Any song recommendations for testing purposes?

Hi y'all,

So me and my pal came up with an idea about testing our own " streaming system " and see which is better, but yeah ofc, there can only be one variable, otherwise the test wouldn't be fair, no?
we decided to only change the streamer/player in each test, well luckily, my friend who happens to be an ultimate PC Hi-Fi fanatic, so the test itself which became rather easy haha, equipment-wise for sure.

Last Sunday, we were just chilling in my living room and chitchatting, he said he wanted to listen to some new modern pop song, so I played Shiver by Ed Sheeran, and he said the dynamics don't seem quite enough, I was like what the heck do you mean, and he said his system could present more details in the music than mine, anyways, so I brought my streamer over to his place, and would like to have a competition hahaha.

As I mentioned, he's a PC Hi-Fi dude, so he's done a lot modifications and all that upgrade stuff to his PC, so he used USB port to connect to his DAC and the rest to play the same song, Shiver by Ed, well truth to be told, I also thought the dynamics weren't quite sufficient as well lol, ofc he said my perception was biased bc he judged my system first, thus, we both agreed to play some more complicated tracks, like classic genre or something, however, both of us aren't that much of a elegant music admirer I'd say, which I sincerely hope you guys can share some nice songs with me!!!

BTW, we both played TIDAL via Roon, the only difference is just he used PC, I used Munich M1T, no network switch or linear power supply attached.



What is important is to look across the musical spectrum. It is too easy to use the albums you like today. Which may optimize for a particular music type. If you want to do it right, listen to some real live acoustic music and use that as your empirical ruler.

Yes, Hotel California is a good start. I do believe there might be other threads, directly or indirectly, with suggestions.  But a "list" of recommendations could become very lengthy and I imagine it becomes unique for each listener. 

I usually try out different tracks for the different qualities I'm interested in. For example, Machine Gun by Portishead is a good one for dynamics (just go easy with the volume).

Dear God Please Help Me by Morrissey is good for checking timbre.

You can do the same for sibilance, imagery, and bass depth.

Of course, well recorded albums such as Joni Mitchell's Travelogue will sound good on any system, but something like 60s albums by the Who, Kinks, Incredible String Band etc might actually give most systems a far tougher task of presenting a cohesive believable performance.

Piano is also useful for separating the wheat from the chaff.

In any case, it should always be music that you like and are familiar with. Most reviewers tend to stick with favourites, but these are usually their favourites, not necessarily yours.

With unfamiliar music, you're also basically in danger of getting overwhelmed with sensory overload.

Dominique Fils-Amie - Birds. If that doesn’t show what a system can or cannot do nothing will. Texture, Detail, Nuance and Full Range Frequency. She’s really talented and has a great band!

Angel Eyes by Mr. Sinatra, or if you have time, his entire “Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely Album” which you can stream in his res, both Mono and Stereo.  Sorry, couldn’t resist — and for a change of pace, “With You There To Help Me” by Jethro Tull.   


Try the remaster of Moondance by Van Morrison.  Great bass lines that stretch out across the bass spectrum.

Pink Noise by Laura Mvula will really give your system a kick.  Modern pop music with a wide sound field and deep synth bass.  Great song. 

anything by Patty Larkin off of Perishable Fruit. Great production that will show off great imaging.

Any song recommendations for testing purposes?

this question always comes up.   


 why not use music that you currently have or  you could search the forums here for music ideas.

Lots of detail to be found in here…

Right now I’m listening to Stardust by Desert Dwellers, which is both atmospheric and detailed. 



Yes, I think Hotel California played in its entirety, plus their greatest hits, will clearly show how well the acoustics at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio are, in a suite, at The Eagles concert.  For Free.  The wife’s got a great job!

Gorillaz: Feel Good Inc.  Loud, of course.

Now feel good about what you've got... ;)

Daft Punk Tron Legacy.  This is electronic classical their albums are all good.

Peter Gabriel. All good 

Talking Heads

Fleetwood Mac Rumour

Steely Dan

Glass Animals new album

Grace Jones Hurricane Dub intense bass, channel separTion.  

Kraftwerk 3d catalog

Willie Nelson Georgia on my mind


Hotel California is actually one of my favorite test tracks, but I don't use the studio version.  I use the live version from 'Hell Freezes Over'.   I especially like the intro leading up to the percussion (which I think it's a conga drum).   On a good system, the conga really stands out beautifully with a good punch.

I also like 'Money for Nothing' by Dire Straits.

Also a few tracks from Santana's 'Supernatural' album like 'Corazon Espinado', 'Smooth', and 'Maria Maria'.

Have fun!

Post removed 

Problem is with most old Rock / pop (although period good) a decent revealing system makes it sound like crap because it was recorded like crap. Get the feeling you should buy an old 1000 switch equalizer and try to filter / remaster it Lol.

Nothing from the Eagles. They have some of the worst produced recordings out there.

my go to is Stevie Ray “Tin Pan Alley”. Provides everything you need and was produced very well.
to dial in bass look to Pink Floyd “The Wall” kick drum will punch your gut with out a sub needed!

stereo separation and dynamics anything Doors.


Yes, another vote for Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music.


If ever an album rendered both listening tests and critical evaluation irrelevant, it's this one.

The great leveller.

I often use Diana Krall "Garden in the Rain" . If I can just hear the noise suppression pumping in and out, that's about right. If I can't hear it, the system is not going to cut it. If it's too much, the system is too critical and wont play many songs to their best.

whenever a reviewr regurgitates "I could hear the ***** in Diana Krall's voice" I reach for the sick bag and stop reading...

To be honest, I have done this wrong more than I have done it correctly. The problem is that you don’t know what the albums you choose are supposed to sound like… or most of us do not.

The worst I ever did was choose my current favorite albums. While Rebecca Pidgon’s Spanish Harlem is great…the electronic i picked was not. So, a selection of symphony, acoustic jazz, rock, world, vocals… etc. is better. But it is still not a good empirical ruler.


I don’t think there is a really good short term answer. But there is a long term one. Listen to acoustic music in live venue… over and over and over. Much in the same setting so you can completely understand the sound. Different instruments, mass effect, study the acoustics, reflections… reverberations.. nuances. Through long exposure you and your subconscious learn the subtleties of live music. Walk up to someone playing a piano, move to different positions, cymbals, drums, all forms. Listen to nuances, wall reflections.

I think I got serious about this about 25 years ago… then I got season tickets to the symphony ten years ago…  I really started learning. Using a broad variety of music  to compare my own system and audition equipment was a small step in the right direction, but live acoustic jazz and the symphony completely changed my auditioning and selection of gear. For the better… my systems went from good reference type systems where I could hear the musician move his feet and tell the microphone technique and flaws,  to one that swings and completely wraps me into the musical moment and it can be hard to sit still it is so moving. It is way too easy to build a system based on details and slam and completely lose the music. A long term effort, worth every bit of it.

Diana Krall, Live in Paris

Dire Straits (debut, self titled): Especially Switch Blade Knife for a nice tight bass line (I listen to the MOFI Vinyl version)



@macg19 No question “Switch Blade Knife” is phenomenal especially on MOFI . I play that and “Love Over Gold”. Also Donald Fagen “Morph The Cat”. Just astonishing Depth, Texture and Nuance.

Post removed 
Post removed 

@jrbirdman333 + 1

Write down maybe 20 song you love and know “note for note”, and then figure out which ones were decently recorded in the first instance. And not every track has to be of first-tier quality, because one is listening for differences. 10 diverse songs is a plenty good start

Here are a few I like:

+ Mannish Boy, Muddy Waters from “Hard Again”. Spooky good

+ Song Remains the Same

+ Mining for Gold, Cowboy Junkies

+ Heroes, Peter Gabriel (his cover is great, and amazingly recorded)

+ I Try, Macy Gray from “Stripped” - a Chesky recording

+ Bach Cello Suites, first three passages (try the Jason Starker recording)

+ Bach Goldberg Variation, first three passages (Glenn Gould)

+ Sad But True, Metallica

+ Get Down, Nas (no idea about the recording, it’s just awesome)

+ Anything on Beggar’s Banquet (there is a lot of detail in those songs that comes alive with better and better systems)

+ Count Basie, Live at the Sands (what a record. Just so damn BIG)

Covers a lot of ground, sonically. If you’re looking for something in a specific genre, let us know - always a fun question to think about

Let us know what you decide!

Have a great day


Michael Jackson’s human nature on the thriller album has these weird glockenspiels playing ever so slightly in the background. Only with a good resolving system can you hear them and the better the system the more clear they are. 

id also throw out Fleetwood Mac rumors and any other album recorded at sun studio in LA in the seventies. For whatever reason they all sound freaking awesome SQ wise. 

Aja by Steely Dan. Better pick well recorded albums though, as many have said a lot sound terrible.

 I was at the Hotel California over tour and it did sound good, but I'm not sure great.

Actually just about anything by Steely Dan will let you know.

Jeff Wayne's musical version of War of the Worlds, isn't a bad test either.

Cat Steven's Tea for the Tillerman is also a good choice.

When I demonstrated Dali speakers back in the 80's we always played Michael Jackson's THRILLER. Now I would use Dire Straits IN THE GALLERY or SWITCH BLADE KNIFE, also Tony Joe White's album HOODOO for bass lines.

Dave Young's Two by Two sessions I find to be a good audio test.  The Acoustic bass is recorded so well that you will hear detail appearing and disappearing across different systems.  Same goes for the piano.

my go-to is "paranoid android" (radiohead), which runs the full gamut from quiet/loud/open/dense. alternatively, "black metallic" by catherine wheel or "i feel alright" by steve earle, which has a lot of subtleties on his acoustic guitar.