While it would be really easy to poke fun at the 10 songs GM’s audio engineer Matt Kirsch listens to when he tests car stereos, I look at his list and wonder where all the oomph is. One pet peeve of mine is getting into a test car and discovering it can’t handle the guitars of whatever rock music I put in. Often it does the same for rap. Now I know why my music is muddied so often: Audio engineers don't test that music.
The closest you get is Radiohead – which is as orchestral as rock gets – and the Black Eyed Peas – which is as pop-oriented as rap or hip-hop could be. I won’t hazard a guess as to what the best modern rap is, but if you’re not testing someone as widely listened to as Jay-Z or Eminem, I think there’s an issue. Their styles of rap, as far as beats and bass levels, are the industry standard.
For rock, I test out Queens of the Stone Age’s "Rated R" or "Songs for the Deaf" albums. Throw in a recent Nine Inch Nails recording or some dirty indie rock like The Bronx and if the stereo can handle those, it can handle anything else I listen to, from Pearl Jam to the Pixies. It’d also sound good for whatever the kids are listening to these days, like Avenged Sevenfold or Kings of Leon.
To test for the middle ground, though, doesn’t seem like you’re testing for the folks who care about music. I mean, if you like Norah Jones, is that what you play on your commute? If the stereo can handle the extremes, it can handle the middle ground just fine for John Mayer fans and the like. Maybe GM figures the more extreme music fans will be the buyers opting for aftermarket stereos.
Check out GM’s full list here – you can even download on it on iTunes -- and let us know what music you’d test in a new car stereo in the comments below. I hope I didn’t offend any Norah Jones or John Mayer fans. I hear Norah’s latest is pretty good.
GM Audio Engineer Lists Top 10 Songs to Test Your Car's Stereo (USA Today)