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

Cécile McLorin Salvant: For One to Love (Mack Avenue, 2015)

You may notice I’ve gone a bit heavy on female singers for this list, but that’s for good reason—their clear, higher-pitched voices quickly reveal tuning flaws in speakers and headphones, and they provide plenty of room for lower-pitched instruments to be heard. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the recordings of jazz’s hottest new female singer are great for testing audio gear, especially when she’s performing complex arrangements with a full group. The dynamic gear shifts and full-throated vocals of “Wives and Lovers” make it the best audio test in McLorin Salvant’s catalog, especially its woofer-torturing intro.

Preview, buy or download For One to Love 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.