Two unusual music pieces to reveal your HiFi system’s qualities
Reading time: 5 minutes
For this part of our journey to evaluate the sound quality of a HiFi system, our Marantz sound engineers share two very different and unusual albums. While both can be used for your evaluation, the second is particularly great for demonstrating all of the attributes that a good HiFi system should have. This might sound strange at first. Why would we differentiate between a demonstration and an evaluation? If we wanted to just evaluate one particular quality of a product, like dynamics for example, we would select a piece of music that highlights that specific aspect. However, we would have to accept that it may have shortcomings in other areas like tonal balance. Demonstrations are different. In this instance we would want to choose a piece of music that really makes a product shine, putting a satisfying smile on even the most demanding of audiophile’s face.
Discover more about the below recordings and test them out for yourself on your own system.
Mi Corazon by The Brandt, Brauer, Frick Ensemble
Taken from the album: Mr. Machine
This is a piece that is hard to place within any one genre. The 3 masterminds (Brandt, Brauer and Frick) are well known DJs in Berlin. So, they usually are into House, Techno and Dance music. Some of the rhythms surely fit into these genre’s, but you won’t find any electronic instruments or sampling on these tracks. Everything is played by 10 Jazz or classical musicians. You have tuba, cello, piano and a lot of percussion that is done with all kind of tools and tubes. Everything is recorded in a way that gives a real sense of space.
The key thing we’re looking out for here is that the soundstage is well defined (you should be able to easily follow the arrangements as the instruments start playing one by one and piece builds over time). Secondly, because of all the percussion, this music is also very demanding to amplifiers because of the impulses which sometimes have a very high amount of low frequency energy (bass).
The LP version is also something we use to test our phono stages.
Let It Rain or Use Me or Black Magic Woman by Partricia Barber
Taken from the album: Companion
Special Editions: MFSL remastered versions and a special double LP in 45 rpm
This album is a live recording from a small Jazz club in Chicago which was put together toward the end of the 90s. The recording is just excellent and highlights each of the specific attributes that we would associate with the term ‘HiFi’. The track ‘Let it Rain’ starts with the usual background noise where you can hear people clapping hands or talking amongst themselves at their tables. This immediately transports you right into the scene. Patricia Barbers vocals, and later on, the acoustic guitar playing of John McLean are mesmerising and very well captured. The positioning of the musicians is easy to spot with the signer carefully placed centre stage at a very remarkable and realistic height. The track ‘Use Me’ from Bill Withers gets a new arrangement and starts with a solo from the double bass player for about 2 minutes. Here you have bass energy, dynamics and again a remarkable presentation of the musician on stage. Finally, the last track of this album is the well-known ‘Black Magic Woman’, originally from Peter Green, but that so many only know from Carlos Santana.
Again, in this arrangement, it is not only the guitar player who shines, it is also the Hammond lines played by Patricia Barber that make this version so special.