Finding Music to Demo

The one question that I get asked the most frequently, whether by clients or coworkers is “How do you find music for demonstration purposes?” or “What music do you use to test speakers?”. I simple say well I just find music that I like, but in reality that’s not the correct answer. I slave over my music choices; I obsess over it. To the point where I don’t stop listening to music. It’s a good problem to have, honestly. My choice in music varies from bands I grew up listening to like; the Beatles, Eagles, and Doobie Brothers to music that recently came out such as Drake, Calvin Harris, and the Black Keys. What I have come to learn is that it’s not about the type of music, but the flow and lyrics of the music itself.

First and foremost a song has to have meaning. The first song that I ever demoed for a client was Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”. Mainly due to that’s what I learned from my mentor and it was easy for me to demo. But it was a good choice because the song has a story that’s meaningful. In music that you want to demo for clients and to test speakers, those songs need to tell a story. The song hurt was originally written and recorded by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and he wrote the song because he had lost a few friends to drug overdose most notably Kurt Cobain, and this was helping him cope and deal with his feelings. Johnny did his rendition of the song a week after June, the love of his life, had passed away. You can feel all of Johnny’s raw emotion as he’s singing and it wafts over you throughout the song. Johnny actually passed away a few weeks after the song came out and it is viewed as a final I love you from Johnny to June. This is the type of storytelling that I use when I demo music for clients on speakers. This is something that I find a lot of sales people miss out on, the attention to detail in the song choices they make.

Now with all that story telling out of the way. The first thing I ask anyone that i’m giving a demo to is “what kind of music do you like?” now if I can relate to the type of music they like to a song I demo, then I use that song, if not I use one of my favorites and then move into what they like to listen to. Depending on the speakers and the client I can use a multitude of songs, but this is a good portion of my demo playlist;

  • Johnny Cash – Hurt (Trent Reznor Cover)
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Slow Cheetah
  • Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc.
  • Hank Williams III – Country Heros
  • Gary Clark Jr. – Things Are Changin’ (Live)
  • Slightly Stoopid – Collie-Man
  • Muse – Madness
  • Beyonce – Partition
  • Dave Matthews Band – Ants Marching
  • Lowdown – Boz Scaggs
  • Sturgill Simpson – In Bloom (Nirvana Cover)

So that is a list of 11 songs that I use for speaker demos as well as testing speakers. I have a running playlist of about 50 songs, that I can use for a plethora of music genres. I also find songs whether form friends, television, or just scouring the internet and radio. I always listen to the song for a few days on my headphones and my system at home before I even bring into the store in order to test it there for demo purposes. I believe in perfecting my craft, so my clients can get the most of their experience and they can truly hear the speakers.

The moral of this blog post is that you need to find music that you like and can learn about in order to know what to listen for when testing speakers or what to tell a client to listen to when demonstrating the music to them. I genuinely listen to very strange range of music but the most important this is I genuinely love music and I love what I do and I believe that people pick up on that.

All right citizens! What do you think? What type of music do you listen to when testing speakers? What’s your favorite track? Let me know if the comments section!

What I’m listening to this week – Suicide Squad Soundtrack
What I’m Watching this week – Stranger Things (Gonna try and finish it)

 

To Receiver or not to receiver that is the question?

Hello Citizens! Once again I’m back to give you a review on some new product! This week’s review will be a 2-For-1! This week we have the Pioneer Elite VSX-LX101 and VSX-LX301. These are two new additions to the Pioneer Elite family and they are both 7.2 surround audio/video receivers. So this week’s looks like a tough battle for your Masked Audiophile, but it looks like I can handle this pair of new criminals in the city. 

First up is the set-up, I had both of the receivers hooked up to my iPhone with an Audioquest lightning cable. I tested these receivers on the Bowers & Wilkins M1, 683, CM1, and CM9. I like to test receivers on the Bowers & Wilkins brand because to me I know the speakers are accurate, so the receiver will have to work its magic in order to impress me. 

The set-up for both of these receivers was really easy. I did not set it up through the onboard menu, I have my speakers already set the way I need them in my room. So I don’t feel it necessary to go the GUI (graphic user interface). But if this is your first receiver or your setting up a new room I highly suggest you use it. 

So here’s the specs for both receivers
VSX-LX101
– 80 watts per channel @ 8 ohms
– Discrete direct energy amp design
– AirPlay
 GoogleCast and Tidal streaming (soon with firmware update) 
– Dolby Atmos 
– 4k 60p pass through 
– HDMI 6 in/1 out 

What’s different on the VSX-LX301
– 100 watts per channel @ 8 ohms
– HDMI 7 in (1 front)/1 out 

So not too much of a difference between the two models. The specs for both of these receivers just aren’t there compared to older models. To me, there is much difference in last year’s vsx-45 and vsx-70 models. In my eyes, looking at the specs I don’t see a reason to upgrade from last year to this year. On the other hand, the sound that came out was pretty standard from a Pioneer Elite. 

When testing the sound, the wattage was really only good for the M1s and CM1s. (These are satellite and bookshelf speakers) When it came to the tower speakers though, it was a different story. The towers peaked to easily which is not good if you like listening to loud music. I would only recommend using these receivers for stereo sound if you’re running tower speakers. I always recommend separate amps for towers and love using Bowers & Wilkins sister company Rotel, but it’s quite expensive. But using this receiver to run a 2.1, 3.1 or 5.1 M1 setup is actually great. I can also see this receiver being used with Definitive Technologies PC600/PC800 package. But back to reality, when it came to the tower speakers, there was a ton of sound left out compared to when I use my VSX-70 which is 3 years old or when I’m at work and use the Marantz SR7010. 

All in all, I believe as an entry-level receiver for a beginning audiophile are someone who just wants a simpler setup I would recommend these receivers. But if you are a true audiophile and have had home theaters and stereo systems before I suggest that you at least wait for this year’s SC-LX501. Which will be out later in the summer. With the 101 priced at $500 and the 301 priced at $700, there are plenty of other options out there. 

Rating
VSX-LX101 — 3 Masks out of 5
VSX-LX301 — 3.5 Masks out 5 

Hope this review helps you out in your fight against bad technology I know this caped crusader, threw these criminals into jail. 

What I’m listening to this week?
New Song   – Dark Necessities (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Old Song     – Madness (Muse)
Demo Song – Soulshine Vol. 1 (Govt. Mule

What I’m watching this week?
Movie          – Batman Vs. Superman
TV                – Huang’s World (Viceland)
Netflix         – Orange Is The New Black