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Thread: Hi-fi Demo Pieces

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    Senior Member bassClef's Avatar
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    Default Hi-fi Demo Pieces

    Another thread has prompted me to start this one:

    Which pieces (and by which performers) do you put on if you want to impress visitors with the sound quality of your hi-fi? This is more a question on the quality of the recording than the quality of your kit.

    Or, put another way, which CDs would you take with you to a hi-fi store to really hear it's full capabilities, and which excerpts would you play?

    I have a crystal clear rendition of the intro to Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra on CD (performers unknown, I don't have the CD with me) that sounds really dynamic on my headphones (with dedicated headphone amp), and the best for my external speakers is a track from a Chesky Records sampler - a superb rendition of Stravinsky's Royal March from "L'Histoire du Soldat" (the trombone sounds so real!) - (Solisti New York) - and this is a downloaded .ape file.
    Last edited by bassClef; Mar-25-2009 at 14:32.

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    Simon Rattle's 'Jazz' Album on EMI. A very lifelike and solid recording,with realistic vocals.

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    Gunter Wand's recording with the Berliners of Bruckner's "Symphony No. 9" is a good stereo test piece, especially the "Scherzo."

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    Senior Member kg4fxg's Avatar
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    Default Hi Fi Test Pieces

    I was very fortunate to have a mentor that got me into tube amplifiers when I was a teenager. I started listening to classical way back then. He drilled into me separate of amp and preamp, 20-20 Hz frequency response, and not artificially boosting the bass frequencies. I still love tube amplifiers and Klispsch & Bowers and Wilkins speakers.

    He taught me one of the best pieces to test HiFi equipment was pipe organ music. Sorry, I don't recall a specific piece but pipe organ was difficult to reproduce. So off to the HiFi store with pipe organ CD's. Funny, I am not an expert but you would think these salesman would be a little educated about what they sold, me a mere teenager knew far more then they did at the time.

    I also would take Copland, Fanfare for the Common Man. Maybe the 1812 overture.
    No, it's a Bb. It looks wrong and it sounds wrong, but it's right - Vaughan Williams.

    Bill Carter, CPA

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kg4fxg View Post
    . . . He taught me one of the best pieces to test HiFi equipment was pipe organ music. Sorry, I don't recall a specific piece but pipe organ was difficult to reproduce. So off to the HiFi store with pipe organ CD's . . .
    When I was searching for my components, I took along the Poulenc Concerto in G Minor for Organ, Strings & Timpani (the one with Durufle on organ). I also took along my CD of Frederik Swann playing the Crystal Cathedral organ. Both were perfect recordings to test the reflexes of any speaker cone. The KLH 9410's made the cut, btw.

    Those two (above) are what I would take along.

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    Senior Member bassClef's Avatar
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    Happy this thread has finally surfaced - it sunk without trace when I first posed the question.

    Keep the suggestions coming

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    this CD and vinyl from Linn Records is a classic example of today's best recording techniques,so lucid and natural , no listener fatigue, you can also buy it online as a download in 16 bit or 24 bit but it doesnt matter that much if your gear is lucid .I have heard recordings from other labels that match this .Labels such as CHANDOS , ARGO , VIRGIN and TELARC but , the label is not a guara ntee of quality this good I would not hesitate to use this CD as a demonstration CD

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    Mahler's Symphony No. 5 is also a great demo piece of your stereo.

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    Senior Member BuddhaBandit's Avatar
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    Well, my system is a sub-$100 Yamaha set of two bookshelf speakers and a small CD player (no subwoofer). So it's not the kind of system you would ever "show off", but it has great sound for the size. And to prove it, I use two recordings:

    1. Frank Sinatra's In The Wee Small Hours (Frank's voice seems to differ subtly when its played on different systems).

    2. Britten's War Requiem (The boys' choir and organ sounds realistically distant when played on a good system).
    Take a look at the Bandit's blog, Americana Avenue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mirror Image View Post
    Mahler's Symphony No. 5 is also a great demo piece of your stereo.

    I would suggest the Barenboim recording - the brass sound is really impressive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jaibyrne View Post
    I would suggest the Barenboim recording - the brass sound is really impressive.
    Actually, I was going to suggest Riccardo Chailly's recording of the 5th, which sounds fantastic.

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    Bringing this back up, as I am looking for a new sound system as well as great recordings.

    Will be bringing this with me to my demos:

    http://www.amazon.com/Brahms-Piano-Q...tet+1+ballades

    Fantastic recording. Any other recommendations that can really show off a speaker's skills are more than welcome!

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    I'm sorry to bump an old thread, but on the chance anyone has a ready-made playlist handy, for use in A/B comparing speakers, I would value a recommendation. Specific recordings and not just pieces would be especially helpful, if you have found aspects of the recording good for testing limits and talents (of speakers). This could include old and/or substandard recordings that might be useful for testing how brutal or forgiving speakers can be. (The latter a good thing to know with historical recordings of classical, jazz, pop, folk, etc.)

    I'm looking at buying my first new pair of speakers in several years, my first good set of speakers ever. I think my tastes might overlap with many of you.

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    I posted recently in another thread on this forum about my surprise and pleasure listening to excerpts from "La Fille Mal Garde," which was included in one of the Decca mega-boxes. Checking Wikipedia, I noted that it had been listed as a "Best of the Bunch" in Harry Pearson's renowned SuperDisc list, which I hadn't looked at in a long time. The vinyl versions of those recordings are often hard to come by (and expensive), but the digital versions are often very good.

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    Senior Member Headphone Hermit's Avatar
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    Take along some of your favourite discs because it is your discs that you will probably listen to most. I took a recording of medieval polyphony (Taverner on Hyperion), Beethoven's violin concerto (Grumiaux and Davis on Philips), Callas singing Bellini's Norma etc etc .... because I kniow what these sound like on my current system and I know that I will listen to them a lot in the future.

    Quite frankly, I don't care if a recording of Ravel's Bolero (or whatever else might be claimed to be a demonstration disc) is recommended as a top recording if I don't want to listen to that piece of music.

    Spend as long as you can in the shop (I think I spent three hours or so) - negotiate with the shop staff as to when you can do this (they probably would prefer a Tuesday morning to a Saturday afternoon) and then compare and contrast the speakers with the same playback equipment that you use at home. Finally .... turn the volume down - shops blast it out because many people think it sounds better that way but unless you want to damage your ears, you will almost certainly listen at a quieter volume at home.

    PS - I went for Mordaunt-Short Mezzo 2 - and have not regretted it
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." Berlioz, 1856

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