We asked our Product Manager Andy Kerr to choose 10 tracks that really showed off the new CM Series. Though we say it ourselves, it’s an excellent list.
1. Micah P.Hinson – Kiss Me Mother, Kiss Your Darling
(All Dressed Up And Smelling Of Strangers)
“One and a two and a one-two-three-four”. The first deeply drawled phrases of Micah P.Hinson’s laconic Texan drawl will leap from your speakers like few other recordings. Hinson’s cover of George Roots’ 19th Century standard ‘Kiss Me Mother, Kiss Your Darling’ is presented with an arresting realism, and as with most of his works, there’s little between you and the immediacy of his spare, emotive voice.
Try it on a pair of CM6 S2 for a truly remarkable sense of focus and imaging.
2. Fink – Trouble’s What You’re In
(Wheels Turn Beneath My Feet)
This live recording from the Union Chapel in London captures Brighton-based Fin Greenall and his cohorts in blistering form. The distinctive spaciousness of the acoustics reflects the exceptional height of the Chapel’s Gothic ceiling: Greenall’s voice soars into the soundstage as the track unfolds, a characteristic made all the more apparent if you listen on either CM6 S2 or CM10 S2 with their tweeter-on-top configurations.
There’s a powerful, insistent rhythmic slap to the bassline too, which comes across particularly well on any of the floorstanders in the range.
(Sledgehammer Soul and Down Home Blues)
Audiophile favourite McClain can be a patchy performer: while his recordings are frequently impeccably produced, there are times when you wish that his blues were just a little more…blue. But When The Hurt Is Over is an exception, a track every bit as gritty and sorrowful as anything Muddy Waters could conjure.
Imaging is exceptional, space around the performers first-class and McClain’s ensemble band is given ample space to show off, with Bruce Katz’s wonderful piano work a particular highlight.
The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
Fiona Apple’s flair for the unconventional is perfectly conveyed in this characteristically quirky recording. Her raw vocal explodes from the centre of a solidly founded soundstage as the song begins, but it’s the magical intertwining of both multi-tracked layers of her voice and those of accompanying harmonist Maude Maggert – Apple’s sister – that send Hot Knife over the edge into baffling, boggling brilliance.
The simple instrumentation – rhythmic, insistent drumming and a rolling jazz piano – are just as well recorded and just as strikingly placed within the image. It’s far from a conventional song but on the CM S2, few tracks will get you so close to the performer’s emotions.
Ah, Austrian House Music. The stuff of audiophile dreams, right? OK, so maybe not…but while Sonnentanz isn’t exactly classic hi-fi demo material, it’s still an exceptional way to showcase the scale, cohesion and detail offered by any of the new CM S2 range. The track’s scale and power are obvious from the opening bars, especially on the CM9 or CM10 S2: the front of your room will be filled with a soundstage so broad and densely layered it seems almost tangible.
For all that, it’s the vibraphone – yes, a vibraphone – and the jazz-inflected brass breaks that make Sonnentanz so special. They’re placed high up in the mix, lighting up the top of the image like other—worldly musical snippets dropped from some passing spaceship.
(Till The Sun Turns Black)
LaMontagne’s rootsy, folky style finds perfect expression on this brooding country blues song produced by long-time collaborator Ethan Johns. It’s a cracking track, so well recorded and engineered that even on smaller, less able speakers it sounds terrific.
On the tweeter-on-top CM6 S2 or CM10 S2 it becomes positively extraordinary, the restrained horn section and subtle-yet-powerful drumming building layers of texture into the track. Imaging is exceptional, as is the sense of soundstage depth and of instruments being correctly placed within the acoustic space.
(Till The Sun Turns Black)
Another brilliant example of imaging focus intertwined with spacious, room-swelling atmospherics, this fulminating deep house mix is one of mysterious DJ Asadinho’s most successful collaborations, having enjoyed massive and sustained online success since its release. Del Rey’s floating, almost ethereal voice combines beautifully with the DJ’s brutal, sofa-shaking electro-bass riffs to create a powerhouse of a demonstration track, one that will pressure-drive even the largest room with ease.
Try it on a pair of CM10 S2s for maximum impact.
New Zealand’s teenage sensation has a nice line in irony: Royals points a less-than-playful finger at the music industry’s penchant for excess, its dismissive tone suggesting that Lorde is more intent on long-term career success than the trappings of a pop princess. It’s largely spare and simple, the basic instrumentation giving her fine voice ample space to breathe, but for all that, it’s the track’s deepest bass tones that earn it its inclusion here.
Layering on the power and extension, Royals will stretch many a floorstander to its limits, but it’s a blast on even the compact CM8 S2s. Try it on the larger CM9 S2 or the mighty CM10 S2 for the maximum impact.
(Black & White)
Swiss singer-songwriter Sway seems a man out of time: his expressive, soulful voice is rooted in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, drawing on the funk of The Isley Brothers, the R&B of Otis Redding and nods to Al Green’s smooching soul. The track’s beautifully judged Hammond organ further add to the song’s retro feel, dancing around Sway’s voice as the track unfolds to conjure exactly the late-night feel he seems intent on evoking.
But it’s the track’s funky bassline – pushed forward in the mix yet never to the point of intrusion – that makes it so useful as a tester.
You’ll hear every element, follow every nuance and, especially through CM10 S2, enjoy lashings of full, slightly lascivious bass.
(Sinatra At The Sands)
The right studio can make or break many a performing artist, and the technical prowess of a good studio engineering team is at the heart of any great hi-fi demo track. But talent counts too, right? Being able to sing, being able to play, being just so flat-out no-holds-barred good at what you do that you could make even the most basic of songs sound majestic? That’s precisely what you’ve got here: nothing less than three minutes of musical majesty. Sinatra singing, Count Basie and his orchestra providing the accompaniment and Quincy Jones conducting: it really doesn’t get much better.
Unmistakably live and brilliantly realised on even the CM1 S2s, it’s as close to ‘being there’ as any recording we’ve heard when replayed on CM6 or CM10 S2.