15 Classic Records to Demo Classic Speakers

Forty years ago, we recommended these records to our dealers’ sales staff to use for demonstrating Ohm speakers. They still sound great on today’s speakers.

You will notice that a large proportion of these recordings feature prominent vocals. This is not by accident! Everyone is good at listening to voices (having been trained since before birth) and hearing subtle differences. For this reason, the sound of the human voice is essential for auditioning audio systems.

Most of these titles are still available. They are linked to Amazon for your convenience. Good listening!

Janis Ian- Between the Lines. This is a very warm sounding album, with the most importance placed on her voice. Her voice should sound natural and detailed.

Joan Baez- Diamonds & Rust. This was the first recording that I heard using Dolby Noise Reduction on the master-tapes and it was quiet on doubled KLH 9s at Audio Lab in Cambridge MA.

Glen Campbell- Rhinestone Cowboy. The bass should be firm on this album, and the high frequencies in the drum kit and the rhythm guitar should really shimmer. His voice should be both present and intelligible.

Coke Escovedo- Comin at Ya! Can’t remember what we liked about this one!

Seiji Ozawa conducts the Boston Symphony - Berlioz: Symphony Fantastique. March to the Gallows & Witches Sabbath. This is a very dynamic recording: it starts off very quietly, but don’t turn it up too high until you know what you’re dealing with, because it gets a lot louder!

Bee Gees- Stayin’ Alive. The bass guitar and the hi-hat form a wide open space for the voices to live in. The guitar is mixed a little farther back than the voice. The bass drum should be punchy and very rhythmic. Don’t miss the triangle on the refrain!

Donna Summer- A Love Trilogy. Try Me, I Know We Can Make It. The hi-hat should be crisp with lots of tinkle, but her voice shouldn’t have too much sibilance.

Eugene Ormandy- Saint-Saens Symphony No.3. Last Movement. This was my business partner Sandy Ruby’s favorite recording. It features dramatic organ music.

Linda Ronstadt- Heat Wave …and many of her other records!

Pousette-Dart Band- Pousette-Dart Band. Woman In My Dreams: You’ll hear the hand drum panned to one side, the acoustic guitar on the other, and the voice, very exposed, in the center.

Music from Barry Lyndon. We like this one for the exposed recordings of acoustic instruments, both solo and in small ensembles. The different arrangements of some of the pieces on this record make the production quality shine on a good system.

Others not on this old list, but among my all-time favorite oldies:

James Taylor- Sweet Baby James. We loved this one so much that we used to give away copies from our stores at Tech Hifi!

Arne Domnerus- Jazz at the Pawnshop. All versions – you are there!

Oscar’s Motet Choir- Cantate Domino. Julsång – choir imaging

Jennifer Warnes- Famous Blue Raincoat. Bird on a Wire & Famous Blue Raincoat

The brilliance of the past shines through to the future, and I believe these albums will shine on for many years to come.

‘Til Next Time,


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John Strohbeen Author

John Strohbeen was the President and Chief Engineer of Ohm Acoustics from 1978-2023.

John Strohbeen

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