Wowsers; awesome thread! (Took a wee bit to read through, naturally ‘high-fiving’ all the Alan Parsons Project “I Robot” references.
Some great points raised with regards to ‘breaking in’ vs ‘warming up’.
I would add a few things;
Breaking in new equipment is a ‘definate thing’, most posters in this thread would naturally agree, hence the thread;-)
I have found typically, the larger the headphone driver the longer the break in period.
Tesla drivers (beyerdynamic) might be an exception to that ‘general’ rule. (Somewhat small driver, long time to find their stride).
Having spent decades of internet usage focused on audio (since the mid nineties when I ‘co-ran’ an audio focused bulletin board service from the school library).
Once Prodigy ‘Fat of the Land’ launched; it has amazed me how many serious stereo buffs have used this album to ‘warm up their speakers’ for the days’ listening, by using this album.
Most of them classical appreciationers’ who have no interest in ‘The Prodigy’. (It will certainly get the drivers warmed up!!)
My personal preference is to have stuff running that will ultimately be played on the kit, and hopefully a few things that just push many aspects of sound.
Whilst I wouldn’t use some AR-LSTs to play 300 b.p.m (beats per minute) electronic stuff, I would consider slightly less crazy bpm music to warm them prior to any ‘critical listening’.
With regards to auditioning equipment; my long time favorite ‘quick ascertain’ track (from around twenty titles that cover all sorts of micro-dynamics, macrodynamics, soundfield/soundstage etc tests) is one by Suzanne Vega, from ‘99.9 farenheight degrees’. (Eek spelling, I am an Australian and we use metric system)
The track is ‘Fat Man and Dancing Girl’.
Any equipment that keeps that track ‘listenable’ (read-enjoyable) passes a very basic test I have for whether a system will do rock right!
I have heard less than a handful of surround receivers that have played the song WELL, and they ,sadly, have all been flagships worth >$4k.
I have also heard many (budget) stereo amps that get it wrong....
When the equipment is dynamic and with proper headroom the song is amazing.
When the equipment is modern ‘mass market’ cwap (if donald duck swore..) it sounds like a ‘wall of noise’ and I just want to turn it off straight away.
If an amp passes that simple song, I will go on to continue to listen to ‘other tests’ to learn just how far the rabbit hole goes.. (how good is the equipment!!?)
That song is usually the second or third song I will use to learn some of the capabilities of said equipment.
Whilst I have never added it to my playlist, if I was starting out with with a NEW playlist to test/demo equipment; I would certainly add ‘State of the Art’ by Gotye.
Very impressed by the mastering of the album, and this track is almost a joke to push a system in ways that typical music does not. The title is ‘fit’.
When I used sell hifi kit, I could ‘flog off’ any piece of second hand, second rate kit by simply using ‘gold CDs’ as the source.
CDs pass greater than 700000 pieces of data every second, and, (don’t quote me, I am without the relevant articles on hand to back this) the CD spec has 1500+ ‘fails’ per second built into the spec, as standard, to still PASS MUSTER.
When the ‘fails’ go higher than 1500 per second, jitter becomes noticable (certainly to those sensitive/trained to hear).
When we use Gold CDs, their added reflectivity helps reading the disc, and the error rate lowers. It is akin to upgrading digital cables (quite a few tiers).
The differences will be immediate (on high end kit), noticably on the long bass frequencies (low notes), and in the quality of the high frequencies.
The inverse to this phenomina is using really scratched CDs.. notice how they have ‘no bass’ (a long soundwave to get correct, where any errors really diminish the perceivable sound), and sound ‘really trebley’.
Obviously this is all just my subjective opinion.
I may attempt to ‘sell it’ objectively - just like I could sell a $150 panasonic shelf system using gold discs.... but naturally YMMV (your milage may vary).
I stand by Vegas’ “Fat Man (and Dancing Girl)” as a great way to sort the wheat from the chaff.
For those not totally offended by my post (eg alluding to digital cable quality mattering), and who find the aforementioned song truly useful- want another?
A little harder to find, and more relevant to me (Aussie, remember!)
T J Eckleberg “Two Inches of Darkness”. If your system sounds right, the first few seconds of the song should clearly place (and identify) the ‘hand slap’ sound styled to sound like self stimulation through the rest of the track.
If the system doesn’t recreate this correctly I can only guess how many other tracks the same system would miss revealing the nuances that artists create.
I love APP (Alan Parsons Project).
Parsons work on Dark Side of the Moon, means that album has some legendary tracks for system observation. (Eg low frequencies at the start of the album)
Some engineers just go to ‘any length’. A great example is Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)... whilst I love HDCD; that HDCD ‘filter engaged’ light (part of the spec requirement when HDCD launched) that lights up when HDCD encoded material is playing... its just a flag that an engineer can turn on/off as they like... and haivng it flash to the beat on a ‘(Nine Inch) Nails CD single (Into the Void/Perfect Drug)(the actual track I refer to is on The Fragile).. is beyond funny the first time I saw it.
Fits for a person who reissues and reissues with a strive towards excellence.
Whether you like NIN or not, the engineering IS high quality.
My favorite HDCD (that isn’t the ‘City of Angels’ soundtrack) goes to Supertramps’ (‘97) Some Things Never Change.
Gotta love ‘big bands’ and instruments battling it out (Banjo Battle -Deliverence/Lily Was Here - David A Stewart etc).
Supertramp do it oh so well.
If I were to add new stuff to my reference discs it would be the aforementioned Gotye’ State of the Art, and Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire (an HDCD to boot!).
Fat of the Land to warm up speaker drivers.
Build a compilation of familiar tracks so as to identify key differences in playback chains.