Auditioning processes

When I was first contemplating buying a good hi fi, the sales guy at my local store (where I did end up buying a Nait XS2 and NDAC, and my Devore Nines) had burned me a cd of what he uses. That’s remained my auditioning tracks. Here are some:

What A Shame - Patricia Barber
Georgia On My Mind - Jacintha
In the Wee Small Hours - Jacintha
Walking on the Moon - Yuri Honing Trio
Voodoo Child - Angelique Kidjo
Fade To Black - Dire Straits
Perfect Sense Pt 1 - Roger Waters
For you Blue - The Beatles (Let it Be Naked)
In Pan Alley - Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
These Bones - The Fairfield Four
Flight of the Cosmic Hippo - Belle Fleck
No Sanctuary - Chris Jones

There’s a heavy influence of vocals; I love vocals and wonderful but not boomy midrange is something I require. And a couple tracks with deep base. No classical, which probably is a gap.


I’m not familiar with all your songs @Bart, but it mirrors what I do. I would add some baroque (e,g. Vivaldi), classical (e.g. Beethoven) and Romantic (e.g. Debussy) music assuming they’re genres you enjoy.

In my case I’ve neglected Jazz (e.g. Carla Bley), Reggae (e.g. Bob Marley) and Radiophonic Music (e.g. Delia Derbyshire), which I enjoy.

The list I gave is almost the same as on the gramophone record that accompanied Dr Roger Driscoll’s book “Practical Hi-fi Sound (1980)”. I took the liberty or replacing Dire Straits with Sandy Denny: a personal preference as I thought the collection lacked female vocals.

in 1979 HiFi for Pleasure released a test record and although most of it is for system setup rather than auditioning, the final track on side 2 was St John’s River by Tanned Leather. This is an excellent track to expose weaknesses in a system and a great song in its own right. Fronted by Harvest label A&R man Rainer Pietsch, Tanned Leather were a German rock band who emulated folk rock acts on the Harvest label (e.g. Forest or Battered Ornaments) rather than contemporary German groups like Amon Düül II, Can and Faust.

Leap right over all the unnecessary review process - jump straight to conclusions!


I don’t have a lot of interest in elaborate auditioning processes. I’m mostly only interested in obvious improvement. If I have to listen to tracks over and over and over and switch back and forth to “hear” something then whatever change I’ve made isn’t worth the hassle.

For example. When I connected my streamer and NAS to my Cisco 2960 instead of directly to the router it was an instant and obvious improvement. Likewise when I substituted BJC ethernet cables for the AQ cables connecting the NAS and streamer to the Cisco it was an instant an obvious improvement. In both of these instances I didn’t need to do any back and forth testing, the improvement was obvious.

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My procedure is for major changes, not that I’ve planned any, such as auditioning new speakers or an amplifier or firmware update on my armchair (sorry ignore that last one). The difference is obvious, so my goal is to decide if it is an improvement and I want to buy it.

Happy with my network so no desire to spend hours deciding if Connect Cat 6a patch leads better BJC Cat 6 ones or Ubiquiti Unify Switch-8s better HP OC1420-5Gs. I do very much as you, @ElMarko, for such things. Contrariwise I had Chord Sarum T speaker cable and Townshend Seismic Sink in my system for a while (at different times) before reverting.

If you are going to evaluate I think it helps to have a method. You could apply TuneDem with my track selection. This was done with my Linn system to ascertain the ideal speaker position so we could move them to the practical position and apply Space Optimisation V2. It worked remarkably well.

When I audition, I don’t always have something specific in mind – though I do take along Ese’s album, as I was there for the recording, mixing and mastering, so I know what it should sound like. Also faves from the likes of Led Zep, Goldfrapp, Bobbie G, Floyd, Ellington, Joy Division, etc.

Just as importantly, I take along some music I’ve fallen out of love with, or have become bored with – if I’m engaged with it again all of a sudden, then it’s a sure sign that the gear or upgrade I’m listening to is doing something right.

I have a couple of dozen or so favourite tracks which I know very well. For me, the trick is not to be overly analytical. If something sounds right I will forget the equipment and concentrate on the music. When this happens it is a good sign. Anything that doesn’t sound right (let alone jars or grates) refocuses my brain on the HiFi and this is usually not a good thing.

Apart from getting in my favourites, I try to just do what I was planning to do, music wise, as if it was a normal day/week. The acid test is often how it sounds when the auditioned component comes out.

My sort of informal golden rules are:
If it sounds right it is right.
Only trust your own ears.
Unless something is overwhelmingly convincing - in a positive way - always return the system to its pre audition configuration and spend some time with it before making a final decision.

These seem to me like sensible general principles, but we’re all different and we should each do as we see best in our particular situations.


I agree with most of what you say, except doing what you would normally do.

Unless you have a very narrow taste, I think it’s important to try with a wide variety of music. Use male focals, female vocals, acoustic, electronic, fast, slow, complex compositions, simple ones, etc. as many different things you can think of. But the trick remains to then not listen for those, just enjoy. If it’s “wrong” you’ll notice regardless.

Another thing, more time-saving that important in other ways is to, if possible, take music you’ve listened to recently. You’ll know on the first piece of equipment what’s the recording and what not, instead of only finding out after switching.

It might seem a daft question, so apologise up front for that one. However, there’s a structured way to do this I think. Going through this at the moment. Sometimes it’s blindingly obvious if one system or box upgrade sounds better but what’s the best process to do through? We’ve all been through it. Systems don’t always sound best depending on the musical genre. Lots of things to factor in. No least you might be listening to a recording that isn’t all that. What’s a good original source for each genre. How do you judge your choice of upgrade and on what basis or original recording? My musical taste is fairly catholic. I like blues, rock, classical, indie etc. I have not particular preference. If it’s good it’s good. I want my hifi to cover all bases well.

Recently there was a thread : auditionning processes. Still present.

Where’s that then?

Look at the search part of the forum. I didn’t managed to copy the link.
The title is the right I wrote.

Link: Auditioning processes

It may be best to ask @Richard.Dane to close this thread when you hove located it, being still current.

How do you linked it? It doesn’t appear on url top on my screen.

On IPad

I’ve moved the posts to the relevant thread.

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Assuming you’re using the Discourse app, I think simplest is find the thread and go to top (e.g. clicking date at top of vertical slider), then press and hold the thread title, sliding to highlight it all, and you get the option to copy - that copies the link.

I am trying

It works, but not only the link appears…