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Top Media For Showing Off Your System in 2023

If you are a home theater or audio enthusiast, I know you have some favorite media for showing off your system. Whether it’s a scene that gives your subwoofers a workout or something that highlights your TV HDR prowess, we all have a list. After making a “Top 10” of my favorite movies, I decided to revisit it. But this time, I am changing my parameters. We now have video games with Atmos tracks and music services that offer spatial audio. So this time, some new movies and extra media will show off your system. So sit back while I present my top media for showing off your system in 2023. Let’s discuss.

Video Games

I have an Xbox Series X, so if there is a PS5 exclusive, I won’t have access to it. That said, I think that most of my picks are available cross-platform. In this category, I will choose a great HDR game, Atmos, and a game that makes you feel like part of the action.


Hands down, I have loved Microsoft Flight Simulator 40th Anniversary for HDR since it came out. Not only are the maps very detailed, but with HDR10 enabled, they are vivid and lifelike. Lakes pop, forests are lush and green, and flight controls look incredible. With the lights down and my LG OLED in HDR mode, it’s like looking out of the cockpit in the real world. Minus the pesky danger of crashing!


This choice is decidedly not an “E for Everyone” choice. The game High On Life is a tour de force of Atmos! This first-person shooter has a laudable premise: a pair of humans escape Earth before an alien invasion and hook up with a bounty hunter and some talking guns to kill the alien forces and take back Earth. But here is the thing. You get an all-out Atmos assault from enemies that attack and taunt you in 360 degrees. Sounds are coming from all directions, including weapons firing, people talking/shouting, and dying. And yes, I have played the new Call Of Duty games that are also mastered for Atmos, and High On Life does it better!

Best Immersive Game

The game I chose can hold its own for HDR and Atmos but throws in a crazy surround mix that blends for the total package. I am talking, of course, about Forza Horizon 5! I love a good racing game, and Forza Horizon 5 has it all. Detailed tracks, cars, and, of course, an immersive soundtrack. When you are in the inside of the cockpit, you hear the roar of the engine, the brakes working hard not to let you slip off the track. And if it’s raining? You hear the rain coming down on your roof. But what happens when you switch the view of your vehicle? It changes sound. If you prefer to race from a 3rd person’s external view, the mixers change the surround to make it feel like you are outside the vehicle.


Now let’s talk about music media that will show off your system in 2023. Typically, I would use music to show off my two-channel system. But now, streaming services like Tidal, Amazon Music, and Apple Music offer catalogs of spatial audio that take advantage of object-based audio like Atmos. But don’t worry; I will give you some great music to test out spatial audio, bass, and stereo separation/fidelity.

Spatial Audio

Spatial audio tracks are different than up-mixing or all-channel stereo. These songs have either been originally mastered or have been re-mastered to steer certain parts of the track to overhead or surround speakers. When done correctly, it’s like you are sitting in the middle of the performance. My choice will probably surprise no one, but maybe blasphemy to purists – Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. While I will admit that the song didn’t need to be remastered, I am glad they gave it a spatial twist. Having Freddy Mercury sing all around you, along with the rest of Queen, is cool as heck! And if folks aren’t expecting it, it will take them off guard.


The easy choice here would be to get a bass test track. But I like tracks that you expect to have bass, but not deep bass that is clean and hits like a sledgehammer. Lately, my choice has been Venom by Eminem. It should not be shocking that a hip-hop song has bass, but I was not expecting it to be so deep and clean. In particular, the bassline I am referring to is about 20 seconds into the track. The initial bass punches you hard in the chest but then lingers and, if you have a good subwoofer, makes your seats vibrate! It’s fun to play that for the unassuming and then watch them jolt upright when the sofa quakes.

Stereo / Test Track

My absolute favorite song for testing new speakers and their placement and imaging is Love or hate. Radiohead’s Everything In Its Right Place can best be described as audio chaos. It starts with an organ (great for bass) and some panning chanting, and then it gets weird! If your speakers are positioned properly, you will get a lot of back-and-forth panning that will go left to right and then center nicely. I know the song so well that I can tell if my speakers are out of place. And the weird panning and centering will showcase your system. Plus, if you have a capable subwoofer, those organs have a nice little rattle to them.


Of course, no discussion of best media for showing off your system in 2023 would be complete without talking about a couple of movies. Video games and music are cool to show off. But this is a HOME THEATER. We want to have something that will wow you and push your system to the limits. So, let’s find you something that showcases your system.


I am going to shock a lot of people and go with an older movie. Dredd (2012) is pushing 12 years old and is one of the best implementations of Atmos I have heard to date. From vehicles whizzing all around you to the sounds of glass breaking as folks fall to their demise, Dredd showcases Atmos. This is surprising, given that Atmos was still early in its adoption in 2012. The sound mixers’ nailing this one so well is a testament to their craft.


My pick for the best HDR movie has to be Barbie (2023). While Barbie is not my jam, I can enjoy the film for its incredible soundtrack, visuals, and HDR. The entire movie is a smorgasbord of pastel and bright colors that pop off the screen. On my OLED, the colors are gorgeous, and the contrast is pretty stunning. If you want a movie to show off your TV’s HDR or DV prowess, Barbie is where it’s at.

Best Overall Movie

If you just want to show off one movie, my choice is simply – Top Gun: Maverick (2022). Aside from being my favorite movie of late, it’s a tour de force HDR, Atmos, and surround. And what is not to like? It’s jets, going fast, shooting down stuff. I own this movie on disc and streaming, and it’s one of my absolute must-haves for showing off your system! I would love to give you one favorite scene, but they are all so good. But the opening scene with the Dark Star is a good enough test for all systems.

Our Take

So here is my top media for showing off your system in 2023. With 2024 approaching, I am excited to see what it offers. What about you? What are your favorite tests for your system? Tell us in the comments!

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