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

Shadrach

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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.
 

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. ;)
 
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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.
 

audioBliss

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#68
I found the track Paula Cole, “Tiger”,” This Fire” to be excellent! I would not trust measurements from Youtube as it does all sorts of stuff to the sound. The overall sound had a feeling of being very uncompressed when played through TIDAL/Roon. Clean voice and very powerful bass. My whole couch was shaking. Not the deepest of bass but it did feel a tad deeper than what the Youtube measurement would suggest.

I'm looking for tracks with DR15+ with bass down as low as possible. Any suggestions? When I play 7Hz test tone the whole room shakes but below that I have nothing so down to there at least is preferable.
 

Aberu

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#69
One of my favorites I use for testing is not only the whole Wolf's Rain O.S.T 2 by Yoko Kanno, but specifically the 9th track "Escape".

https://www.discogs.com/Yoko-Kanno-Wolfs-Rain-OST-2/release/516611

The Youtube versions are absolute garbage compared to the real CD/FLAC/ETC... of course. There's such a wide variety on this album, vocals, instrumentals, folk instruments, rock, classical/contemporary, and raspy otherwordly singing. It really challenges everything your setup can do!
 

Thomas_A

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#71
Isn't the best music a mix of music that you are very familiar with? I personally use a couple different songs/albums to evaluate speakers and room:

Mari Boine: It sat Duolmma Mu (from Gula Gula)
Madonna: Sky Fits Heaven (from Ray of Light)
Yoshikazu Mera: Lascia ch'io pianga (from Romance)
Trio: Those memories Of You (from Trio)
Eva Cassidy: Stormy Monday (from Live at Blues Alley)
Oscars Motettkör: Cantique de Noel (from Cantate Domino)
 

D700

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#72
I'm shopping for a main system, came across this useful thread, thank you!.

I will mix in a bunch from this thread, here's mine:
Elton John - Your Song
Dire Straits - Down to the Water Line
Tracy Chapman - Change
Hot Tuna - Water Song
Sheryl Crow - Strong Enough
Madeleine Peyroux - Don’t Wait Too Long
Arcade Fire: Neighborhood #4
Robert Plant and Allison Krause: Killing the Blues
Rickie Lee Jones - Jolie Jolie (Traffic from Paradise). Tight, low and nasty.
Joni Mitchel - Coyote

Water Song especially will make some systems puke.
 

miero

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#73
Things from my old collection I can still listen to:
  • Johannes Kerkorrel en die Gereformeerde Bluesband, Eet Kreef (it helps to understand Afrikaans though, and remember what SA looked like in the 80’s)
  • The Waterboys, Fisherman’s Blues
  • Jean-Michel-Jarre, Equinoxe
A few contemporary albums that spring to mind that I’ve recently played more than 5 times and still like:
  • Nils Frahm, All Melody (And the rest. Frahm is one of the few people I’d declare myself a fan of)
  • Public Broadcasting Service, Race for Space
The obligatory classical album that’ll be the one saved when the desert island floods (UK readers may have to explain that to the rest):
  • Pieter Wispelwey and Dejan Lazic, Complete Sonatas and Variations for Piano and Cello.
 

Herbert

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#76
I still love to listen to Joe Jackson´s "Night and Day" on the old first / 2nd generation CD-Payer I own.
Somehow the "harsh" but pristine sound fits the sonic signature of these old CD-Players. I can really recommend what he made later,
"Will Power", "Blaze of Glory", "Symphony Nr1".
Around `89 I was an apprentice at the German High End Company Burmester. When I remember it correctly they were producing and testing
their first speakers and (besides some music I forgot) they used two tracks from my favourite Jazz / Fusion group at this time, "Oregon", for testing,
Tracks were "The Rapids" and "Impending Bloom".
Very well recording from the german "Tonstudio Bauer" who made many recordings for the ECM label
as well as some direct-to-disc recordings...
 
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#77
Does anybody else think Fast Car by Tracy Chapman is lacking in bass, thin sounding and with a glare to the mix that sounds unpleasant? I’m confused as to it’s inclusion as a test track.

The other tracks make a lot more sense to me. Maybe there’s more than one master floating around?
 
Joined
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#78
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


I assume this last one is The March of the Toy Soldiers from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker? I did a google search and nothing came up. Does someone have orchestra or conductor info?
 

GGroch

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#79
From the mid 80's through the late 90's I created Evidence Based* Demo Compilation CDs to support selling speakers at Soundtrack/Ultimate Electronics in Denver. The primary goal was to sell speakers...so the tracks had to sound great on most speakers. But, the secondary goal was to help customer's differentiate and choose...so there had to be easy to discern differences. Of course, we suggested in each track what the customer should listen for to help in the decision. I updated the selections 4 or 5 times and am attaching here a cover as well as both an early track list and a later one.

ULDemo1Sm.jpg


Ultdemo1 Lists SM.jpg


The overlap between these disks and Amir's Harman list is interesting.


*These were never mass produced or officially sanctioned. I burned each CD and printed the covers with an inkjet. ...but the choice of materials was definitely evidence based on my own sales experience and feedback from others on my sales teams.
 

MRC01

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#80
Does anybody else think Fast Car by Tracy Chapman is lacking in bass, thin sounding and with a glare to the mix that sounds unpleasant? I’m confused as to it’s inclusion as a test track.
The other tracks make a lot more sense to me. Maybe there’s more than one master floating around?
I would rate most of the critical listening tracks as "good" to "very good" but not really "excellent". The Tracy Chapman tracks are among those. I think the point of these tracks is not necessarily that they are reference quality recordings, but they are recordings that enable people to hear differences between systems.
 
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