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Vinyl Torture Tracks - Inner Grooves, Sibilants, Hotly Cut Tracks, Sudden Volume Bursts, etc.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by patient_ot, Mar 8, 2019.

  1. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident Thread Starter

    After this has been brought up a couple times in various threads about cartridges I thought it would be interesting to make a dedicated thread.

    Note that I'm not talking about test records here, but rather tracks on actual albums and singles of music that push your cartridges to the limits and can be used to optimize a cartridge set up or judge a cartridge's tracking ability.

    Here are some examples I gave from another thread:

    Here are a few that I used semi-recently to optimize a cartridge and check a phono preamp for distortion on hot peaks:

    Big Country - Porrohman
    Big Country - The Crossing

    Texas - Future Is Promises
    Texas - Southside

    Everything But the Girl - Angel
    Everything But The Girl - Love Not Money
  2. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___

  3. padreken

    padreken Forum Resident

    San Diego
    Nice thread idea! I'm breaking in a new cart right now (Soundsmith Aida) and here's a few that are top of the pile right now.

    Rickie Lee Jones-Girl at Her Volcano 10" EP (incredible dynamics, will be very peaky/harsh if setup isn't just right)
    Peter Gabriel-So (also known as SSSSSo)
    The Zombies-Begin Here (mono, The Way I Feel Inside in particular is great for checking azimuth/balance)
    Michael Franks-Burchfield Nines (Oscar Brashear's trumpet on the title track will challenge any rig on dynamics/IGD).
  4. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident Thread Starter


    IIRC aren't there two or more Telarc 1812 pressings? I'm curious how one would tell them apart.
  5. Catcher10

    Catcher10 I like records, and Prog...duh

    Genesis~Selling England By the Pound: Side I Track 4 "More Fool Me". Phil's very close to the mic in studio so hence the Sssss is harsh, I have my setup adjusted where there is almost none and sounds more natural than not.
    Leonthepro and patient_ot like this.
  6. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've heard that PG album is particularly tough for many cartridges and even the CD is quite sibilant.
    2trackmind and c-eling like this.
  7. c-eling

    c-eling New horizons come and go...

    I haven't tried it yet with the AT7V, but with my old AT 150SA I had some trouble spots on the Canadian, couple bad spots on Don't Give Up
    Will give me something to do after work tomorrow
    patient_ot likes this.
  8. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage

    It's been 20 years since I listened to it (or tried listening to it) on a previous setup. Sounded horrible and thought it was just the recording, good idea to get it out again one of these days !
    patient_ot likes this.
  9. ggergm

    ggergm Sir Guy

    Tennessee Jed - from Europe '72 by the Grateful Dead

    The last track on side 4, Garcia's solo is at the end of the song. His guitar is panned hard left, making it especially tough to track.

    This has always been my tracking torture test. If a cartridge will track it, it will track most anything.
    uzn007, johnny q, Kyhl and 3 others like this.
  10. padreken

    padreken Forum Resident

    San Diego
    I went through several copies before I found one that was listenable.
    patient_ot likes this.
  11. dbsea

    dbsea Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    Rain from The Cult Love album
    -This is the last track on side 1 and I've only been able to play it cleanly with cartridges that have a MicroLine stylus like the AT 440MLa or AT33PTG/II.
  12. Ray Blend

    Ray Blend that [format] guy

    The Midwest
    (Discogs links for exact pressings/masterings)

    Smashing Pumpkins* - Siamese Dream
    - Put on the last track: "Luna". Listen to that bass. Then listen to that bass when the drums come in. If it doesn't sound like a garbled, distorted mess... You have a very good setup.

    Wire - Object 47
    - Put on the bonus 12" EP. PLEASE NOTE: This is the loudest cut I've ever come across, and the bass is fearsome. It will separate the weak carts from the strong. Don't PM me if you break something attempting this. Only the best setups will produce a listenable experience.

    R.E.M. - New Adventures In Hi-Fi
    Put on track 1, side 1. If you don't hear sibilance on the vocal, congratulations - you're setup is in the top 1% of all setups.

    The Singleman Affair - Silhouettes At Dawn
    Side 1, track 5. The midrange is dense and deep, with the lead vocal way up close. It sounds wonderous... if your cart has low hours and is set up just so. If your cart is getting a bit late in its lifetime, you may think you blew a midrange driver (I did at first).

    T. Rex - T. Rextasy: The Best Of T. Rex, 1970-1973
    Pick just about any track. If youre not hearing painful amounts of sibilance... you have a better setup that I've ever had. I swear this record is hopeless.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
    ivor, DrZhivago, cracklehead and 4 others like this.
  13. youraveragevinylcollector

    youraveragevinylcollector Forum Resident

    Commerce, GA
    The 2012 Remaster of Queen's Innuendo. Ride the Wild Wind is one of the hottest cut tracks I've ever heard on a modern LP. Easy to track, but the IGD is insane. Doesn't help that my copy was slightly warped.
    patient_ot likes this.
  14. Jeremy Bunting

    Jeremy Bunting Forum Resident

    Guys if you don't note which pressing you're talking about, this information isn't useful to anyone (I see most of us have).

    I like to use tracks that I know can sound perfect if everything is spot on. "Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear" from the US Reprise first press of Randy Newman's "Sail Away" is a great example. If your setup is perfect and your cartridge is capable, you really shouldn't hear any sibilance. Otherwise, it's kind of a mess. "Mr. Tinker" from the RCA first press of Harry Nilson's "Aerial Ballet" is another good one.

    The recent vinyl reissue of "Soul Journey" got me to do some setup tweaking, also.

    In general, I've also found it pays to use a good pair of headphones. Distortion and sibilance that you might miss completely over speakers will still sound through headphones.
  15. Cliff

    Cliff Magic Carpet Man

    Northern CA
    Zappa - Apostrophe (2018 re-issue) is the most sibilant album I own. My PG So (orig US press) has some sibilants but not too bad.
    Eric Murphy and patient_ot like this.
  16. ggergm

    ggergm Sir Guy

    Fair point.

    Regarding my Europe '72 recommendation upthread, any US pressing will do, from 1972 until the record disappeared from stores sometime in the early 1990s. They all have sounded identical to me, and I may have owned a dozen different copies of this record over the years. Still got one sealed.
  17. Danilo

    Danilo Forum Resident

    Milano Italy
    Talking Heads - Memories can't wait
    Soft Cell - The art of falling apart
    John Lennon - Woman is the n****r of the world
    Jane's Addiction - Classic girl
    David Bowie - Lady grinning soul
  18. dbsea

    dbsea Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    Per your request, I'll post matrix info when I get home. For the time being, The Cult Love pressing I own is a US promo.
    patient_ot likes this.
  19. nosliw

    nosliw Azunyan! にゃーーー!

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    I thought I'd contribute a few releases that I find particularly challenging to track from my experience:

    Diamanda Galás - The Litanies Of Satan
    - It may be torture to the ears for some but going from an elliptical to my fine-line stylus did majorly mitigate the sibilance from my experience. Not only that, but this release is quite a hot cut.

    Kina Grannis - Elements
    - Mastered and lacquer cut by Ryan K Smith at Masterdisk NYC, I find this to be quite sibilant sounding even on my Ortofon 2M Bronze. It was quite bad on an elliptical...

    Obituary - Slowly We Rot
    - John Tardy's vocals is fairly sibilant in some tracks. I find that going from an elliptical to the fine-line definitely fixed that.

    Jewel - Pieces Of You
    - The five exclusive tracks on side D is very sibilant no matter which cartridge I used, particularly in songs Rocker Girl and Everything Breaks. Not sure if the recent reissue by Craft Recordings, cut by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, has the same issue.
    royzak2000 and patient_ot like this.
  20. cmcintyre

    cmcintyre Forum Resident

    The MGM soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey features the same recording of Also Sprach Zarathustra as both the first track side one and last track side two.

    Whilst not a torture track, it's a worthwhile piece to use as it allows one to aurally hear the difference between outer and inner groove tracking.

    A great setup will ideally have these sounding exactly the same (assuming that the cut was well done). As an opening track it sounds bold and full, as the closing track it may sound a little "fragile" in comparison if not correct tracking.

    Various - 2001: A Space Odyssey (Music From The Motion Picture Sound Track)
  21. hobbes4444

    hobbes4444 Forum Addict

    IGD and Sibilance r us... side 1 Billy Joel An Innocent Man Tell Her About It, also side 2 The Nylon Curtain Where's the Orchestra? This also serves as a nice channel separation test since you have vocals one channel and piano and strings in the other.

    Joe Jackson, Body and Soul You Can't Get What You Want has some nasty sibilance as well.

    I have sibilance on the remastered Darkness on the Edge of Town title track from the 2014 box set
  22. padreken

    padreken Forum Resident

    San Diego
    I have all of these except for the Springsteen (have a Japanese pressing of that one), I’ll have to pull them out this weekend.
    patient_ot likes this.
  23. aroney

    aroney Who really gives a...?

    Toto - Africa.

    Last track on the side - if you can track it well and it holds together in the last couple of minutes - your cart/stylus is NICE.
  24. dbsea

    dbsea Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    My copy matches this discogs entry ('A' stamped in a ring on the label, curved address text on label, all deadwax markings) except that it has SR2 instead of SR1 and has a promo stamp on the cover.

    The Cult - Love
    patient_ot likes this.
  25. hobbes4444

    hobbes4444 Forum Addict

    I'd be curious to know if your Japanese box set has the issue with Darkness. I'm peeved at that one bc it's not on the original USLP
    patient_ot likes this.

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