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My good friend and fellow audiophile Gerald k and I have made a compilation of music files which we feel are perfect for testing new equipment.

We wanted to use music that we not only enjoy listening to but which also has the abillity to reveal flaws in the signal chain.

I listen mostly on Headphones (Sennheiser/ Audeze/ Audio Technica) while Gerald listen only on speakers (Tad, Kharma/Linn/Naim).

We have spend many an evening and several bottles of Cotes de Rhone wines arguing and eventually agreeing on this list of audio equipment test music.

This is what we came up with, please feel free to comment or post alternatives, if possible with a link as to where to purchase the music that you feel is ideal for this purpose.

We also looked for reviews that we felt agreed with what we hear in the recordings.

 

Sound stage and definition

 

carmen-gomes-inc-thousand-shades-of-blue.jpg

1. Carmen Gomes inc; '' I'm on fire'' from Thousand Shades of Blue

Sound Liaison Music Shop

 

Placement is perfect on this young audiophile classic as well as the near perfect natural recording of the voice, but the real test for audio equipment when listening to this recording is it's ability to separate the kickdrum from the upright bass.

The two instruments are playing the same pattern. On less than optimum equipment it might be difficult to separate the two, but with good setup you clearly hear the upright at 10.00 and the kick dead center with a nice decay that one generally do not hear on commercial recordings.

There are lots of speakers and headphones with ''extended lows'' but low with definition is a whole different ballgame.

Hifi;

Her warm, enormously talented and controlled voice is completely unique and she knows how to get pure emotion across to the listener ...

The sound of the album is exemplary with dynamics of an addictive quality......the drums are practically visual and one feels as if one could reach out and and actually touch the singer.

Eric de Boer - Hifi

 

2 Alban berg Quartet; Bartok String Quartet no.1 in a minor 1th movement. (LP,EMI)

in the beginning of this movement the 4 instruments all play mainly in the same middle and upper register. Despite all that mid and high information the music should not sound harsh.

This recording has the same perfect sound stage as the Carmen Gomes recording.

We believe that this kind of sound stage with such a sense of depth and realistic placement is only attainable when you are recording the musicians in one room at the same time.51x-Jm3TjxL._SX300_.jpg

Amazone

''If you can imagine Bartok played by the Vienna Phil., here it is in miniature.

 

Intelligible representation

 

3. Frank Sinatra; ''What's New'' from Only the Lonely.

Frank is maybe a bit too prominent represented but one should still be able to notice all the different lines played by the various instruments in this incredible Nelson Riddle arrangement.

4. Me'Shell Ndegéocello; ''Levictus:Faggot'' from Peace beyond Passion.

Here we have the opposite, the voice is a bit too soft in this optimum funk piece yet you should still be able to hear every word.

220px-Sinatraonlythelonely.jpgPeace_Beyond_Passion_album_cover.jpg

easily optainable http://www.amazon.com

 

 

Depth and Space

 

When talking about depth and space we had to include a couple of Reference Recordings tracks. This label has allways done justice to it's name and consistently produced recordings of very high quality.

 

5. The Concord Chamber Music Society;''Danza del Soul'' from Brubeck and Gandolfi works.

 

6. Doug Macleod '' the Night of the Devils Road'' from There's a Time

 

here you have two completely different pieces of music, one by The Concord Chamber Music Society and one by blues legend Doug Macleod accompanied only by guitar and kick drum. But the depth and the space of these two recordings is simply outstanding.

Enjoy the music.com;

Pleasant" is almost always a pejorative word in a review, a classic case of damning with faint praise. But Reference Recordings' vivid-sounding new CD of contemporary chamber music would be "deeply pleasant" if such a thing could be said — we can settle on "highly pleasing.

Audiophilia;

Any new Doug MacLeod release is a cause for celebration. That we have him recorded by the benchmark for audiophiles, Reference Recordings, is a double celebration

Reference Recordings Complete Audiophile Classical Music Orchestra and Jazz HDCD Catalog

 

RR_122_Cover_s.jpgHRx130_S.jpg

 

7. Andre Heuvelman; ''Oblivion'' from After Silence

8. Joni Mitchell; ''Comes Love'' from Both Sides Now

Andre Heuvelman's rendition of Astor Piazzolla's master piece have a great sense of depth. Every instrument sounds rich and full with a gorgeus natural decay. On lesser equipment the sound of each instrument can become a bit of a blur while on good equipment the sound of each instrument should be clearly defined with a clear sense of the room this recording have been recorded in.

Same goes for Joni's wonderfull standards collection, it is a big hall you are listening to.

Sound Stage on the Sound Liaison recordings;

And man, are they ever sweet. I've seldom heard recordings that were so successful in both performance and sound aspects

Sound Liaison Music Shop

Both-Sides-Now_cover_s200.jpg

 

Both Sides Now won a

 

Separation

 

9. Miles Davis; ''Stella by Starlight'' from the Complete 1964 Concert

10. John Scofield; ''Just Don't Wan't to be Lonely'' from Uberjam Deux

 

we use these recordings to check for spill between left and right channel.

The Miles recording was done on a 3 track tape machine and therefore there is this very wide sound stage and separation between the instruments; piano complete left, horns and bass dead center, drums completely right.

drummer Tony Williams sometimes does not play at all and on those moments all one should hear on the right channel of the piano is a faint echo.

B000002865.01._AA240_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpguberjam-deux.jpgAll Music;

this exciting set gives one the opportunity to hear this band really stretching out on older tunes, showing off the influence of the avant-garde along with the players' own individual styles. It's highly recommended transitional music

John Scofiel's cover of the old Main Ingredient hit has a complete left right separation. The organ is audible on the left channel only and the rhythm guitar is on the right. The separation is so extreme that if you were to disconnect the right channel you would not hear any rhythm guitar at all, just like on the early Beatles stereo LP's.

Jazztimes;

It’s worth the retail cost alone to hear him work it over his inveterate rhythm section

 

 

Imaging

 

11. Trevor Pinnock; Mahler symphony no. 4

this delicate chamber orchestra arrangement of the great Mahler Symphony is a real beauty.

the all music review said;

Another advantage of choosing chamber versions of these pieces is that the instruments are heard with absolute clarity and immediacy

Linn Records - Mahler: Symphonie No. 4

 

12. Iona Brown and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra;''the Spring'' from Grieg two Elegiac Melodies.

the Grammaphone review puts it well;

Naim Audio’s sound is open and beautifully laid out. All in all, listening is more than a pleasure, it is a privilege
http://http://www.naimlabel.com/recording-grieg--tippett--beethoven.aspx

31D3G0WXHTL.jpgCKD442.jpg

 

 

 

 

Batik; '' The Bird'' from the Old Man and the Sea

just about perfect imaging, left to right evenly laid out for your eyes and ears to see, piano, bass, drums, guitar and again a one room recording. Unbelieveable why sofew companies do this when it can yield so very satisfactory results.

http://http://www.soundliaison.com/

 

BatikHoes300shad.png

Audio Stream;

Sound Liaison......It's like buying milk from the farmer, not pasteurized, and the quality of their recordings proves that point. It's quality above quantity

John Scofield;'' Never Turn Back'' from Piety Street

the drum intro has a small imperfection, there is a soft ringing sound on the left channel probably coused by a sympathic resonance in the drum set or in the room.

The moment the organ enters it kind of cover up the problem, although if you really listen for it you can hear it through out the track. Wonderful old fashioned sound stage.

All Music;

This is a winner all the way through

220px-John_Scofield_Pieyt_Street.jpg

Edited by PAP

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7. Andre Heuvelman; ''Oblivion'' from After Silence

8. Joni Mitchell; ''Comes Love'' from Both Sides Now

Andre Heuvelman's rendition of Astor Piazzolla's master piece have a great sense of depth. Every instrument sounds rich and full with a gorgeus natural decay. On lesser equipment the sound of each instrument can become a bit of a blur while on good equipment the sound of each instrument should be clearly defined with a clear sense of the room this recording have been recorded in.

Same goes for Joni's wonderfull standards collection, it is a big hall you are listening to.

Sound Stage on the Sound Liaison recordings;

Sound Liaison Music Shop

[ATTACH=CONFIG]18171[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]18173[/ATTACH]

 

Both Sides Now won a

 

I forgot to place a link for the Both Sides Now download 24/96:

Both Sides Now | HDtracks - The World's Greatest-Sounding Music Downloads HD603497942060_185.jpg

I placed a wrong album cover for the After Silence album this one is correct;Andre 300 met schaduw.pngSound Liaison Music Shop

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I think it is a great idea :-) the fact that is not just "super hires audio sounds", but music that is selected because it's musical value.

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Pap - thanks for taking the time to put this together. It will be fun to slowly work down this list.


Analog: Koetsu Rosewood > VPI Aries 3 w/SDS > EAR 834P > EAR 834L: Audiodesk cleaner

Digital Fun: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (JRMC) SOtM USB > Lynx Hilo > EAR 834L

Digital Serious: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (HQPlayer) Ethernet > SMS-100 NAA > Lampi DSD L4 G5 > EAR 834L

Digital Disc: Oppo BDP 95 > EAR 834L

Output: EAR 834L > Xilica XP4080 DSP > Odessey Stratos Mono Extreme > Legacy Aeris

Phones: EAR 834L > Little Dot Mk ii > Senheiser HD 800

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I think it is a great idea :-) the fact that is not just "super hires audio sounds", but music that is selected because it's musical value.

 

Good idea. The reality is that these great recordings sound good on most systems.

 

Over half my collection sounds amazing. Taj Mahal Honky Tonk Woman from 50 years ago sounds great. Frank Sinatra at the sands sounds great. Nat King Cole sounds great. Eva Cassidy, Eagles, Mark Knopler, Dave Grusin., Bob Dylan Oh Mercy.....Literally over a thousand of my albums sound absolutely fantastic. The loudness wars ruined quite a lot of the more recent stuff and others are just badly recorded.

 

Frankly a stress test like the Sheffield Labs Drum Test recordings is hard to beat. Crank it to 110 SPL continuous at the crescendos at the listening position and you can separate the men from the boys. It should not sound harsh. It should sound like the drummer is in the room with you. The kick should be felt as well as heard while remaining punchy and not boomy. This will tell you if the system can properly produce the full range of recordings & instruments without distorting. Add then a few tracks as you suggest or music to taste and you can test the balance of the sound across the frequency range as well as the imaging.


Benchmark DAC2, Active speakers: ATC 150's, 100's, 20's, C6CA, C6 Subwoofer.

 

Headphones: Only for playing drums. I don't like sounds in my head. The best headphones suck. Nothing can replace good speakers played loudly. And nothing absolutely nothing is a substitute for live music!

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My good friend and fellow audiophile Gerald k and I have made a compilation of music files which we feel are perfect for testing new equipment.

We wanted to use music that we not only enjoy listening to but which also has the abillity to reveal flaws in the signal chain.

I listen mostly on Headphones (Sennheiser/ Audeze/ Audio Technica) while Gerald listen only on speakers (Tad, Kharma/Linn/Naim).

We have spend many an evening and several bottles of Cotes de Rhone wines arguing and eventually agreeing on this list of audio equipment test music.

This is what we came up with, please feel free to comment or post alternatives, if possible with a link as to where to purchase the music that you feel is ideal for this purpose.

We also looked for reviews that we felt agreed with what we hear in the recordings...

 

Hi PAP,

 

My latest blog entry is on this very subject. I call it House Picks.

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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"Best music to test audio equipment with."

 

There can be only one answer to that question: Play what you like and what you are familiar with - regardless of genre. The sound of the stereo has to please you, not some self-appointed arbiter of taste such as magazines like Stereophile and The Absolute Sound tend to be. Only you know what you want your system to sound like. Some go for neutral, accurate sound (like me). others like big bass, bold mids and bright sparkling highs, with no concern about how this differs from the sound of real music, played in a real space. But that's why it's your stereo. It exists to make you happy. So "voice" your system using the music that you listen to and leave all the "recommended" test material to the recommenders!

 

So true. You have to play the music you like but the music needs to be well recorded music. A lot of these recommendations in so called mags are played through some pretty high end equipment and most have treated rooms so a at home listeners equipment might not come close to replicating the sound not to mention someone else's ears are used while residing in their room. That same recording could sound like crap in your room.


The Truth Is Out There

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Hi Pap

great list.

I took the Carmen Gomes ''I'm on Fire'' file and played it on various equipment around the house; speakers, headphones, and it was just like you described, on lower quality speakers and phones the lower notes of the bass and the bass drum becomes a low end mess,

but when moving up in quality they become two separate instruments playing along in beautiful unison.

And it was quiet fun to hear how slowly the whole thing opened up as I moved up in quality.

 

I then repeated the process with an old favorite of mine Cassandra Wilsons ''Love is Blindness'' which has the same kind of problem frequency, bass and bass drum but now the problematic low end remained. It kept on being a bit muddy.

So I get your point, the ''I'm on Fire'' file is a great test for low end clarity.

 

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"Best music to test audio equipment with."

 

There can be only one answer to that question: Play what you like and what you are familiar with - regardless of genre. The sound of the stereo has to please you, not some self-appointed arbiter of taste such as magazines like Stereophile and The Absolute Sound tend to be. Only you know what you want your system to sound like. Some go for neutral, accurate sound (like me). others like big bass, bold mids and bright sparkling highs, with no concern about how this differs from the sound of real music, played in a real space. But that's why it's your stereo. It exists to make you happy. So "voice" your system using the music that you listen to and leave all the "recommended" test material to the recommenders!

 

+1

 

This is the right and only way: Your taste and your gear on your listening room SQ playing the music you love and know.

 

Roch

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Sound stage and definition

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]18172[/ATTACH]

1. Carmen Gomes inc; '' I'm on fire'' from Thousand Shades of Blue

Sound Liaison Music Shop

 

Placement is perfect on this young audiophile classic as well as the near perfect natural recording of the voice, but the real test for audio equipment when listening to this recording is it's ability to separate the kickdrum from the upright bass.

The two instruments are playing the same pattern. On less than optimum equipment it might be difficult to separate the two, but with good setup you clearly hear the upright at 10.00 and the kick dead center with a nice decay that one generally do not hear on commercial recordings.

There are lots of speakers and headphones with ''extended lows'' but low with definition is a whole different ballgame.

 

Hi Pap,

 

What do you mean by 10.00? Close to right or left speaker?

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Hi Pap,

 

What do you mean by 10.00? Close to right or left speaker?

 

Sorry! The bass is at 2 not 10.

Between the middle and all the way to the right in the stereo image.

positioned as if looking at a watch.

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+1

 

This is the right and only way: Your taste and your gear on your listening room SQ playing the music youlove and know.

Exactly.

That is why we collected these examples.

What do you bring if you are going to buy a new headphone or speaker?

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Sorry! The bass is at 2 not 10.

Between the middle and all the way to the right in the stereo image.

positioned as if looking at a watch.

 

Thanks, I heard at 2 and got confused :). Problem solved...

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"Best music to test audio equipment with."

 

There can be only one answer to that question: Play what you like and what you are familiar with - regardless of genre. The sound of the stereo has to please you, not some self-appointed arbiter of taste such as magazines like Stereophile and The Absolute Sound tend to be. Only you know what you want your system to sound like. Some go for neutral, accurate sound (like me). others like big bass, bold mids and bright sparkling highs, with no concern about how this differs from the sound of real music, played in a real space. But that's why it's your stereo. It exists to make you happy. So "voice" your system using the music that you listen to and leave all the "recommended" test material to the recommenders!

 

Yes and no. If were to go to a shop to make a choice between, let's say headphones, I would not bring my beloved Son House recordings, but more likely one of the musics that Pap mentioned or something of similar quality which I know intimately, or have gotten to know intimately, maybe even a file that you would recommend.

 

I.M.O. Pap and his friend has done an excellent job, the ''low end definition test'' using the Carmen Gomes recording is worth the whole article.

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I should like to edit the part of my thread where I confused 14.00 with 10.00, is that possible? or is editing only possible the same day you place something?

On less than optimum equipment it might be difficult to separate the two, but with good setup you clearly hear the upright at 10.00 and the kick dead center with a nice decay that one generally do not hear on commercial recordings.

It should be 14.00 as Corehun so kindly pointed out.

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Hi Pap

great list.

I took the Carmen Gomes ''I'm on Fire'' file and played it on various equipment around the house; speakers, headphones, and it was just like you described, on lower quality speakers and phones the lower notes of the bass and the bass drum becomes a low end mess,

but when moving up in quality they become two separate instruments playing along in beautiful unison.

And it was quiet fun to hear how slowly the whole thing opened up as I moved up in quality.

 

I then repeated the process with an old favorite of mine Cassandra Wilsons ''Love is Blindness'' which has the same kind of problem frequency, bass and bass drum but now the problematic low end remained. It kept on being a bit muddy.

So I get your point, the ''I'm on Fire'' file is a great test for low end clarity.

 

 

which version of the Cassandra Wilson album do you have?

the 192/24 that HDtracks sells, do you know if that is significantly better than the CD?

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Cotes Du Rhone..... That would certainly make almost anything sound good.


MacMini 8Gb OSX > Pure Music / Bitperfect / Amarra / iTunes > Synology DS215J NAS > Schiit Wyrd > Stello U3 > Naim Uniti Atom, Harbeth P3ESR. Meier Corda Arietta Headphone Amp > Sennhieser HD650 Phones (Cardas rewire). Isol-8 Powerline Axis. Isotek GII Orion Power Conditioner. Cardas Clear USB Cable. Tellurium Q Black Speaker Cable. All other cables by Mark Grant.

Vinyl still has it's place. Technics SL1200. Modified with Mike New Bearing, KAB Strobe Disable, MCRU 2 box PSU, Isonoe Feet, SME M2-9 Tonearm > Goldring 2400 >Rothwell Simplex Phonostage.

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Cotes Du Rhone..... That would certainly make almost anything sound good.

 

Well that is not exactly true......

[h=1]Red wine isn't just good for your heart - now experts say it may even prevent HEARING LOSS[/h]

  • Thought that resveratrol, the chemical found in red grapes and red wine, has a protective effect
  • Appears to reduce the damage caused by loud noise

It has long been touted as the tipple with a host of health benefits, said to protect against conditions such as heart disease and dementia.Now scientists say red wine may also protect against hearing loss, too.

It's thought that the chemical resveratrol, found in red grapes and red wine, is the reason why.

 

Read more: Red wine isn't just good for your heart - now experts say it may even prevent HEARING LOSS | Daily Mail Online

Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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"Best music to test audio equipment with."

 

There can be only one answer to that question: Play what you like and what you are familiar with - regardless of genre. The sound of the stereo has to please you, not some self-appointed arbiter of taste such as magazines like Stereophile and The Absolute Sound tend to be. Only you know what you want your system to sound like. Some go for neutral, accurate sound (like me). others like big bass, bold mids and bright sparkling highs, with no concern about how this differs from the sound of real music, played in a real space. But that's why it's your stereo. It exists to make you happy. So "voice" your system using the music that you listen to and leave all the "recommended" test material to the recommenders!

 

Hi GmGraves

of course you are absolutely right, that is the whole reason for this post.

I would be very happy if you would share with us some of the music that makes you happy.

Which are the album/downloads you consider neutral and accurate sounding?

Maybe you have some suggestions that would make me happy too.

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Cotes Du Rhone or any old plonk it is then. No need for excuses now to get absolutely rat-arsed. If its good for my health then drink away. Lol.


MacMini 8Gb OSX > Pure Music / Bitperfect / Amarra / iTunes > Synology DS215J NAS > Schiit Wyrd > Stello U3 > Naim Uniti Atom, Harbeth P3ESR. Meier Corda Arietta Headphone Amp > Sennhieser HD650 Phones (Cardas rewire). Isol-8 Powerline Axis. Isotek GII Orion Power Conditioner. Cardas Clear USB Cable. Tellurium Q Black Speaker Cable. All other cables by Mark Grant.

Vinyl still has it's place. Technics SL1200. Modified with Mike New Bearing, KAB Strobe Disable, MCRU 2 box PSU, Isonoe Feet, SME M2-9 Tonearm > Goldring 2400 >Rothwell Simplex Phonostage.

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Cotes Du Rhone or any old plonk it is then. No need for excuses now to get absolutely rat-arsed. If its good for my health then drink away. Lol.

 

Well of course one has to be cautious, I see in my thread that I misspell Cotes du Rhone and mix up 10.00 with 2.00, another friend of mine calls it ''Alzheimer light'', when you make that kind of mistakes, or maybe it was one glass to much.

But my hearing keeps improving!

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which version of the Cassandra Wilson album do you have?

the 192/24 that HDtracks sells, do you know if that is significantly better than the CD?

PAP, great thread, would like to see more reference favs.. The HDtracks 192/24 Cassandra Wilson can be better if your system renders files better than it can play a CD.. I use the 192/24 Harvest Moon track for percussion soundstage as reference.

 

Also, I have been auditioning cables this past month using two files in particular:

2Cellos.jpg

Track 2, "We Found Love", and Track 8, "Bang Bang", both offer extreme cello edge strike and decay information with Bang Bang offering subtle yet spectacular cello and voice renditions.

The other File is Jacintha: Autumn Leaves, "Moon River" for amazing vocal and piano rendition. Jacintha - Autumn Leaves - The Songs of Johnny Mercer.jpg


1.AsusROG750SSD/JRiver22>LightHarmonics-LightspeedUSB> PSAudioDSD+Huron/AnalysisPlus PowerOval10+ AnalysisPlus Solo Crystal In's >PASS Labs HPA-1 headphone amp-AnalysisPlus UltimatePowerCord/BlackDragonV2-AudezeLCD-X

 

 

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Well that is not exactly true......
It has long been touted as the tipple with a host of health benefits, said to protect against conditions such as heart disease and dementia.Now scientists say red wine may also protect against hearing loss, too.

It's thought that the chemical resveratrol, found in red grapes and red wine, is the reason why.

 

Read more: Red wine isn't just good for your heart - now experts say it may even prevent HEARING LOSS | Daily Mail Online

Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

 

It says a large Glass in the article, something like this?

PE067_15_Woman_holding_blue_large_glass_vase.jpg

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