songs to test your speakers
Entertainment & Playlists

20 Best Songs to Test Your Speakers

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Written By Will Fenton
Entertainment & Playlists

20 Best Songs to Test Your Speakers

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Those looking for the perfect way to test stereo and hi-fi systems are exactly where they should be, as we have organized a list of the 20 best songs to test your speakers.

Truthfully, what you want to test it with is subjective.

There will be several song selections that may not be to your taste.

But stick with us, hear us out, there are good reasons for our choices.

Each has been chosen to put them through their paces and explore a variety of necessary facets.

Test the overall performance with its spatial aspects and dynamics.

Examine the treble reproduction, and bass coping with a handful of the following speaker-challenging songs.

1. “Time” by Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd is known for creating some of the most atmospheric sagas of all time.

Their songs have some of the best spatial sculpting going. 

They used lots of stereo techniques in the studio production to create real depth within a soundscape. 

For that reason, many of their tunes make great songs to test out speakers with.

We highly recommend “Wish You Were Here” but we have opted for “Time”.

The use of individual sampled clock sounds layered together in the intro bars will give your speakers a run for their money. 

The dreamier outro section will give you an idea of spatial depth.

2. “Africa” by Toto

“Africa” with its dynamic range of instruments and astounding production is another great choice of song to test your speakers.

It is superbly crafted by Grammy award-winning mixing engineer Elliot Scheiner.

The finer nuances of percussion in the intro of the piece should be distinct from the more melodic aspects.

If they sound muddied, then you know your frequency response is off. 

3. “Letters” by Yosi Horikawa

Much like the sampled clocks in “Time” by Pink Floyd, this track by the masterful Japanese producer has plenty of everyday sounds in the mix.

The experimental nature of his work gives your speakers something tougher to replicate than your average pop track or drum and bass record.

From the mundane pen and pencil scribbling to the more obscure electronic sounds in the mix, your speakers will have plenty to prove.

It might not be something you will ever blast through your sound system again, but the soundscape with its intricate rhythms will make them work their butts off.

4. “Theme From Jurassic Park” by John Williams

When it comes to testing the dynamics and frequency of your speakers there is nothing quite like orchestral arrangements.

Not everyone enjoys a piece of classical music, so we are easing you in gently with a theme tune that holds a special place in the hearts of every inner child.

The Jurassic Park theme music provides plenty of dynamic peaks and troughs for your speakers to contend with.

From its quieter, ominous start that buds into something a little more wonderful, with high-frequency flutes pitted with harps. 

To the majestic and almost regal motif that we all recognize that gloriously builds.

The sheer variety of instruments used makes it a perfect song to test speakers.

Listen for the vocal choral elements, the bells, and the xylophones as well as the timpani thundering below powerful moments.

5. “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin

Another great orchestral piece to test the dynamic range of your speakers is “Rhapsody in Blue.

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With its jazzier edge that plays with the tonality of the wind instruments, it will test your tweeters.

The compositional characteristics of the piece are also idyllic.

It shifts from empty soloing instruments such as a solitary clarinet or piano to large-scale orchestral backing in a back-and-forth, call-and-answer-like manner.

Only a great set of speakers will be able to take the track on deftly displaying the transition between the more intimate and raucous parts.

It is a track that has plenty of silence as well which is also important for testing your speakers accurately.

6. “Montagues and Capulets” by Sergei Prokofiev

This is another orchestral piece that will be demanding in terms of dynamic detail.

The opening bar goes from a faint pianissimo to a staggering but brief forte of epic proportions and repeats. 

And… that is just the first 30 seconds.

From there, we have the instantly recognizable heavy bouncing motions.

We begin a battle between low-frequency percussive and brass instruments and high-frequency strings and flutes.

The symphonic nature gives your speakers plenty of details to have to flush out. 

There are tonnes of finer nuances to deal with such as the rattling of snares, and twinkling triangles that contrast the blaring threatening trumpets that stomp all over it.

7. “The Four Seasons” by Vivaldi 

We are sticking with classical music for one final speaker-testing song choice before we move on to other music genres.

Vivaldi’s infamous 4-part violin concerto makes for a great option because each section that corresponds to a season is written with a distinct soundscape.

Within the sections are allegro, adagio, and presto-paced parts.

Each with a different tempo that will get your tweeters fluttering as they build to full capacity.

The composition employs a range of dynamics with the difference between the softened pianissimo and grandeur of the forte sections.

8. “In the Air Tonight” by Phill Collins

Another song with a proprietary landscape that will challenge a set of speakers is this early 80’s epic with a striking sound.

The sound technique used to capture the now iconic drum sections was a little happenstance.

They used the reverse talkback mic, initially by accident to capture the drums and loved how it sounded, opting to perfect the mistake and shape it into what was released.

Like the orchestral entries above it presents enough dynamics and has spatial aspects to put your speakers through their paces.

The synth sounds and electronic drums with the reverse talk-back tweaking with their crescendos are great for probing their dynamics.

Of course, the star of the speaker-testing show will be the unforgettable final post-chorus drum break in all its glory!

9. “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes

Now, they say they don’t make songs like they used to and there is a real grain of truth in that!

Back in the swinging sixties producer Phil Spector and the equally decorated Larry Levine cultivated a proprietary production technique named “The Spector Sound”, better known as “The Wall Of Sound”.

Don’t worry if you have never heard of it…You will certainly have heard it in action.

The process involved using several session musicians (back then it was down to a selection dubbed “the Wrecking Crew”) to record the same parts at the same time.

This gave the music a fuller sound.

You have to remember the world had gone from listening to orchestras to bands that had far less density.

The technique is still employed by some recording producers today.

“Be My Baby” by The Ronnetes is just one example of such a song.

Even the emptier sections between those distinct drum beats and absolute silence during the stops have a thicker air to them.

This should be apparent in a good set of speakers.

Making it another great choice of song for speaker testing.

10. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin

Compositionally -speaking the entire song is acapella, there is not one-single instrument recorded.

Everything you hear in the arrangement of this feel-good track is produced by the voice or body in terms of claps and clicks.

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With no real instruments, it has a certain bareness that will give your speakers a workout as they battle with the percussive and melodic vocal elements.

From the bassline that bobs below the main melody line and almost scatted riffs to the high-frequency whistling it will push your speakers.

11. “Teardrop” by Massive Attack

Similarly empty yet intricately built to full enough to speaker testing heights is the powerfully emotive track “Teardrop” by Massive Attack.

It opens with background chatter and has the faint crackle we associate with a needle on a turntable.

The dynamics are fairly soft; the instrumental motifs are introduced one at a time.

You have a pulsating low-end that imitates a heartbeat.

You have a heavy-handed low piano chord thumping at the start of each bar.

There are lots of atmospheric sounds and effects to contend with in the soundscape.

The vocals provided by Elizabeth Fraser are breathy and open and should sound pristine on a good set of speakers.

12. “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish

On the subject of breathy vocal captures that will test the reproduction quality of your speakers, look no further than Billie Eilish.

With her production techniques of sliced multiple vocal takes picked and mixed, she has an almost synthetic sound. 

But you can hear every breath and every break in her voice.

On a sophisticated set of speakers, you will hear her tongue, teeth, and palate noises too!

There are several of her tracks that could be used to test speaker fidelity and accuracy when it comes to her voice.

Especially those over a more musically empty dish.

But “Everything I Wanted” also has the bonus of low-fi instrument sounds and low-end bass pulses at a high tempo of 120 bpm.

13. “Moby Dick” by Led Zeppelin

So we have spoken a lot about multiple instruments testing the clarity of the distinct frequency groups dealt with by your speakers.

“Moby Dick” by Led Zeppelin is a track composed with distinct sections in which each instrument has a chance to shine. 

This makes it a good song for testing a speaker’s frequency response accuracy.

There are obvious dynamics as the song drops out to near silence in Bonham’s legendary drum solo section. 

He plays with the complexity of the rhythms which will again present you a good opportunity to inspect how your speakers are handling.

He builds slowly, the skins have a real ring to them, and the resonance should be really highlighted on a refined audio system.

14. “Das Spiegel” by The Chemical Brothers

We have two Chemical Brothers entries for you.

The electronic nature of the duo’s work and their liberal views on experimenting with the sculpture and form of sound offer a challenging mix for your speakers to reproduce.

“Das Spiegel” is first up as it presents a stilted track with lots of stops and starts.

Musically it has lots of attack and decay for your speakers to cope with.

Over the main instrumentation, there are abrupt sounds that sometimes strike in from a very high-frequency shrinking to a lower end in an instant.

The bass is uninterrupted against the boom-bap rhythm and you have pulses and flanging elements too.

15. “Wonders Of The Deep” by The Chemical Brothers

Our second Chemical Brother selection is “Wonders Of The Deep”.

It is a song that uses extreme panning techniques.

If you listen with a stereo set of speakers or headphones you will really notice how the sound moves around you. 

The stereo panning on most tracks is usually subtler or set up to mimic the way a band would play in a stage left/right format.

With electronic music, you have the luxury of using panning to create motion and depth in the sound.

The duo put it to good use as it creates waves and movement throughout the track, a good set of speakers will highlight it well.

On top of the panning scrutiny, you also have some heavy-impact raging bass interruptions to handle.

There are also some finer details for your speakers to try and flush out in the form of arpeggiated high-frequency synth sounds.

16. “A Day In The Life” by The Beatles

Electronic music isn’t to everyone’s liking.

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Another example of obvious panning that might be a little more to everyone’s taste you could try instead would be The Beatles.

They have a catalog chock-full of tracks with panning in them.

Some you couldn’t split a set of headphones and listen to with a mate as you would bothe only get part of the piece.

The one we have chosen as a song to test your speakers with is “A Day In The Life”.

Our reasons?

Because in addition to the panning you have the addition of a mid-sized orchestra backing the iconic four-piece during its midsection!

The dynamics between the melancholy emptier sections with their humble percussion and breathy, reverberated vocals and the crescendoing symphonic entry will test any speaker. 

17. “The National Anthem” by Radiohead

Having an arrangement with so much going on gives your system lots to pick apart, making it ideal for analyzing your overall balance

“The National Anthem” is musically dense, there are acoustic and electronic sounds on display and the whole thing is like an overdriven onion.

Layers upon layers of sound!

The dynamic inconsistency is going to be a challenge for your speakers. 

It drifts from desolate soundscapes with theremins howling over an unrelenting staccato bass line.

Thom Yorke’s vocals are glassy and ring out over the musical cocktail which even incorporates an out-of-place brass ensemble.

18. “Pretty Vacant” by Sex Pistols

We are heading into heavier territory now, to test the volume capacity of your speakers, where/if they distort, and how muddy or clear they are.

First up, a raw, rough, and ready track from the Sex Pistols.

Punk has a nonchalant, rudimentary sound to begin with in terms of instrumentation.

The pace is also generally dictated by the attitude and the vocals tend to be grittier and sometimes shouted. 

You want to listen out for how your speakers cope with distinguishing between the instruments each in its own range.

How they cope with the high-energy, unrelenting dynamics.

You should hear the sibilance of the “T” at the end of the word “vacant” as the Pistols emphasized it every time and the “S” sounds too.

Even if punk is not your thing, you can’t argue that the wide production that Chris Thomas achieved on this one is fab.

19. “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC

So there are endless rock tracks that will give your speakers a run for their money.

But there is something about the way that “Thunderstruck” is arranged with each motif coming in one at a time that makes it ideal for consideration.

The classic hard rock track opens with such anticipation and has multiple frequencies working from the get-go.

The trebled, nimble riff in the intro section and the low vocal “aahs” are in stark contrast.

Then there’s also the drums jolting with that double strike.

So, plenty to put your speakers through their paces before the verse kicks in!

Once it does you have aggressive licks, screeching voices, gnarly tones, and distortion.

All in all, it is the perfect rock song to test speaker abilities.

20. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

As we draw to an end, you will have noticed one thing these tracks have in common is dynamic shifts and a range of instrument sounds for your speakers to explore.

With most, it is down to compositional structure and songwriting choices.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is nothing short of a masterpiece in terms of structural content.

There are few other commercial songs written that demonstrate the extremes of dynamics in the way that Freddie managed.

The prog-rock opera goes from a lilting piano ballad and passes through operatic theatrics to its hard rock crown of glory.

Those multiple harmonies should be glorious in stereo, some sections feature up to 180 overdubs.

This forced the studio to do lots of premixes on the vocals and then bring the layered vocals back condensed into one new track.

It was one of the first tracks to have automation which is why it builds so tremendously. 

Making it the ultimate dynamic build test subject.

The award-winning saga-like song is perfect to test your speakers with!

Best Songs to Test Your Speakers – Final Thoughts

If you want a good song to test your speaker then it needs to demonstrate range.

It doesn’t matter if it is an acapella with vocals that climb or a fuller arrangement. 

So long as there are dynamics within it and it pushes the woofers and tweeters to work separately and simultaneously.

Of course, the bigger pieces will drive the system harder than an empty track.

But the emptier tracks serve a good purpose for accuracy and finer details.

Ideally, you should try several songs each testing for a specific aspect as well as the overall ability.

Hopefully, you will have learned enough along the way with the information we have laid out for each track choice to select your own songs suitable for testing speakers!

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Will Fenton

Introduced to good music at a young age through my father. The first record I remember being played was "Buffalo Soldier" by Bob Marley, I must've been six years old. By the time I was seven, I was taking drum lessons once a week. The challenge but the euphoric feeling of learning a new song was addicting, and I suppose as they say the rest was history. Favorite album of all time? Tattoo You by The Rolling Stones Best gig you've ever been to? Neil Young at Desert Trip in 2016 Media mentions: Evening Standard Daily Mail

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