General Motors Lists the Top 10 Tracks to Test Your Car's Stereo

John Tunica
by John Tunica
Mobile Electronics Competition Association Commissioner Steve Stern listens to the Pioneer audio system in the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze at the General Motors Milford Proving Ground Friday, August 13, 2010 in Milford, Michigan. The Cruze earned top marks in two out of three tests during a sound-quality competition with the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. (Photo…

Picture this: It’s Sunday, the early dawn hours and you’re cruising down an empty country road. You already know what’s under the hood of your new acquired ride, but you’ve yet to test what your new car’s stereo can do—save for the constant chattering of talk radio. It’s time for a little speaker blast, you say. So you plug in your iPod, load up your newest playlist (stocked with high-quality lossless FLAC files, of course), and crank the volume to 11 and the next thing you know you’re rocking out to the sounds of… Joan Baez ?

Well, it’s either Joan or The Eagles. It doesn’t matter though, as this speaker test isn’t about your taste in music as much as it’s about testing your sound system’s fidelity. That’s according to Matt Kirsch, an audio engineer with General Motors, who recently published his personal Top 10 list of tracks he recommends using to assess the low ends, mid-ranges, and dynamic peaks of your car’s stereo system.

So while you might be a little offended by the presence of two back-to-back tracks by the Black Eyed Peas, they’re there to test the bass. The rest of the list includes a wide range of tunes from Johnny Cash, to Radiohead.

See after the jump for the complete list:

  • Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones. Listen for Norah’s voice to sound natural, and centered in front of you.
  • Diamonds and Rust” by Joan Baez. Listen for strong vocals, and for the instruments to be set across a wide sound stage.
  • No One” by Alicia Keys. Listen for clarity in Alicia’s vocals and spacious background sound.
  • Hotel California” by the Eagles. Listen for the clarity and dynamic range during the opening guitar solo, and of course the powerful drum beat.
  • Boom Boom Pow“by the Black Eyed Peas. Listen for powerful, accurate bass beats, even at full volume.
  • Rock that Body“by the Black Eyed Peas. Listen clear, intelligible lyrics over the powerful, persistent bass beat.
  • Hide and Seek“by Imogen Heap. Listen for the enveloping ambience of the song, building on the openness and dynamic vocals.
  • He Mele No Lilo” by Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu from Lilo and Stitch.Listen for the ambience and staging as the children’s chorus is offset by powerful bass.
  • Bird on a Wire” by Johnny Cash. Listen for the clarity in Johnny’s distinctive voice, and his guitar to sound natural and free of any coloration.
  • Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box” by Radiohead. Listen for the punch from the percussive bass, and the ring of the steel drums.

Available for purchase from iTunes here.

John Tunica
John Tunica

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  • Mike Owen Mike Owen on Oct 18, 2010

    "So you plug in your iPod, load up your newest playlist (stocked with high-quality lossless FLAC files, of course)" Errr, of course, not. Apple has yet to enable FLAC playback on the iPod, and probably never will...

  • Jim Jim on Jul 27, 2011

    I have a 1998 Caddilac that has a top of the line factory stereo system, including a single cd player on the dash and a 12 cd player is the trunk. Every time I try to play a single cd from the dash system, no matter where the 12 in the trunk is loaded or not, I get an error mesg. saying can't load cd. Any idea why the on dash player want over ride the trunk player.