As promised, here’s more of my list of tracks I regularly use to evaluate electronics and speakers.
Wood by Brian Bromberg. This guy’s amazing. One of the best bass players I know of (no disrespect meant for Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten, or Dan Schwartz). This particular album is an older one available on CD and couples both solo as well as accompanied bass. Perfect for getting the low bass and mid bass seamless. Here’s a work that requires a subwoofer – or at least a system that reaches deep into the low depths. Plucks, mid bass, low-end energy. It’s all there and hard to get Brian sounding as if he’s in the room. A true challenge most systems fail. But, when you get it right…
My foolish heart by Bill Evans. This CD is stupidly hard to find, and I only have a copy scored from someone. I wish I could get an original. If you know piano jazz, you likely know Bill Evans. In 1958, Evans joined Miles Davis’ sextet where he recorded Kind of Blue, the best-selling jazz album of all time. He left Davis and went on to form his own trio, but this is one of my all time favorites and a great recording too.
Ain’t no sunshine by Eva Cassidy. I haven’t met an audiophile yet that doesn’t love female vocalists for evaluating systems or just the sheer pleasure of listening. This is one of my favorites. Eva Cassidy was known around the Washington DC area but not nationally until her untimely death of cancer at the age of 33. BBC radio picked up her work and she became an overnight success. Great music.
Isn’t she lovely by Livingston Taylor. If you didn’t know better, you might think this was James Taylor crooning Stevie Wonder’s great composition, but you’d be wrong. Livingston Taylor, the brother of James, sings beautifully, and this arrangement and the recording are excellent and well balanced. A little flat in dynamics, but for evaluating high-end systems it’s great because of that. It should sound a little over damped yet full of life and never hard.
Everybody Plays the fool by Aaron Neville. I first heard Aaron Neville through the Neville Brothers, but it wouldn’t be long before brother Aaron eclipsed the others, scoring four Platinum-certified albums and four Top 10 hits in the United States, including three that went to #1 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. This particular CD seems hard to find new, apparently out of print. Vinyl versions go for a couple of hundred bucks. The recording is stellar, and it’s a definite system show off piece.
Peter Gabriel Scratch my back. The particular cut I enjoy off this CD is Listening Wind. Really good recording of this Talking Heads cover that helps me determine just how much detail’s been preserved by electronics. This is one of those cuts that sounds good on any system, but great on only a handful.
Song for the journey by Tish Hinojosa. I don’t know much about this artist. Many of the songs I have collected for the reference system over the years were from shows, or friends, and peaked my interest. This one’s no different. Great female vocal, simple, great upper harmonics, imaging is simple and should have extreme depth. Tish should appear perfectly sized as if she were in the room. Too big and you’ve got something amiss.
Cantate Domino by Oscar Motekkor. My favorite, Weihnachtslied, is Oh Holy Night. The warhorse is perhaps the single most played demo disc in the library, now available on SACD. If you own a DMP, snag this beauty while you can. The CD is great enough that it’s been a standard for years. Vinyl’s excellent as well.
Fly by Reed Fodel One CD PS. This is a must have. Few people come through Music Room One without being treated to this masterpiece.