The 20 Best Songs to Test Headphones

When you get new headphones, it’s time to test them out! One great way to do this is by listening to quality music recordings. But not all songs can completely cover all the important bases. To successfully test your headphones, you want to see how they perform well across the audio spectrum.

Headphones differ from product to product, some are better with bass, while others are better with high notes. To truly test the boundaries and see what the actual quality of your headphones is, I’ve compiled a list of 20 songs that will put them to the test and see how they work in all areas.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

1. “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen

Starting off this list is a great and popular song by Queen. “Don’t Stop Me Now” was released in 1979 as the lead single from their album Jazz. The song was written by Freddie Mercury and it quickly became a fan favorite.

Probably most people know this song, the reason why it’s a good song to start us off is because of its well-roundedness. It has a good mid-range base with everything you need to test your headphones. The bass is medium, the high vocals and back vocals shine through, as well as the whole rock vibe.

2. “Highest In The Room” by Travis Scott

Jumping straight into a different genre with Travis Scott! His song “Highest In The Room” was released in 2019 and has a very different vibe to it. The lyrics are very poetic and the beat is slower and more melodic than most rap songs.

The reason behind this choice is simple, the pumping bass is something that stands out and you’d want to see how your headphones regulate the thumping bass while everything else is balanced in the background – including vocals. Even the back sounds are mesmerizing and the piano near the end with the building-up sensation.

3. “Parallax” by Direct

Onto #3 on the list is Direct. The song “Parallax” was released in 2014 via Monstercat. It’s probably an obvious choice to test out your headphones. As a dubstep song, you will have a chance to see how the headphones react to slow and pumping sounds.

While the bass is one of the most important aspects to consider, there are a few background sounds that shine through. You should pay attention and see how they pick up and process those sounds with a powerful foundation in the forefront.

4. “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish 

We all know this song as it’s one of the most popular ones from modern pop. Billie Eilish’s song “Bad Guy” was released in 2019. The reason behind this choice is the thumping bass with a lot of sounds in the background that are vacuumed.

To see how your headphones handle this one, pay attention to the bass and try to see how they process the noise in the back and if the vacuum effects are indeed good-sounding. Close to the end, you also have some cool drops and pumping sounds to finish it off!

5. “Take My Breath” by The Weeknd

Imagine a disco song but with modern production – you have The Weeknd. “Take My Breath” was released in 2021. The dark R&B feel, the throaty vocals, and the lyrics all scream Weeknd. The beat is different from his older stuff, but it’s still recognizable and a cool way to test your headphones.

I am simply amazed at the production of this song. Probably one of the best in the world at the moment. You have all these different sounds in there but they are all so balanced that nothing really gets in the way. Good headphones will process this song in a way that you hear everything clearly and nothing should spike.

6. “Human Nature” by Michael Jackson

No list would be complete without Michael Jackson. His song “Human Nature” was released in 1983 and is still popular today. This is such a mellow song that has amazing sounds which is not a shocker considering it’s a Michael Jackson song.

This song tests your headphones in the sense that you should hear everything with almost the same intensity. See how they pick up the echoey back-vocals and the synth sounds as well. A well-rounded song with amazing vocals and incredible highs in there too!

7. “You’ve Got to Have Freedom” by Pharoah Sanders 

Let’s give it a different look, this time with Pharoah Sanders. The song “You’ve Got To Have Freedom” was released in 1987. The whole song is simply a masterpiece of sounds collaborating in a very cool-sounding way.

Try and see how your headphones pick up those whistling highs as opposed to the thumping lows of the bass. You also have some vocals in there to spice it up and see how they correlate to the whole song.

8. “Macrocosm” by Rings of Saturn

“The Macrocosm” by Rings of Saturn was released in 2017. Rings of Saturn is an American deathcore band which is the reason behind this choice. Deathcore songs have a range of sounds with thumping beats that just sit right and test headphones perfectly!

While having shredding guitars and pumping bass, with the occasional double bass kick pedal, you also have mesmerizing and cutting solos that breakthrough your ears. Try and see how they balance the song and if anything spikes.

9. “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes

Now, who doesn’t know this one? “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes was released in 2003 and became an instant hit. This one is also a mid-range song that has a well-rounded base.

Nothing should particularly stand out and spike in any way here. The bass is not too powerful but still breaks through in the forefront. There is a certain vacuum feel when the song is in the verse section way up until the chorus where everything comes to life.

10. “Titanium” by David Guetta

“Titanium” by David Guetta and Sia is another popular hit that is good for testing your headphones. It was released in 2011 and has the typical EDM sound. With an emphasis on Sia’s vocals as well as a powerful bass, it is indeed good testing material.

The calm moments and mellow parts are ones you should focus on, they are filled with melodic sounds that your headphones should pick up and you should see how they process them.

11. “Wilderness” by Explosions in the Sky

Explosions in the Sky is a very popular Post-rock band with amazing sonic capabilities. Their song “Wilderness” is an interesting one, to say the least. Due to its atmospheric nature, this should be a good test.

Pay attention to the moving sounds and resonating/reverbed melodies that are going around, as well as the beautiful splashing sound – all going on in the background. With an emphasis on the guitar in the forefront, it should be a good testing experience.

12. “Iron” by Woodkid

This sonic beauty is one to remember. “Iron” by Woodkid was released in 2013 and is definitely a good pick to test your headphones. This song has a medieval feel to it but also a very good sound production.

Pay close attention to all the sounds in the background as well as those in the forefront because it has it all, a strong bass, a thumping drum, interesting and resonating melodies throughout. See how your headphones handle this masterpiece.

13. “In the air tonight” by Phil Collins

No introduction is needed here. “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins was released in 1981 and remains a staple in music even today. This song is the perfect example of the vacuum effects.

So many things are going on in the back and slowly build up to the culminating and most air-drummed part in all of history, this is where the song opens up and lets loose. See how your headphones handle the vocals and the background noise.

14. “Demons” by Imagine Dragons

“Demons” is a popular song by Imagine Dragons that was released in 2014. The reason why this song is good for testing your headphones is the all so memorable kick drum. It is purposefully made to sound dirty and a bit gritty, with a thumping and powerful nature.

This should be a good test to see if it spikes too much in your headphones, as well as all the melodies going on in the background with a distinct vacuum feel. When it all comes through, see how they handle it.

15. “Doomsday” by Architects

If you know the Architects then you probably already know the reason behind this one. Their song “Doomsday” is one of their most popular ones and features some of the best melodic metal sounds I’ve ever heard.

This song has it all, with different parts and phrases throughout, you’ll be able to see how your headphones perform in all of them. With powerful guitar-filled moments, shredding bass, strong drums, this should be the ultimate testing ground.

16. “Hunger” by Florence & The Machine

Jumping into an entirely different genre, we have Florence and The Machine. The song “Hunger” was released in 2018. A truly beautiful song with great vocals as you can expect.

You should focus most on the vocals in this song as the singer has a very resonating voice, also, the song has a very good foundation of sounds that should be evened out in your headphones. The only problem here is that you’ll probably have this song on loop for a while.

17. “A Thousand Years” by The Piano Guys

Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” was released in 2011 but this cover is more suitable for testing your headphones. Just listening to this beautiful piece, you should hear everything on an even basis.

Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” was released in 2011 but this cover is more suitable for testing your headphones. Just listening to this beautiful piece, you should hear everything on an even basis.

18. “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine

Everyone knows “Killing In the Name” by Rage Against The Machine, released in 1992. This is truly a nitty-gritty song to test your headphones. Because of the ‘dirty’ nature of this song, the whole production is meant to sound unclear but actually isn’t.

Your headphones should be able to identify everything clearly and still give a good sound to everything that is going on in this song. This is a very well-rounded song considering everything so see how they handle it!

19. “Frozen” by Madonna 

Going back in time again, this time with Madonna’s “Frozen”. The song was released in 1998 and is an incredibly popular song that you might come across even today.

It has a very mellow nature with beautiful vocals. The great thing to focus on here is the beat. It’s kind of in the background but still provides a clear rhythm. The vocals are also one to keep an eye on, with resonating sounds flowing from start to finish, this one is good testing material.

20. “Vanilla twilight” by Owl City

Finishing off with a mellow song. “Vanilla Twilight” by Owl City was released in 2010. Owl City is known for trademark vocals as well as reoccurring synth sounds which can be found here as well.

The song is pretty chill and you have good vocals accompanied by a piano and those thrilling synth sounds in the background. See how your headphones handle this one, with resonating and beautiful chimes here and there, this one should be fun for you!

Summary

Testing your headphones with different types of music is important to see how they handle all sorts of sounds. From heavy metal to mellow songs, you should be able to get a good understanding of how your headphones perform.

This list provides a good variety of songs that you can test your headphones. With powerful moments, beautiful vocals, and intriguing synths, there is something for everyone to listen to! If you try them all, you’ll have a better understanding of how your headphones work and can properly use them for all sorts of music!

Milan Trajkovikj is a touring and recording bass guitarist who loves to share his passion for all things music.

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