JazzTimes 10: Great Jazz Albums to Test Your Stereo With

A collection of sides that will reveal your system’s strengths—and weaknesses

I only have Eyes for You by Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy
I only have Eyes for You by Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy

Diana Krall: Live in Paris (Verve, 2002)

Audiophiles hate this record because they hear it nearly nonstop at audio shows—but the reason they hear it so often is because it tells you so much about a system. On Live in Paris, famed engineer Al Schmitt captured all the little sonic details of Krall’s voice and her all-star cast of players, while also conveying a realistic sense of the excellent acoustics of Paris’ 2,000-seat Olympia Hall. Krall’s voice should sound smooth with no sibilance, yet you should also be able to hear all the sizzle and sheen of Jeff Hamilton’s cymbal work. But you don’t have to be analytical with this recording; simply put, if it doesn’t sound pretty close to a live performance, something’s wrong somewhere.

Preview, buy or download Live in Paris on Amazon!

Brent Butterworth

Brent Butterworth has been a professional audio journalist since 1989, and has evaluated and measured thousands of audio products. He is currently a writer at Wirecutter and editor of the SoundStage Solo headphone site; served as an editor at such magazines as Sound & Vision and Home Theater; and worked as marketing director for Dolby Laboratories. He also plays double bass with several jazz groups in Los Angeles.