Music to test speakers with

The horn speaker alternative

If you're splashing out on a serious audio system, you'll want the right music to test how it performs. You'll need either uncompressed WAV, or (better yet) FLAC files. CDs will also do the trick.

Don't waste your time with MP3 tracks - while MP3 might be OK if you're jogging or in the car, its limitations become very obvious if you're using high-end audio gear.

Simon Wehr's list

Simon Wehr, Director of Marketing at Dana Innovations (Sonance, iPort and TRUFIG) has provided the list below which he used at the CEDIA show recently to demonstrate his systems.

"I also added a John butler trio song which is great. The AC/DC is not brilliant... But there to shake things up a bit", he explains. "Diana Krall is also a standard industry audiophiles song. I didn't include it because everyone is sick of it!"

Track Artist Song Title
1 Acoustic Alchemy Jamaica Heartbreak
2 Keb Mo A Better Man
3 S.M.V. Classic Thump
4 Fairfield Four These Bones Gonna Rise
5 Mighty Mo Rodgers Blue Is My Wailin' Wall
6 Andy Salvanos Juggler's Song
7 Nora Jones Back to Manhattan
8 Mokave Gloria's Step
9 Jace Everett I Wanna Do Bad Things
10 Sting Fields of Gold
11 AC/DC Big Gun
12 Black Eyed Peas Boom Boom Pow
13 Lynrd Skynrd Sweet Home Alabama
14 Brad 20th Century
15 Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here


Walt Zerbe's list

Walt Zerbe is a product manager at Russound, a high-end distributed multi-room audio specialist, selling the AirGo outdoor speaker system. "I can successfully demo AirGo with two tracks", he says. " I have listed them below and provided reasoning for using them. If you have Spotify, you can use the following link to go to the playlist AirGo Outdoor".

Track Artist Song title
1 Fink Fear is like Fire
2 Rentstrike Groove Collective
3 Whatchugot Groove Collective
4 Genji Monogatari Groove Collective


"First track to play: Fear Is like Fire by Fink off of the album Perfect Darkness (This is to show how articulate the speaker is, it's a male vocal (clean, no effects, close mic'd) and an acoustic guitar. Also show's dynamics and headroom."

1. Play from 00:00:00 - 00:00:50 at a mid level volume to show clarity, projection and soundstage width.

Second track to play: Rentstrike by Groove Collective off the album Groove Collective (Full range selection, bass, drums, trumpets, flutes, vibraphone, etc.)

1. First 33 seconds (00:00:00 -00:00:33 is a weird intro, play at a low volume and use that time to talk how AirGo has a great full sound at low volume which is great for late night listening. That sets you up for the low volume test (which your already in, and goes from, it's great full sound at low volume.

2. Great sound at low volume demo (00:00:33 - 00:00:50)

3. Great sound at high volume demo (00:00:50 - whenever you want to stop) This test show's that AirGo is no toy, it can really put out the sound.

Creating your own list

Ultimately, you're going to be listening to the music you like on your system so the kinds of music you subjectively test your system with should reflect this. Ideally you should aim to choose songs that are produced to a very high standard, which offer excellent representation of sound across the entire range of possible frequencies, and which provide clear, natural vocals and instrumental sounds. A diverse range of songs from a variety of the artists will help you to really test your speakers to their fullest extent.