Published on October 1st, 2018 | by Alan Cross12
Weekly survey: What are the best tracks to test headphones, earbuds, and speakers?
Every once in a while, you need a new set of headphones. Or earbuds. Or speakers. This is a very important and possibly a very expensive decision, so you want to make sure you get the best-sounding gear for your budget.
Since you’ll be mostly listening to music on your new purchase, chances are you have a bunch of go-to songs that you use to test out prospective audio equipment. What are those songs–and why?
The way I see it, there are two ways to go about this. First, you can test your favourite songs, tracks that are so familiar that know every nanosecond of the song. Does the equipment reproduce the recording better or worse? Or just different?
Second, you can choose a song just for its sonic characteristics. It may not be something you listen to all the time, but the recording is so good that you know it’ll expose any flaws in what you’re looking to by.
I use both methods. In the first instance, I often go with “Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed. A proper version of the original recording is loaded with subtleties that can only be heard with high-quality gear. (Hint: Listen for the buzz on the last note of the bass riff. The clearer and more defined the buzz, the better.)
For the second phase of my testing, I used “The Man’s Too Strong” from Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms album. Listen for the range of dynamics (the differences between the loud and soft passages) as well as the deep bass that comes in with the chorus. Despite its deepness, the bass note is very smooth and pure. If it sounds good, then consider purchasing whatever you’re using.
So here’s my question: What songs do you use to audition audio gear? I’m looking to write a column for Global News on the subject this weekend, so I can use all the input I can get.