Recommendations for really well-recorded music for high-end audio system demo

I’m using my system to give some local high-end audio demos for fun, and although I have a good selection of tracks I can always use more and am sure you guys have some great ones out there.  First and foremost I’m looking for really well-recorded material that shows off what a good system can do — you know, the “wow your friends” tracks we all have, and if it happens to be good/fun music as well that’s a nice bonus although not necessarily a requirement.  I’d recommend listing the artist, album, and track so it’s easier to find the right version, and if you feel like elaborating on anything notable that makes it particularly good for a demo that’d be helpful/interesting but not necessary.  As an example…

  • Patricia Barber, Companion, “Like JT” — Great live jazz club vibe, fun instrumental with excellent imaging/depth/3D soundstage.

Thanks for anything ya got!


Live recording, but most of the cuts from Joe Jackson's "Summer in the City" album are great takes recorded well live.

Unfortunately the first song/title cut is a bit mucked up, but they remedied whatever the problem was by the 2nd song.

Don't have a link, but David Bowie did a live double album in the early-mid 70's (David Bowie - Live, I think) that has a lot of good cuts. Haven't seen a copy in decades.




Alabama 3- Exile on Cold Harbor Lane

Not sure there is anything else like this. Jumps out of your speakers.

You should remember the third track from the Sopranos.

Uninvited - Alanis Morissette 

To Sheila - Smashing Pumpkins 

Dire Straits - Money for Nothing (or almost any of their stuff)

Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Trio - 'In Full Swing'

Many different styles, all cuts well recorded, especially the Jane Monheit ones.  


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Interesting you bring up Joe Jackson. His Body and Soul album is exceptionally well recorded. He went all over New York looking for a venue to record the album, specifically for the sound. As I remember he chose a nearly all wood venue. He probably chose all the microphones, positioned them, etc. From the very first note the sound is big, open, and dynamic. One of my all time favorite albums.


Listen to “You Can’t get what you want”. You can hear all the venue in it.

Arne Domnerus “Limehouse Blues” from Jazz at the Pawnshop

I might take some shade for this one but it’s really well recorded

Madonna “Vogue” (It's not my favorite song but it’s done very well.)

Zero 7 “When It Falls”


I think Fleetwood Mac Rumours is one of the best recorded albums of all time.

k.d. lang Ingenue is also a well recorded album

IMHO the 3 following recordings by Donald Fagan, regardless of media, are outstanding


Morph The Cat



Anything by Chantal Chamberland, preferably heard on SACD.

I'm a bit surprised at the number of early digital recordings that have featured in the posts so far - Brothers in Arms, Body and Soul, and the Nightfly, all of which IMHO, show up the fairly severe limitations of the digital recording technology of the time. Admittedly, Body and Soul is superbly engineered, but would have been so much better if it had been recorded to 30 ips analogue.


What are the demographics of the high school where you are going to be demonstrating the system?

You need to meet your audience where they are and play music they enjoy.  A specialized high school that studies music vs a typical public internment camp that passes for an education will like different music.

And asking a bunch of old White and Asian dudes, with the two old black ex military guys) stereotyping us from who I saw at the one audio show I’ve been to) is not your sample.

I’d recommend a couple of tracks Best of Queen (still culturally relevant and some excellent recordings to show off a system) and to show bass something like Lourdes “Royals”.

And neither of those are particularly relevant to the under 18 demographic, but great recordings and they will know them.  Remember it’s not music you enjoy, but they enjoy.

“Darlin’ Corey” on Ricky Skaggs Big Mon album is a great sounding track. It has bluegrass instrumentation with the added bonus of Bruce Hornsby's voice and piano.  The entire album sounds great.  

Dianne Reaves - Tenderly 

Kevin Mahogany - Teach Me Tonight

Mark Isham - Anything from his Blue Sun LP 

 Any Porcupine Tree, its all recorded well -  methinks 'Blackest eyes' or 'strip the soul' off In Absentia would connect musically with some in that group.

Any Pink Floyd from Dark Side or Wish you were here albums. 

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Bow Wow Wow "I want Candy" from

Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack vinyl

Dynamic, powerful, bouncy fun. Quiet vinyl, great pressing.  Play it Loud!

The entire Toto/Mindfields album.  Very extraordinarily recorded work.  Will knock your socks off.  Ultra dynamic.

Tom Petty

Shadow People. 

Opening is mellow and open, breakdown in middle with great cymbals, bell like sounds, very subtle parts that are lost on lesser systems. Then it breaks into a full rock sound with crunchy guitar and drums. Great reverb trail.

Sarah Jarosz 

Lost Dog.

Female vocals, beautiful instrumental arrangement, great atmospheric sound. 


Lotsa great suggestions here, and I’m going through every one so thanks!  Keep’em coming cause you can’t have too many of these, and no I’ve no plans to go to a high school (although prob not a bad idea to infect them with our disease while they’re young — certainly plenty of worse things they’re being introduced to). 

The Cisco Kid by War on World is a Ghetto. Recorded with the most sophisticated equipment of the era. I have seen reviews where they use this as a reference recording.

The engineer, Chris Huston, got a grammy nomination for the effort.


Yes, Body and Soul is a great rec.

One of the last few dozen albums I purchased before selling most all of my playback gear in 1986.

As I had a lot of stuff recorded to cassette I only kept a Nakamichi 550 tape deck and a tiny portable Sony stereo radio with a line input for the deck.

The Sony was pretty good @ low SPL's.



Ry Cooder's "A Meeting by the River" is well recorded (as are many of his offerings).



For Neo-Medieval Voice:

Vox Clamantis , Music by Henrik Odegaard. Recorded at the St Nicholas Dome Church Haapsalu Estonia


description of Odegaards compositions "Elements of Microtonality"

I especially enjoy two Cowboy Junkies Cds that made it to SACD, but I assume you are streaming. The Trinity Sessions (the SACD was Analogue Productions) and although their cover of Sweet Jane (off that disc) is what turned me on to the CJ, I suppose I’d say start with the opening track (Mining For Gold) and stay with it as it transitions into Misguided Angel. I am not as crazy about the MFSL SACD of Whites Off Earth Now (also by CJ) as I am about Trinity, but I think it may actually have a bit better of a sound--almost holographic to my poor abused ears. Maybe try their covers of Me And The Devil or Decoration Day?  They also cover Mr. State Trooper on that CD, which is a song I really like, and I like the way they covered it, but maybe it doesn't have as many sonic attributes as some of the other material.

I guess the whole thing about both of those CDs is how they were single miked when recorded .

. . . since I bought a SACD player, I have found some of the Dire Straits SACDs to sound fantastic, and I assume that by streaming you are listening to at least the same quality DSD if not better? From Love Over Gold, Telegraph Road about took my breath away the first time I heard the SACD version. The self titled Dire Straits is one I’d probably play to show some one the best of my SACDs, and although Sultans Of Swing is what originally turned me on to Dire Straits way way way back when, I’d say that Six Blade Knife or Down To The Waterline or Water Of Love would probably be what I’d play.

I’d say that Six Blade Knife or Down To The Waterline or Water Of Love would probably be what I’d play.

+1 for the above and add in Walk in the Westend.

Also Homeless from Paul Simons Graceland , just to behold Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Or anything from this fab engineered and recorded album. 

This is one of my favorites for fun music, great musicians, good music and very good sound ; Lee Ritenour - Six String Theory - CD. Not expensive either.

I've been into kpop lately.  There's great production in the genre.  One song that comes to mind is Last Waltz by Twice.  Masterfully mixed.

Does this forum offer a means for posters to share their playlists? Lots of great suggestions here. Can links be done directly to qobuz for these songs? YouTube links are really cool to see. So many wonderful videos on YouTube with great sound quality.

katie melua has some great Quality videos including the one below and one especially is ‘Katie melua in Berlin’ concert (could not get the link to appear here), Great sound quality and very entertaining concert.


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@soix , I spent five more hours with those Revels I have been auditioning/breaking in, and this was one of those sessions where I was thinking that they are really starting to open up and shine (but with that typed, I may not feel that way next time I listen to them). Regardless, that is not the reason I am revisiting your thread--I finished off listening to a track that might meet your criteria. The CD I have it on is"My Disc" The Sheffield/A2TB Test Disc but it is originally on Speaking In Melodies/Michael Ruff and the track is Wishing Well. Doug Sax says, and I’ll paraphrase, that "Sheffield’s preamps and line level mics really shine through" that part really was not a paraphrase, and Sax goes on to suggest taking note of the clarity of the piano, natural but extended cymbals and the clarity and warmth of the vocals. Personally, I truly enjoy the way it seems to step out of the speakers and into the room, and I love the sound of a good saxophone recording and that is another reason I like this track.

Highly recommend Fourplay Silver as a quality smooth jazz recording.  For a tremendous live recording; Lorena McKennitt Live in Paris and Toronto. Kit Walker-Dancing on the Edge is also an excellent progressive jazz recording if you can find it.  I use these for auditioning new equipment and showing off to friends!


That Vox Clamantis music is really nice. I was trying to figure out how many different voices I heard and I decided 12. I can hear where each is in space. Excellent recording.

Then I looked them up, found the ECM bio and it was true. I thought 6m and 6f but I got that part wrong. 

Thanks for the recommendation. 


I checked our Kit Walker and it's produced by Andy Narrell. He plays steel pans and his albums are some of the best sounding recordings I own. Highly recommend his Little Secrets album from 1989. It has the legendary Bernie Grundman as Mastering Engineer. Obviously, Andy took very good notes. Thanks for the recommendation.

A few great albums…

Loggins and Messina, Full Sail, the whole album, but check out Pathway to Glory.

Janis Ian, Breaking Silence is remarkable, as is Hunger.

The Mighty Sam McClain, Give it Up for Love, especially Too Proud.


And some tracks…

Janelle Monae Make Me Feel

Vienna Teng. 1BR/1BA

Terse Isungset Fading Sun

Chris Jones No Sanctuary Here

Your list should be full now.  All good.  I will suggest Earl Klugh and Bob James  "Cool". 

And if you have DVD-A or 5.1 SACD capability, consider that.  It's more of a wow factor for many folks. 

Your list should be full now.

@boxcarman Never.  Keep’em coming!  I’m enjoying them all and hoping others are benefitting from this as well.

Great suggestions!!  Thanks all. 

Heres a few that I have on my showing off playlist:

Kaiowa by Sepultura. Drum track.  Sounds like the set is in my room. 

Just My Imagination. The Temptations

That's the way. Zeppelin

Till Tomorrow. Yello