Headphone Evaluation: Test Tracks


Give me some authentic classic country music by the King of Country Music. King George Strait. YeeHaaw! :cowboy_hat_face:


Anything remastered or produced by Steven Wilson.


I do a lot of classic rock including (as mentioned above) Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Steely Dan. Below are some I haven;t seen here:

  • Graceland - Paul Simon
  • The Folk Singer - Muddy Waters
  • At Fillmore East - The Allman Brothers Band
  • Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughn - Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughn
  • Scheherazade - Fritz Reiner
  • Turandot - Puccini W/ Luciano Pavarotti
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“HOPE” by Hugh Maskela is exceptional; even the MP3 samples on Amazon should give you a good idea as to it’s sound quality and which tracks you might prefer.

“Sessions from the 17th Ward” by Amber Rubarth is an exceptional binaural recording (literally made for headphones).

I moved recently and some music is still being unpacked/organized so it’s hard to pick best tracks from memory. I’m primarily an album listener and was/am blown away by the music on both of these recordings.

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When I’m testing different headphones, I want music that will give me separation, the ability to hear the differences between the instruments…I want to hear the pick hitting the guitar strings, to hear the singer breathing. Sometimes the music is overpowering and sometimes the headphones are focused towards a different intensity that doesn’t appeal to me. But once I have music that has established a “baseline”, I can use that for future references. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to factor in old age and how I’m say “eh?” more often. D’oh.:hear_no_evil:

Some excellent tracks/suggestions in here (by which I mean in the posts above).

I have a standard playlist I like to use when testing pretty much any piece of audio gear, and it’s a bit long so you can expand it to see it.

Playlist/Track List
  • A Case of You - Diana Krall (Live in Paris)
  • Almost Blue - Diana Krall (The Girl in the Other Room)
  • Alone Together - Chet Baker (Chet)
  • Along This Road: Kono Michi (Yv) - Ottmar Liebert (One Guitar)
  • Appalachia Waltz (version for Solo Cello) - Yo-Yo Ma (Solo)
  • Baby I’m A Fool - Melody Gardot (My One And Only Thrill)
  • Beautiful Love - Shirley Horn (You Won’t Forget Me)
  • Better Together - Jack Johnson (In Between Dreams)
  • Brasilia - Robert Len (Fragile)
  • Bruch: Scottish Fantasy, Op.46 “Adagio cantabile” - David Oistrakh & LSO - Decca Sound: The Analogue Years 1954-1968
  • California - Joni Mitchell (Blue)
  • Chameleon - Trentemøller (The Poker Flat B-Sides, Chapter Three)
  • Cold, Cold Heart - Norah Jones (Come Away With Me)
  • Control - Overwerk (Conquer)
  • Crystalline - Björk (Biophilia)
  • Don’t Give Up on Me - Solomon Burke (Don’t Give UP On Me)
  • Don’t Lose Your Steam - Gregory Porter (Take Me To The Alley)
  • Ellis Island - Mary Black (Looking Back)
  • Every Morning - Keb’ Mo’ (Keb’ Mo’)
  • Gift from the North Country - Bob Dylan (The Freewheeling’ Bob Dylan)
  • Hazey - Glass Animals (ZABA)
  • Hey Joe - Jimi Hendrix (Experience Hendrix)
  • Inaudible Melodies - Jack Johnson (Brushfire Fairytales)
  • Into the Mystic - Marc Cohn (Listening Booth: 1970)
  • Isn’t She Lovely - Livingston Taylor (Ink)
  • Jealous - Labrinth (Jealous)
  • Just a Little Lovin’ - Shelby Lynne (Just A Little Lovin’)
  • La Grange - ZZ Top (Tres Hombres)
  • Learning How to Love You - John Hiatt (Bring the Family)
  • Leather - Tori Amos (Little Earthquakes)
  • Love on Top - Beyoncé (4)
  • Maybe Not Tonight - Glen Hansard (Rhythm and Repose)
  • Mining for Gold - Cowboy Junkies (The Trinity Session)
  • Night and Day - Joe Pass (Virtuoso)
  • Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen - Sam Cooke (Night Beat)
  • Novocaine - Amber Rubarth (Sessions from the 17th Ward)
  • One True Thing (Acoustic) - Jewel (Sweet and Wild)
  • Partition - Beyoncé (Partition)
  • Perfect Sense Pt. 1 - Roger Waters (Amused to Death)
  • Red or Dead - Randi Tytingvåg (Red)
  • Rise - Overwerk (Conquer)
  • Samson - Regina Spektor (Begin to Hope)
  • School - Supertramp (Crime of the Century)
  • Semi-Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind (Third Eye Blind)
  • Shining Moon - Cowboy Junkies (Whites Off Earth Now)
  • Show Me the Place - Leonard Cohen (Old Ideas)
  • Sing Sang Sung - Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band (Swingin’ for the Fences)
  • Son of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield (Dusty in Memphis)
  • Sonnentanz - Klangkarussel/Will Heard (Sonnentanz)
  • Spectrum (Say My Name) [Calvin Harris remix] - Florence+ the Machine (Spectrum - Say My Name)
  • St. Louis Gal - Cécile McLorin Salvant (Woman Child)
  • Sweet Baby James - James Taylor (Sweet Baby James)
  • Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap (Conditions)
  • Talkin’ Bout a Revolution - Tracy Chapman (Tracy Chapman)
  • The End - The Doors (The Doors)
  • The Rat - Infected Mushroom (Army of Mushrooms)
  • The Trawlerman’s Song - Mark Knopfler (One Take Radio Sessions)
  • The Very Thought of You - Nat King Cole (The Very Thought of You)
  • There Is No Greater Love - Ron Carter/George Coleman/Jimy Cobb/Mike Stern (4 Generations of Miles)
  • There’s More to Life Than This (Live at the Milk Bar Toilets) - Björk (Debut)
  • Titled - Christine and the Queens (Tilted)
  • True Love Ways - Buddy Holly (Buddy Holly Lives)
  • Twist In My Sobriety - Tanita Tikaram (Ancient Heart)
  • Video Games - Lana Del Rey (Born to Die)
  • Walk On The Wild Side - Lou Reed (Transfomer)
  • Wasting My Young Years - London Grammar (If You Wait)
  • When I Fall In Love - Nat King Cole (Love is the Thing)
  • White Foxes - Susanne Sundfør (White Foxes)
  • Wild Horses - Tim Ries (The Rolling Stones Project)
  • Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd (Wish You Were Here)
  • Woodstock - Joni Mitchell (Ladies of the Canyon)
  • Words of Wonder - Keith Richards (Main Offender)
  • World Without End - A.A. Bondy (American Hearts)
  • You Turned to Me - Elvis Costello (North)
  • You Want It Darker - Leonard Cohen (You Want It Darker)

And then if I get through all of that there are some albums that I like to listen to as entire albums:


  • Carmen (Jessye Norman) [Bizet]
  • Cowboy Junkies – The Trinity Session
  • Jean-Michel Jarre - Zoolook
  • Julia Fordham – Julia Fordham
  • Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells
  • Paul Simon - Graceland (1986 original release)
  • Saint-Saëns ‎– Best of Saint-Saëns [Saint-Saëns]
  • Symphonies 5 & 6 (Karajan/BPO) [Beethoven]
  • Tanita Tikaram – Ancient Heart
  • Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes
  • Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman

I’ll see about putting together a public/linked playlist for TIDAL versions of those at some point.


Here’s the music I use for testing, on Spotify and Tidal.


I like to listen to Rickie Lee Jones version of Just walk Away Renee’

Fuck… so much homework here!

@stevenswall, really like your notes above, thanks.

Had a blast the other day listening to Paul Simon’s new Stranger to Stranger… really well recorded. @Jaethan hates me for even listening to this album, but it sounds great. Dude’s still a buddha.

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Oh shit, good tracks @starence! That Runnin in 7’s caught me off guard… what a great album that is.

Oh shit, and a moody ass pat metheny song!

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I listen for the depth of the acoustic guitar on Morning. There is a lot of “bow resin” type vibration that is really satisfying on a good pair.

Then when the rhythm section kicks in on the same track, it highlights dynamic range, soundstage and separation.

  1. Chris Jones - long after you’re gone
  2. Ultimate-daPlaque
  3. Journey-who’s crying now
  4. Magnum- the prize
  5. Magnum-long days black nights
    6)Toto-Love Is A Man’s World

I’m all for using your favorite music to test headphones. For me, I love to try Fleetwood Mac’s Little Lies and Dreams.

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Absolute best song to test any new equipment is Dreams I’LL Never See by Molly Hatchet. Studio version. Just got home and my new ATH W1000Z’s we’re waiting on me to open them. First song played, Dreams I’LL Never See. Just might hold on to these if they keep sounding better through the break in period.


I feel like everyone should check out Smoke and Mirrors: Vanish by Smoke and Mirrors Percussion Ensemble. Check out Juego de Relojes, it’s amazingly recorded and performed and it’s a great song for introducing people to Percussion ensemble because it’s pleasant and fun to listen to!

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For his 4th symphony, I recommend the Budapest Festival Orchestra recordings.

For his 5th, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra recording from 1998 is awesome.

For his 9th symphony, the Royal Concertgebouw orchestra recording from 2004 is amazing.


Thanks a lot. Those 3 are hitting today’s listening list

No problem. I’ve scoured most of the recordings on Spotify to try and find my favorites and have played in his 1st symphony.

Oh, and for his 1st a good recording is the Dusseldorfer Symphoniker conducted by Adam Fischer.

Awesome. Just started listening to the 4th

I use Steely Dan’s Aja, The Royal Scam, Katy Lied, and Gaucho
Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall
Frank Zappa The Yellow Shark, Over-nite Sensation, Joe’s Garage vol. 1, Apostrophe, and Hot Rats
Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks, Bringing it all Back Home, Blonde on Blonde, and Highway 61 Revisited
Aaron Copeland Fanfare for the Common Man
Friday Night In San Francisco (Live) by Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, and Paco De Lucia
Rebecca Pidgeon Spanish Harlem(song)
Nirvana Nevermind
Yes The Yes Album

I could go on and on…