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Best Classical Music to Test Speakers, According to Sound Engineers

We’re not classical music snobs here at New Music World.

Throwing some Led Zeppelin or Greta Van Fleet on the turntable will put any speakers to the test.

We do, however, think that classical music can really help when you want to see if the tonality, dynamics, and even stereo imaging capabilities of your speakers are up to scratch.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the best classical music to put your speakers through their paces with.

And don’t worry, some of it is very modern!

Stravinsky – The Rite Of Spring

Stravinsky - The Rite Of Spring

Give this a little time to warm up in the listening room, it has a steady and simple intro that then comes dramatically to life.

They say that when this was first played to an audience, they rioted!

That means you can really test the system dynamics of your Hi-Fi and see if it can handle everything from the growling bass to the dense mass of heavy crescendos.

Sure, it’s about half-an-hour long but that’s perfect for a good test seeking to find system limitations.

Listen to it here.

John Williams – Jurassic Park Theme

John Williams - Jurassic Park Theme

We could have had nearly any composition from the creator of the Star Wars theme and this melodic music is very powerful and clever.

If you want to ensure that you’ve got a set up having muscle to pull above its weight this is a great way to find out if it can.

Sure this is super commercial but the piano keys are excellent and it’s a lot of fun.

Listen to it here.

Mahler – Symphony Number 2

Mahler - Symphony Number 2

If you want to know that your audio system can reproduce music that has a new perfect sound quality then this is an exciting and vital piece that can sound confused if it’s not produced with the right kind of instrumental timbre.

This is great if you want to see if your speakers are up to the kind of standard used in a recording venue.

Listen to it here.

Ólafur Arnalds  – Raein

Ólafur Arnalds  - Raein

If you want a neo-classical piece that will put the dynamic shifts of your equipment to the sword?

This is the way to go. As the melody flows, you’re looking to ensure that you have clarity (a very important quality often overlooked when purchasing speakers, sadly).

Keep the volume low and see how your Hi-Fi is going to sound at levels that many audio setups struggle with.

Listen to it here.

Debussy – Clair De Lune

Debussy - Clair De Lune

This is the kind of Sony Classical recording that you just can’t go wrong with. The solo piano just soars and the music’s emotional message ought to be very clear indeed as it is reproduced.

Listen to it here.

Philip Glass – String Quartet Number 5

Philip Glass - String Quartet Number 5

This is a very subtle and intimate piece that is going to force your system to see if it can keep up with the Kronos Quartet (legends in the modern classical sphere).

You don’t have to listen to all of this to know if it will sound fluid enough – a minute or two should be enough to decide if your speakers are performing well enough.

Listen to it here.

Hans Zimmer – Like A Dog Chasing Cars

Hans Zimmer - Like A Dog Chasing Cars

We could probably have taken any item from Hans Zimmer’s encyclopaedic discography but this is from one of the most memorable soundtracks in recent times – The Dark Knight.

You’ll find that your Hi-Fi will need great bass definition to do it justice and there are seismic dynamic shifts to be dealt with too.

Listen to it here.

Dvorak – Symphony Number 9

Dvorak - Symphony Number 9

Often better known as the New World Symphony this can be played by a full orchestra or a chamber orchestra and it’s a testament to what it’s like to be an immigrant in the United States.

The music’s insistence on delivering such an emotive message is the ideal way to work your speakers to the max.

Listen to it here.

Arvo Part – Tabula Rasa

Arvo Part - Tabula Rasa

This is a very calm piece that is ideal for testing the subtleties of your speaker system. We like the hint of sadness about it.

Listen to it here.

Jaakko Mantyjarvi – Pseudo Yoik

Jaakko Mantyjarvi - Pseudo Yoik

This is an odd Icelandic piece that really lets you check the timbre of the sound as well as monitor some more subtle dynamic changes.

Listen to it here.

The Speaker Manufacturer’s Tip: Choose The Most Emotionally Affecting Music You Know

We asked a couple of friends at speaker manufacturers and they say that while this list is more than good enouh, the best piece of classical to test your sound with is the one that moves you the most.

We think that’s probably true and we’d encourage you to add your favorites to pieces on this list.

Final Notes

The dense instrumentation of classical music makes it a great way to put through speakers through their pace and the tracks above offer a range of recordings that you can listen to to ensure your speakers are up to par.