Songs to test headphones with


Okay, just found a new one to add to my rotation. Herbert Karajan conducting the Berlin Philarmonic on Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. The sublime 3rd movement covers a lot of sonic ground. Like much orchestral music, it has lots of dynamics. In this particular movement, the low strings and bass drums feature more prominently than usual. Rather than just being there to support the horns and higher strings rhythmically, they actually get lots of time to themselves. This allows you to hear the texture and complexity of these instruments, the harmonics of whose string plucks reach into the higher registers. When the horns enter and then the high strings, you find out what your headphones are made of. Can they maintain separation or does everything blend into a wall of sound? Can they do justice to the edginess of the horns and the stridency of the high strings while capturing the thunderous bass? Few pieces of music so clearly distinguish my DT 1990s from my LCD2Cs. In listening to most music, I find the bass on both precise and well extended, and while the DT 1990’s clearly have more going on in the treble region, the LCD2Cs acquit themselves fine. On this song, these headphones’ relative strengths really separate themselves. The LCD2Cs bass thunders and rumbles in a way that the 1990’s just can’t, even when adding bass with EQ. However, once the horns and high strings enter, the 1990s show their mettle. The horns blare and the strings bite and soar as they do in real life, whereas on the LCD2C they just sort of politely show up and make themselves heard.


Andrew…have you listened to any of the Mahler recordings that have been suggested for you? I have a question for you. Do you have a Mahler recording presently that you may call a “reference?” Another question…do you balance interpretation versus recording/headphone standards or can you(we) separate the two?

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I just listened to the soundtrack of Red Sparrow (James Newton Howard). Very reminiscent of Mahler. The soundtrack quality is superb and well worth a listen. I streamed from Tidal


Linda Ronstadt with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra - For Sentimental Reasons Seriously a fantastic recording and album!

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I really like this song, it was removed from Spotify recently though :cry:


Well just spent the last couple hours putting this together…Using Focal Elex and HD800, and a couple fingers of single malt scotch, and finished off the night with some sipping rum (desert). Hopefully if nothing else you guys/gals can find some new music, try and give each song a chance some don’t really come into their own until at least 30seconds to a minute. (I used my daughter as the cover, she is a budding headphone addict like her poppa).

Above all else enjoy the music, I mean that is the point right :wink:

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What service do you use for music playback?

Which single malt scotch? Your playlist will sound different with Laphroag instead of Balvenie.



I have the Balvenie Double wood and Caribbean cask and both are great, Big fan of Angels envy rye…I digress … I was drinking Aberfeldy 12yo, Jura Superstition…and I finished with a sipping rum Diplomatico(it has way too much sugar to drink too much of it). There is nothing else in the world as relaxing as good whiskey a dark room, good headphones and a playlist of music! (well maybe a deprivation float tank, that is otherworldly). I have a pretty decent collection of whiskey, I like drinking it either neat or with one small ice cube (because science!).


Woot! @taronlissimore like a little Metallica when I’m demo’ing gear!

To start with any time I’m testing Headphones, Dacs or Amps I prefer lossless files and purely offline playback. I only test with a Streaming service is I’m demoing gear under $100 or if I’m listening to anything via Blutooth,

As in terms of pure convenience and ease of use I feel a set of wireless cans and a good spotify playlist are tough to beat especially if I’m doing any kind of light cleaning or cooking and I don’t want to disturb the wife

More Recently I’ve been using a lot of Vinyl Rips from some friends with some exceptional playback and recording systems. I’m finding my self really impressed with the mastering choices for these Vinyl release in particular!

Epica - The Divine Conspiracy [180g German Vinyl Rip]
Eagles - Hotel California Live [ Simply Vinyl 180g Rip]
Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven [US Vinyl Monarch Rip]

An I previously shy’d away from these tracks due to how poorly the CD copies sounded, and again I feel the difference in quality is more on the mastering choices than the medium. However the rest of my Playlist is either Digital Download or 16Bit CD Rips namely;

A variety of tracks from the Chesky Records Ultimate Demonstration Disc and Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc, I in particular like 2 tracks from the 90’s Demonstration Disc

3: Rebecca Pidgeon - Spanish Harlem
17: Monty Alexander - Sweet Gerogia Brown

For their overall quality and tone in addition to using 2 tracks [ 16 & 20] from the Headphone Demonstration disc purely for their focus on imaging;

Otherwise for just regular music;
Precious Fathers - Swells
Precious Fathers - Brad Quin Medicine Man
D.R.A.M - Outta Sight / Dark Lavender Interlude
Metallica - Harvester of Sorrow
Igor Levit - Aria
Ark Storm - Evolution

Dance of the Zephyrtines from The Zephyrtine Album produced by David Chesky
Transcendental Tripping from Jazz in the New Harmonic Produced by David Chesky


There are some really great test tracks that have been put forward. I have really enjoyed working my way through some of them. Here are a few of my suggestions.

Some of my test tracks include:
Wicked Game - (Live Acoustic) Stone Sour
Easy Money - Rickie Lee Jones
The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
She Just Likes To Fight - Four Tet
Jeenge - Infected Mushroom

Famous Blue Raincoat: 20th Anniversary Edition (Digitally Remastered) Jennifer Warnes
Private Investigations - The Very Best Of - Mark Knopfler
Sessions From The 17th Ward - Amber Rubarth

I am sure that your all probably familiar with most of these anyway but these are a few of my go to tracks/albums when testing new gear. I have many more but thought I would keep it short.

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I’ll toss in a few that are not often mentioned:

  1. Jesse Cook – Shake (despite a low DR on this track :frowning:)
  2. Santana – Corazon Espinado
  3. The Edgar Winter Group – Frankenstein (especially if you can find the MFSL remaster)
  4. The Eagles – Journey of the Sorcerer
  5. Stevie Ray Vaughan – Tin Pan Alley

#3, The Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein” drum solo was used for years as a demo of loudspeakers. Using the original Vinyl.


Ahh, nice. It’s a fantastic song overall.


Frankenstein Awesome Completely forgot. Thanks



Just added (above) to my laundry list of test tracks.


I will check out the Scheherazade with Reiner/CSO.


The entire Jazz at the Pawnshop album.


Oh yeah! One of my very favorite. Background club chatter and glasses clinking add to the utmost realism. :sunglasses:

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It’s masterfully recorded. The presence of the room and the atmosphere are palpable, and it captures that small Jazz venue feel perfectly.


Christian McBride “Live at the Village Vanguard Trio”

DSD version is what I’m listening to. A real test of bass speed. Drums are phenomenal, as well as piano. To my ears this is lightning speed (not fusion) and relaxing at the same time. This was a wonderful live recording with 3 jazz artists who would easily win-over most people who do not listen to jazz.
Christian McBride is a true virtuoso. He has accompanied many artists studio recording including Diana Krall “The Girl in the Other Room”
This album is hard to believe is only a trio. Recorded “Live” in DSD Mastering and untouched.
A true test of DSD mastering and live at that. Highly recommend. It’s sure to test of whatever ones headphones are capable of.
I listen to lots of Jazz and consider this as one my very favorites of all time.

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