- Dynamic range, frequency response, detail, clarity, as well as soundstage and imaging are important factors to consider when testing speakers.
- Some recommended songs to test speakers with include ‘Such Great Heights’ by The Postal Service, ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’ by Jimi Hendrix, and ‘Moving in Stereo’ by The Cars.
- Other songs to test speakers with include ‘Steppinâ Razor’ by Sublime, ‘In Your Eyes’ by Peter Gabriel, and ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson.
The best songs to test speakers with are not just your average songs. These are tracks that meet all the criteria to be the perfect test of a sound system’s capabilities. If your speakers sound good with these songs, they are bound to sound great for every type of music out there.
If you’ve just picked yourself up a set of stereo speakers, a Bluetooth speaker, or a soundbar, you might be itching to put it through its paces and see how it sounds with different types of music. Or maybe you’re thinking about buying some speakers and you have the opportunity to test them out first. No matter the case, in today’s article, we are running through the top 10 best songs to test speakers with. We’ll cover everything from the classics to more contemporary sounds. Let’s get into it!
How to Test Speakers and What to Look For
If you want to know how to test speakers like a pro, you have to explore what it means when a speaker “sounds good.” You can break this down into a few different factors: dynamic range, frequency response, detail and clarity, and soundstage and imaging.
Dynamic range is the difference between the softest and loudest parts of a song. A good speaker will be able to relay both ends of this spectrum without distortion. You don’t want to be enjoying a beautiful vocal solo, only to be taken out of the zone by fuzzy distortion.
Another important metric is frequency response. The frequency response is more about hitting the right notes. Good speakers should be able to reproduce high pitches, mid-tones, and deep bass with no problems. Playing songs with a wide range of these frequencies is the best way for you to test speakers.
Detail and clarity are important, too. Sound systems comprised of multiple types of speakers, like tweeters, woofers, and mids, are able to reproduce even the slightest details in a track. Having multiple speakers in your setup will also give you a more immersive soundstage, so playing songs that take advantage of this effect with a wide range of instruments and sounds, as well as panning audio across different speakers, will let you test your sound system more effectively.
Songs to Test Speakers With
So, now that you know how to test your speakers and what to look out for when you’re listening, what are the best songs to test speakers with? We’ve compiled a list of the songs that take full advantage of a speaker system’s dynamic range, frequency response, bass, mid-range, and, treble response.
These tracks have earned their spot by popular vote, too. Many of them, I’ve picked straight from Spotify or YouTube playlists with millions of listeners. Before we get started with the list, I have to warn you: we’ll be sharing the YouTube links of these songs.
So, the upload quality might not give you the absolute best audio. For the best experience, you’ll want to test your speakers using something with higher audio quality. Spotify, Apple Music, or even a CD player will provide you with a higher bitrate and better sound quality, giving your speakers the true test of their capabilities.
Song #1: Such Great Heights – The Postal Service
We begin our ranking with a song that checks all the boxes. This one starts off with some high-end notes from a synth, slowly filling in the midrange and then finally working out the bass, all before the vocals even start. Once they do, you can get a full appreciation for the dynamic range of your speakers.
Released as the lead single from the debut studio album by the indie-electronic band, The Postal Service, in 2003, this track went on to rank at number 27 on Rolling Stone’s “100 Best Songs of the Decade” list. It might not be a number one pop track, but it is perfect to test your speakers with.
Song #2: Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – Jimi Hendrix
This one starts off with Jimi Hendrix’ mesmerizing guitar riff using the wah-wah pedal. You can hear the way this song was recorded on old analog equipment but still manages to shine through with its warm vinyl tone and work out every single aspect of your speakers.
Jimi makes his guitar sing from the bottom to the top of the fretboard, giving your sound system the ultimate test of its highs, lows, and mids. Originally released in 1968, Voodoo Child (Slight Return) was the last track on the Electric Ladyland album released by the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Song #3: Moving in Stereo – The Cars
This song lives up to its name. If you have a stereo speaker system, you’ll immediately understand the song’s name. You immediately get to hear the stereo panning effect on multiple sounds, including the singer’s vocals.
Released in 1978, many people remember the song Moving in Stereo as one of the band’s more experimental tracks. Today, its groovy bass line, melodic synths, and stereo effects make it perfect to test speakers with.
Song #4: Steppin’ Razor – Sublime
This one is a little newer than the previous one, but still a classic track. From the Long Beach-based band Sublime, Steppin’ Razor is actually a remake of the original. An even older track originally by Joe Higgs, it was also recorded by other reggae legends, Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. The music comes in with a wailing guitar and deep bass to really test your speaker’s low-frequency response. If you have a powerful subwoofer, this song will be the perfect test of its capabilities.
Song #5: In Your Eyes – Peter Gabrial
I was hard-pressed to find a playlist that didn’t recommend this as one of the best songs to test speakers with. The love and appreciation for Peter Gabriel’s music crosses generations and borders. The recording quality of the song might have a little to do with it, and even if not, the prominent bass line makes it the perfect candidate to appreciate a set of quality speakers with.
This track was number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks list back in 1986. But it never really fell out of the public’s favor, earning Peter Gabrial his first Gold Single nearly 20 years later, in 2005.
Song #6: Thriller – Michael Jackson
If there is anyone who can put your speakers to the test, it is Michael Jackson. And what better track than the 1983 single Thriller? With the right sound system, you can pick up sounds you never heard on previous listens.
There is so much going on in this song that you’ll be able to play it again and still pick out new parts. It starts with the door creaking, thunder, and footsteps, before finally coming in heavy with the drum machine and synth. Make sure to follow along to the video, because this track is a bop!
Song #7: Anywhere Is
This song brings a bit of a different vibe. If you like a dreamy track filled with a wide range of sounds, instruments, and vocals, then this is the perfect one to test your speakers with. Released in 1995, Billboard’s Larry Flick describes the song as “an exhilarating uptempo pop waltz that will turn any car, den, or front stoop into an otherworldly tabernacle of sound.”
Song #8: When the Levee Breaks – Led Zeppelin
Another classic. If you want to see how your speakers sound while pumping out some classic rock jams with screaming guitars and powerful drums, this is the track for you. Led Zeppelin’s 1971 hit is actually based on a much earlier recording of the same name from 1929. Led Zeppelin added the guitar and drums, making it a completely different song. If you get a chance to play the Remastered Version, you’ll be able to put your speakers to the ultimate test.
The song starts out with a repetitive drum line, giving all the attention to the lengthy and mesmerizing harmonica intro. Once that’s over, the vocals start, and the song marches on for roughly 7 minutes, making it one of the longer tracks on our list. Still, all the more time to test your speakers!
Song #9: Fire Flies – Owl City
No list of best songs to test speakers with is complete without bringing up the 2009 hit Fireflies by Owl City, the Minnesota-based project. Lyrics about insomnia, fireflies, and summer are woven into a “bleepy” synth line.
Besides topping the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks, it was also featured in several video games, including Disney Sing It, and Guitar Hero 5. As a huge Owl City fan myself, I also have to recommend a few other tracks off of this album, like Cave In, and Vanilla Twilight. While you’re testing your speakers, you might just find yourself dancing along.
Song #10: Make It Rain – Ed Sheeran
The bluesy guitar catches your attention, and the deep bass line comes in to wrap you in sound before Ed Sheeran’s voice caresses your ears and sweeps you off your feet. With a quality speaker system, you’ll pick out details and realize a newfound appreciation for this song.
We love old songs, but you can’t argue with the superior sound quality you can get with the clinical precision of modern recording equipment. Plus, Ed Sheeran manages to create a new song with an old vibe, one that feels like it is a few generations old.
Best Sounding Speakers for Music Lovers
Okay, now that we’ve run through the list of best songs to test speakers with, do you even have any speakers? If you’ve just tested these songs on an old set of speakers you had lying around and found that they don’t sound so good, you might be yearning for an upgrade. So, if you’ve just awakened the inner audiophile within yourself and want to upgrade your speakers, we’ve rounded up the top three best picks for those who love basking in the sound of a quality sound system.
Q Acoustics 3000i
- P2P bracing, 150W amplifier
- Q 3010i bookshelf speakers deliver deep bass
- Q 3090Ci center channel speaker delivers crisp dialogue
- Q 3060S subwoofer speaker delivers an acoustic double bass
We’re going to start off with an expensive one, and, to be honest, you have to spend a little money to get top-notch sound quality. That’s not to say there aren’t cheap speakers that sound good, because we’ll get to those in a minute. But if we’re competing for the best sound quality, the Q Acoustic 3000i is worth bringing up first.
You can buy just the tower speakers for this set if you want. But if you want the absolute best experience, you should consider getting the set. Each piece — whether it’s the floor-standing tower speakers, the active subwoofer, or the center speaker — brings something unique to the table. The floor-standing speakers have received upgrades from the older version, now offering increased cabinet volume that translates to richer sound.
JBL Charge 5
- Features a long excursion driver, separate tweeter, and dual JBL bass radiators
- Up to 20 hours of playtime
- IP67 waterproof and dust-proof rating
- PartyBoost feature
- Built-in power bank
If you don’t feel like spending a couple thousand dollars and being limited to stationery use, you can pick up a much more budget-conscious option that you can take anywhere. Thanks to the wonders of Bluetooth, you can enjoy a sweet sound system anywhere you go. Just charge it up and sync it to your phone or laptop.
The JBL Charge 5 is one of the best candidates for the crown when it comes to wireless speakers. While it’s a small package, this little speaker produces some impressive sound with plenty of wallop in the bass. When you take into account that it is rated IP67 for waterproof and dustproof capabilities and has up to 20 hours of battery life, then the sound quality really becomes the icing on the cake.
- 6.5-inch spun copper cerametallic woofers
- Bass reflex through rear-firing Tractrix port
- Dual-binding posts for bi-wire/bi-amp
- 1-inch titanium vented tweeter with hybrid Tractrix horn
- 100W max output power
Many audiophiles swear by the sound quality you can get from a tube amp system. So, that’s why I’m bringing up the Klipsch RP600M speakers. This is likely the cheapest set of tube amp speakers you can get, and you can enjoy the benefits without breaking the bank.
Especially suited for compact spaces, these bookshelf speakers impress with the ability to fill a room using just a 6W tube amp. Their high efficiency lets you enjoy a range of music styles, from rock and indie to heavy metal, with outstanding clarity. If you’re just dipping your toes into the audiophile world, these speakers are your first step into the big leagues.
Bowers & Wilkins 704 S2
- 5" computer-modeled Aerofoil Profile Cone Bass
- Decoupled 5" Continuum Cone FST Midrange Driver
- Voice-matched to other 700 Series speakers
- Said to have been ispired by recording studios and made for living rooms
I might be a little biased since I own a pair of these speakers and have been proudly jamming them for years (regardless of what my neighbors have to say). Compared to older models like the B&W CM5s, these are a remarkable improvement in sound quality. If your room falls within the small to medium size range, the 704s may offer just the right soundstage expansion for you. Vocals come through with pinpoint accuracy, and the bass really shines, even if you don’t have a decent subwoofer.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Andrii Iemelianenko/Shutterstock.com.