Songs to test headphones with


Just added (above) to my laundry list of test tracks.


I will check out the Scheherazade with Reiner/CSO.


The entire Jazz at the Pawnshop album.


Oh yeah! One of my very favorite. Background club chatter and glasses clinking add to the utmost realism. :sunglasses:


It’s masterfully recorded. The presence of the room and the atmosphere are palpable, and it captures that small Jazz venue feel perfectly.


Christian McBride “Live at the Village Vanguard Trio”

DSD version is what I’m listening to. A real test of bass speed. Drums are phenomenal, as well as piano. To my ears this is lightning speed (not fusion) and relaxing at the same time. This was a wonderful live recording with 3 jazz artists who would easily win-over most people who do not listen to jazz.
Christian McBride is a true virtuoso. He has accompanied many artists studio recording including Diana Krall “The Girl in the Other Room”
This album is hard to believe is only a trio. Recorded “Live” in DSD Mastering and untouched.
A true test of DSD mastering and live at that. Highly recommend. It’s sure to test of whatever ones headphones are capable of.
I listen to lots of Jazz and consider this as one my very favorites of all time.


I’d recommend finding a higher quality version than YT version but this song has a rather diverse frequency range, female vocals and generally will make any weak areas of a pair of cans apparent:


Had daughter in swaddling clothes, lying on floor at a very young age listening to sticky fingers on an old set of koss. Hey I know not much around in those days. Trying to make sure her mother’s musical tastes were not passed on. It worked. Your photo reminded me of that time.


Ran across another classical music track that’s just superb for testing imaging: Howard Hanson, Elegy for Serge Koussevitsky op.44, Hanson conducting the Eastman-Rochester Symphony (Mercury Living Presence). The Fines’ Mercury recording technique results in pretty amazing instrument placement that is super-precise with good headphones, especially considering the recording is over 60 years old.


Someone else put this together quite a while ago, still have it saved. TIDAL playlist of (most?) of the track list:


Lately I’ve been listening to Peter Gabriel ‘The Secret World’ live.
The sense of space in the venue is amazing even with IEMs, the recording is excellent and then there’s the
content, can’t go wrong with Peter Gabriel in my opinion.


I created a Spotify play list from your list, as I was going through it and listening with my RME ADI-2 DAC. For those that wish to have a listen just be sure to read the description in the playlist. What @Torq uses to actually test equipment is higher quality audio then what Spotify has available. This is just a way for you to listen to what he posted.

Enjoy! There are some really great tracks on here!


I’m listening to the first song off Chicago’s Group Portrait right now. In addition to being a great song, it might just be one of the best single tracks I’ve heard for testing tonal balance and timbre. Being somewhat older, it’s not overprocessed in the way of a lot of modern music. It’s also got a ton of instrumentation, with lots of percussion (including cowbell), bass and electric guitar, horns, organ and vocals. I’m hard pressed to think of other songs that cover this broad a sonic range.


Thanks @pwjazz this is a great recommendation and it’s gone straight into my testing playlist.


I’m using Fleet Foxes Sun Giant (song) for evaluating resolution and details these days, as it has crazy layers of echoes over vocals:

These layers blur into a vague haze with some setups. The other songs on this EP have more echoes and acoustic details too.


I love exploring my old music catalog! This song from Annie Lennox has some beautiful vocal layering and lots of other stuff going on that’s great for testing imaging, plus a surprising amount of sub-bass action for making sure the extension is good down there. A great album just for listening to as well.


Annie Lennox has a great voice she’s always deserved much more recognition.


She’s got great range


Most definitely, and her and Dave Stewart made a great team in the Eurythmics.


A little playlist I use for testing headphones.

Interestingly, it also is a good way to compare the sound qualities between Tidal and GPM. Maybe it’s just me, but I think Tidal’s versions of Gary Clark Jr’s “Bright Lights” and Tom Petty’s “Something Good Coming” are very different from the GPM versions. MQA fuckery messing things up? I think so.