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If you do a subjective evaluation of loudspeakers (or complete systems) there's one difficulty you cannot overcome in general - you don't know how a certain recording must be reproduced correctly because you don't know how the recording was done and whether it has some limitations etc.. This not a question of AAD or DDD (for CD's) but a problem on principle because before the laser reads a CD a lot of production steps have left their acoustic fingerprints:
During the long production process of a recording there are a lot of influences on the final product which are in general unknown for the listener.
A recording that is well-known for it's badly manipulated sound is e.g. Tina Turner's 'Private Dancer' which is even more painful because of the - according to my mind - great musical quality.
The only way to overcome this is to listen to a (general accepted) technically well-made recording on many (general accepted) good reproduction systems in order to get an idea of the specific character of a recording.
As this cannot be achieved by everybody in general you have to trust specialists. A pretty good example of a collection of technically well- made recordings with hints for reproduction characteristics are e.g. the STEREO listening test CDs.
More detailed assistance to this point is given in the book of Dipl. Ing. Reinhard Fink / Mehr hören: 70 CDs im Akustik-Test (in German only), that is distributed by VISATON.
I also have tried to give some hints on my Music tips page.
Currently I use the following pieces of music to judge the quality of a reproduction system:
|No||Artist||Title||CD||Year||What to take care of|
|1||Bobby McFerrin||Blackbird||The Voice||1984||Plausible voice and noises (e.g. breathing, claps)|
|2||Jefferey Smith||Eleanor Rigby||A Little Sweeter||1997||Very rich voice, muffled piano in background|
|3||The King's Singers||Back In The U.S.S.R.||The Beatles Collection||1986||Vocal bass not too dominant, discrete contributions easy to localize|
|4||Vocaleros||Superstition||Vocaleros||1997||Really funky, it must be easy to localize each contribution|
|5||Brent Lewis||Mumbo Jumbo||Pulse . . . Where The Rhythm Begins||1995||Very wide spatial reproduction, easy to localize|
|6||Talking Horns||Johann, der Tango kommt||Fisch im Wasser||*||Recorded with 2 micros only|
|7||The Oscar Peterson Trio||You Look Good To Me||We Get Requests||1965||Rich walking bass|
|8||Oscar Peterson||Dream Of You||Reunion Blues||1972||Bass left and behind speaker base, sober percussions, VERY wide vibraphone (single tones must be followed easily, even across center), muffled piano may not sound muddy|
|9||Melissa Walker||I'm A Fool To Want You||May I Feel||1997||Very spatial without much "pseudo" reverberation|
|10||Jennifer Warnes||Somewhere, Somebody||The Hunter||1992||Very wide virtual stage, both singers in center (follow their spatial interaction)|
|11||Keb' Mo'||Just Like You||Just Like You||1996||Very earthy, is must be able to separate the (co-)singers|
|12||Holly Cole||Jersey Girl||Temptation||1995||Very fat bass, all instruments very proper, warm voice, slightly purred/grumbled|
|13||Mighty Sam McClain||Too Proud||Give It Up For Love||1993||Very crisp cymbals, even at loud sections not annoying (singer should not be mixed up)|
|14||Marla Glen||Personal||This Is Marla Glen||1993||Throaty, dark voice, shiny trumpets, sounds addictive|
|15||Hugh Massekela||Stimela||Hope||*||Loud sequences must have puch, realisitc voice|
|16||Yello||Tied Up||Flag||1988||The masterpiece of the Swiss sound puzzlers. Must blow your brains!|