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No Crybabies
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If you could choose 4 or 5 songs to use to test stereo equipment, what would be some good ones? I'd think you'd want a bit of variety, rock, classical, voice, etc. Would like to hear differences in acoustical instruments, dynamic range, music that really tests the equipment, where differences would stand out. Suggestions?

Also, are 128 bit (?) mp3 (or iTunes) files sufficiently high fidelity, or do you need something better? Thanks.
 

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Beetpull DeLite
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128kbps isn't very good. I'd go at least 192, preferably 256. Or lossless compressed.

Do you not have any CDs? Choose your own reference material - you know how certain songs sound where. Use what you're familiar with.
 

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Climbs like a sprinter...
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Anything off the Steely Dan Aja album but especially the song Aja when the drum solo kicks in.
 

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Escorted from the White House
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Any well-recorded jazz or classical would be a must. Decca, as a label, as a whole, I think did many very high-quality recordings, IIRC.

For rock, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album seems to really put equipment through its paces, especially with things like imaging, which is a bit surprising. I usually think of imaging as being a classical music or jazz thing.
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Jerkhard Sirdribbledick
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Muddy Waters Folk Singer is an audiophile staple, and is available in pretty much every type of pressing/remastering out there. Plus it's an amazing album.
 

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Mehpic
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stevie ray vaughn's little wing- in the quiet parts, if you can hear his amp buzzing, you've got some quality gear.

DSOTM is a tough one- i have 5 different versions and some are better quality than others. the 20th anniv version and the UltraDisc are by far the best.
 

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It is important to listen to the kind of music you will likely be listening to after purchase, since all speakers don't re-create all music equally. If you are looking to test the speakers for purely accurate reproduction and dynamic range, both the piano and the human voice are good gauges for reproduction, and there are no limits to the amount of great symphonies to listen to.

As stated above, use lossless as your bitrate if you are ripping test music, and make sure to audition the speakers as an individual pair, with no other speakers in the room if possible.

I usually bring Koyaanisqatsi by Phillip Glass, some Kraftwerk, some Metallica, and some Diane Krall when auditoning speakers, since that is a great range of styles, and I listen to all of them...
 

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corning my own beef
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SystemShock said:
Any well-recorded jazz or classical would be a must. Decca, as a label, as a whole, I think did many very high-quality recordings, IIRC.
I agree. Another one to consider may be Metallica's S&M album -- the addition of the symphony to the band resulted in a h-u-g-e range of sound in both dynamics and instrumentation that's not often duplicated.
 

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No hero that's understood
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I'm not much of an audiophile, but I know what I like.

Yes - Changes - seems to me to provide a wide variety of sounds that gives me a good idea of quality.

Keb' Mo' - Tell Everybody I know ha very clear vocals which gives me an idea of how that sounds.

I think I'd use cd's for evaluation. MP3 tend to be too compressed..
 

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Devoid of all flim-flam
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Three fabulously recorded pieces of acoustic music: Maybe they're too good. Maybe they'd make any stereo sound good.

1. Dirait-on, by Morten Lauridsen. Los Angeles Master Chorale. On the RCM label.

2. Honeysuckle Rose or Tiger Rag. Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Trio. On CBS.

3. Any cut from a good remastering of Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. CBS.


If you're stuck with using mp3, try to go with sampling rates in the three hundreds. 256 is okay. Anything less is death to music.
 

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There's an audio / home theater forum that I frequent where mentioning audiophile and 128 kbps MP3 in the same post would probably get you banned. :D

That being said, choose recordings that you are familiar with and are likely to listen to over the system. Who cares if "Kind of Blue" sounds great if you never plan on listening to it. If you want dynamic range, go for classical. Telarc has some nice recordings.
 

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off the back
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Two that I use are from the Wild Colonials' album Fruit of Life. Very well recorded, largely acoustic instruments album.

Heaven and Hell begins with a didgeridoo, and then some bass and tom drum percussion which should really test out your bass capabilities. The rest of the song is acoustic guitar/violin/piano with a killer female vocalist, and a good system will make this song really shine.

Don't Explain is a cover of the Billie Holliday song, and features a saxophone throughout that on a good system, while you'll hear the notes from the horn, you'll also really hear the player's breath blowing through just before and underneath those notes. And again, a remarkable vocal, that sounds like a saxophone.
 

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sculpin said:
It is important to listen to the kind of music you will likely be listening to after purchase, since all speakers don't re-create all music equally...

I usually bring Koyaanisqatsi by Phillip Glass, some Kraftwerk, some Metallica, and some Diane Krall when auditoning speakers, since that is a great range of styles, and I listen to all of them...
This is good advice. Also helpful if you have either a standalone RTA, or a high-qualtiy mic connected to a laptop. You could even do the hand-held SPL meter and a test disc to run a frequency response plot.
 

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Non non normal
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Kleiber's version of Beethoven's 5th and 7th
 

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What the what???
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Boston Acoustics and THX both have songs they use to test their systems. I found them on the interwebz. One that I remember was called "Woofer Cooker" and provides a bass line that will rattle your fillings if you've got a good sub.
 

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sculpin said:
It is important to listen to the kind of music you will likely be listening to after purchase, since all speakers don't re-create all music equally. If you are looking to test the speakers for purely accurate reproduction and dynamic range, both the piano and the human voice are good gauges for reproduction, and there are no limits to the amount of great symphonies to listen to.

As stated above, use lossless as your bitrate if you are ripping test music, and make sure to audition the speakers as an individual pair, with no other speakers in the room if possible.

I usually bring Koyaanisqatsi by Phillip Glass, some Kraftwerk, some Metallica, and some Diane Krall when auditoning speakers, since that is a great range of styles, and I listen to all of them...
Agreed, bring your music in loseless format or cds. If Jazz sounds great on the system and you hate jazz, what's the point?
 
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