The 10 Best Tracks to Test Headphones With


Buying a new pair of headphones can be a daunting task, especially when you consider the hundreds of different options available in the market. Sure, you could go with the best-reviewed option, but how do you know if it’ll be good for the kind of music you listen to?

Audiophiles usually have a dedicated playlist that they use to test headphones with. But, if you don’t, here’s our collection of tracks to put a new pair of headphones through its paces.

1. Bohemian Rhapsody Remastered (2011) by Queen

Statue of Freddie Mercury in Switzerland

From the echoes of the chorus to the multi-layered harmonies and the instantly recognizable opera sections, Bohemian Rhapsody is more than just a song; it’s a story told in sound waves that has reverberated throughout generations.

Freddie Mercury’s masterpiece was remastered and released in 2011, upgraded for streaming, with more nuanced instrument sounds and better clarity. If you want to test the full range of your new headphones, this is the song to go with.

From its mellow beginnings to Mercury’s high notes during the operatic section and, finally, May’s solo as the song switches lanes into rock-and-roll territory, this track will help you test the full range of your headphones.

High-end headsets might be able to pick up those tiny mistakes that were left in intentionally when the song was first recorded, including the slightly out-of-tune piano!

2. Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes

Renowned for its incredible bass riff, Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes is arguably the most recognizable song to have released in the early 2000s.

The deep bassline poses a great test for headphones, while the mix of different instruments, coupled with the bassline consistently playing in the background, will help you test your new headphones’ dynamic response.

3. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards by Tame Impala

This is a great song to test your new headphones’ overall sound field. The arrangement lets you hear from all directions, and good headphones should be able to replicate this perfectly.

From the slight variations of the bass line to the electric organ’s nuance, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards is a great track that you can use to gauge the overall clarity and response of your new headphones.

The song may sound “dirty” with layers mixing improperly, especially as it nears the end, on low-quality headphones. However, on high-end cans, the track is more nuanced, clear, and just sounds so much better.

4. Heroes (2017 Remaster) by David Bowie

Lyrics of Heroes in neon lights

Heroes is a phenomenal song by David Bowie that is great for testing your new pair of cans. If you want the best quality headphones that don’t cost a fortune, it’s important to test them properly.

Ideally, you’d want to make sure that they can handle changes in musical intensity seamlessly. Heroes is a great track to test this. From the faint sounds of the lead guitar to the piano keys, topped with the consistent pitch variation in Bowie’s voice, this is a fantastic track to put your new headphones through the paces.

By the end of the song, you should also be able to hear the unique juddering effect that the song’s renowned for!

5. No Time for Caution by Hans Zimmer

No Time for Caution may seem like a simple instrumental on the surface, but there’s a lot to notice, if you listen closely. Hans Zimmer’s masterpiece continues to add on instruments as it grows in intensity until the hairs on the back of your neck begin to stand.

The song starts slow, with a simple drum beat, until the air’s suddenly punctuated with an organ. Violins soon join in, and before long, you’ll find it difficult to make out different instruments as the entire orchestra kicks into gear.

It’s a phenomenal track to test headphones, as it’ll help you gauge the midrange response and the bass levels of your new cans.

6. Diamonds From Sierra Leone by Kanye West

Most people don’t test headphones with rap songs, but this one is a true exception. Apart from West’s fantastic lyrics, you may want to pay attention to the sounds in the background.

From the fantastic bass line to the synthesizers and muted cymbals, Diamonds From Sierra Leone is a great track to test just how balanced your headphones really are.

If you have headphones with high impedance, you’ll be able to hear all the instruments with pristine clarity. But, to really make the best of such headphones, you also need a high-impedance output port.

7. Now We Are Free by Hans Zimmer

Lisa Gerrard, Klaus Badelt, and Hans Zimmer’s masterpiece from Gladiator is a great track for testing your headphones. The haunting vocals of Gerrard’s voice, coupled with the clear dynamic detail and the faint piano in the background will really strain your headphones.

The song suddenly changes midway, as new percussive instruments fill the soundstage, which will help you gauge your headphones’ overall dynamics and ability to handle changes in musical intensity.

8. Paper Trails by DARKSIDE

If you want a track with a really moving bassline, check out Paper Trails by DARKSIDE. The vocals also fall towards the deep end of the frequency range, so you can better gauge whether your headphones offer clear bass or not.

Played through a good pair of headphones, it’s going to sound great. If you don’t hear the music right, you might want to try a few tips to improve the sound quality of your headphones.

9. Rainbow In The Dark by Dio

If you’re a fan of rock and roll or even heavy metal, Rainbow In The Dark by Dio is a great track to test your new headphones with. Ronnie’s high-pitched vocals, coupled with the sharp distortion of the electric guitar and that iconic riff will really push any pair of headphones to their limits.

The chorus is also punctuated with a gorgeous keyboard riff until you hear just the drums before it all boils down to an unbelievable solo by Vivian Campbell. Now, you’ll be hearing the riff, the drums, and that iconic solo altogether.

Good headphones are able to present the sounds with great clarity, especially the part with the pinch harmonics.

10. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (All Parts) by Pink Floyd

Shine On You Crazy Diamond is arguably one of the best tracks to test your new headphones, simply because it covers everything you need across nine parts.

From a dynamic soundstage to varying instruments to unbelievable guitar sounds and even a trumpet, nothing comes close to this one if you want variety. The “twang” of Gilmour’s Fender to Wright’s keyboard riffs, the varying frequencies will pose a great test for your headphones.

The later parts really elevate the song, as it all boils down into a crescendo of different instruments being played in true musical harmony. If you want to test the dynamic grip of your headphones and how well they can handle sudden frequency changes, try this.

Find the Right Headphones for You

Modern headphones often require users to strike a balance between sound and function. These tracks will help you decide which headphones offer the right balance for you.

In addition to your potential headphones’ sound quality, you might also want to look at other features, such as connectivity, noise cancellation, battery capabilities, or if it’s solar-powered.

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Solar Powered Headphones: How Do They Work & Are They Worth the Money?

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