I love using Foo Fighters’ “Walking After You;” not the original studio recording as found in “The Colour and the Shape” album, but the X-Files movie version.
I’m a big fan of Beck’s Morning Phase album because it’s so well engineered.
My list in no particular order:
Bubbles - Yosi Horikawa
Sunny Tales (Chill Mix) - Sunlounger
San Jacinto - Peter Gabriel
Kindest Regards - Witt Lowry
Mr. Jones - Counting Crows
Elements (Orchestral Version) - Lindsey Stirling
Beer - Yosi Horikawa
Ocean Drive - Miami 1984
Destructive (Acoustic) - Balancing the Different
Pinch Me - Barenaked Ladies
Now We Are Free - (Gladiator Soundtrack)
Redeploy - Echaskech
The Veldt - deadmau5, Chris James
Holy Diver - Dio
Fear of the Dark - Iron Maiden
Unforgiven - Metallica
And I could go on. I tend to like warmer headphones and the music I test headphones with tend to reflect that. I also listen to a ton of late 80’s / 90’s punk rock but most of it sounds terrible with higher-end headphones because its mastered so bad.
Would also like to add that if you are listening through Spotify there is a great playlist put together called “Songs to test headphones with”
The new War on Drugs (Deeper Understanding) was my favourite “audiophile” album from last year. The recording engineer is a guy named Shawn Everett. Everything that guy touches (Perfume Genius, Killers, Grizzly Bear) is heartbreakingly well done.
Yes! I might prefer the songs on “Sea Change”, but “Morning Phase” is def better recorded.
Get lucky - Daft Punk
No excuses - Alice in chains Unplugged
God is dead - Black Sabbath 13
Sultans of swing -Dire straits
Gnaahh - Joe Satriani
Hold my heart - Lindsey Stirling
I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter - Paul McCartney
Tin pan alley - SRV
Martin - Zac Brown Band
Radiohead - Little By Little (Caribou Remix)
Massive Attack - Angel
Eagles - Hotel California
Björk - All If Full Of Love
Björk - Hyperballad
Björk - Pagan Poetry
Björk - Crystalline
Andrew Bird - Pulaski
Andrew Bird - Imitosis
Angus & Julia Stone - Grizzly Bear
Angus & Julia Stone - Heart Beats Slow
Angus & Julia Stone - Chateau
Beirut - Nantes
Beirut - Elephant Gun
Beirut - Postcards From Italy
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm (Album)
Elbow - The Birds
Elbow - My Sad Captains
Glass Animals - Zaba (Album)
Grizzly Bear - Slow Life
Grizzly Bear - Will Calls
Grizzly Bear - Ready, Able
Grizzly Bear - Little Brother (Electric)
Grizzly Bear - Four Cypresses
Grizzly Bear - Blackcurrant Jam
Grizzly Bear - Colorado
Interpol - Evil
Interpol - Obstacle 1
Interpol - Narc
Interpol - All The Rage Back Home
Jimi Hendrix - Purple Haze
Jimi Hendrix - Fire
Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child
Sufjan Stevens - Djohariah
Sufjan Stevens - Age Of Adz (Album)
Sylvan Esso - Dreamy Bruises
Sylvan Esso - Dress
Sylvan Esso - Coffee
Sylvan Esso - Uncatena
Tame Impala - Eventually
Tame Impala - Desire Be Desire Go
Tame Impala Half Full Glass Of Wine
The Black Keys - Strange Times
The Black Keys - Psychotic Girl
The Black Keys - Strange Desire
The Black Keys - Chulahoma (Album)
I’m stopping there… I can go on forever with this list. I also wanted to add more of Angus & Julia Stone’s older stuff, but I couldn’t remember the names. Their older albums are raw, and less polished than the new ones. You can actually hear the separation of instruments and vocals on songs like Silver Coin.
I’ve found that Flight of the Cosmic Hippo by Bela Fleck is an excellent song for testing hifi audio equipment.
That is some great variety
You can’t go wing with anything from Diana Krall’s vast collection!
Pink Floyd - Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1) and Dire Straits - Down to the Waterline are two go-to songs whenever I’m listening to some new gear. If nothing else, they’ll give you some idea of your noise floor.
I have a Playlist on Spotify I have been building with these specific songs.
I add songs as I come across them, they are of varying Genre!
That is Hotel California. I also use Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture.
I generally listen to this song just for its spaciousness:
There are a few other tracks I might use from time time, but I always use that one.
I normally use a beautiful CD of the Italian label “RED - The Color Of Jazz”, beautifully recorded, played by Robert Stewart Band and titled Nat The Cat / The Music Of Nat King Cole.
Pin question to the top!
Many tracks test different aspects of headphones or push them to fail. I won’t include tracks that make me go ‘wow’ because that’s a different topic. I’m going to start my answer with one recording so I have a place to jot my test track notes.
Andres Segovia “The Segovia Collection Vol. 1:” I was enjoying the HiFiMan HE560 until I played guitar solos like this one. Solo classical guitar with the HE560 exhibited a soft planer buzz on some chords that I couldn’t un-hear. I then checked Pepe Romero’s “Flamenco Fenomeno” album to see if maybe I was hearing a loose bridge, but no; it was a real artifact.
Cassandra Wilson “Skylark” from “New Moon Daughter:” There is something tympanic in the right channel that will let you know if your headphones can go subsonic. Also her album “Blue Light 'Til Dawn” is ear candy when everything is working right. Great spatial quality that doesn’t require a training to appreciate when everything is in its place. (or not in its place) Nicely produced recording.
Oscar Peterson “Night Train” has several songs with both bass and cymbals that can really test gear. Cymbals on both Moten Swing and Honey Dipper can really sound strangely unreal on lesser gear. (and some not so lesser gear) Your transducer may just double over on the floor from the bass on “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be.”
Okay, getting more esoteric than need be but “Hagall” from Wardruna’s Gap Var Ginnunga release has easily identified sounds (water running) that many systems do not pick-up. Barely there on one of my systems, it pops on another.
I’ll try to update as I recall tracks revealing weakness in my systems.
The Alan Parsons Project “I Robot” album. Maybe the ultimate headphone album
Mostly I use proven sounds like the Eagles Hotel California, John Denver’s Country Road and Queens Somebody to Love. My go to track is Meco’s original LP The Wizard of Oz. It’s in Meco mode with only 2 tracks; side a and b. On side b, there’s a homage to classical music with a full orchestra. Cannot find these tracks anywhere except in Youtube.