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Author Topic: Test CDs, redux  (Read 2333 times)

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Offline 108Ω

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Test CDs, redux
« on: March 25, 2010, 09:44:50 PM »
Well, we haven't brought this one up in a while and from what I have been told, new music is being created daily!

So what are your "go to" test music CDs (or other sources) when you want to test new tweaks or system components?

Still high on my list are some oldies, but goodies, with new adds:

1) Dark Side of the Moon  (MFSL)
2) Aja - Steely Dan
3) Stone Flower - Antonio Carlos Jobim
4) 12/31/2009 - Furthur 
5) Appalachian Waltz -  Fleck, Ma, Meyer
6) Planet Drum - Micky Hart
7)  Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen ; Karl Böhm, Conductor  (showing up at an audio showroom toting a 14-disc box set is choice, you must try it!)      >:D
"Peace is for everyone"
        - Norah Jones
"We tape to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect"
                      (with apologies to Anais Nin)

Offline Tim

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Re: Test CDs, redux
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2010, 11:17:39 PM »
Alison Krauss and Union Station - Live

which source on that Furthur show?
I’ve had a few weird experiences and a few close brushes with total weirdness of one sort or another, but nothing that’s really freaked me out or made me feel too awful about it. - Jerry Garcia

Offline ashevillain

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Re: Test CDs, redux
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2010, 07:11:51 AM »
My favorites for this purpose have always been Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms (specifically, the 1st 4 tracks) and DSOTM.

Offline nickgregory

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Re: Test CDs, redux
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2010, 08:41:49 AM »
Alison Krauss and Union Station - Live


great freaking album...the SACD is as good as music gets

Offline ducati

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Re: Test CDs, redux
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2010, 08:47:35 AM »
I used to makeup test discs like this to eval hifi gear, and I have a friend that owns a hifi shop who puts together the most awesome "samplers" (30 sec - 1 min of songs) to help him eval gear.  But I've stopped doing this.

What I found was twofold:
1. Listening to short cuts, or even just one song sampler type discs, focuses me on listening to "sounds." 
2. Listening to music I am super familiar with is helpful, to a certain extent, but can even be somewhat counterproductive.

Now, I typically take a case logic full of CD's I'm listening to at the moment.  Whatever is in "heavy rotation."  I focus more on whole pieces, and the emotions brought to the table: how does this make me feel?  Does it evoke similar emotions to what I current own at home, or different emotions?  If the latter, I then keep inserting discs to narrow down the "why."

Taken to an extreme, I know people in which all they do is listen to "sound."  They want the most accurate, etc sound.  But I'm not a sound lover, I'm a music lover.  So I need to listen for a little more esoteric stuff...  And honestly, the results have somewhat surprised me.  Some hifi gear I really like in the past, I no longer like at all (save for short stretches, maybe).

Just a counterpoint... 

Offline Tim

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Re: Test CDs, redux
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2010, 01:29:39 PM »
interesting approach and I think it makes a lot of sense.

It might be helpful as well if people said why they used certain discs. For me the AKU album I use to get a sense of sound stage width and also imaging. Additionally I like her voice for getting a sense of how much air there is in the high end, specifically "On My Way Back to Georgia"

I'd like to know what recordings people use to get a sense of front to back sound stage depth. That's a hard one for me test.
I’ve had a few weird experiences and a few close brushes with total weirdness of one sort or another, but nothing that’s really freaked me out or made me feel too awful about it. - Jerry Garcia

Offline bgalizio

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Re: Test CDs, redux
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2010, 02:10:15 PM »

I'd like to know what recordings people use to get a sense of front to back sound stage depth. That's a hard one for me test.

EXP in Hendrix - Axis Bold As Love. I'm a big fan of the album, and the swirling guitar feedback helps get a sense of front to back depth.

Offline 108Ω

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Re: Test CDs, redux
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2010, 11:22:08 PM »
Alison Krauss and Union Station - Live

which source on that Furthur show?

Livedownloads.com matrix, burned to CD from FLAC
They suck for not giving it away, fwiw.
Double for charging for Phil's Birthday show, but I digress.



Although visceral impact is important, I think that I have developed my ears to critically listen and can apply my consciousness to the process.
Spacial sense is important, but tonal balance is even more so as it affects our spacial queues in significant ways.
I don't buy on "feeling" alone.

I find that I can hear, and know, what I like, but sometimes am at a loss for expression.
That one sounds "greener!", "the D-8 off the board sounds Wonky", "I like the sparkle in those speakers", "damn did that mod make those mics sound spitty!", ... stuff like that.     ;D

One thing that time has taught me is to remain as ignorant of the claims that a tweak is supposed to improve before listening, and then trusting my own ears.
I am also aware of my own state of health and the weather when I check gear out.
I hear very differently on thick, funky, rainy days than on crystal clear dry ones.

I put Stone Flower in my mix over the Allison Krauss as I like the music better.
For female vocals, I'd grab Norah Jones' Feels Like Home

If I want to grab only one CD for "all around test", Charlie Hunter's Songs from the Analog Playground is a difficult one to beat.
It really has it all.  Big bass, butt-kicking drums, male vocals, female vocals, well-recorded guitar... enchilada en entero.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 11:44:38 PM by 6o6 »
"Peace is for everyone"
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"We tape to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect"
                      (with apologies to Anais Nin)

Offline heath

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Re: Test CDs, redux
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2010, 10:53:12 AM »
Steely Dan - Gaucho.  Every time.
And the Sultans... yeah the Sultans play creole

 The Upstream Mend

Offline ducati

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Re: Test CDs, redux
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2010, 08:03:38 AM »
Tim, do you like Jazz?  A great one to test soundstaging is "Preservation Hall Hot 4" with Duke Dejan.  It's simply mic'd, and the soundstaging will confuse MANY otherwise great hifi.  As a bonus, a few songs have a really large bass hump, so if you're evaluating speakers, it will tell you if they're placed pretty badly. 

My friend and hifi shop owner uses Roger Waters 'Amused to Death' to setup speakers; when they're locked in, you hear some crazy soundstaging effects.

Soundstaging is an interesting one.  It's something no non-audiophile gives a rat's patootie about.  And not something we focus on, at all, in real life; when was the last time you were at a show and said "yeah, that mix places those cymbals PERFECTLY behind and to the rear of the left stack!!"  Or try this something at a symphony: unless you're right up front, there really isn't much of a sense of soundstaging at all.  Just a nicely blended wave of goodness.  Try this sometime at a show; focusing on soundstaging, to me, actually causes me to focus on things to the detriment of the music!  Yet soundstaging is important to audiophiles, and I admit to having a strong preference for systems that recreate an "accurate" soundstage (whatever that may be, be it a simply mic'd stereo pair or something like Axis).  It's kinda a dealbreaker for me if a speaker doesn't soundstage well.  A good soundstage seems to add to the sense of "reality," however thin, in our world of recordings.

And that's an interesting choice, bgalizio, of Axis; Jimi's albums have a very non-real sense of soundstaging, at least in the sense us tapers are used to.  He favored heavy mixdowns with really odd instrumental placements, like the aforementioned swirling guitar feedback.  It's totally unnatural, yet you're right, it is a pretty good way to feel out the soundstaging capabilities of a system.  Kinda like the Roger Waters album.

And just another counterpoint to add fuel to the fire: no musician plays music so people can say "Wow, what attack on those toms!  The cymbal sounds so shimmery and REAL up top!  The guitar has such creamy breakup!" etc etc.  So why do we so often listen for that?

6o6, you may not like my method of evaluating gear, but you should ponder it for a bit.  I have a friend who is a hifi reviewer and a bit of a gear nut.  He recently sold about $25k worth of gear and whittled down to a very simple system worth about $1500-2000 during a move to a smaller place.  Due to careful choosing of components, and focusing more on the emotion and gestalt of a performance (because you can't get it "all" for 2k!) he actually enjoyed his small rig MORE than his big rig.  It caused such a shakeup to his foundation of hifi beliefs that he's treading a very different path when assembling his next $20k system.  I'm not saying you can't listen for sounds at all; I'm just saying that a more natural way of listening for "sound" is listening like you would at a concert, symphony, coffeehouse, whatever.  Focus on what the performance brings to the table--your mind will intrinsically sort out all the "sounds" anyway.

Just some food for thought, fellas...

Offline bgalizio

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Re: Test CDs, redux
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2010, 09:24:53 AM »
I agree that there are much better albums to use to determine accurate soundstaging. But, for front to rear depth, I like Axis because it's an album I know well and the front-back depth effects can really shine on good equipment.

Offline Tim

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Re: Test CDs, redux
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2010, 01:29:12 PM »
ducati, I'm a jazz freak :D

I don't have that album but I know it. I'll grab it at the store soon.
I’ve had a few weird experiences and a few close brushes with total weirdness of one sort or another, but nothing that’s really freaked me out or made me feel too awful about it. - Jerry Garcia

Offline audBall

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Re: Test CDs, redux
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2010, 01:37:21 PM »
In my relatively novice Jazz collection, I find Elvin Jones' Don't Mean A Thing to be spectacular for listening to gear.  The clarity, presence and spacial relations are tough to beat.....(from what I've heard).  I get chills every time I listen to the song A Lullaby Of Itsugo Village, apparently written by his wife. 

I just picked up a used SACD copy of James Carter's Gardenias For Lady Day, and while I haven't listened to that much, the level of depth was probably the first thing I noticed. 

Offline 108Ω

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Re: Test CDs, redux
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2010, 02:19:57 PM »
I agree that there are much better albums to use to determine accurate soundstaging. But, for front to rear depth, I like Axis because it's an album I know well and the front-back depth effects can really shine on good equipment.

Kentucky Colonels Appalachian Swing!



Some very wild sound stage going on for a studio album

I suspect Blumlein and "circle the mic, boys" might be involved.
Can almost be dizzying with the right speakers and placement.


ducati-
I hope that my NYC phrasiology didn't come off rough.
Your method works for you, and that is what should matter.
I like to think about what I am hearing, and then let the sound wash over me at later times with my tawny port and cigar in hand     ;D
There is no right or wrong in enjoyment!

« Last Edit: March 31, 2010, 02:24:52 PM by 6o6 »
"Peace is for everyone"
        - Norah Jones
"We tape to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect"
                      (with apologies to Anais Nin)

 

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