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phmosele 18th December 2012 11:40 PM

Reference tracks for tuning PA
I am finishing up helping a guy put together a PA system with a Pair of PAS 18s crossed into a pair of vintage EV 2-1503s

Anyone have any favorite, clean, well-mastered tracks that they like to use when setting up a PA? The guy likes kick drum and while it ain't hard to find a track with plenty of kick drum, I just wondered what you guys might use. I suppose I should put together a little mix of rock, funk, jazz and the 1812 Overture.
Suggestions to just go through my own kajillion song collection?

Enzo 19th December 2012 06:01 AM

Will there be a sound man running this system? If so, let him wring it out. His ears will be the ones telling him how to mix.

phmosele 19th December 2012 03:25 PM

I don't think there will be a sound man. Once the PA is delivered it won't be my problem, but I'm going to have to demo it before he takes it. He's a drummer and his dream is having a kickdrum that would crumble concrete. He's not quite going to get that, but it would be good, the first time I rev it up for him, if he hears something with good, well mixed and mastered kick drum. Metallica would have plenty of kick drum as would Killswitch Engage, but I don't know if he's into that!
Jazz-funk might be better, but my collection of that is very limited and what I have has a lot of synth bass swamping most of the kick anyway. Not that synth bass doesn't give stuff a workout.

indianajo 21st December 2012 02:31 AM

To prove amp power, bass response, damping factor and time alignment, I use ZZ Top, Woke up with Wood track. Might be a synth drum but sounds like the 30" Ludwig I used to march next to in the band. Make that two 30" bass drums, those guys were always in perfect sync. Our High school drum section (24 of us) was loud enough to bounce a tutti hit off the bank building 1 mile away and listen to the echo 3 seconds later.
To prove overall flatness of frequency response and lack of distortion I use piano tracks. I know what a Steinway grand sounds like, your PA should be able to sound like that. Electronicly generated instruments, you don't know what even the sound engineer was hearing. I use Colombia Three Beethoven Sonatas, Rudolf Serkin, Moonlight movement 3, CD or LP, to prove the amp has FF piano hit capacity without going honky(many don't). I use the dynagroove LP of Peter Nero Young and Warm and Wonderful the Secret Love track where the top octave is played alone with cymbal, to prove tweeter distortion is minimum (most produce SSSHH sounds, or the amp can).
If you have subwoofers, the JS Bach complete by Lionel Rogg at the Zurich church has some 32' pipe organ sounds on it, I think. 20 Hz C0's. Most organ LP's have the bass backed way off. I like the Passacaglia & Fugue in C min track.

phmosele 21st December 2012 03:02 AM

Ah, the Eliminator album. I'm sure I have the Serkin Moonlight somewhere too. That is indeed a spectacular piece of music.

I tried to find the Peter Nero track on Youtube, but it wasn't there, and I know nothing about him other than the discography.

What I really want is a track with someone doing a drum roll from top to bottom on about 6-8 toms (in tune!). I don't particularly want a flashy drum solo; just about every live album has one of those somewhere, but I would like to just hear a waterfall effect from a small roto-tom down to whatever drummers pound on for floor toms...what, 18-inch maybe? He's a drummer, that's what he does, and frankly I don't think he cares much about F-F on a Steinway. I might though, and it's me tweaking this thing up. I want to go in with a representative selection of useful things.

Neil Peart must have something somewhere...but i don't know that much Rush. The Professor fans must be out there??


sim0n 21st December 2012 07:28 AM

I might be just running into the same sound guy but I've heard Boney M used for testing the PA at like three seperate gigs (at different places) :confused:

sofaspud 21st December 2012 08:30 AM

Maybe I'm not the best person to respond; never have considered myself an audiophile. But for Neil Peart I might suggest "Xanadu" from Farewell To Kings or "Something For Nothing" from 2112. I always liked Jody Stephens' roll about 2:30 into "September Gurls" from Big Star's Radio City album... IMO a very underrated rock drummer. Listened to the album again the other day, and Lou Reed's "Charley's Girl" from Coney Island Baby is on my short list of "in your face kick drum" songs.

Kjeldsen 21st December 2012 09:02 AM

Dire Straits - Money For Nothing
AC/DC - Back in Black

bear 21st December 2012 12:37 PM

Record *the guy* himself playing *his drums* in digital (of course) and play that back.

Of course if he sucks, then he won't like *his* playing/sound. Ha ha.

But seriously, there is no relationship between commercially recorded music and what is normally dropped into a PA/SR system. Especially if the band/mixer person/system is unfamiliar with limiting or there is no limiter at all anywhere in the system.

Otoh, there are a number of drum only CDs to be had. Including a Ginger Baker... that might be the next best thing for you to use.

Say... hang on... this guy isn't *Buddy Rich* is he? :p


wg_ski 21st December 2012 05:13 PM


Originally Posted by Kjeldsen (
Dire Straits - Money For Nothing
AC/DC - Back in Black

Those were the two I was going to suggest - in addition to Metallica "Nothing Else Matters". I use them for PA tuning - but the caveat here is it's for DJ setup, not live. The truth is it will be really difficult to get *your* live kick to sound anything like that unless your're doing a LOT of processing and have the goods to back it up (subs that can legitimately do 30 Hz is a plus). With most setups, you'll have to settle for a lot "drier" kick sound and turn the overall level up. For a really good dry kick track there's always Neil Peart "The Weapon". That one will knock you on your *** turned up loud enough even if you can only get down to 60.

"Nothing Else Matters" and "Money For Nothing" are a completely different experience played through a stack of labhorns vs. my 40 Hz boxes.

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