CD/SACD/LP Demo Material to Evaluate High Fidelity Audio

gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
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4,292 21 9
#1
I couldn’t add up all the demos I’ve done, from my decade as a high-end audio salesperson in the ‘80s, to trade show demos as a manufacturer, to demos for dealers, and many more for friends and family. I always seem to come back to certain albums, songs, or even passages, and I’m constantly adding new favorites that demonstrate a system’s ability to reproduce sound accurately. This article recounts some of the most noted demo material on CD, SACD and LP formats that I still use to this day. Due to their high resolution, I believe they will also help you evaluate the quality of audio gear to make informed purchasing decision.



Read CD/SACD/LP Demo Material to Evaluate High Fidelity Audio
 
Paul Scarpelli

Paul Scarpelli

Audio Pragmatist
Ratings
49 1
#2
I must stress that the demo selections in the article were picked because of their superior sound quality, and not necessarily the musical content, although most of them are good. The purpose of this list of music is to provide excellent sounding material for doing a demo or evaluating audio gear. If the article had been "My Favorite Music," the list would have been different.

I hope some of you post your favorite audio demo material here. It will be helpful to me and others, and I'm curious as to what you like.
 
oqpi

oqpi

Audioholic Intern
Ratings
4 1
#3
Try RED album by King Crimson.. even though it is not the most Hi-End sound quality, there is one reason I use it as a sample when I chose Audio Systems:
There are parts on that CD, so complicated and mixed up, that takes a really good audio components chain to play it clearly and detailed...
 
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N

ninogui

Audiophyte
Ratings
1
#4
Although zillions of cd´s, sacd´s and vinyls could be listed here I will name a few of my personal demo material:

- Brothers in Arms, Dire Straits, CD pressing (vinyl is quite good too)
I treat this one as a demo first filter. Almost any proper equipment will play this well but then you have the nuances... "the mans´s too strong" will show how distortion (purposely imprinted) is treated on the peaks, stereo imaging on "brothers in arms" and intimacy on "your latest trick".
If your ears don´t feel good.. you don´t need to go further in demoing whatever just put it aside and forget it!

If it feels good then you can advance to

- Discipline, King Crimson (CD)
- Chunga´s Revenge, Frank Zappa (vinyl)

London Symphony Orchestra - Gershwin, Ravel and Chopin SACD

and the list goes on
 
Paul Scarpelli

Paul Scarpelli

Audio Pragmatist
Ratings
49 1
#5
I haven't listened to "Discipline" by King Crimson in long enough that I can't recall the fidelity. I'll make sure to revisit it soon. I'll listen to anything that has Bill Bruford on it!
 
djreef

djreef

Audioholic Chief
Ratings
261 1
#6
Go to:

David Bowie - "Let's Dance" SACD
Peter Gabriel - "So" SACD
Roxy Music - "Avalon" SACD
Black Sabbath - "Dehumanizer" 24/96 download
Janis Ian - "Breaking Silence" 16bit
Janet Jackson - "The Velvet Rope" 16bit
Porcupine Tree - "In Absentia" DTS copy
Donald Fagan - "Kamakiriad" 24bit PCM
Sarah MacLachlan - "Afterglow" 16bit
K.D. Lang - "All You Can Eat" 16bit

DJ
 
Thomoz

Thomoz

Enthusiast
Ratings
3
#7
I would personally stay away from the Peter Gabriel SACDs because they are mastered pretty poorly. The same unfortunately applies to a lot of other bands that reissued their stuff on SACD - Aerosmith, Elton John, et al.

Both 'Sea Change' and 'Morning Phase' are very impressive - as is Karen Elson's 'The Ghost Who Walks' and Shelby Lynne - 'Just A Little Loving'. The MOV vinyl repress of Dylan's 'Love And Theft' is an SACD slayer. Back in the eighties those Don Dixon and Marti Jones records are jaw-droppers as is Crowded House's 'Temple Of Low Men'.
 
djreef

djreef

Audioholic Chief
Ratings
261 1
#8
I'm with you on the EJ SACDs.I dumped my copy of GBYBR for the 16bit version real quick.
 
Thomoz

Thomoz

Enthusiast
Ratings
3
#9
I'm with you on the EJ SACDs.I dumped my copy of GBYBR for the 16bit version real quick.
The MFSL cd is the way to go. I have the Polydor, which is a US clone of the DJM original, and it's bass shy but clean & dynamic otherwise. Back in the LP era the Direct Disc Labs half-speed was magnificent. The current 40th Anniversary cd is mastered to sound like the original UK DJM vinyl, so it's decent albeit bright.
 
Thomoz

Thomoz

Enthusiast
Ratings
3
#10
The poster above named another SACD I would skip - Let's Dance. The EMI US cd that does not have Cat People added sounds great. The one with that track added is a Larry Hirsch recut and it's slightly drier sounding, still a good choice. The SACD is equalized to kill all the pets and insects in your house.
 
djreef

djreef

Audioholic Chief
Ratings
261 1
#11
I dunno, my SACD copy sounds amazing. In fact it literally is my primary 'go to' when callibrating for instrument placement and vocal imaging.

DJ
 
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3db

3db

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
3,444 11 12
#12
Any album recorded by the Cowboy Junkies is top notch and leagues better than anything I own which is sitting around 1400 albums, CDs, and MP3 spanning many genres of music. Its just stellar material from a recording quality point of view.
 
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M

Mark of Cenla

Full Audioholic
Ratings
84
#13
Keb Mo Suitcase
Big Daddy Weave One and Only
Yellowjackets A Rise in the Road

Peace and goodwill.
 
J

Jersey Jim C

Enthusiast
Ratings
3
#14
If anyone is still out there...
Are we talkin' the Japanese import SACD of Avalon? That's the only one I can find.
Everyone seems to be out of stock on the Crowded House SACDs as well.
Does anyone have any sources for HDCD or a-DVD? I have best of REM, Neil Young, Trinity Sessions, and Sailing to Philadelphia. Like 'em and looking for more
 
djreef

djreef

Audioholic Chief
Ratings
261 1
#15
If anyone is still out there...
Are we talkin' the Japanese import SACD of Avalon? That's the only one I can find.
Everyone seems to be out of stock on the Crowded House SACDs as well.
Does anyone have any sources for HDCD or a-DVD? I have best of REM, Neil Young, Trinity Sessions, and Sailing to Philadelphia. Like 'em and looking for more
My SACD copy of Avalon was made in Holland.

DJ
 
J

Jersey Jim C

Enthusiast
Ratings
3
#16
I'm not sure I will trust the Japanese import of Avalon. I got burned on a Japanese Bobby Darin LP, That's All. I actually think the flaws are in the master tapes because the same songs, especially Mack the Knife, have the same distortion on a CD I've bought since. If anyone has a good Mack, please share.

For evaluating speakers, CD/SACD players,amps, and pre-amps:
*Chesky's Ultimate Test CD Volume 2
*K.D Lang Live by request CD- I was auditioning a very well reviewed floorstanding speaker and absolutely loving it until I asked the salesman to play Constant Craving. The bass totally obscured the vocals. It saved me form making a big mistake and I've whipped this one out when evaluating speakers ever since.

For Turntables & Cartridges:
*Dire Straights any LP
*10,000 Maniacs, especially Blind Man's Zoo for some reason Natalie Merchant's voice is very sensitive to cartridge misalignment and tonearm set-up.
*Ricky Lee Jones, Pirates - There's just a whole lot of everything in there.
*Lead Zeppelin IV MoFi
 
J

Jersey Jim C

Enthusiast
Ratings
3
#17
On another note, (I'll post it here since there are so few SACD threads) I use an Oppo DV-980H and DV-970HD. I believe both convert DSD to PCM. Am I really getting SACD quality? They certainly sound better with SACDs than my NAD C546BEE (though not with red books); but am I getting ALL the juice? Can anyone recommend a player that does not convert to PCM at a reasonable cost. Only interested in audio.
 
j_garcia

j_garcia

Audioholic Jedi
Ratings
7,220 8 22
#18
On another note, (I'll post it here since there are so few SACD threads) I use an Oppo DV-980H and DV-970HD. I believe both convert DSD to PCM. Am I really getting SACD quality? They certainly sound better with SACDs than my NAD C546BEE (though not with red books); but am I getting ALL the juice? Can anyone recommend a player that does not convert to PCM at a reasonable cost. Only interested in audio.
You won't really notice a difference between direct DSD and PCM IMO. That was a big complaint back when those units came out, but the reality is, it still sounds great. I've owned both of those units and never had a complaint.
 
J

Jeffrey S. Albaugh

Audioholic
Ratings
27 4 21
#20
I must stress that the demo selections in the article were picked because of their superior sound quality, and not necessarily the musical content, although most of them are good. The purpose of this list of music is to provide excellent sounding material for doing a demo or evaluating audio gear. If the article had been "My Favorite Music," the list would have been different.

I hope some of you post your favorite audio demo material here. It will be helpful to me and others, and I'm curious as to what you like.
Paul: May I suggest that you look at my post under: My Music in Surround Sound.
 

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