When your pals come over to hear your audio system, what do you pull out to impress them?
Eagles, "Hell Freezes Over." This disc still rocks and sounds absolutely fantastic!
J. Rutter, "Requiem," Reference Recordings RR-57CD
Jazz: Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue." Pop: Jimmy Buffett, "Banana Wind." Classical: BBC Magazine, Berlioz, "Symphonie Fantastique."
Chesky's Demo Disk
Any one of the Audioquest sampler discs.
Dead Can Dance, "Into the Laybrinth." Or Black, "Black."
Just about any JVC XRCD recording by Three Blind Mice.
Until I have a system that doesn't look like one of the skeletons from "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad," I don't do demos. That said, when I do make my first step toward audio insanity, here are some songs I would definitely harass my friends with: 1) The Faces, "Miss Judy's Farm," because mud is beautiful; 2) John Adams, "The Chairman Dances" (with Rattle/CBSO), for orchestral sweep; and 3) Mouse on Mars, "Bib," because the bass on this track destroyed my old bookshelf speakers. So what stops a new sonic ranger from "demoing" every recording he has ever owned? (I am assuming that the "demoing" experience is different for women audiophiles.)
I use tracks from several discs. But I'm sure I'm not the only one. No one CD can really test a system. I use the score from Peacemaker. The lows come fast hard. It separates the sub-woofers from the sub-whiners. For the upper octaves my favorite tracks come from Phantom of the Opera. There are others but those 2 are my favorites.
I try to pull something they think they are familiar with, or at least in the same genre they like. Lately I've used Iona's "The Book of Kells" (Celtic), the Sony Gold pressing of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue," the Polka and Fugue from Weinberger's "Schwanda the Bagpiper" from an HDCD Reference Recording, and the "Exsultate Jubilate" section from Cece Bartoli's Mozart CD. (Different folks I have over like different types of music. They respond better if they hear something they like already.)
Leni Stern, "Ten Songs," Lipstick Records, 1991. This is a fabulous disc from the wife of "Captain Fingers" Mike Stern. The band is Mike's, circa '91, with some really fine players: Dennis Chambers, Lincoln Goines, Rodney Holmes, Wayne Krantz, Alain Caron, and more. Use of the tabla, bells, and a furious doubletime samba played by Chambers demands the most from a system. A really good recording that, on a good system, will absolutely ignite you. See lenistern.com for more info on this overlooked player in the likes of Emily Remler.
It's fun to play quality female-vocal albums (i.e., Patricia Barber) for people who have never experienced the high end. They are usually stunned by both the sound quality and the concept of a room "just for music."
I play what they bring. Kills every time. :-)
Capriccio Espanol, Rimsky-Korsakov, London label (or most any other). Has just about everything in it to put through a speaker system.
Take Five, Joe Morello/Morello Standard Time
My pals have long since made it clear that "this audio thing is stupid." "All that money on speakers?" "Why don't you spend it on something good
Psalms, Reference Recordings
Nick Cave, "The Boatman's Call." There is just soooo much low-level info on that disc that can't be made out on the mid-fi gear most of my buddies sport. I hear something new every time
Dire Straits, "On Every Street"
I do demonstrate DTS (audio and video thought).
Trio Jeepy, Branford Marsalis; the water-drums track from the Big Bang boxed set; anything by Edgar Meyer; Joe Henderson's "Lush Life"; and usually a 20-bit Impulse! CD or two.
My old Porter Wagoner records.
A.J. Croce, "That's Me in the Bar." An amazing album.
DTS(pavaroti and friends)
Song for the Unification of Europe, from the soundtrack to "Bleu" (Blue). And for rocking, U2 & B.B. King doing "When Love Comes to Town (Live from the Kingdom Mix)"
Their favorites, not mine.
I don't do demos. I just pour out the scotch and sit back and relax. Most folks, after getting over the shock that there's no CD player in my audio system and that
any disk of Sarah Jane Morris Christy Baron and Livingston Taylor published by Chesky Rec.
I play one of the newly HDCD-remastered Joni Mitchell CDs on my Rotel RCD-971. It is music they are familiar with, and these sound fantastic!
I recently acquired an HDCD player and a fistful of HDCDs. The sound from Reference Recordings and Opus3 HDCD demo discs is by far the best digital I've experienced at home. These will become my demo-disc standards. Finally, sound that begins to rival the analog rig. (Hmmm . . . time for a cartridge upgrade, I think.)