I suppose we all have our favorite music selections. The ones we show off our system with, those we cherish for the performance, the others we treasure for their sonic splendor.
In my case, the list is long for a reason. When designing or upgrading a product Music Room One has to serve as the ultimate test. Not only does it help us discover how close concepts, circuits, and parts sound compared to live music, but it also serves as a reference standard.
There are no perfect recordings. My collection is by no means perfect, but it is varied enough that we can pretty easily find consistent traits in designs. If every track we play has bloated bass or sizzley highs, we’re pretty confident it’s a function of the gear under test.
Over the next few days, I’ll share some of my lists and offer insights as to why these are on Paul’s top tracks serving as our reference for design.
- Mahler 3 San Francisco Symphony This is one hell of a good recording, though it’s been mentioned the bass is a bit shy. But, from a naturalness of the instruments and a soundstage that is to die for, this track sets the standard.
- Le temps passe, Michel Jonasz. This rare album La Fabuleuse Histoire De Mr Swing by French artists Michel Jonasz is a killer track I use for a couple of tests. Bass and space. It’s a live recording and a good one. Getting the bottom end right on this track is tough.
- Voodoo, Sonny Clark Memorial. Great music, not a great recording and really tough to reproduce properly. A challenge for any circuit.
- Dwelling Place of the Radiant Mind, Inlakesh. Weird music, ethereal sounding stuff, good for seeing how wide the soundstage is and how well speakers disappear.
- In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, The Allman Brothers Band. Need I say more?
- Stimela, Hugh Masekela. This classic chestnut has to be used to check on dynamics. Turned up to the proper level, it all sounds great until Masekela’s horn blares in. If everything’s not just right, it’ll cut right through you.
- Brothers in Arms, Mark Knopfler. What a great track. When everything working just right, this is a good one to go to make sure it sounds live.
- Beethoven String Trio in C Minor, Janaki String Trio. A terrific recording with natural string sounds as if they were playing in the room. Listen closely to the harmonics of the bowing on the strings if you want to know how well your system reproduces those precious overtones without loss.
- A case of you, Diana Krall Live in Paris. Few albums I own are this well recorded but you have to be careful on this one because they don’t all sound the same. Different mastering, perhaps.