Audio Reviewers & The Music They Use In Their Reviews

At 65, I Have been into high end audio since my very early 20’s. I have probably read many hundreds if not over a thousand reviews on audio equipment and I keep coming back to the same question. Why do these audio reviewers all use music I have. Not heard or do not care for? For example, I am reading a review on a new tube integrated, and the music mostly used was either Choral, Chamber, or Classical. I listen to none of that. My choice is 90% Rock and 10% Jazz. So, after reading a review, I have to read way between the lines to see if the piece of equipment might need a second look by me.

I realize that many of the reviewers are either my age or above and that they were perhaps brought up on Classical, so naturally they would use it in their review. My greatest concern is that the millennials and even the people younger than that will never embrace the high end because they have no reference to the type of music being played, just as I do. Why can’t a reviewer use something by mainstream Rock bands to evaluate equipment?  To anyone that will tell me it’s because Classical, Choral, and Chamber are more well recorded and that if one listens to Rock, they may as well get a cheap mill outlet stereo, I say no way!

What do others think or feel about this?
Rock music is super processed compressed mostly electronic sound. It has no objective reality that can be used to judge whether a reproduction system is faithfully reproducing the original. It’s like trying to judge an audio system while listening to Poèm Eléctronique by Edgar Varese. Who knows what it is supposed to sound like?

Of course, one can play rock and listen for a substantial kick on the drum, of the construction in the chest when a really loud section kicks in. But that’s not High Fidelity. That’s sound reinforcement. Do you, by any chance, have Klipsch speakers?

(And yes, I know this is a slightly snarky post, but it is authentic). 

You must be reading different reviews than me -- most of what I read emphasizes pop, rock, and jazz. Classical music is usually there but is becoming increasingly less common.

And I agree with phomchick that classical is significantly more difficult to reproduce well. If a system does a barely acceptable job with classical, it should sound superb with popular. And yes, phomchick, it is snarky...


I have 70K of equipment in 2 systems.  You can look it up here, they are both posted.


I have about a hundred or so Classical cd's, mostly the Mercury Living Presence CD's, and many of the RCA reissues plus a bunch of Telarcs.  My point is, many people get turned off on a  piece of gear because they aren't familiar with the music and have nothing to compare it to.   I don't listen to the Classical cd's very often as it tends to put me to sleep but I keep them as some kind of point of reference.

Not all Rock is compressed and there are many excellent Rock recordings from the late 60's through most of the 70's.  Any of the Steely Dan CD's come to mind as well as some of the live concerts at the Fillmore East and many others.  I have almost the entire MFSL Rock recordings on cd and many of them are excellent so I kind of call BS on the reason for Classical.
As far as I can remember reviewers have always tended to use non mainstream music. The same at shows. Perhaps it's a bit like fashion and the same argument about presentation can be used. 

Your point about cheap systems for Rock is a valid one. However you can't dispute the fact that most popular music has been treated like a mere commodity. The industry seems to care little for sound quality. Of course there are exceptions, and it's these we look for.

Compression of dynamics is all too common, often 2nd or 3rd generation tapes are often used for mastering and it does seem like they are catering for users with budget systems. Apparently, even the would be prestigious Beatles MFSL box set had it's EQ futtzed with at the behest of some high ranking exec. 

Perhaps I'm just skirting around the real issue. Perhaps most reviewers are just not hip. Perhaps the whole industry isn't hip. OK, maybe that's going too far. Apologies to all the folks at Zu.
I disagree with @phomchick on the assessment of all rock music being of inferior fidelity.

Most reviewers receive their music free of charge, don’t they? At least MF does. For the reviewers that do receive music free of charge, this is an aspect of reviewing that takes their own personal pain (pocket book) out of the equation to the ultimate detriment of any reviewed music that any typical owner deals with. ( I’m referring to vinyl and all of it’s idiosynchricities: IE: off-center pressing, dished, warped, washboard vinyl that we are still willing to pay $50.00 for)
I'm thinking they didn't write the article for you specifically. There might be other readers who have different ideas. Nah, I'm wrong. They probably wrote the article to annoy you, specifically.