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What are Your Favorite Test Tracks and Why?
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The Weeknd - High for this
@1:43 there's a very subtle 808 kick that's set in the back of the mix I use to test headphones' ability to extend in sub frequencies.
Toro y Moi - So Many Details
@3:33 All the instruments used in the song are playing at the same time with additional percussion and a boosted bassline. This is a great benchmark to test headphones' ability to articulate all frequencies with a very thick and almost overwhelming swell in the low frequencies. Most headphones fail this test and start to sound muddled. Great headphones are able to separate instruments without being distorted at moderate listening volume. This part of the song was poorly mixed, and if your headphones can resolve it, keep those headphones.
Herbert - The Audience
This test is mostly subjective, but once it passes the first two tests above, I use this song to gauge the potential of how much I may be able to enjoy my new headphones. The majority of the song is monotone with no key changes. It just has a straight driving rhythm that psychologically, your brain syncs up to. At the instant the key changes at the bridge of the song, it evokes emotion. The emotion is hard to quantify, but if the headphones make me smile, it's doing something new or exciting that's different from my other headphones to a track that I've heard a million times before. It also says something about the experience with new headphones, if the headphones help get me through the first 3 minutes of the song that was composed to be drab.
Danger - 6.24
This track I use to gauge imaging fidelity. There's a lot going on with this track. There are plenty of effects, acoustic and digital percussion, synths, nuances that try the driver's resolution. The high frequencies in this track have a sparkle only a handful of headphones can render. It's a great track to check out how isolated your headphone's stereo separation is and how wide its sound stage is. Trivial but, this is also the track that helped me discover silver cables actually do make a difference, albeit not justified by their price.
Other tracks for burn-in:
Beethoven - Moonlight Sonata
Claude Debussy - Clair Delune
Yoko Shimomura - Valse di Fantastica
Anything that Ryuichi Sakamoto wrote
Hanz Zimmer - Flight
Thanks for the reply with details. I'll have to give those a listen. I'm particularly interested in the last 2 since I already have testers for the things you specified in the first 2.
Good point about So Many Details! Great song, kind of iffy mixing– but as you said, it makes it a great litmus test for the phones.