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What Type of Music Do You Use to Audition Equipment?

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  • What Type of Music Do You Use to Audition Equipment?


    For many years, we heard ad nauseum that ONLY unamplified music can be used to audition and evaluate equipment. On the other hand, one realizes as time goes on that statement nee dogma is a rather short sighted and borderline naive. Sure unamplified instruments/music (arguably though say each violin or even sax sounds different) helps with testing "sonics" but the more you understand about music, the more one realizes that there are many other aspects to properly reproducing music. Yes, music is that complex. So there's no question that rock and jazz along with classical are equally important in listening sessions.

    More so, I find it's valuable to work up from the most simply instrumental type recordings from say single to small combos to large scale orchestral or complexly orchestrated rock music to fully appreciate and understand a system's strengths and weaknesses. After all, it's about selecting the right type of music to evaluate performance.
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor,

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  • #2
    I follow your technique more or less. I start with my go-to Mapleshade acoustic jazz tracks with saxophone or clarinet. Then comes the vocal ensembles and finally orchestral works with choir in large spaces.



    • #3
      All of the above...


      • #4
        Depends on what you want to find out.
        If you want to find out if the component is good at reproducing the timbre of unamplified instruments then you go for that kind of music naturally.
        But the overall enjoyment-factor of a component needs a lot of different music over a long time of listening to pinpoint.

        So all sorts it is for me!


        • 1morerecord2clean
          1morerecord2clean commented
          Editing a comment
          Agree completely. I have used primarily analog to audition equipment over the years but I use digital too. I'll use some historically poor sounding recordings just to get an idea of what gear will do with them as well.

      • #5
        I use everything from Jazz to Bluegrass instrumentals to Classic Rock to pipe organs so I have to agree with Per, all sorts of music for me
        Kef 201/2, Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE, Manley Chinook, VPI Classic, Dynavector DV20x2L, ExaSound e32, Acoustic Zen cables. (Office): Vincent SP331 Mkll, Quicksilver Pre, Lumin D1, (Ken Lau Signiture Edition PSU), Bryston BCD-1, Vapor Audio Breeze, WooAudio W6se,Questyle Audio CMA800R LCD-3,HD800s, HD600, Mr Speaker Ether C Flow,


        • #6
          All of the above in one vain
          the music must be known well
          must have ques to look for like a breath or lips
          or even a studio noise this tells me how detailed and if the details cover the spectrum
          bass and it's detail and level of impact
          its really not the music genre it's knowing the music.

          An example Hifi man came out with a new he1000 he's new flagship nice product but it's mid recessed a bit it's hiw it has a smooth sound
          there are sounds that are just nit there for me.
          how loud and how low
          analog stuff.
          otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 made new by soren
          otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 1/2 combo made new by soren
          sota sapphire used eminent tech ver 2 arm
          new sota nova table has magnetic levitation platter and full speed control and latest motor same arm as above
          thorens td124 sme ver 2 arm
          thorens td125 sme ver 2 arm
          kenwood direct drive sme ver 2 arm
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          • #7
            classical, rock, and jazz, the same three genres I listen to most often by coincidence.
            Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (Stereo) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (Stereo) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (Stereo) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (Mono) , Luxman Tonearm (Mono) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (Mono) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-650 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects


            • #8
              Depends on the audition. If I am at a show or a dealer, and not really shopping I generally let whoever is controlling the room supply the music. I want to see what they choose to highlight the strengths of the component/system. If I hear something I like I will go back if possible with mine which is generally a mix of female vocals, jazz and classical.

              On more personal. read hopeful purchase, auditions I bring my own music as referred before.

              Turntable: - 1. Fairchild 750/OMA slate plinth
              2. Analog Engineering AE-2008 MinusK support.
              Tonearm: 1. Schroder Custom
              2. Schick 12"
              3. Abis SA-1
              Cartridge: Miyajima Kansui and Premium BE Mono
              PhonoPre: AprilSound LR, EMIA Strain Gauge, EMIA silver SUT
              CD: Wadia 860x
              Server: Innuos Zen Mini Mk3
              DAC: Computer Audio Design 1543 Mk2
              Preamp: Bent Audio TAP-X w silver autoformers
              Amplifier: AprilSound SET50 monoblocks
              Speaker: Pioneer PAX-30C


              • #9
                It comes down to what one listens for and to which component. For those who primarily listen to classical music there are subtle things in music that are not always resolved correctly in the playback chain. An example would be counterpoint. Some amps just can't separate different instruments, i.e. cello and viola so one can't hear more into the recording but when you can it leads to better appreciation for the work and the playback equipment. This is not a problem when heard live. A rock record I used to use was Genesis' Selling England By The Pound as there is a passage where a synthesizer and guitar hold longer notes for a sometime and this seems drive some amps crazy.
                I have used CDs like Elvis Presley's Return Of The Rocker for convenience. The audio dealer laughed out loud as couldn't believe he was hearing "audiophile Elvis".
                Last edited by defdum&blind; 01-24-2017, 06:36 PM. Reason: The elfin' autospell fux things up. See! it should be effin.


                • MylesBAstor
                  MylesBAstor commented
                  Editing a comment
                  In old days, low frequencies and another instrument could introduce intermodulation distortion.

              • #10
                I'm not a reviewer, but I listen to a lot of gear as a retailer. Ultimately I try to decide if gear sounds good, has good price/performance and so on.

                I really hate listening to the same music over and over again. So I just listen to music I like and I like everything. I have a very eclectic taste in music. Based on my listening experience, I can usually size up a component in the first few notes. Fairly quickly, if I don't think the component is special, I move on. Time is short, and I don't want to invest time in products with compromise.

                I do use 5 LP's on a consistent basis for testing a turntable after set-up. I have kept detailed notes for each of the table set-ups over the years so I have a reference based on a lot of listening experience.
                Speakers/Amps: Genesis G2.2 Jr with Powered Servo-Sub Bass, Genesis GR1440 Mono Amps, 5,000 watts total power
                Preamp: SMc Audio VRE-1C Preamp (fully balanced inputs and output)
                Analog 1: VPI Signature 21 Belt-Drive Turntable w/ 10” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti Phono Cartridge driving Lehmann Silver Cube Phono Preamp
                Analog 2: VPI HW-40 Direct-Drive Turntable w/ 12” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Anna Diamond Phono Cartridge driving Genesis Gold Phono Preamp
                Analog 3: VPI Avenger Reference Rim Drive Turntable w/ 12" 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Verismo Phono Cartridge
                Analog 4: Second 12" Fatboy arm on Avenger with Ortofon 2M Mono SE Cartridge
                Analog 5: Studer A810 R2R tape w/ Bridge Console. Using built-in tape preamp
                Digital: Lumin Network Player with Lumin NAS
                Cables: Genesis Advanced Technologies/Absolute Fidelity Interface Interconnects, Speaker, Phono and Power
                A/C Power: Extensive System Upgrades, Sub-panel w/hard-wired power cables, and IsoTek Super Titan Passive Power Conditioning for Amplifiers
                Accessories: Custom Acrylic Equipment Stands, Klaudio Ultrasonic RCM


                • #11
                  A quality soprano singing an aria, Jimi Hendrix at the Avalon, DSOTM, a good full symphony with chorus, something with very deep bass like Lourdes "Royals", Holly Cole "It Happened One Night" . Which about covers the spectrum of what I tend to listen to.

                  Bottom line for my selections is I'd rather have a component that does everything at least moderately well without egregious faults over a one trick pony that does one thing well at the expense of everything else.


                  • #12
                    I look mostly to piano or violin as they are so easy to get wrong and so hard to reproduce so that you think you are in an acoustic space with a live perfrmance.

                    I also find female vocals quite useful, especially those without loud background. Famous Blue Raincoat (Jennifer Warnes) is good and oddly enough, so is Tori Amos - not most people's thought for audiophile analytical stuff, but fairly simple background and close miked female voice works pretty well.

                    And for a larger acoustic space, the excellent Christine Schafer singing Bach's Wedding Cantatas on DG
                    Main:VPI TNT V, SME V, Koetsu Urushi, Vendetta SCP2-D, Conrad Johnson Premier 14, Conrad Johnson Premier 11a, Wilson Maxx 2, Inouye power conditioner, Moon 280D DAC

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                    • #13
                      I'm a sucker for emotionally charged and sweeping music by Slavic/Russian composers, classical and film music recordings with 75+ piece orchestras -- that's my my yardstick. the easy way out for audio show exhibitors is to dem with superbly recorded audiophile chestnuts, it's hard to f**** up that demo but some manage to anyways! the few times they take requests and i suggest a classical piece, more often than not they seem to want to cower in a corner


                      • #14
                        I usually use music that I have a strong reaction to. Also a lot of my music is not audiophile quality and I take lesser recordings that I love, to make sure the hardware won't be dictating what I can listen to.


                        • #15
                          When I was reviewing and actively auditioning equipment, there were a few recordings I know very well and would always use. And I would listen to a wide variety of music and recordings longer term - at least numerous hours over a few days, usually longer. Each recording can tell you something a little different. I'd look for subtlety, nuance, drama, harmonic detail, dynamics, tonality, imaging, all of the usual stuff.

                          But having said that, the bottom line for new equipment is how much you look forward to listening to it. If it's really good and gives you a closer connection to the music, especially your favorite recordings, you can't wait to get back in there and listen to it some more.

                          Back in the late 1980s I used to like Ken Kessler's reviews where he listens to the "classics" - Motown, Stax and many mediocre recordings of great music.
                          Thiel 7.2s, Manley NeoClassic 250s, Wadia 850, MIT Oracle V3 speaker cables, MIT MI-350 Oracle interconnects, Black Diamond Racing Shelves and Cones in a dedicated room with ASC Tube Traps, Room Tunes and 3 X 20 amp dedicated circuits.


                          • Gusf
                            Gusf commented
                            Editing a comment
                            +1 on Ken Kessler.