May 25, 2018897 views

Got a playlist for testing out headphones?

Howdily doodily audiophilerinos! I was testing out some pads today and realized that I pretty much have a standard set of songs that I test headphones with. I enjoyed the vinyl sharing lists. So here is my list of headphone testers, what is yours?
Radiohead- Maquiladora <--- If this doesn't muddy up when cranked, you have good cans.
Photay - Reconstruct <---Funky digital twists and samples.
Greensky Bluegrass - Time > Breath Reprise <-- Insane bluegrass live performance so you get to either feel like you are there, or you don't.
Rootkit - Wildfire <--- Digital feels or it is empty electric. Really is a 1 or a 0 depending on the headphones imo.
deadmau5 - I remember <--- A real classic that you either get a good trance groove off or again with bad headphones just sounds bland.
The Underachievers - The Mahdi <--- The sax, the beat, the grimey voice. Bad headphones it just sounds like a normally produced song but there is real detail in there on some good headphones. 93' til infinity feels.
Queen- Who Needs You <--- This is a 5.1 or 7.1 or 2.1 tester. Guitar left channel/ Mercury right/ nice bass and rythm that ties it together in a good set of headphones.
Skyzoo, Illmind - Frisbees <--- On a good pair of headphones the lyrics in the song are the most insane you will ever hear and the futuresound synth hook is beast. Good pair bonus is an all encompassing synth throughout the whole song. Bad pair of headphones you won't be able to hear clearly what he is saying and the hook blends into blandness.
Tame Impala - The Less I Know The Better <--- I just groove to this.
Killer Mike - Reagan <--- Will give you goosebumps on some good headphones when you listen to the lyrics and the story. Paints an incredible picture and has a distorted piano that I am in love with. Bad headphones will just be a headbobber with ill lyrics.
Talking Heads - Crosseyed And Painless <--- This touches all the bases. The singer goes crazy. You get these sporadic notes of different guitars in the left and right channels that play off each other with a groovy piano holding a beat with a beast bassist.
Fucked up - Queen of Hearts <--- On a rocking set of headphones the harmony is incredible when Sandy Miranda starts in.

Add a comment...
These are staples on my main rock playlist:
"Let's Groove" - Earth, Wind, & Fire
"Billie Jean" - Michael Jackson
"Papa Was a Rolling Stone" - The Temptations
"Bass Head" - Bassnectar
"Juggernaut" - Zion I
"Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" - Cage The Elephant
"The Way You Used to Do" - Queens of the Stone Age
"The Planets, Op.32 : I. Mars, the Bringer of War" - Gustav Holst
"Skylight" - Gramatik
"I Put A Spell On You" - Nina Simone
"Spoonful" - Etta James
"Your Heart Is As Black As Night" - Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa
"The Cisco Kid" - War
"Keith Don't Go" - Nils Lofgren
The Heavy - Short Change Hero
The Heavy - How You Like Me Now
The Heavy - Curse Me Good
The Heavy - Can't Play Dead
The Heavy - Nobody's Hero
Hanni El Khatib - You Rascal You
Six Def - I'm The King
Kill It Kid - Run
The Black Keys - Howlin For You
Klaxons - Gravity's Rainbow
The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1
Brother Dege - Too Old to Die Young
Muse - Knights of Cydonia
Muse - Feeling Good
Muse - Uno
Coheed and Cambria - Welcome Home
The Mars Volta - Vicarious Atonement
Deftones - Change (In The House of Flies)
Korn - Freak On A Leash
Trivium - A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation
Trivium - Anthem (We Are The Fire)
Jimi Hendrix - All Along the Watchtower
Audioslave - Cochise
Rage Against The Machine - Sleep Now In The Fire
Rage Against The Machine - Calm Like A Bomb
Nine Inch Nails - Piggy
Nine Inch Nails - March of the Pigs
Marilyn Manson - The Dope Show
Marilyn Manson - Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
System of A Down - Prison Song
System of A Down - B.Y.O.B.
Incubus - Agoraphobia
Foo Fighters - Skin and Bones
Foo Fighters - Next Year (Live)
Load 6 more comments
I worked for JVC when DVD-A was released and they had us demo it in the local PBX on a 2.1 boombox. It made me angry considering they had full nice 5.1 systems for sale but it still blew everyone away. Wish I had kept that demo disc since it had a nice selection of songs, now that I know what DVD-A is.
Missed the boat on dead wing, they had a DVD-A release/re-release for most of their albums on their/his website at one point. I also have a copy of lightbulb sun in addition to the In Absentia disc... Have south of 40 DVD-A's and SACD's but there were purchased many years ago. I still break them out from time to time but my current living room setup isn't as conducive to proper 5.1 audio any longer.
My standard test Playlist: All played on Tidal Hi-res
"Teardrop" - Massive Attack- Bass extension plus female vocal checkout "So Very Hard to Go" Remastered Version - Tower of Power- brass/treble and smooth male vocal soundstage checkout "Judith" - A perfect Circle rock guitar checkout "Marigold" - J. Roddy Walston and the Business gritty male vocal and instrument separation checkout "Mr. Jukebox" - Joshua Headly- smooth male vocal and imaging checkout "The Czar: Usurper / Escape / Matyr / Spiral" - Mastodon **MQA** - This song is just a hot mess of vocals, drums and metal guitar, if a headphone can deliver this track without i feeling congested and keep the attack sharp it's a keeper "Naima" - John Coltrane **MQA from the Mono Album*** Jazz bass and soundstage checkout
"Evil Dub" - Trentemoeler sub bass and decay checkout
Here's mine:

Buggles: I Am A Camera. Good proof for an early digital recording (short on bass).
Tchaikovsky; Nutcracker Suite: Arabian Dance, and March (Neville Marriner, Academy of St Martin In The Fields). This DDD classical recording has so much dynamic range it will challenge just about any rig - and the early-digital-recording artifacts (music sheets rustling, chairs creaking etc) are excellent proofs for sensitivity
Everything But The Girl: Talk To Me Like The Sea. Excellent for soundstage/separation testing.
Everything But The Girl: Lullaby of Clubland: for mid and bass tests; this track is everything I Am A Camera isn't.
Chris Botti: Indian Summer: good for mids and highs testing.
Liane Foly: Les Parfums d'Autrefois. Great vocal from an amazing singer.
Julia Fordham: Where Does The Time Go? Ditto.
Clannad: Coinleach Ghlas An Fhomhair: excellent acoustic recording, with significant dynamic subtlety.
Howard Jones: New Song. Jones' hard-edged synths should sparkle with the right set of cans.
Ultravox: All Stood Still. Good for all-around wall-of-sound performance checks.

There's more of course but this would be a good place to start.
I have a preference for hearing what I hear. Both of these tracks emphasize clean acoustic bass and guitar, combined with uncluttered, upfront vocals--each allows your ears to stay focused on that portion of the music you're trying to evaluate without being distracted by extraneous layers.

I had never heard of Nils Lofgren... But I do love Boz! :D Neat listen. So many of these songs people are posting, I have never heard!
Nils goes back quite a ways; played with a lot of people you have heard of--more of a sessions guy than a front man. Look him up on Wikipedia for a complete list.

I was always lukewarm on Bozz, particularly his early "hits" stuff, but I stumbled on his Dig album recently and became a convert!

I agree with you about discovering new music from other folks posts here on MD. I think we should all do more of it!
Nice play list. For those w/o a turntable or other source of analog music: I generally use TIDAL as they are the only ones, at the moment, who offer hi-fi lossless and master quality downloads. At least to my ears they sound vastly superior to any other streaming service I've tried (including Spotify high quality downloads).
Load 3 more comments
I dropped Tidal before they rolled out MQA but to my understanding you will still get at least 16bit/44.1kHz even without an MQA decoder. As that is cd-quality and not using lossy encoding it is meets the "lossless" threshold. A more current user may be able to confirm/deny this.
Yes, that's how it works. However I decided to drop them in favor of Deezer. Tidal is way too pushy on the hip-hop side of things. So far, I'm really enjoying Deezer.
For those who are just entering the audiophile hobby I made smallbit's test on Spotify I know it's not as good as records but it should work with a good DAC & AMP it should be fine.
Wow, you are all so well prepared. I just use Olives - Fire on the dawson because it has a good mix of acoustics and clear crisp highs.

Then I pick something absurd like Sepultura, because any headphones that can play death metal without getting muddy are ok in my book.

Usually I'll try some rap, maybe Earl Sweatshirt or Vince Staples, but honestly you need a real sub woofer to do Vince justice. I also own mostly open backed headphones, so I don't expect them to handle deep bass terribly well.
Load 1 more comment
HD650s. I mostly stick to Senheiser (it's a very safe choice). They'll probably stick around for a while though. The next thing on my upgrade list is my sub woofer.
If you want open back with BASS find a pair of Philips Fidelio X1 headphones, I have both the X1 and the newest X2HR the X1's sub bass and bass extension is really amazing for an open back(the X2 is no slouch either) AND you get a great soundstage too. I have a set of HD6XXs sitting right here also, the Philips is also a much more tactilely pleasing also. The Senns almost feel like a toy next to the Philips.
I think regardless of your music, it should be Hi-rez / lossless. It would compliment your dac / headphone purchase.
Yosi Horikawa - Wandering EP - Letter : For soundstage and imaging

Yoko Kanno - Ask DNA - COSMIC DARE : THE sibilance test track.

Snail's House - Snö - [fluttering] - electronic, for detail and speed

Lucky Chops - Live at Virtue and Vice Studio - Without You (4 Tonite) : Live track, percussion and brass

Waveshaper - Lost Shapes - Space Romance : chill Electronica/new retro wave bass focused music

[SACD rip] Holst, BBC Philharmonic - Holst Orchestral works, Volume 2 - Jupiter, the Bringer of Jolility : my 'classical' reference point...

Josh Groban - All That Echoes - Below the Line: male vocal

Stary Olsa - Water, Hops and Malt - Kielich kola (Drinking Mug) : male vocals, choral

Karen Carpenter - Carpenters, Gold - Maybe It's You : beautiful female vocal

Imogen Heap - speak for yourself - Headlock : female vocal, unique

Yoko Kanno - Ask DNA - Ask DNA : Awesome all in one song - percussion, brass, saxaphone, vocals, electronic, details... and that drum/bass work towards the end.

AdyS - 4321 - Edge : Vocaloid vocals

Zalas - Prototype : Vocaloid electronica trance focused song

Aura Qualic - Koi no Melody: because 80's Vocaloid needs to be a thing...
Load 1 more comment
Just realized Spike is your avatar... LOL
See you space cowboy... :D
Thanks for the lists. Just curious which headphones from your inventory make you feel like you are there. The only one I have that does it is the 800S.
Load 4 more comments
I have to buy the 800s now! :D Every single person I have talked to recently is all about them. Also, sorry for missing these posts, but really awesome breakdown you did!
since this review i’ve obtained a pair of Fostex TH-900mk2 Limited Edition sapphire blues.... if you care more about bass than imaging theN the Fostex is the better pick. If imaging is more important to you than bass, then the 800S is better. Don’t forget the HD820 is releasing this month.