What recordings do you use to audition (or test) your system.

We all have our own personnal love for a song or a particular artist, but in truth, lot of good recordings can be used to reveal the strentght and weakness of an hifi, home cinema or headphone setup.
On my side, I tend to use a lot of songs, but I do have a sort of playlist, where you can find David ELIAS, Watahachee, Champs, Insomnium, Joe Satriani, Angus and Julian Stone...
All those songs that I tend to know perfectly, and that I love to listen to, which allow me to sometimes also listen to to see how my gear are doing. Be it my headphones, my hifi setup, or even my car setup (not the perfect environnement but still:) )
Jacques Loussier Trio ... "Some of My Favorites"
Dire Straits ... "On the Night"
Eric Clapton ... "Clapton Chronicles"
Peter Gabriel ... "So" (25th anniversary edition))
David Bowie ... "Legacy" (deluxe addition) "Earthling" (expanded edition)
INXS ... "Live Baby"
James Taylor ... "James Taylor Live"
Warren Zevon ... "Stand in the Fire"

Love well done live albums :)
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beeing a metal head, I never thought I could one day listen to : Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - [Flight of the Cosmic Hippo] and actually really enjoy what I hear lol
in fact it's really nice ^^
that post is really great for discovering good stuff, thanks to everyone:)
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In general, what I hear is that for orchestra recordings, the distorsion/resolution seem to have been improved the last 10 years compared to the "great days".
I notice this too. I think the reason is that modern recordings are made at high sample rates and bit depths, and then downsampled to 44.1KHz/16-bits. This produces fewer artifacts.

On Youtube, I found an excellent recording of the "Blue Danube" performed by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. I see the two microphones suspended over the orchestra (their other videos show accent microphones, but they appear to be off in this piece).

This kind of recording causes electronics to seemingly disappear. I can close my eyes and the orchestra is right in front of me. The feeling is spooky. It is also a great test of the system. :)
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This is a very welcome development. But it will also cause problems as so many are invested into distorsion generators oil ore to make the old ones listenable. They will not appreciate these new recordings - it will sound dull to them. Pity.

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The studio albums of Flim and the BB's have apparently also been used to help dial-in loudspeakers during engineering development. They have apparently no mastering EQ/compression applied, i.e., like mixdown tracks. The first five Flim & the BB's albums below were produced in the earliest days of digital recording/CDs, and have album average crest factors of 17 to 19 dB as shown. George Massenburg did their last two albums under the Warner Brothers label-albeit with slightly lower DR ratings:
  • Tricycle (DMP, 1983) (CD and SACD) - DR=18
  • Tunnel (DMP, 1984) (CD) - DR=17
  • Big Notes (DMP, 1985) (CD) - DR=19
  • Neon (DMP, 1987) (CD) - DR=17
  • The Further Adventures of Flim & the BB's (DMP, 1988) (CD) - DR=18
  • New Pants (Warner Bros., 1990) (CD) - DR=16
  • This is a Recording (1992, Warner Bros., 1992) (CD) - DR=15

P.S: you're not going to hear anywhere near the true sound quality of these recordings using lossy formats (such as AAC in YouTube videos).
Most people assume stereo recordings, only, when the question is asked, i.e., "what recordings do you use to audition or test your system". This isn't the only format that's available. High quality 5.1 recordings have come into the repertoire for those that have invested in upgrading their two-channel setups. The following disc (the DVD-A version of Swingin' for the Fences by Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band) is one of the first albums that I use in 5.1 mode:


This DVD-A is unusual in that it not only has high dynamic range (album DR=17), it also places discrete instrumentation into each of the surrounding five channels: there are no "echo channels". This is one of the multichannel albums that I play to hear the effects of tweaking that I've done on my 5.1 array setup. There are yet other multichannel recordings that I use for more nuanced sound quality effects.

Its genre is mostly acoustic (except electric bass and sound-reinforced saxophone section during live performance) but the genre is quite capable of producing extremely loud passages on the front rows of a live performance. UNT Lab Bands, like the One O'clock, et al., can easily produce ear pain. This album will quickly reveal any shortcomings in the setup. I've used the 5.1 version of this album in my decision making in how to upgrade my setup over the years. It's been indispensable in that regard.

Note: the CD version of this album has less than half of the dynamic range of the DVD-A version (DR=8); this is immediately apparent when you put on the CD. It's not very interesting listening to it, IMO.

For mutichannel jazz combos, I use the following three albums:




All three albums are in multichannel SACD (and hybrid CD, stereo SACD). These are probably the best jazz recordings that I own. Jimmy Haslip's bass is mesmerizing, especially if you've taken the time to remove the all-pass bass phase growth out of your deep bass channels. It really is like they're in the room with you.

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