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Critical (Best) Music Tracks for Speaker and Room EQ Testing

amirm

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I post the list of tracks Harman uses after literally decades of research to detect fidelity of speakers and room Auto Equalizers in another thread but thought it deserves its own thread. I have had the fortunate luck of sitting through a couple of their blind tests and can attest to the efficacy of the tracks used:

---------

AES Paper, The Subjective and Objective Evaluation of Room Correction Products
Sean E. Olive, John Jackson, Allan Devantier, David Hunt, and Sean M. Hess

JW - Jennifer Warnes, “Bird on a Wire”
TC - Tracy Chapman, “Fast Car”
JW - James Taylor, “That’s Why I’m Here”



AES Paper, A New Listener Training Software Application
Sean Olive, AES Fellow
Harman International Industries


· Tracy Chapman, "Fast Car", Tracy Chapman
· Jennifer Warnes, "Bird on a Wire", Famous Blue Rain Coat
· James Taylor "That's Why I'm Here", “That’s Why I’m Here”
· Steely Dan “Cousin Dupree”, “ Two Against Nature”
· Paula Cole, “Tiger”,” This Fire”
· “Toy Soldier March”, Reference Recording
· Pink Noise (uncorrelated)



AES Paper, Differences in Performance and Preference of Trained versus Untrained Listeners in Loudspeaker Tests: A Case Study*
Sean E. Olive, AES Fellow


James Taylor, “That’s Why I’m Here” from “That’s Why I’m Here,” Sony Records.
Little Feat, “Hangin’ on to the Good Times” from “Let It Roll,” Warner Brothers.
Tracy Chapman, “Fast Car” from “Tracy Chapman,” Elektra/Asylum Records.
Jennifer Warnes, “Bird on a Wire” from “Famous Blue Rain Coat,” Attic Records.


And this from a 1992 research at NRC on genre of music and its revealing nature in this regard:

Program+Influence+on+Listener+Performance.png


A bit about the science, the suitability of track is a matter of statistics. Colorations in speakers are only revealing if there is significant content/energy in that part of hearing spectrum. Rock music tends to have such rich spectrum. Classical music as a general rule does not. Hence the domination of rock/pop music in the top most critical list.

In both this space and audio compression with which I am intimately familiar with, high fidelity of the music recording is not an aid and if anything a distraction. A "pretty" sounding track sounds pretty on many systems because we are drawn to it by its good substance. Critical test clips on the other hand tend to be uninteresting and force you to pay attention to the task which is to analyze equipment with your ear.
 

RayDunzl

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I post the list of tracks Harman uses...

The only items I have from the above list are:

· Steely Dan “Cousin Dupree”, “ Two Against Nature”
· Pink Noise (uncorrelated)

I have heard the Tracy Chapman thing, it's catchy.

My most used demo tune was Carla Bley, "Copyright Royalties", track 2 on "Social Studies", which features organ, piano, trumpet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, clarinet, euphonium, trombone, tuba, bass guitar , and drums.

I know you don't like disagreement with the research folks, but it would seem that detecting colorations would require uncolored or at least known source, which to me, rock is not.

What does an electric guitar sound like? What does a synthesizer sound like? It depends. On the other hand, acoustic instruments are a bit more defined in their spectra, and, to me, reveal objectionable colorations. A honky piano octave or a poorly defined string bass stick right out at me. Can't tell if it's a baritone or a french horn? Is that an oboe or a bassoon? Something's not right...

This only works if you "know" what those instruments sound like, so, once again, I'm the outlier.
 
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dallasjustice

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I bet if Harman had tested EDM music, it would rank near the top of that list. It's very challenging for all speakers/room systems.

Something like this is tough to reproduce:

Basically, the music that's played at NBA games is really tough to reproduce IMO. Btw, I saw Awolnation last year in Dallas. It was an incredible show. Even tho there's a lot of electronic stuff going on, those guys are real players.
 

RayDunzl

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It's no wonder we hear so much jazz trio tracks in hotel rooms.

I haven't been to a show, and am losing interest in attending one (since they don't come here, and having lost interest, I'm unlikely to go wherever), but I'd wager they never play Pink Noise.

Oh wait, they might:

 
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amirm

amirm

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I know you don't like disagreement with the research folks, but it would seem that detecting colorations would require uncolored or at least known source, which to me, rock is not.
Well, none of the sources are "known" to us. In this case, the research found that music with rich spectrum such as rock is more revealing of colorations. A track that has no bass obviously cannot show colorations of the playback system in bass (boost or cut).

When I took the tests, the rock tracks used here were very revealing of the differences in loudspeakers.
 
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amirm

amirm

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It's no wonder we hear so much jazz trio tracks in hotel rooms.
:) And how much audiophiles rely on such tracks for system evaluation when they are not revealing.
 

TBone

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Well, none of the sources are "known" to us. In this case, the research found that music with rich spectrum such as rock is more revealing of colorations. A track that has no bass obviously cannot show colorations of the playback system in bass (boost or cut).

Fast Car was an original 16 bit recording, but that fact was mostly ignored at the time of its release; still remember TC self titled LP being used in many turntable based demo's circa 1988. It contains much low freq energy, a solid test for many rooms/systems.

The following article, producer David Kershenbaum describes the recording process ...
http://www.mixonline.com/news/classic-tracks/classic-track-fast-car-tracy-chapman/427573
 

Sal1950

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Humm, I'm a big James Taylor fan, grabbing a Thats Why Im Here off ebay to hear what all the ado is about.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Both the James Taylor and Tracey Chapman were my favorite albums when they came out. I listened so much to them that I am a bit tired of them now :). But were really good music.
 

Sal1950

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Both the James Taylor and Tracey Chapman were my favorite albums when they came out. I listened so much to them that I am a bit tired of them now :). But were really good music.
Got a lot of James but never owned that one for some reason?
Been enjoying Live At The Truubadour quite a bit since it came out. You can hear the age in Carol's voice but JT is amazing. You'd be hard pressed to say it wasn't the 1970s listening to him.
jt.jpg
 

TBone

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Jennifer Warnes FBR (First We Take Manhattan stinging guitar riff: Steve Ray Vaughan) was another recording using 16 bit technology, released on CD/LP circa 1987/88. Along with Tracy Chapman and CJ Trinity Sessions ... these three recordings, alone, should have put an end to the digital/16 bit inferiority complex, not to mention the notion that adding any form of digital to an analog mix robs the music of "(insert whatever duff here)".

Yet, near 3 decades later ...
 

TBone

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Not only those 3 "Audiophile" certified recordings, some other notable examples:

Patricia Barber's Companion. Recorded @24/48, except for 1 track which was rec.16/44. Wonder if anyone listening critically could identify that particular track? Cafe Blue was also orig.16bit, along with Eva Cassidy's Live at Blues Alley; even more interesting since the dubs were transferred from 16bitDAT to "crappy" cassette to final mix.

Mind you, many would still have us believe that the mere act of transferring 'em to DSDxQuadJillion, then played back on a $100k dac, makes all those un-audiophile approved provenance issues magically disappear.
 

Sal1950

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Mind you, many would still have us believe that the mere act of transferring 'em to DSDxQuadJillion, then played back on a $100k dac, makes all those un-audiophile approved provenance issues magically disappear.
Oh TBone, your so mean. LOL
 

TBone

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Oh TBone, your so mean. LOL

yeah, i should insult all formats equally, i get insulted even when I read myself.

perhaps b/c of these F'(%&*&%& little F'%^*%^& savages ...
Simulium.jpg


Black Flies, chompers, dirty bites, feast on the dogs, hundreds, thousands, you pray for wind.

then comes Horse-Fly season ...
med-p17204j0rd47s1e6qa3sel2jao4.jpg


No wonder I love hockey.
 

Thomas savage

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yeah, i should insult all formats equally, i get insulted even when I read myself.

perhaps b/c of these F'(%&*&%& little F'%^*%^& savages ...
Simulium.jpg


Black Flies, chompers, dirty bites, feast on the dogs, hundreds, thousands, you pray for wind.

then comes Horse-Fly season ...
med-p17204j0rd47s1e6qa3sel2jao4.jpg


No wonder I love hockey.
Taking the lords name in vain there:eek:
 

iridium

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yeah, i should insult all formats equally, i get insulted even when I read myself.

No wonder I love hockey.

Hockey, a Real Man Sport [not like wuzzy futball, baseball, basketball, etc.]

Razor blades on feet, Clubs in hands, closed rink, Real Men.

iridium
 

TBone

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well, even more embarrassing than owning a B.Spears LP, my last years of playing hockey was with Girls. And even at that, they all ended up skating rings around me. The only way I'd compete was to play mean, you know, Boy's hockey mean, which I claimed was only fair ...
 

TBone

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back on topic (somewhat) ...
Eva Cassidy Live at Blues Alley should be a goto recording, even with all its warts. Recorded 1996, well respected, but it's recording quality is all over the place. Much limiting in many songs, some cuts, however, were aloud to breath, esp when just her & guitar.

What a song list (live) ...
  1. "Cheek to Cheek" (Irving Berlin) – 4:03
  2. "Stormy Monday" (T-Bone Walker) – 5:49
  3. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (Paul Simon) – 5:33
  4. "Fine and Mellow" (Billie Holiday) – 4:03
  5. "People Get Ready" (Curtis Mayfield) – 3:36
  6. "Blue Skies" (Irving Berlin) – 2:37
  7. "Tall Trees in Georgia" (Buffy St. Marie)– 4:05
  8. "Fields of Gold" (Sting) – 4:57
  9. "Autumn Leaves" (Joseph Kosma, Johnny Mercer, Jacques Prévert) – 4:57
  10. "Honeysuckle Rose" (Andy Razaf, Thomas "Fats" Waller) – 3:14
  11. "Take Me to the River" (Al Green, Mabon "Teenie" Hodges) – 3:51
  12. "What a Wonderful World" (Bob Thiele, George David Weiss) – 5:50
  13. "Oh, Had I a Golden Thread" (Pete Seeger) – 4:46 [Studio recording]
Tall Trees is an impressive DR13, easily the highest on the list. Most of this album is ~DR8, including my favorite track Bridge Over ...
upload_2016-6-9_14-36-21.png


Limited, but it sounds soft.

And let's not forget that her version of Fields of Gold (DR11) will happily help anyone in need of forgetting about Sting (sorry, if that sounded mean).
 
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