Mavis Staples - We'll never turn back - Huge amount going on from voices to many instruments
Music first. Better kit allows more music Discovered and re discovered
Caravan -King Crimson -Pylon -Bent -Michael Shrieve - Whitesnake - Roy Harper - Fairport Convention - Bajofondo Tango Club - Rainer Ptacek - Ciccone Youth - Bruce Hornsby - Manfred Mann's Earthband - UNKLE - The Fall - Wire - John Hiatt - Audioslave- Chris Cornell - Temple of the Dog - Joan as Policewoman - Tangerine Dream - Steeleye Span - Arvo Part - Toumani Diabate - Pete Yorn - Chris Spedding - The Drum Club
Rush - Moving Pictures & Signals ... best recorded rock lp’s I have - startling clarity, dynamics, well defined bass and punchy drums Holst - The Planets - HMV, Previn ... huge visceral impact and drama, great brass Khatchaturian - Spartacus - Decca ... startling dynamic range, massed string tones, delicate treble
Dave Brubeck - Time Out....very clean recording and the best sounding sax - you can see every movement of his lips. Karajan - Rite of Spring.......tremendous impact and impetus Joni Mitchell - Hejira...........great bass lines and any system that doesn't make her voice a but thin is doing its job Cubedo - Rodrigo/Bacarisse.... a recording with rather sharp treble but a good system makes it sound like real violins never the less. Charlie Bird - Guitar Artistry... supercut recording - everything is crystal clear and imaging is superb.
The Black Messiah Has great bass and texture I am listening to the whole of the track so seeing how it capatures the guitar etc The next two tracks are about can the system capture my heart so I got a great vocal track by Diana Krell and some lovelly sounding guitar by Guthrie Govan Next up is Jeff Beck A Day In the Life I am paying particular attention to how the bass underlines the guitar melody I then start moving into world Fusion with Never Forget I am listening to the Tabla and drums and how realistic it sounds Oriental Bass I want it to capture the speed of the bass playing Sahara I am listening to how well it captures the Trumpet Place to Be I want to capture the emotion and intimacy of the track Sammi-Imas Lenni Kaille Trio Hoping to capture the sense of swing and how well it does keyboards The last few tracks really start to tell about how well I will like the system and kind of my ultimate testing Invisible Beauty of my Flower will trip up most systems as the sub bass can easily overpower the system or not show how deep the bass goes down I want to hear the keyboards and drums too Waking the Witch I want to hear the Church-bells ringing Last but least I play something that highly compressed can I hear the track with the energy and dynamics I expect from this. Sometimes playing something that is poorly recorded due to compression tells you a lot about the system All tracks I know well so will pick out if anything is missing or anything suddenly comes to light I also see this process as something very personal to me, it works well with the music I like and presentation I enjoy
- Weiss solo lute sonatas (vol 1 Naxos) - 3D imaging and focus of solo plucked instrument in a slightly reverberant church acoustic, very subtly portrayed. Resolution of transient plucks and rapid runs.
- Dream Theater 'Pull me under' track from album Images and Words. Sheer visceral impact of a rock band at 11. Ability of system to portray the excitement and sheer fun of the music.
- Shostakovich Ballet Suite #4. Jarvi / Chandos. Full orchestra from pianissimo to the max; system's ability not to squeal like a stuck pig - very challenging! Ability to capture the sheer uninhibited power of the recording. Resolution of different orchestral sections and wind solos at fff.
- Loreena McKennitt, Breaking the Silence on album Parallel Dreams. Solo vocal slightly set back. Opening pipe sequence - 3D imaging. Also, Huron Beltane Fire Dance from the same album - rhythmic ability, if your foot doesn't tap you're either dead or your system needs tweaking.
Those 4 will sort out the men from the boys as far as I am concerned.
If I could only take one track - it would be the 2nd track on the Weiss solo lute sonatas album!
.... and to add a 5th - Blues for Klook, from Eddy Louiss' album Sang Mele. Transients, dynamics, deep bass, sheer fun.
John Martyn -solid air. great vocals that move across the soundstage. Rasping sax. Danny Thompson making really low frequency noises on double bass that I unravelled on cans but are a good measure of system resolution. One of the staple tracks we use when the troops get together to have a listen to different kit.
Some of this stuff sounds great on a transistor radio! If it can shine on a trannie radio it'll sound great on anything better that you play it on, including an all Linn system (I have never, ever heard an all Linn system sound good to be truthful, so I might be stretching a point ).
My list? It's not hard and fast, and usually comprises whatever titles fall to hand.
Tom Waits - 16 shells from a 30.6 (from Swordfishtrombones) Frank Zappa - Revised Music for Low Budget Orchestra & Guitar (from Studio Tan) Frank Zappa - RDUNZL (from Studio Tan) Jack DeJohnette - Third World Anthem (from Rarum, Vol. 12: Selected Recordings). Herbie Hancock - Head Hunters (full album) Herbie Hancock - Future Shock (full album)
Once we've made sense of our world, we wanna go fuck up everybody else's because his or her truth doesn't match mine. But this is the problem. Truth is individual calculation. Which means because we all have different perspectives, there isn't one singular truth, is there?
My premier evaluation track would be Mary Black's Columbus from her No Frontiers LP. It's got everything as far as contrasts in loud and soft natural instrumentation, great vocal and acoustic bass.
Joint second would be Tea For The Tillerman - Where Do The Children Play/Hard Headed Woman (Cat Stevens) and The Wall- Side1 ( Pink Floyd). Superb dynamic recordings on LP with the famous helicopter on The Wall to provide spine tingling effect.
These change for me according to what I'm listening to at the time, but the track I've probably used the most is this one from Alva Noto:
The opening few minutes help me to gauge bass (deep, clean bass sound), top end (clean, crisp, with a lot of air), detail (the screeching sound is texturally very complex), and imaging, as the stereo image undergoes some very sudden changes as the three noises interact.
Röyksopp - Molody A.M. - Bass, bass and a bit more bass but also some challenging changes in percussion which a lesser system would bulk at. Nitin Sawhney - Beyond Skin - Excellent bass extension, wonderfully rich vocals and excellent acoustic guitar work. Blake Mills - Heigh Ho - for me simply the best Singer/Songwriter out there at the minute. Extremely well engineered album help bring out the talents of this guy and his band. Django Django - Django Django - great intro track and mix between indie and pop/rock sound with a hell of a lot going on. Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms - sublime album with Mark Knopfler at his very best, well recorded and produced.
CD: Cambridge Audio CXC, DAC: Beresford Caiman SEG + Anker Astro Pro 2nd Gen, Turntable: Rega RP3, Arm: Rega RB303, Cartridge: Audio Technica AT120E, Pre Amp: Exposure XVII, Power Amp: Exposure XVIII, Phono Pre Amp: Rega Fono, Loudspeakers: Focal Electra 1028 Be, Rack: Audiophile BASE StarBase, Cables: Beresford, Cable Talk, Exposure, MCRU, Rega, Tellurium Q & TCI.