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Over the last two days, I've shared with you some of my favorite tracks so you can not only see what it is I use for audio testing, but why. You probably have a few of these, but if not, it might help to grab a few. We continue today.
  • Beethoven Violin Sonata #7 in C minor Op 30/2, Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Ashkenazy. Oh, my, my, I have to say this is a fine older recording but I included for its sheer musical joy and it's Beethoven. Two wonderful artists dueling it out in a track that lights the system on fire. Get it.
  • Gaia, James Taylor, Hourglass. Jeez Louise. I f you can score and then play the SACD version of this classic treasure you'll thank me. I use it to see if the bass can be reproduced properly (it often cannot) but every time I listen to it I am entranced by the music and cannot stop.
  • Take Five, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out DSD rip. In my library, I only have this as a rip from somewhere. If you have a DMP or the means to play the SACD, grab this jewel. If not, sorry, the CD ain't bad either.
  • Just a little lovin', Shelby Lynne. Analog tape made this album a great classic - and the mastering's great too. It only takes me about 15 seconds of listening to the opening cymbals to know if a circuit can separate out all the elements buried inside that metal. On many products, it just sounds like a cymbal. Ho hum. But on the good stuff, it's possible to tell just what kind of metal is being struck and how. Extraordinary.
  • Sugar free, Swing out sister, Live in Tokyo. A decent live recording. I include it because it can sound so ordinary on some equipment. But given the right stuff, it can occasionally shine.
  • Vincent, David Roth, High-End show, Hong Kong. Wow. Not only is this my favorite cover of Don McClean's classic, it's beautifully recorded. If you want to see if your speakers can get David's voice right, this is a great test. I think there may be an SACD version from Stockfish but that's only rumor. I got it as part of an anthology at the Hong Kong High-end show. Worth every penny.
  • Sacrifice, Sinead Oconnor, Two Rooms: Celebrating the song. This compilation of Elton John songs by various artists is pretty good and I am not certain it's good enough just for this one gem, but it's a wonderful piece to listen to.
  • Fallin', Alicia Keys. Man, can this gal sing. Good recording, punchy, excellent for checking to make sure there are no tubby sounds to her voice.
  • Zweite Szene Was sinnt nun Wotan so wild, Wagner Das Rheingold, Solti Vienna Philharmonic. Want to challenge your system? This ancient recording is about as bright and digital as they come - only, on just the right setup it can be powerful and magical. I have had times when the system sounded so damned good I put this on in hopes of scoring and bam! The power of Vikings rumbles through the music room.
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Paul McGowan

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