Our favourite records – bass tracks

Stuart Nevill - Top 10 bass tracks

Bowers & Wilkins Applied Research Engineer Stuart Nevill chooses his top 10 bass tracks to really push your speakers

Dead Perz“Hip Hop” by Dead Prez

One of our favourite test tracks and unlike most we don’t really get tired of it. Tuneful “phat” bass with some deep kicks thrown in for good measure that really tests smaller speakers. Could have filled this list with HipHop but this one stands out with sharp lyrics too.


Ken Ishii“Prodrome” by Ken Ishii

Little known but has a tremendous sense of depth and space, techno for the audiophile.

 

The Jerk“The Jerk” by Drums of Death

Hear this on a big modern rig and it rattles you with bumpy bass. Great production and a great track. Will make you dance.

 

 

“Smoke Rings” by Photek

No track does quite what this track can do when heard on a pair of 801s, there is a subsonic note in there that is fed to left and right out of phase and it actually wobbles your bottom on the sofa. Disconcerting first time round.


MIA

 

“Sunshowers” by MIA

Wikipaedia says the genre is “Jungle Dance” which sums it up quite nicely, mischievious MIA at her best.

 

 

Mr Oizo - Flat Beat“Flat Beat” by Mr Oizo

One of my all time faves, the bass doesn’t actually go that low, it just sounds like it does, so it sounds great on everything, very clever and very cool, especially with a yellow puppet on your hand.


La Roux“In For The Kill” by La Roux (Skream’s Lets Get ravey Mix)

Well, had to get a bit of Dubstep in the list and this track opened a few more ears to it, not many remixes gel this well.

 

 

Enter Sandman“Enter Sandman” by Metallica

One of the finest rock intros I’ve heard, thunderous bass kicks help drive the build up to an expolosive opening and a great track. If I was a rock journo I’d describe it much better

 

Billie Jean“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson .

What can I really say about this track? How about, I heard a great rendition by a beatboxer, evidentally reproduced by saying an explosive “Boots” following by a cutting “Cats” and repeating at 120bpm.

 

Final Hymn“Final Hymn” the finale to Stravinsky: Apollon Musagète; Scherzo Fantastique; The Firebird Suite – Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Chailly Int. Release 13 Oct. 1997

A lot of people have heard of Fantasia but not many will have heard this piece to the end. This is a beautifully recorded version that is notable for the epic Timpani, and is another one of those test tracks that we still enjoy.

Listen to Stuart’s tracks here:

Our favourite records – bass tracks from societyofsound on 8tracks.

37 Comments

  • Dave says:

    So is it better to use the vinyl or digital tracks of these songs for testing subwoofers?

  • Jackson says:

    Not often you get Michael Jackson and Ken Ishii in the same post – way to go Mr. Nevill.

  • Adam says:

    Agree with most of the selections here, nice one Stuart!

  • Stuart says:

    Hi Dave,
    I’d say vinyl sounds great but be careful testing subwoofers at high levels unless you have a warp filter or a known flat record.

    Best,
    Stuart

  • Rob Kendrick says:

    Flight of the Cosmic Hippo by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Pretty much anything by The xx.

  • Siobahn Hotaling says:

    My favorite tune to test subs has been (since it was released in 2008, anyway) Erykah Badu’s “The Healer” off of New Amerykah, Pt. 1…. Especially in cars!

    - Siobahn
    ________________

    visit me! http://www.siobahn.com

  • Steve says:

    Got the Asw 675 …. Superb bass .. Cheers

  • Ulf Soldan says:

    Always a breathtaking subwoofer challenge although an older source: Roger Waters album “Amused To Death” out in 1992. Track 12: “Three Wishes” will attract you with Q-Sound effects and absolute deep bass coming from the Genie… Enjoy and be surprised. Cheers Ulf

  • Jason K says:

    There’s some filthy bass on Mr Oizo’s Analog Worms Attack, guaranteed to get everything in the room shaking

  • Egon Spengler says:

    I have Keith Howard to thank for turning me on to Brian Bromberg’s “Wood” which contains an excellent track (track 1 “The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers”) where not only the bass but the harmonic character of the instrument comes thru in the recording.

  • Peter DeCourcy says:

    Boards of Canada’s Olson or Sunshine Recorder are both great tracks for low end grunt. Although this style of ambient electronica isn’t for everybody’s taste, its a good spring board for investigating BOC.

  • Sean says:

    I agree with Ulf, “Amused To Death” out in 1992. Track 12: “Three Wishes” sounds great. I also like Peter Gabriel’s UVO, a couple of great tracks there. Tony Levin’s “Garden of Eden” 2000 is very pleasant to listen to too. You can hear every individual note.

    Valery Gergiev’s Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture, available on HDTracks, the cannon get to sing… :)

    A list like this though is pretty much useless unless it points to where you can get the tracks, preferably HiRes FLAC. I’ve done a quick search and all I find are torrents (rip-offs) and I don’t do that. I’m also not a fan of iTunes…

    Maybe rather than just listing them, B&W SoS could source them, either as individual tracks on one album, or as one of the albums of the month (for the next 10 months)? Now this would be a download worth having!

  • Eric Seaberg says:

    One of my favorites, though not played on a ‘real’ bass, is Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “WELCOME TO THE PLEASUREDOME”. Incredible production from Trevor Horn and computer sequencing (long before it was the norm) and engineering by Steve Lipson.

  • Jem Hayward says:

    Jon Hopkins, Insides – several tracks have stunning bass synth sounds. Only audible on speakers with the bottom octave.

  • mauritz coetzee says:

    hi there guys,you should try a album called The glitch mob!!fantastic tracks on my 803s!!and also SBTRKT!!

  • Jose says:

    Guys, Bjork’s “Hunter” is the ultimate test…

  • Henkjan says:

    Would there be a chance to make an album like for the Society of Sound? This and maybe a few other collections for other aspects like ambience, details, imaging

  • Tor-Petter says:

    Hi Guys.

    I have put together the tracks I could find both from B&W and some of you guys in this Spotify playlist.

    http://open.spotify.com/user/torcar/playlist/38Yf8LF3wWVlVgbUhjFGDk

    Enjoy if you’re interested

  • Mark says:

    There’s most of “Kiss of Electric Sand” by Speed Caravan (from Society of Sound no less). When choosing my current set-up, I used ‘Galvanize” to really push the air. It’s got really sharp attack and decay and a really low bass track supporting things.

    And it’s fun to listen to.

  • Erhan Aslan says:

    Try Nils Petter Molvaer’s Khmer Album Track 2 TION. 802Ds shakes the ground !

  • Ray Stance says:

    Kraftwerk live – Die Mensch-Maschine – played on a Matrix 800 it ist quite earthshaking ;-)

  • Ken says:

    I reach for Air’s “We Are Electronic Performers” from 10000Hz Legend.

  • Ben says:

    Agree about “Kiss of Electric Sand”. Possibly my favourite Real World issue from SoS. I’d add “Going out of my Head” – Fatboy Slim. Not greatly intellectual music but some cracking bass.

  • Don Workman says:

    Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565: Toccata on the Bachbusters CD. If this doesn’t test what a voice coil can handle, nothing will. Agree absolutely with most of the other choices also.

  • lurch says:

    Raekwon – Incarcerated Scarfaces

  • Tom says:

    Three more woofer reality-checks:

    1. the Dorati/Mercury Living Presence complete “Firebird” CD — particularly the bass drum, but also the articulation and detail of the double-bass.

    2. the Fennell/Telarc Holst “Suite for Band”, specifically the “bass drum heard ’round the world,” ushering in the clean dynamics of digital recording. Best source is the Telarc hybrid SACD, which contains the best-sounding transfer of the old Soundstream digital tapes.

    3. Quincy Jones, “Smackwater Jack,” title cut and others on the record. Quincy doubled up acoustic and electric bass and the engineer captured fantastic pick work on the electric, probably fed direct into the recording console. Deep, heavy and percussive.

  • Adam Trust says:

    Gone, Still by Nine Inch Nails off of disc 2 of And All That Could Have Been. The bass gets more and more intense as the song goes.. It’s a reference I use when wanting to check out bass on a system.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6YWTjc8Sp8

  • wes says:

    Paul Dukas Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Kenneth Jean: Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (SACD or Blu Ray)
    Mussorgsky: A Night On Bald Mountain,Esa-Pekka Salonen: Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (SACD)
    Hector Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique – Songe D’Une Nuit Du Sabbat , Paavo Järvi: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (SACD)
    Songe D’Une Nuit Du Sabbat, Keeping Score-Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique [Blu-ray] (2009), San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas

  • Baggman says:

    Brand X – Nuclear Burn hear it once you’ll see what I mean.

  • Mario D'Ambrosio says:

    1997 Supertramp “Some Things Never Change” HDCD has tight bass throughout.

  • TJ says:

    Im enjoying Fat Freddy’s Drop. Namely The NOD for a nice beaty track, and to really test out the subs, try ‘Ernie’ by Fat Freddys. It rattles the windows when played on my 684s.

  • stanley says:

    thank you Tor , now i need to buy some cd’s or flacs to make a test cd before i go shopping for a new sub system for my miata

  • Mike Biffignani says:

    outstanding blog and Best Bass is so subjective but the list is a great one. But have to agree with Egon especially for testing and comparing B&W loudspeakers, Brian Bromberg Blue Bossa, Carry on Wayward Son and Let Em In , contain dynamics produced by his fretboard that are worth listening to.

  • Stuart says:

    Have to say the Speed Caravan track very nearly made it to the list.I guess I didn’t want to be accused of brand bias though;-)

  • William Chow says:

    “Wrong” – Everything but the girl.
    Either the Todd Terry or Deep Dish remix.

  • FM says:

    Poem of Chinese Drums by Yim Hok-Man at 24/88.2 is my “go to” for getting air moving. While several of the above do the trick, this track from “Master of Chinese Percussion” somehow has the room coupled so that the air vibrates. The sub (crossed in at 26 Hz) pushes content well down to below 16Hz.

  • Can says:

    I was in a shop who is a dealer for B&W ( in Stockholm Sweden)
    I heard a fantastic female singer in one of the test tracks. (testing headphones)
    Can any one tell me the name of the singer / song

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