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Equipment Demo Playlist

by on March 10, 2013

One of the things I wanted to do when deciding which speakers to purchase was ensure I listened to the kinds of music I typically play. It took me several iterations, but I’ve come up with the following playlist, which is a work in progress. There are several tracks here I think could probably be swapped out, as listening to them reveals more about the recording than it does about the equipment.  I’ll try to add notes about why I’ve included each track and what I like to listen for, as I have time/inclination.

  1.  McFerrin, Bobby, Another Night In Tunisia – Spontaneous Inventions [Vocal, Jazz]
    • Bobby McFerrin and Manhattan Transfer. I felt like listening to the vocals and McFerrin’s body percussion would be revealing.
  2. Salgado, Maria, Canto De Siega – Siete Modos De Guisar Las Berenjenas [Latin] *
    • What I love so much about this track is the hurdygurdy. You should hear the clack of the musician playing it, the hum of the strings, the visceral music coming out of the instrument. A top five demo selection.
  3. Buena Vista Social Club, Chan Chan – Buena Vista Social Club [Latin, International] *
    • Anything off this album is great. There’s great room sound in this recording, and it’s very intimate. A top five demo selection.
  4. Blue Earth, City Of Rocks – City Of Rocks [Folk]
    • I may take this one out, but it’s in for now. Solo violin and percussion.
  5. Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O’Connor, Edgar Meyer, Cloverfoot Reel – Appalachian Journey [Classical, Country]
    • It’s Yo-Yo Ma and his cello! What’s not to like?
  6. Ellington, Duke, Cottontail – Digital Duke [Jazz]
    • Nice clean, modern recording of Cottontail, one of my favorite Ellington tunes.
  7. Hancock, Herbie, Court And Spark – River: The Joni Letters [Jazz]
    • First of three total tracks featuring Norah Jones. First of two featuring Herbie Hancock.
  8. Souza, Luciana, Doralice – Duos III [Jazz, International]
    • When I heard an interview with Ms. Souza on NPR, I thought she’d be perfect to listen to on a pair of Magneplanar speakers. Turns out that the midrange is too prominent for it to be truly enjoyable. The recording seems kind of thin to me. The music is great, but I don’t know that the two tracks I’ve included by her reveal much about the equipment.
  9. Krall, Diana, East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon) – When I Look In Your Eyes [Jazz, Vocal]
    • One of my favorite tunes, and every demo playlist should include Diana Krall. Piano, bass and Ms. Krall.
  10. Kronos Quartet, Esquivel: Mini Skirt – Nuevo [Classical, Avant-Garde]
    • My nod to the classical genre. Interesting sounds included in this piece.
  11. Getz, Stan & João Gilberto, The Girl From Ipanema – Getz/Gilberto [Jazz, International]
  12. Winwood, Steve, Higher Love – Back In The High Life [Pop/Rock, R&B]
    • This selection is all about the drums at the beginning. On the Magnepans, the drums just pop right out of the speakers.
  13. Krall, Diana, I’ve Got You Under My Skin – When I Look In Your Eyes [Jazz, Vocal]
  14. Sinatra, Frank, Luck Be A Lady – Sinatra At The Sands [Vocal, Jazz] *
    • One of my top demo tracks. It’s all here. That voice, that band, that room. Plus it’s just a great great Sinatra track.
  15. Fagen, Donald, New Frontier – The Nightfly [Pop/Rock, Jazz]
  16. Hedges, Michael, The Rootwitch – Taproot [New Age, Folk]
  17. Papa Doo Run Run, Surfin’ U.S.A. – California Project [Pop/Rock]
  18. Souza, Luciana, The Thrill Is Gone – The Book of Chet [Jazz, International]
  19. Flim & The BB’s, Thunder And Birdies – Tricycle [Jazz]
  20. Fagen, Donald, Walk Between The Raindrops – The Nightfly [Pop/Rock, Jazz]
  21. Ladysmith Black Mambazo Wawusho Kubani? (Who Were You Talking To?) – Shaka Zulu [International, Pop/Rock] *
    • I love this track anyway, but I love the sound of the band’s rhythmic stepping. You can hear the room, their shoes, the floor. Or should be able to. A top five demo selection.
  22. Hunter, Charlie, (What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding – Solo Eight String Guitar [Jazz]
  23. Johnson, J.J., My Funny Valentine – Standards: Live At The Village Vanguard [Jazz]
  24. Jones, Norah, Cold Cold Heart Come Away With Me [Pop/Rock, Jazz]
  25. Jones, Norah, Come Away With Me – Come Away With Me [Pop/Rock, Jazz]
  26. Hancock, Herbie, Mercy Street – The New Standard [Jazz]
  27. Brubeck, Dave, Take Five – Time Out [Jazz] *
    • This was the track that sold me on the Magenpans. It was revelatory. I heard things listening to this track on the Maggies that I’d never heard before. Sadly, there are some things that once heard, can never be unheard. I clearly hear the splice at 1:50. Every. Single. Time. I wish it could be fixed. Still, a great track. Listen to the piano. Where is it? Do the drums pop? Can you hear the bass being played? Can you hear the the breath of the saxophone player?
  28. Aaberg, Philip, Welcome To The Church Of St. Anytime – Upright [New Age, Jazz]
  29. Lovett, Lyle, Here I Am – Live In Texas [Pop/Rock, Country]
  30. Lovett, Lyle, You Can’t Resist It – Live In Texas [Pop/Rock, Country] *
    • I think this track shows the Magenepan’s transient speed. It’s so crisp and clear. And I really enjoy the cello solo. The sixth and final top five demo track pick. Sixth? Yeah, I know.
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