ULTIMATE EVALUATION DISK
Every reviewer needs a collection of tracks with which they are very familiar to ascertain the differences and overall quality (or lack of it) in the products to which they listen and evaluate. Whether roaming from room to room at audio shows or sitting in the sweet spot at home, a super selection of varied musical examples is a must. While these cuts vary widely in styles, genres and performances, they all have a few important things in common:
A. Specific qualites that are not easy to reproduce that will reveal different levels of performance
B. Utmost musicality. They run the gamut of and stir emotions. They make you feel and react.
C. Are worthy of hundreds of repeated listens without becoming boring.
No, this disk is not for sale. Please do not write us and ask for it. Copyright and all that you know..
1. JOHNNY ADAMS - WON'T PASS ME BY from "One Foot in the Blues" on Rounder
Outstanding male vocal jazz recording that features huge dynamics and very natural drum and Hammond organ sound.
Adam's velvety yet commanding baritone voice leaps from the speakers, big and bold.
2. Les Septs Paroles du Christ -Theodore Dubois - Fidelio
Classical soprano voice accompanied by pipe organ. The organ starts out way to the back left and features very low pedal notes. The soprano is center but again, far back on the stage. Loads of natural cathedral reverb, very revealing of digital playback.
3. LINDA RONDSTADT - SHATTERED from "Cry Like a Rainstorm" on Elektra
Very good, but still non-audiophile female vocal with piano and orchestra recording. Very delicate, soft piano intro is very revealing all by itself. The nuances are hard to reproduce. This is a very emotional, tear jerking song with very wide dynamic singing and immaculate phrasing. Does the system capture the emotion or just play the song?
4. CELTIC WOMAN - OVER THE RAINBOW from "A New Journey" HDCD on Manhattan Records
Four almost identical female voices singing accapella. Hard to seperate them well so you can hear each voice.
5. CELTIC WOMAN - CARRIKFERGUS HDCD
Another fine female vocal accompanied by harp this time which is the real star here. Recording captures the woody body of the harp and detailed strings. Will the system let you hear her fingernails on the harp strings?
6. CHRIS WALDEN BIG BAND - WINTER GAMES
Not "big" band, but HUGE band playing "blastissimo"! Big dynamics and good soundstage. Lesser systems make the hot brass sound harsh and slow components just won't keep up with the pace and rhythm. Good Hammond organ and sax solo, too.
7. MARCUS MILLER - PLUCK from "Marcus"
Big, brash string snappin' funk bass guitar well out front of the mix. Has a sitar solo with good texture and heavy handclaps on the backbeat. Sampled "oh yeah" voice. Fun, cool and hard on subsonics and bass dynamics. Really lights up a system.
8. MICHAEL GARSON - RUMBLE from "Jazz Hat" Reference Recordings RR-114 in HDCD
Pianist with Oscar Peterson level chops. Starts out as fiery solo, joined later by drums far to the left and deep in back and very articulate acoustic bass. Garson plays so fast, a lesser system can't isolate the individual notes. Like Oscar, he plays a lot of extended runs two ocatves apart. Exquisite piano recording by Professor Johnson. If a system can't do piano...
9. RANDY CRAWFORD/JOE SAMPLE - SEE LINE WOMAN
Excellent female jazz vocal with Joe Sample's equally tasty piano work. Well recorded drums and percussion. Features a male shout chorus repeating "See line!" that's well back in the soundstage.
ROBERT HORNER PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE - "Far More Drums" DMP
THis SACD is out of print and goes for $100 used if you can find one. It features a big ensemble of percussion only instruments. Very dynamic and big, fast transients.
Large, detailed, airy soundstage. A great fun listen, too.
12.Rimsky-Korsakov: Dance of the Tumblers - Reference Recordings HDCD and SACD
Simply one of the best symphonic recordings ever.This has everything from deep tympani bashes to sparkling triangle rolls. Dynamic, perfect soundstage, great music, everything you need or want in a demo track. It takes a great system to reproduce this one accurately.
13. ERA - THE MASS - UNIVERSAL/MERCURY
A pop/classical interpretation of Carmina Burana. Mixed choir singing latin, but with drums and bass and orchestra. This is the best cut from the CD though.We don't recommend you buy the full disk.
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