Best Songs to Test Speakers (Studio Monitors, PA Tuning, or new Speakers)

Best Songs to Test Speakers

So, you just bought a new set of speakers (congrats!). Or maybe you’re looking to tune a PA at a new venue! Or maybe you’re just looking for some new songs that sound great! You’re in luck, because we’ve compiled a diverse list of the best songs to test speakers!

Black Cow – Steely Dan

This song starts out with some absolutely crispy drums, a nice round bass, and a clav comping the bass line. This song isn’t super dense, so you should be able to pick out all of the elements. There’s lots of panning going on, with elements sprinkled across the stereo image, so this is a good song to set your speaker distance/angles. Plus, it just sounds so dang good. This record is known for being played in record shops and speaker stores around the world, and for good reason. Steely Dan spared no expense when it came to recording and mixing Aja.

Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder

Another classic cut, “Isn’t She Lovely” is a great sounding example of a classic recording. Heck, they even panned two different tambourines to the left and right. The expressive vocals glide over the top of the dense and bouncing instrumental.

Cherub Rock – Smashing Pumpkins

This song is a great one for testing the separation your speakers will give between frequencies. The blazing guitars and vocals occupy similar ranges, but they should still stand out and be audible on their own. Listen to this song to get a feel for how your speakers will respond to distorted guitars. The arrangement is also fairly same-y throughout the song, so you can use this track to take the time to tune your PA without any big surprises.

Father & Son – Cat Stevens

An acoustic number like this is great for judging a new pair of speakers. This fairly simple arrangement lets you decide if you like the way a speaker reproduces a single sound, like an acoustic guitar.

Stop This Train – John Mayer

If you prefer a more modern example, or you find the hard panned guitars of “Father & Son” distracting, Mayer’s “Stop This Train” is a great pick to test speakers. John’s vocals have a lot of sibilance/brightness in parts this song, so you can get a feel for how your speakers will handle that.

Jurassic Park Main Theme

If you’re testing speakers for a home theater, what better way to do so than using a movie soundtrack? It’s also nice to listen to some songs that don’t feature vocals, so you can turn off your “lyric-brain” and just listen to the sound quality of the speakers. This soundtrack builds from quiet to loud, so you can feel the dynamics shift as it progresses. A nice set of speakers will retain clarity in the quiet moments.

When The Levee Breaks – Led Zeppelin

When you’re testing speakers, it’s nice to have some songs that come right out of the gate with a recognizable sound. The drums in the intro of “When The Levee Breaks” kick off in a recognizable tone, so you’ll know right away if something’s off.

Roundabout – Yes

This one has it all. Crazy detailed acoustic guitars, keyboards, punchy drums, lots of panning, layers upon layers of vocals…this tune goes through tons of changes, making it a solid choice if you just have a few minutes with each pair of speakers.

The real best songs to test speakers…

are also the songs you’ve heard hundreds or thousands of times. If you’ve got a favorite record, now’s the time to bust it out. You want to listen to some songs that you’re familiar with, so you can really get a feel for what characteristics the speakers are imparting into the music. Notice a detail you’ve never heard before? You’re probably listening on some crazy clear speakers. Having a hard time making out that bass line you love? You might need to bring up the bass on the EQ! Either way, we hope these songs help you get the most out of your speakers! Keep on rocking!

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About the Author: Adam Sliger

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I'm the founder of makethatlouder.com, and a producer, musician, and songwriter based out of Orlando, FL. I have 10 years experience producing and owning a commercial recording studio. I write and produce music for artists, TV, and for my solo project, Night Winds. When I'm not writing and recording, I'm into food, coffee, and riding rollercoasters!

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