDI instruments. Any suggestions of any recordings on either vinyl or that can be found on Qobuz? I don’t have a disc player in my 2 channel system.
 
We do things very similarly with different music selections obviously, I just wanted to say I couldn't agree more with you on your comments on Bird on a Wire, I listen to quite a bit of Jennifer Warnes that song is a great one to evaluate exactly what you said with your system.
What does your system consist of amp, preamp, which ML speakers, and cabling, and do you listen to mostly digital or analogue?
I have a pair of Sequels which I bought new a few months after they were released. I think I paid $1950. :) 3rd re-panel now. Kimber TC8 speaker wires.

Mirage BPS 400 sub with LFX-1 crossover. I use it judiciously just enough to support the lowest bass frequencies.

CAT Signature MkIII (with Mullard, Amperex and other NOS tubes)

ARC D70 MkII

Several CD players including a Philips CD880 that I bought new, a Marantz CD-94 MkII and a ML 390S. I keep saying I am going to pick one but never get around to it.

Yamaha PX-2 with Ortofon Cadenza Black cartridge.

Nakamichi CR7A

Magnum Dynalab 105T

I use Toroid Corp ISB-120A Medical Grade Isolation Transformers on AC except on speakers I use Tripletts.

Various ICs (none over $200 / M) and Black Sands Audio Violet Z1 power cords (good bang for the buck).

I listen to a wide range of music from folk and classic rock to jazz and classical on vinyl and CD. I especially like female vocalists in all genres.
 
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