Recommended music for auditioning speakers? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 01-16-2007, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
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What music would you guys recommend for auditioning speakers? I'm specifically looking for quality with classical / jazz / instrumental and am hoping to find a particular set of music that will allow me to get a really good feel for the quality of the speaker without needing to listen to 18 different tracks. Particularly music that will be good at highlighting deficiencies in speakers or differences between different speakers.
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post #2 of 18 Old 01-16-2007, 11:56 AM
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First off, make sure YOU know the tracks very well. If you don't, how will you know what sounds better than what you have now or are looking for. Don't listen to what other people say, its your ears.
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post #3 of 18 Old 01-16-2007, 07:26 PM
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Start out with the 18 tracks and after a couple auditions you will have the set narrowed to 2 or 3 tracks. These will provide the differences you are listening for in things like: female or male vocals, violin, castanets, snare drum, brush on the snare, oboe, acoustic guitar....and always use your own music.
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post #4 of 18 Old 01-16-2007, 08:56 PM
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I always like to include one unfamiliar piece so I'm listening to how each speaker presents it. It is an easy trap to start evaluating speakers by what you are used to a piece sounding like on your present system as being "reference."

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. ~ Henry David Thoreau
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post #5 of 18 Old 01-17-2007, 01:06 AM
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Opus3 makes some CDs specifically for this purpose (I haven't personally listened to them, but I plan to buy one).

http://www.opus3records.com/cd_samp.html#21000
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post #6 of 18 Old 01-17-2007, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
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What do you guys think of the Stereophile Test CD 4.1 or CD 5? Would these be good?

I found a dealer in Canada (UHF) who carries those disks. The Test CD 4.1 in SACD and the CD 5 in regular CD. Is the SACD or DVD-A worth it for these sorts of tests?

Part of the problem that I'm finding is that most of the music that I listen to doesn't have enough in it to be really good for auditioning speakers. If I could spend 5 hours in the store then fine, but I'd like to find something that I can play a few minutes of to get a very good representation of the quality.

UHF also carries several other sampler CDs and many of them in SACD or DVD-A. I'll have to dig around to see which ones I think that I'd like.

Thanks again everyone! If anyone else has any ideas or places that I can find these disks near me (I live in Toronto) please let me know!
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post #7 of 18 Old 01-18-2007, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Do you guys think that SACD or DVD-A is worth it (compared to CD, not record) for these tests? IS the fidelity of the speakers greater than can be provided on CD?
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post #8 of 18 Old 01-18-2007, 01:57 PM
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The format is not an issue. What is important is that you choose the best sounding, most varied program of the recordings that are most familiar to you.

Kal Rubinson

"Music in the Round"
Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile
http://www.stereophile.com/category/music-round

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post #9 of 18 Old 01-24-2007, 02:48 PM - Thread Starter
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I understand what most people are saying, that is to take music that you know and love and make sure that it sounds good to you. However this really isn't what I'm asking about.

What I'm hoping to find is music/tests/anything that I can use that will allow me to (as) objectively (as possible) determine the quality of speakers. Something that will sound different on a $500 set of speakers vs a $1200 or $2000 set. This way I can listen to them all and say "Ok, the difference is quite noticable between the $500 and $900 speakers, less so on the $1200 speakers, and very hard to notice between $1200 and $2000, so I'll go with the $1200 speakers". Basically so I can hear the deficiencies and determine if it's worth it for me to spend the extra money to cover that.
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post #10 of 18 Old 01-24-2007, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telek View Post

I understand what most people are saying, that is to take music that you know and love and make sure that it sounds good to you. However this really isn't what I'm asking about.

What I'm hoping to find is music/tests/anything that I can use that will allow me to (as) objectively (as possible) determine the quality of speakers. Something that will sound different on a $500 set of speakers vs a $1200 or $2000 set. This way I can listen to them all and say "Ok, the difference is quite noticable between the $500 and $900 speakers, less so on the $1200 speakers, and very hard to notice between $1200 and $2000, so I'll go with the $1200 speakers". Basically so I can hear the deficiencies and determine if it's worth it for me to spend the extra money to cover that.

There is no such easy way.

Kal Rubinson

"Music in the Round"
Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile
http://www.stereophile.com/category/music-round

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post #11 of 18 Old 01-24-2007, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal View Post

There is no such easy way.

Which is why after all the testing and measurements and analyzing the graphs and charts, we still have to listen. And tweak some more.

I understand that you want known entities of sound that pronounce certain characteristics of the various speakers' differences that you should be able to hear. But that's what music is, that's all. Choose musical passages that contain sounds that you either like, dislike or find intriguing. Incorporate instruments played alone and in orchestra. Incorporate female vocals. Incorporate blues guitar, drums, whatever makes sound.

Like I said earlier, you'll get to the point where you can play one or two recordings and find out what you are looking for. You just have to get out and have a go at it.
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post #12 of 18 Old 01-24-2007, 08:32 PM
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My personal opinion. Yours may vary:

I find that the opening from Carmina Burana is a useful reference -- tympani strike, big choir, quickly fading to a softer choir, then the building dynamics.

Rhapsody in Blue has good dynamics and a more brassy sound, as well as varied instrumentation, and is also something I find useful. If I could choose only a single piece, this would probably be it.

Last, you gotta throw on some Snoop or Beastie Boys for good reference -- there are speakers that sound pretty decent on classical material, but are not at all tight enough in the bass for your typical gangsta' rap. A good speaker set handles all kinds. (Don't go for rock for this test, as it's not at all as dependent on well-controlled bass)

Make sure you get good recordings, of course. Competently mastered CD should be quite sufficient when auditioning systems under $5k (and maybe even over), as 100 dB over 10 dB is a pretty impressive dynamic range in and of itself, and CD goes slightly higher than that.

FYI, I tend to listen to music in high-quality headphones at work in the office, and that sets a tonality expectation that speakers have to achieve. Speakers, however, will kick the headphones' butt on space/imaging.
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post #13 of 18 Old 01-24-2007, 08:40 PM
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I chose a selection of the music I listen to and made direct copies from the original CDs, even though I have high bitrate MP3s of everything. Even though the differences may be all but imperceptible, I figured I might as well.

I focussed on things spanning a range of music. I mostly listen to classic and prog rock, but not heavy stuff, instead more instrumental (and usually well recorded) materials. I threw on some jazz vocals and instrumental as well since I listen to a fair bit of that too. I also put on some songs I wasn't so familiar with, so my mind didn't fill in the gaps about how I thought things should sound.

Some people will give you suggestions on CDs that cover a broad range of music (or tell you to make one), and I've used those and they have their use. The first CD I auditioned things with included a lot of classical music of styles I like and don't like as well as some rock and jazz. I used that to get started, but then switched the mix I mentioned first with materials closer to my usual listening preferences.

IMO focus on what you know and listen to the most, as well as stuff you're not quite so familiar with so that your experience with the piece doesn't cloud your ability to judge just the speakers rendition of it. Beyond that, hopefully you'll find something that just simply stands out for you because speaker auditioning is far from ideal most places I've been.

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post #14 of 18 Old 01-24-2007, 08:41 PM
 
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i like to take a good rap cd like 50 cent or some nwa or tupac and blast it. if the speakers dont break then their worth trying something else
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post #15 of 18 Old 01-24-2007, 09:04 PM
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For Jazz, I'd recommend Holly Cole's "Don't Smoke in Bed". For classical, I like the Stereophile test CDs. Other artists/discs/songs I use for audition include:
- Paul Simon's "Graceland" [Graceland, Diamonds on the souls of her shoes]
- Dave Brubeck Quartet's "Timeout" [Take 5]
- Lyle Lovett's "Joshua Judges Ruth" [Church]
- Natalie Merchant's "Tigerlily" [Carnival]
- Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" [Wish you were here]

YMMV...
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post #16 of 18 Old 01-24-2007, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j8weeks View Post

- Dave Brubeck Quartet's "Timeout" [Take 5]

That was on the CD I made

I also had Floyd on it, but a different track from the album Animals.

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post #17 of 18 Old 01-24-2007, 09:45 PM
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I always make sure I have some Fourplay and Bob James they have the blackest backgounds I've ever heard and micro dynamics and macro dynamics and dead quite to slamming dynamics,tempo,pace and timing and topend air,and its always recorded stunningly.Always take some Female vocals and Piano music,the 2 hardest elements thats common to reproduce,they will tell the class of a speaker and what it should cost,and you will always hear something reproduced different with Piano and Female recordings even if you know the recordings.
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post #18 of 18 Old 01-25-2007, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone, this is EXACTLY what I was looking for. I was beginning to lose hope on this thread

Here's what I put on my demo CD that I tried last week that seemed to work well:

Madonna - Sorry
Darude - Sandstorm
Evanescence - Bring Me To Life
Faithless - Drifting Away
Linkin Park - In The End
Linkin Park - Numb
Robert Miles - Children [dream version]

Symphony No.5, Op.67 - C minor I - Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 8, F major Op.93 IV - Allegro vivace
Tchaikovsky - Overture
Tchaikovsky - Le Chocolat (The Spanish Dance)
Tchaikovsky - Le Tea (The Chinese Dance)
Tchaikovsky - Trepak (The Russian Dance)
Tchaikovsky - Variation 1- Tarentula
Tchaikovsky - Final Waltz And Apotheosis
Tchaikovsky - 1812 Festival Overture

I really like Take 5, however I found it to be a little too slow and lacking in variety for a test song. There's rarely more than one instrument played so since I don't have hours per speaker set to try I opted out of that one. I wanted things that were busy and had a lot going on (at times) with a few slower/single instrument parts.

I'll try to dig up some of the music that you guys suggested!

I also picked up 2 Opus HDCDs (20th anniversary special and 5th version) as well as 2 Jazz DVD-As (Soular energy and Monty Alexander/Ray Brown/Herb Ellis trio) which also seem to have a nice wide variety of musical options.

Thanks again everyone!
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