2017 Best Songs For Testing Headphones, According to Audiophiles

2017 Best Songs For Testing Headphones
Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 Hi-Res Headphone

A hearing test is crucial when it comes to purchasing a headphone. Regardless of how you plan to use your next pair of headphones, you want to make sure you listen to the best songs to reveal the sound signature of that particular pair. To truly do so, I think you need a nice array – some slow, fast, loaded with synths, instrumentals, bass-thumpers, binaural recordings and more. So read on to find out what tracks topped our “2017 Best Songs For Testing Headphones” article.

2017 Best Songs For Testing Headphones, According to Audiophiles

Everyone has a different hearing profile and a different plan for how they’d like to use their headphones. While some are looking for the premiere pair for cleat and accurate studio monitoring others may be looking for a warmer tuned set that can rock their world while commuting to work. Regardless of intent, there’s no denying headphone seekers need to listen to a variety of songs to get a good grasp on the true nature and tonality of the headphone.

To do so, first, I’d say listen to your favorite song. Maybe not your favorite pop track of the week, but one of your favorite, time-tested classics that will always stops you in your tracks and gets you singing along and possibly trying to bust a move on a crowded subway car no matter the time of day. Why? Because this track you know by heart. If something you noticed a riff you’ve never heard before or maybe the track sounds a little muffled in parts you used to be able to distinguish. Because you are so familiar with the track nothing should get past you on the first go’ round.

Once you’ve worn that track out, you should definitely move on to others that vary by genre, type of recording, etc. If you aren’t sure what to listen to, here are some audiophile favorites.

2017 Best Songs For Testing Headphones List

Janet Jackson’s “Back” is one of my personal favorite sample tracks. Plus, who doesn’t like Janet I always listen to this track because there are a number of layers at play. Jackson’s voice is really soft and hushed while 90’s R&B synthetic instruments occupy the mid-range and that’s all over a woman singing opera in the highest octave. Turned up all the way, it’s a very melodic, yet pulsing track and great to discern spacing between the various elements a play. In the middle thee is an exciting break-down of just the strings driving the song towards its thrilling finale marked by the opera singing belting it and Janet’s then soft voice muttering “You’re dismissed.” With the right cans, this track is beautiful and compelling. With the wrong cans, it’s just too much.

I also like Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” because it’s comprised of husky vocals that require the best of cans to hear accurately. There’s also electric guitars, drums, and strings which provide a good basis for hearing separation, sound stage, and clarity.

My colleague, Steven, goes for Nirvana’s “In Bloom” for it’s forceful sound that is very rich and mixed very well. He’s a sound engineer and would know this very well. He likes to use this song to test the headphone’s limits in term of volume and distortion.

He also opted for Marie Davidson’s “Adieu Au Dancefloor.” It’s a digitally recorded album so it’s “very clean.” So clean, that he tells me it is ideal for exposing any sort of hiss,  or hum, or clicking coming from the jack, ear cups, or cable. He also likes that there is a decent amount of bass that

Similarly, there’s Radiohead’s “The National Anthem” suggested by What Hi-Fi‘s Simon Lucas for testing overall balance in a headphone because this track is comprised of numerous layers of synths and actual instruments. Lucas writes, “Your speakers must describe each player’s position on the stage and, most crucially, the space between them if the low-heat simmer and intensity of the tune is to have full impact.”

Andrew Murphy of What Hi-Fi suggests Darkside’s “Paper Trails” and I wholeheartedly agree. I love this track, plus I’ve watched Darkside live at Coachella and it was an experience. But, back to the point, “Paper Trails” is another somewhat hushed song comprised plucked guitar strings, a driving bass line, and a gravely, deep vocals. This is perfect for testing a headphones bass depth and clarity. Murphy says, “A track with a moving bassline will either drive or confuse a performance, depending on the aptitude of your kit.”

Are there any other tracks you think we should include on our “2017 Best Songs For Testing Headphones” article. Shout ’em out below.

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Sade is a journalist talking all things tech. Contact: sade@majorhifi.com