Best albums for speaker set up

Help with ongoing quest for that perfect sound

Rather than music, I use REW room measurement software and a measuring microphone. Makes light work of finding best listening and speaker positions because each test is very quick, and you can literally see what is happening, instantly revealing problem peaks or cancellations etc., and readily allowing comparisons of the effects of changes. Once positions optimised (either in absolute terms, or best achievable to fit any imposed limitations, music can then be used for final tweaking such as toeing in for best soundstage etc.

REW is free software, and a measuring mic around £100 (or less secondhand).


There a few ‘free to download’ hi-fi system test CDs (so to speak) available on the 'net.

Have a Google or Bing.

I was thinking albums that have good depth, soundstage, dynamics etc. 1st up for me Janis ian breaking silence on analogue productions 180 g, neil young live at massey hall 1971 on classic records 200 g, malia and boris blank convergence, nils frahm all melody.

As @Innocent_Bystander proposed, REW is a brilliant tool (and the cheapest) for reliable speaker placement, and listening position as well.

As for the microphone, I had mine for 70$

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Ones that make you ignore hi-fi considerations and you just enjoy…


And this is, of course, after a correct speakers and listening sit positioning :wink:

If you’re not into nerdy technics then try Marcus Miller “Jean-Pierre” and focus on the bass.


Your number one problem is the low end. Try to attend that as carefully as possible. The rest of the frequency range is much easier to “fix”.

Low frequencies Pink Noise is probably more efficient but less fun of course.
Here is a file:


There are various LPs and tracks on Tidal (and presumably also Qobuz) that contain various speaker test tracks, pink noise, etc.

I use Paul Bley trio LPs like ‘Not one, not two’ as a test/reference record. This is because it’s my favorite type of music, so I want my system to perform its best with that sound.

And also because it just contains piano, double bass and drums, beautifully recorded, with exemplary separation of the various instruments - and extremely low, clear playing of the lowest piano notes.

(I hardly ever listen to vocals.)

For me it’s about what you know intimately. I have a few ‘test tracks’ of varying genres that I use after any tweak or upgrade, listening to the overall presentation while also focusing on the subtle nuances for any change my ears can perceive.


I’m being slightly facetious perhaps, but the best setup will not make you enjoy stuff you don’t enjoy more, though will probably make you appreciate things you do like even more, though occasionally not.

@lemans3 didn’t you start a thread already about this issue Titled Super 20 Nightmare?

hi opus, my thread about my s20s was to get some help with set up and to see if anybody had experienced similar problems. this thread is purely about great sounding albums that make our kit fly ( if I ever get mine off the ground) . sorry if I’ve crossed any lines

That is very different from the thread title! Albums to “ make your kit fly” may be quite unlike music used to help with set up of speakers…

To make your kit ‘fly’, how about the Telarc 24 bit version of Tchaikovsky’s 1812? (But beware, the cones may literally fly across the room when when the cannons fire if you play the preceding music at realistic level!!!). Otherwise maybe the Who’s Who’s Next played loud of course. Or Roger Waters’ Amused to Death (the old soldier speaking in The Ballad of Bill Hubbard should sound as if he is sitting right next to you on your left). Or Black Sabbath’s self titled first album, played at a level where the rain, thunder and church bells make transport you to a graveyard at the start… Or Jeff Beck’s Emotion and Commotion, when Nessun Dorma should make you cry. Or Van Cliburn’s Beethoven Sonatas, when the piano should sound as if it is in the room with you, and the beauty of the music mesmerises you.


point taken. but I don’t get that feeling if it don’t sound right in the first place if you no what I mean harry.

Whilst I agree with all of the above, I could add.

It’s good practice to follow the guidelines put forward by the speaker manufacturers,as well as researching other theoretical ideas out there regarding speaker set up. So to get almost there.
Although ideally you want the speakers set up in a way that makes sense of everything replayed.
Some recordings might feel just right, and others all over the place.
I like Oscar Peterson Trio. We Get Requests. One to try and get it right for a well recorded simple acoustic number.
Getting this right is somewhat difficult. Acoustic double bass on the inside stage right. The piano just inside stage left and the drums behind the piano just to the left.
Recorded as it well should be with the lower key notes rolling down the floor to the stage left with the bass moving up or down with pitch to the right.
With drums setting up the acoustic space while still punching forwards.
I have found getting this track and album sounding great makes so many others much more so…But keep your speakers symmetrical with each other. Not one pointing south and the other a few degrees off.

Jennifer Warnes Famous Blue Raincoat. I remember a you tube video of a well known audio chap explaining how to use it to optimise speaker position, toe in, and tilt.

I 've got that, any more details on you tube video

It is the track ballad of a runaway horse. It is called the master set procedure. I will try to get more info (google might help). Yup - easy to find.

Many thanks for the suggestion! This track confirmed to me that my setup is spot on (relative to my listening preference) in regards to the bass as I sometimes feel that my system sounds somewhat bass heavy.

PS. As a bonus, this lead me to some great albums as Marcus Miller is a new acquaintance to me!

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