What is your ultimate evaluation disc? Why?

What is your ultimate evaluation disc? Why?
Here it is
94% (190 votes)
Don't have one
6% (13 votes)
Total votes: 203

Using familiar music is a great way to zero-in on what's going on with unfamiliar equipment and surroundings. What is your ultimate evaluation disc? Why?

Paul Basinski's picture

Lyle Lovett: Step Inside This House. Beautiful songs, perfect recording from top to bottom.

DAB, Pacific Palisades, CA's picture

DSOTM, what else?

HH's picture

Although I am not sure I really understand or even like the music (am I crazy?) Choloros, by Villa-Lobos (Naxos) uses the full range of sound, transitions, etc, to judge the subtleties and transients of various components and cables.

Woody Battle's picture

Dennis DeYoung's 10 on Broadway. This CD sounds awful on most systems. However, if you get the everything balanced just right, the CD can sound great.

craig's picture

If you were hoping for one of the Stereophile discs as my choice, sorry. No one disc can possibly cover all of the bases when it comes to evaluating whether a particular piece of equipment will satisfy over the long run and over the breadth of all of the music I enjoy. I usually take a half a dozen or so discs for an audition and even then I am often left wondering if I might be missing something that will come back to haunt my decision down the road.

Paul J.  Stiles, Mtn.View, CA's picture

I'm still waiting for its arrival.

Daniel Emerson's picture

I have a few, but for vocals, I cue up side one of No Frills by the Persuasions. Not just for evaluation purposes—it puts a smile on my face too!

Nodaker's picture

Over time I've used different discs to analyze equipment. One thing is certain, by the time I'm done analyzing I don't want to ever hear that disc again! Kind of ruins it for me...

Jim S.  Place's picture

I have 23 CDs and about 12 LPs that I use to evaluate equipment. I use one or two music selections from each to check for different aspect of the sound. The music goes back to the early 1960s... what was good (or bad, yes, I use poorly recorded music too)years ago should still sound good or bad. I just keep listening for improvements.

Cincy2's picture

Sara K on Chesky's Hobo. The guitar and voice on this disc will sound open and palpable and the soundstage placement will be laser sharp on any good system. These are the characteristics that are important to me.

William Franco's picture

DVD-Audio sampler from DTS Entertainment. Has all kind of familiar music w/ good quality recording. Can't beat the bass from Insane Clown Posse

Al Marcy's picture

I am not in a hurry to make the big decision.

Gerald Neily's picture

I'm not sure why, other than the fact that I really like them, but I seem to turn to Suzanne Vega's Days of Open Hand and Charles Dutoit conducting Respighi's Roman Trilogy.

Brankin's picture

Only one! How can I stew over component selection with just one. What if the component was voiced with classical or jazz or pop or metal or field hollers - oh my, oh my! Guess I'll go with Chris Isaak's Baha Sessions. Good music, sound, instrumentation, recording and vocals.

Aden's picture

Nils Lofgren's Acoustic Live. Great recording that has the ability to show a minute detail in a system from top to bottom.

OvenMaster's picture

Surfacing by Sarah McLachlan. Someone once said that the ultimate musical instrument was the human female voice in song. Most of the time I tend to agree. Get that right and everything else falls into place; if this CD (yes, CD) doesn't sound perfect, it's time to start troubleshooting my system.

J Chisholm's picture

Haydn Trumpet and Organ Concertos by the English Concert on Archiv, for the highs, strings, bass plus stereo image and depth

Mike Agee's picture

If I had to narrow it down to one disc it would be Joni MItchell's Heijira. I have heard it probably hundreds of times so I know what to expect, even so it has enough diverse information that new discoveries are possible as the sytem improves. That information is spread nicely across the spectrum (except perhaps the lowest octave or two). Ms. Mitchell's voice is mixed too prominantly (damn shame) and it can (and will, re: "Song for Sharon") drill a hole in your head if the presence region is untamed. And it has deep and subtle emotional content that reveals itself as the finer and less tanglible aspects of a system and room improve. The fact that I have it in vinyl and CD helps too.

Olin in Oregon's picture

I use the Cleveland/Szell recording of Haydn's Oxford symphony for both its merits and flaws. The opening moments have amazing transparency and air around the instruments, but it is so closely recorded that there isn't a hugh dynamic range. If it sounds too smooth that ain't right, but if it's too strident that ain't correct either... it should sound husky with a little too much brightness in the strings. I use this recording rather than an obviously great-sounding audiophile one to check the honesty of the reproduction. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

filbert's picture

Stereophile Test CDs.

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

Unless I could make it myself, assured that it would retain all the quality of the original recordings, there's no such thing as an ultimate evaluation disc. Evaluation rquires using different instruments, voices, and colors. I'f i'm browsing I'll listen to what's in the store. If I'm serious I bring a bunch of stuff and an SPL meter to boot.

Yeeping's picture

Mahler 8 (Naxos). Simply superb sound and conducting.

Brian's picture

Alison Krauss: Now That I've Found You

Tim Bishop's picture

Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon! Lots of info in the grooves that can help trace the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Terry M's picture

It still, after all these years, has to be DSOTM.

Laci's picture

Chesky Records: Ultimate Demonstration Disc

Don Vieweg's picture

Beck: Sea Change. Available on vinyl, CD, DVD-A, and SACD. Quiet and thoughtful, with silence between the notes. Tasteful in two-channel and surround. No channel tests, just music.

Yiangos's picture

Eagles: "Hell Freezes Over. The xrcd version. Actually,you can't use just one disc when evaluating equipment but if i had to pick just one, this would be for two reasons.I am familiar with the sonics of this disc and i suppose if it plays well,everything else will play well too.

Chris S.'s picture

I burned my own playlist to a CD-R. It's got tracks from Phantom of the Opera, Alana Davis, Renee Fleming, the Crouching Tiger soundtrack, some Aerosmith, Megadeth, and a few dance tunes from Apotheosis and Leftfield with John Lydon. I am going to make a second one with more opera and some old school punk. I might put some industrial rock on there too. I know there are very few systems that can do a really great job reproducing all of my favorite types of music, especially in my price range, but I like to put them through their paces.

Dan Wilson's picture

The world's greatest audiophile vocal recordings from Chesky records. The voices seem to come from total darkness and have exceptional air and defination.