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

Shadrach

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Feb 24, 2019
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#61
I think there is a problem with 'officially endorsed' test tracks for assessing stereo performance through listening.
At some point there must be an opinion of what sounds right. Of course for well know tracks this base line is going to be some unreliable memory of what the listener liked best in some system.
What we found in our amateur tests was a completely unknown track proved more helpful because the listener didn't have a memory reference and also tended to listen more attentively due to the lack of reference.
It sort of bears out what we found many years ago testing avionic communication systems; the listener hears what they expect. If you injected some complete nonsense into a verbal set of instructions you got asked to repeat the message; the listener had realized that they hadn't understood the message and re-concentrated their attention. On the second repeat the message had a better 'fully understood' response than the messages that may be common in the situations being dealt with. It's a bit like the brain doing interpolation, trying to fill in what it thinks is missing.
This may be fine for recreational audio but it's not somethinng you want in a combat situation.
 

Sal1950

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#62
Looking for some BASS?
Michael Murray - An Organ Blaster Sampler
 

MRC01

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#63
It seems like 'hard for a system to reproduce' and 'easy for most humans to hear/distinguish' may not the same thing. My guess is that Harman's tracks focus on what our ears hear best, following that track to determine differences in sound systems.
Exactly. The purpose of the Harman recommended tracks is to differentiate audio systems. That means they have a decent amount of energy, and reasonably low distortion, in the frequency ranges being tested. It doesn't mean they sound realistic or even good, though most of them don't sound bad.
 

MRC01

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#64
... 25 Hz is my limit for hearing low sines as tones... maybe lower with more volume, but lower frequencies become a shudder more than a tone. ...
The oft-quoted 20 Hz to 20 kHz range for human hearing is more about easy-to-remember round numbers than accuracy. Most people can hear a bit below 20 Hz, but cannot hear 20 kHz. I think the typical range of human hearing is around 17 Hz to 17 kHz for young people who haven't damaged their hearing listening to loud music. At age 50+ I've lost some of the top octave but not the bottom.
However, our sensitivity to distortion is not evenly spread. We can't hear distortion in the bottom octaves as well as we can in the midrange and treble. A speaker can get away with 5% distortion in the bass and still sound clean. 1% distortion in the mids or treble is easily detectable.
 

MRC01

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#65
Bass tests from natural acoustic sounds don't have to be musical instruments. I have some Reference Recordings of Doug Macleod that captures something bumping the floor (probably him tapping his foot) that goes down to 20 Hz and below. It sounds stunningly lifelike during playback. It would have had me looking around for the source of the sound in my own house, except that I could tell from the timbre it was a wooden floor (and he was wearing a hard-soled shoe, not a sneaker) and my listening room has a carpeted floor. ;)
 

30 Ounce

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#66
Properly set up subwoofer(s) can add acoustical cues that really open up the soundstage. I’ve done the same thing, paused the music because I thought I heard footsteps or something only to discover it was the artist tapping his foot in the studio. Steve Miller, Sweet Maree on Fly Like an Eagle comes to mind, he is thumping his foot to keep time. Some people might consider it unmusical or a distraction but I think adds to the realism. My sub (Velodyne HGS15) is flat at the listening position thanks to minor EQ from Behringer feedback destroyer used as PEQ down to 16 hz set up with REW software and calibrated Behringer mic.

On the recordings in the OP most are done very well and can demonstrate or exaggerate certain aspects of speaker/room/system interactions and I can see why they chose them...but I have have to disagree with everyone’s love of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. While I love and enjoy that song I think her vocals are way too wet (too much reverb) and the guitar is pretty dry leaving it feeling a bit disjointed. When the drums finally come in it doesn’t sound like it’s even in the same recording studio. Still a great song.
 

MRC01

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#67
... I have have to disagree with everyone’s love of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. ... Still a great song.
I agree. I got those recordings and a few others, based on audiophile recommendations and found them underwhelming. Not bad, but not great either.
 
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