What is your goto reference recording

What record CD or down load is the music that you use to judge your system by or shop with ?
I judge it by how well it plays everything.   No one recording covers all the bases.  

I use a CD that I made myself that includes 18 of my favorites. I have made several of these. They cover all genres that interest me.

Two CD’s that I can recommend are, Mannheim Steamroller “Fresh Aire 7” and Diana Krall “Live in Paris”.
Whenever I put something new in my system after things have settled down and I want to really start listening I always put on Mahler: Symphony No. 2 Valery Gergiev & London Symphony Orchestra because it has everything in it , massive dynamics, a solo vocal with hardly any accompaniment, great percussion and most of all wonderful playing. Quite the best recording I have of the fifteen versions in my library.
I’ll echo the assortment or compilation theme.

I enjoy many genres. Consequently I should have a bit of each one that has distinct items I’m looking for a ??? to exhibit or demonstrate. Bottom end performance; midrange; top end finesse; sound staging; area of the sound stage; amongst these tracks I should get some pretty good idea of what to expect. I use Jazz, blues, R&B, folk, country, alternative rock, rock, acid jazz, choral, acoustic and metal. I have a couple tracks of   Acapulco singers, male and female. Baritone Sax. Drums of course.

As said, I can’t see how someone could select ??? using but one sample of any music, unless that was the only music genre they listen to.

Put them onto disc and HDD, or bring along a couple LPs.

I like to use my British EMI pressing of PF's The Wall. Plenty of variety on the two LP set for some fun listening!
I also use a CD I burned with many familiar but different pieces of music.  I think that Paul Desmond's alto sax on Take Five is a very good indicator of whether a speaker will exhibit objectionable harshness later on, BTW.  Other pieces include male vocals, female vocals, solo piano, and some other esoteric stuff I like like Lambchop.  
Having stuff on 1 CD saves the distraction of getting up and changing CDs or LPs.  
One of my go-to records for set up and dialing in is a standard issue early pressing of Janis Ian’s Between the Lines- has lot’s of the stuff you’d likely use to check sound- female voice, strings (real), some orchestral parts, some acoustic, some deep bass and a lot of variety among the tracks. I have a test approval pressing that I acquired and it doesn’t sound any different than the standard issue Columbias from the original era of release. RL mastered it originally. It's a good sounding 'standard' record, nothing "audiophile" about it, so it's a better reference than something that is spectacular for the purposes of set up. 
Manger demo CD....various genres and a torture track at the end.  
Dali CD vol 1 with the famous Hugh Masekela song "Stimela".

For analog testing Flowers in the Dirt album by Paul McCartney and Lost In Sound by Yusef Lateef.
For digital testing Bloodletting by Concrete Blond esp. The song Tomorrow Wendy and Pangea by Miles Davis.

I also use a number of recordings. Two of the most used are Beethoven Symphony No. 6 in F Major "Pastorale" conducted by Bruno Walter w/the CSO on SACD for strings/woodwinds and Holly Cole "Don’t Smoke in Bed" for female vocals.
The Who - Quadrophenia Side One
BST - Child is Father to the Man, vintage '68 stereo release Side 2
Richard and Linda Thompson - Shoot Out the Lights Side 2
Miles Davis - Kind of Blue Side One
Art Blakely and the Jazz Messengers - Caravan Side One

I always used to use "Ah Um" by Mingus to test systems. It's well recorded and has diversity of instruments, enough to test almost anything except pipe organ or full blown symphony orchestra. 

I'm not sure a system should be evaluated solely on those last two.
I use the Bill Evans album "Waltz for Debby" to determine whether the system or device being tested properly shows off the magic of this recording.  If the cymbals don't shimmer, or the brushes aren't palpable, and the soundstage isn't a glow, I know there's a problem somewhere in the chain. 

An assortment of superior quality XRCDs or quality mastered redbook CDs, depending on the genre preference of the guest listener. These include any and all of the following:


- Female vocalists in "Best Audiophile Voices" in the various discs in that XRCD whole series;
- Grand piano in XRCD with "Steinway the Beautiful";
- Classical masters in XRCD with "The Best of the Audiophile Classics" ( Bach, Brahms, Schubert, Chopin, and Beethoven;
- Rock in DIRE STRAITS in XRCD with "Brothers in Arms".

In standard redbook CDs , for rock / guitar instrumentals / jazz : all of the following three :

+1 for DIRE STRAITS "Love Over Gold";

Guitar instrumental: CHESTER & LESTER ..... Chet Atkins and Les Paul on their chosen electric guitars together as a duo, backed by the cream of Music City’s studio musicians circa 1975 in Nashville - a great 14 track offering .

Jazz in BILL EVANS "Riverside Profiles"... remastered in 2006.

I have a few songs:

Stevie Ray Vaugh - Tin Pan Alley

Ginger Baker - Cyril Davies

Gary Clarke Jr.- Down to Ride

Cassandra Wilson - Strange Fruit

Miles Davis - All Blues

Al Di Meola - The Embrace

George Duke - The Black Messiah Pt 2

Les McCann - Forever Gone

Jimmy Smith - Got my Mojo Working

Christian McBride - Getting to It/ Little Sunflower

Charlie Hunter - Rendezvous Avec La Verite

Dave Brubeck - Time Out

Dizzy Gillespie - Night in Tunisia

Rickie Lee Jones - Dat Dere

Marcus Miller - Slippin into Darkness

Nina Simone - Four Women

Hugh Masekela - Stimela

Rachelle Ferrell - I Can Explain & My Funny Valentine

Sonny Rollins - Sais

Ahmad Jamal - Night Has A Thousand Eyes

I play these tunes whenever I audition speakers or components. My local dealer loves me. I also use this material when I'm doing any tweaks at home.


Stevie Ray Vaugh - Tin Pan Alley

Fleetwood Mac - Gypsy and Sara

Donald Fagen - Mary Shut The Garden Door and New Frontier

Dire Straits - So Far Away and Fade to Black

Dave Brubeck - Take Five

Rickie Lee Jones - Last Chance Texaco

Andy Gravish - New York / Rome hookup

No compression, no EQ, as organic as it gets. Primo jazz to boot.
Bartok "Music For Strings, Percussion And Celesta" - Segei Ozawa/BSO on DGG LP!
Only CD here and I go with the first pressing of Pink Floyd's DSOTM from Japan and Dire Strait's S/T album Japan Target pressing.

I agree a system has to play everything, but you need a couple of high quality recordings you know well, to take to a demo. Mine are:

Lyle Lovett, Joshua Judges Ruth

Dvorak, Rusalka, , The Decca version, with Renee Flemming, the first few tracks.

If you think you don't like opera, just try that recording, it's just wonderful.

As an aside, the last time I saw Russalka, was at the Glyndeborne, in the UK. festival and the Soprano, in her excitement, flew 15ft off the stage into the orchestra. She was fine, the £30000 cello she landed on was terminal though. There was the inevitable call for a Doctor. Absolutely no point I thought, there'll be hundreds of them. Sure enough, I was persuaded to volunteer and was told they had 24 Doctors already!