At Hi Fi Racks, we test our new solid hardwood product designs with a variety of songs spanning a huge range of musical genres, analysing performance across high and low frequencies, as well as rhythm and dynamics. This ensures that every Hi Fi Racks customer receives the very highest quality, precision-made product - be that a hi-fi rack, AV rack, isolation plinth or speaker stands – which delivers the best possible acoustic performance. We blind test every product to consistently achieve an enhanced result. By testing against a diverse playlist, we ensure that all music tastes are catered for, from classical connoisseurs to pop-lovers!
When it comes to testing your hi-fi equipment, our number one suggestion is to use songs that you are highly familiar with, to ensure that you can recognise where the performance is crystal clear from your set-up, or where subtle nuances are missed. We also like to have some songs that are badly recorded and produced, as this often shows the weakness in the system. It may be your favourite track, but if its poorly recorded then it will sound terrible on a good system, as they will expose warts and all. However, when you get a well-produced and recorded song it can be simply sublime, and then the whole fun starts!
We’ve put together a Tidal playlist with our recommendations and favourite tracks for testing your hi-fi equipment, including songs that test the full capacity of your equipment as well as some of the tunes we just love.
Here are some of Bradley’s personal favourites:
Dreams - Fleetwood Mac
I know the band are a Hi Fi test favourite, but with such a seminal album, the hard choice is choosing which song! In my opinion, the album gets better the more you read up on the history of it and the story behind the band’s personal break-ups. Taken from their eleventh studio album Rumours, Dreams combines a catchy melody and the raw beauty of Stevie Nicks’ unique vocal tone for a hauntingly delightful harmony. With rich and cinematic textures, the juxtaposition of electric piano, guitars, organ and hypnotic eight-bar drum loop with a simple two-chord bass creates a full-bodied sonic experience. Extra points if you can identify the congas and vibraphone.
Dreadlock Holiday - 10cc
Back in my London days, one of the first bands I saw in Croydon’s Fairfield Halls was either 10cc or Hot Chocolate – I can’t remember which came first. The lead single from the band’s 1978 album Bloody Tourists, Dreadlock Holiday by 10cc was forever immortalised by the cricket world. Featuring a shimmering percussive intro with a massive, unforgettable chorus, this tune marries cod reggae with a great vocal pop melody. We don’t like this song… we love it!
Breathe - The Prodigy
Igniting The Prodigy’s presence within pop radio, Breathe brought the EDM movement to the mainstream, fusing techno, breakbeat and acid house with a churning bassline. The second single from their massive 1997 album, The Fat of the Land, this punk-infused rave classic is packed full of high-octane sound. When you’re sitting comfortably in your favourite listening chair, it’s so difficult not to get up and dance like Keith (God bless). Or is that just me?
A Day In The Life - The Beatles
With The Beatles, it’s difficult to know where to start, and choosing just one song was so hard. A legendary song well-known by all, A Day In The Life is the monumental finale of The Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The story goes, John says to George Martin “I have a beginning of a song and an end, but not a middle” and Paul says, “I have a middle”!
So, after hearing both parts, George uses his wizardry and plays John’s beginning… Then slaps a Symphony Orchestra in straight after that builds to a massive crescendo. At this point, an egg timer goes off for Paul’s cue to come in (you can still hear it). After Paul’s part it’s back to John and the orchestra, with the final, lingering E-major chord providing a transcendental finishing touch. With a story like that, it’s no wonder that they were so fab.
Girls Like - Tinie Tempah ft. Zara Larsson
Incorporating an incredibly bouncy electronic production with Swedish sensation Zara Larsson on the hook, Girls Like by Tinie Tempah is a brilliant, upbeat dance track that you can’t help but tap your foot to. Hitting the pop-rap sweet spot, I am a sucker for a simple pop song and we all thoroughly enjoy this song in the Hi Fi Racks office, whether it’s on our testing playlist or played just for the fun of it!
Romeo & Juliet, Op. 64, Act 1: No.13, Dance of the Knights - Prokofiev
I adore the Ballet with a passion and try to go as often as possible. I love all the arts, but the Ballet always moves me. A dark, dissonant track full of sensuous strings in contrast with sharp bass, the orchestral suite of Romeo & Juliet Op. 64 by Prokofiev is an incredible symphonic testing track perfect for analysing component performance. Keep your ears open for the rattle of a snare, the ding of a triangle and the squeak of a timpani foot-pedal, in this immersive composition that is exceptional on a good hi-fi set-up.
Jive Talkin’ - Bee Gees
What a song straight from the disco era, I love the fact the starting rift came from the beat they heard when driving over a wooden bridge in a camper van. One of the defining bands of the 1970s, Jive Talkin’ is an amazing disco hit with falsetto harmonies that makes it a brilliant tune for testing. We particularly value the pulsing synth bassline. Who else thinks of Kenny Everett with this?
Carmina Burana - I. O Fortuna - Carl Orff
I must admit I was not really into the Opera until someone in the trade invited me to a production, and really it blew me away. The menacing and ominous O Fortuna within Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana cantata is choral artistry at its best, incorporating rhythmic ostinatos, chanting vocal melodies and fierce crescendos. A wide-ranging tonal spectrum that makes for an unforgettable listening experience.
Jolene - Dolly Parton
This playlist wouldn’t be complete without the country queen herself and her most iconic track, Jolene. What’s not to love here? An emotionally powerful and timeless three-chord song which is beautiful in its simplicity, weaving warbling vocals with an acoustic guitar, augmented with pedal steel and strings. And what a performance at Glastonbury!
Sweet Dreams - Eurythmics
I remember like yesterday when this song was played for the first time or should I say “dropped”? It was unlike anything I had ever heard before! From the British new wave duo Eurythmics, Sweet Dreams is still filling dancefloors decades on from its release. With an insistent analogue synth riff, a funky electro beat and Annie Lennox’s soulful voice, this tune is a musical triumph which is truly a joy to the ears.
My all-time favourite song, that’s not on the playlist, is Imagine by John Lennon. It’s more the lyrics than anything, but hey, you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
What’s your favourite song to test hi-fi to? Let us know in the comments below!