Albums to test your Hi-fi system

Inter_Voice

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In my album collection I got quite a number of test CDs with very good recordings for testing one's hifi system.

Among others I found the following albums are worth to mention as there included very detailed instruction as to what you should hear from your speakers:

1. The Ultimate Demonstration Dics by Chesky (available only in normal CD)

2. The Ultimate Demonstration Disc Volume 2 by Chesky (SACD hybrid Disc)

3. A selection from Test-records 1,2&3 by Opus 3 (SACD hybrid disc)

4. Test CD 4 (Depth of image-Timbre-Dynamics) by OPUS 3 (SACD hybrid disc)

Any other good testing CDs that you think are worth purchasing ?
 

Inter_Voice

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Furthermore these CDs spelt out their recording equipment, microphones used and postion of musical instruments and recording locations e.g. inside a church or in the studio etc.
 

Charlie Jefferson

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I know what you're getting at, but I like to "test" my HiFi with average, poor and fantastic recordings.

Sample:

1) Blood Lust - Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

Poor recording. Great album.

2) Desire - Bob Dylan

Average recording.

3) Gaucho - Steely Dan

Fantastic
 

Inter_Voice

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Right Charlie. What you mentioned is one of the many other options used to test a hifi system :) But the draw back is you don't have any reference to make and the outcome is entirely dependent on one's perception.

For me I prefer to use a CD that tells me how the recording is made so that I know exactly what to hear with a view to identifying how best my system performs. IMHO it is more scientific.
 

Charlie Jefferson

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Inter_Voice said:
Right Charlie. What you mentioned is one of the many other options used to test a hifi system :) But the draw back is you don't have any reference to make and the outcome is entirely dependent on one's perception.

For me I prefer to use a CD that tells me how the recording is made so that I know exactly what to hear with a view to identifying how best my system performs. IMHO it is more scientific.

I take your point, but that probably explains why I lean heavily towards subjectivity over anything as scientificlally rigorous as empirical testing.

Back to the rant of the mighty Fall's Bend Sinister.
 

Charlie Jefferson

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Yes, I've heard the SACD, it's good.

Last year I downloaded the 24bit version to go with the two CD editions I've got, but none of them quite match the vinyl version.

The latter was bought at the time for less than a fiver and is still my favourite out of all the other formats.
 
T

the record spot

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You can have the science; I bought my stereo so I could listen to music that I enjoy. The bits in the stereo all work well and I don't really need a test disc's results to worry about to tell me how it's performing that'll influence how I should go about enjoying it. I started out listening to music on Radio Luxembourg in the late 1960s on my mum and dad's old Stella transistor radio. You can work out the performance differentials easily enough from there I imagine!
 

Inter_Voice

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The main purpose of using a test CD is to test your system if it can reproduce the music as close as to what has been recorded.

If the sound reproduction from your system is not close enough to regenerate the actual musical environment we are not talking about hifi and audiophile :roll: What is the point of spending thousands of pounds on a hifi system then :?
 

Charlie Jefferson

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Inter_Voice said:
The main purpose of using a test CD is to test your system if it can reproduce the music as close as to what has been recorded.

If the sound reproduction from your system is not close enough to regenerate the actual musical environment we are not talking about hifi and audiophile :roll: What is the point of spending thousands of pounds on a hifi system then :?

The whole point of spending tens, hundreds or thousands is, surprisingly enough, to get a better listening experience or sound.

Ears are useful, test records should surely be things you like and listen to a lot. That'll do, won't it.

Well, it does for me.

+1 The Record Spot.
 

Inter_Voice

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Well, don't get me wrong, I am not saying we should relie entirely on testing CDs to determine how good is your system. Without doubt at the end of the day it is our ears that will determine if your hifi system meets your expectation. As I mentioned before with the test CD you have better knowledge on the exact location/position of various musical instruments and how far they are from the microphone incluing that of the recording environment. Normally there is good explanation in the CD inserts to tell you what to look for during your listening. My experience is that the recordings of testing CDs are ususally of very high quality.
 

chebby

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I believe (well, I hope) that the manufacturer has already conducted numerous tests at various stages of development and production to ensure their hifi performs as it should.

What you are doing is testing recordings.

Old test LPs had a practical function inasmuch as they assisted the user to set-up a cartridge. A test CD is a redundant concept because the CD player is not something that is user adjustable. It only tells you how good the test disc is.
 

jaxwired

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Gotta agree with record spot on this one. I don't own any test CDs. I use my regular music collection because utimately when I'm not happy with a component it's because of how it performs with regular music. I also think that ultimate fidelity to the original recording is overrated. At least what most people consider ultimate fidelity. For instance the Dynaudio Special 25s I had before my PMCs without a doubt allowed for a deeper window into the recording, but it was grating to my ears on many recordings that I now enjoy with my PMCs. ATC is another one that is like that. I do not believe that a great speaker used for professional recording mastering also makes a great home speaker. The pro speakers need to be ruthlessly revealing. A sound I think is often unbalanced with an unnaturally forward mid-range. I suspect if you took a poll of recording engineers you would find they do not use the same speakers to master music and for home listening.
 
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the record spot

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Inter_Voice said:
The main purpose of using a test CD is to test your system if it can reproduce the music as close as to what has been recorded.

If the sound reproduction from your system is not close enough to regenerate the actual musical environment we are not talking about hifi and audiophile :roll: What is the point of spending thousands of pounds on a hifi system then :?

Ultimately, I don't need a label pinned to my stereo saying whether it's "hifi" or "audiophile". I like music, first and foremost and that's good enough for me. Having heard some systems costing five figure sums of late and been somewhat unimpressed, they'd need more than a test disc to improve matters.

You make the assumption too that each recording will have been laid down in the same manner as those found in the test disc, when of course, studios vary and some albums won't even have been recorded in a studio (e.g. the Stones' "Exile on Main Street" or Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" both of which were recorded in large houses), so the impact on how instruments will sound will be influenced.

In addition, with separates, they just end up colouring th esound anyway; you want something that's a close to neutral as you can get and those tend to be pro-audio monitors. Yamaha's HS50 is as flat a sounding speaker as you'll get at reasonable cost (£250 a pair) but they're highly revealing. You won't find many in the home though as I imagine most folk wouldn't enjoy the sound from them.

For me, a good test will include the spoken voice, grand piano, acoustic guitar and some well recorded orchestral pieces. I've just picked up Mahler's complete symphonies boxset (a 14 CD set) and it's brilliant. Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Lastly, I wouldn't bother spending thousands on a hifi system when high quality digital replay can be had for a fraction of the cost.
 

Inter_Voice

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I am not disputing all the comments folks have said. IMHO hearing is believing and if you don't own one of the test CDs you may wish to spend ten or twenty bugs and find out what test CDs are. Normally these CDs contain a variety of music such as vocals, jazz, acoustics and classicals and are recorded in different locations (inside a church, in a big/small studio or recording live performances). I am sure there will be a few pieces in the album that will suit your taste and money will not be wasted.
 

Inter_Voice

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the record spot said:
For me, a good test will include the spoken voice, grand piano, acoustic guitar and some well recorded orchestral pieces. I've just picked up Mahler's complete symphonies boxset (a 14 CD set) and it's brilliant. Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

I also own a set of Mahler's complete symphonies boxset (14 CD) since 2008 and unfortunately I think they are not as good as the SACD box set of Beethoven Symphonies No. 1-9 by Bernard Haitink of the London Symphony Orchestra.
 
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Maybe not, but it's a good recording nevertheless and I'm not so big an enthusiast as to want to splash the cash on an SACD boxset I won't listen to that much.
 

Inter_Voice

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the record spot said:
Maybe not, but it's a good recording nevertheless and I'm not so big an enthusiast as to want to splash the cash on an SACD boxset I won't listen to that much.

The recording in this boxset is fine and I particularly like 2nd , 3rd and 8th. I also have other Mahler's album by Haitnik and Kubelik. IMO Kubelik conducted better in 9th and 10th than Rattle.

For Beethoven's boxset they are hybrid CDs and can be played on any CDP. The price is still quite reasonable but I bought them only at half of the price when first launched.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beethoven-Symphonies-London-Symphony-Orchestra/dp/B000GUJYRE/ref=sr_1_sc_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1323614572&sr=1-2-spell
 

tyranniux42

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I agree with a lot of what has been said in this thread regarding using your normal listening material to test, especially when auditioning new kit. I also however like some of the test disks as occasionally there is a piece of music on there that not only makes you realise what a very good recording sounds like but is actually a good listen!

normal music that I like a lot that I use for testing are albums including:

Jamiroqui - rock dust light star - superb album which is recorded rather well in my opinion

UNKLE - any album

Hybrid - any album

David Bowie's greatest hits..... just to name a few.

Disks which fall into the test disk category which I actually dont mind some of the stuff on are things like the Naim Test CD's (which come free with any Naim CD player), the B&W test disk which came free with my last pair of speakers etc. On one of my Naim disks there is a track with a double bass in there, its incredible in both texture and timbre, its like the bassist is in the room with me.

Then there are specials which easily fall into both categories for me, Avril Lavigne's first album was recorded startlingly well. Beautiful piece of engineering! Roger Waters' album 'Amused to death' is also spectacular, infact I think there was a thread dedicated on here to it last week... Most Floyd albums have a great sound to them too.

The one to top them all though and is by far the best recording in my collection (CD's only at the moment asI have not yet dared venture into vinyl...) is Sara K - Waterfalls. Honestly buy it. beautiful music and a sound like I have never heard on any other disk. Just like the Test disks the OP mentions as having the various equipment listed this album also has the same, although not that I think it affects anything other than you have piece of mind that the recording was done with the utmost care.

regards :)
 

Inter_Voice

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tyranniux42 said:
The one to top them all though and is by far the best recording in my collection (CD's only at the moment asI have not yet dared venture into vinyl...) is Sara K - Waterfalls. Honestly buy it. beautiful music and a sound like I have never heard on any other disk. Just like the Test disks the OP mentions as having the various equipment listed this album also has the same, although not that I think it affects anything other than you have piece of mind that the recording was done with the utmost care.

I don't have Sara K - Waterfalls but I have Sara's Hell or High Water (Hybrid SACD) from Stockfisch Records. It is one of the best vocal recordings I owned. Pink Floyd's The Dark side of the moon (Hybrid SACD) can also be treated as a very good testing CD.

If you like Blues and male vocals, try Close to the Music Vol. 2 (Hybrid SACD) from Stockfisch Records. This company produces very high quality recordings.
 

tyranniux42

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Inter_Voice said:
tyranniux42 said:
The one to top them all though and is by far the best recording in my collection (CD's only at the moment asI have not yet dared venture into vinyl...) is Sara K - Waterfalls. Honestly buy it. beautiful music and a sound like I have never heard on any other disk. Just like the Test disks the OP mentions as having the various equipment listed this album also has the same, although not that I think it affects anything other than you have piece of mind that the recording was done with the utmost care.

I don't have Sara K - Waterfalls but I have Sara's Hell or High Water (Hybrid SACD) from Stockfisch Records. It is one of the best vocal recordings I owned. Pink Floyd's The Dark side of the moon (Hybrid SACD) can also be treated as a very good testing CD.

I got mine from Stockfish too, expensive but superb. I also have the DSOTM hybrid aswell as the standard CD. unfortunately both CD layers sound better than the SACD layer in my gear due to me using the bluray player to play the SACD compared to the CD5XS on CD, not a fair comparison really.
 

Inter_Voice

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Bkhuna said:
For sheer bottom end, I recommend Sheffield Labs "Kodo, Heartbeat Drummers of Japan " http://www.sheffieldlab.com/sheffield.pl?category=world

I've got B&W 801 S2's and this album can put a hurt on them (with enough juice of course).

I got this one as well. A very good test CD to identify how good your system can perform at the sheer bottom end. You need to prepare receiving complaints from your next door neighbours.
 

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