TTAC Rocks … and Rolls


Yevhenii Orlov/

A week or so ago, I was in Tennessee, testing the Volkswagen ID.4, blasting some country music on satellite radio simply because I was in Tennessee, and it hit me. You folks might be wondering what, if any, music TTAC staffers play while testing.

After all, automakers love to tout the premium audio systems available in their vehicles. This means that we, of course, rock out sometimes.

But only sometimes. When testing, I always turn the radio to mute for at least some of the time, so that I can hear wind/road/tire noise and get a sense of how quiet the cabin is. But the rest of the time, I am rocking out to various genres of music. And so is the rest of the staff.

Chris and I are the ones in test cars the most, so he and I agreed to share our tastes with you. I asked the others but they were mum. No way to tell if that means someone is secretly a Nickelback fan and just afraid to admit it.


I’ll go first. As I said, when testing I mute the radio for a least a little while. When it’s time for tunes, I am all over the place, and I don’t have a set playlist like Chris does (see below). I like most genres of rock, from alternative to classic to Southern to pop rock. In terms of satellite radio, I wander the dial from channel 24 (Margaritaville) to 34 (Lithium), occasionally going a bit further up or down.

I’m the only person I know who has seen both Jimmy Buffett and Metallica in concert multiple times. I’m also a bit of a Deadhead in addition to being a Parrothead. Speaking of heads, I also love the Talking Heads. Paul Simon, The Who, John Mellencamp, Lynyrd Skynyrd – all part of the mix. Lest you think all my musical tastes are Boomerific, I often listen to Arcade Fire radio on Pandora.

Of course, I am a child of the ‘90s, meaning alternative rock is big. From Foo Fighters to Everclear to Green Day to even the ska stuff that hit the airwaves back then (Goldfinger, Reel Big Fish, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones), if it was on Chicago’s Q101 FM between 1994 and 2000, I was probably into it.

I also like country, both the ‘90s stuff (Garth Brooks, George Strait) I grew up with and the more recent “bro” stuff – think Luke Bryan or Eric Church. ‘80s music of all kinds, from hair metal to synth, is also often on the playlist.

Rap and hip-hop are part of the mix, too, from Common to De La Soul to Kanye to the classic Snoop and Dre stuff from the ‘90s.

Sometimes I switch off the music and listen to the local sports yakkers or the news, too. It’s not all musical fun and games.

Really, I will listen to anything except classical or jazz. Nothing against those genres, just not my cup of tea. I also ignore most bubble-gum/Top 40 pop (though some stuff is good). If it has a beat and makes me feel good, it’s on the list.

Take it away, Chris.

Chris Tonn

I’m not an audiophile. While, yes, I did go out recently and buy an older stereo so I could play my old records – and, in the process, found myself buying a new pressing of A Trick of The Tail by Genesis (see my 2018 review of the Genesis G80 for other thoughts on the band) I don’t have a tube amp or high-end speakers or anything like that. I just enjoy a variety of music both at home and in the car, and the sound of a good needle drop brings me back to the early Nineties when I couldn’t afford a CD player and had to make do with a variety of cheap used records from the local used bookstore.

Spotify has become my musical savior when I tire of SiriusXM. I have an hour-long playlist that spans a few genres of music so I can see how a car’s speaker setup manages. Beyond that, I simply keep all of my favorites in one cross-genre playlist sitting at around 2,000 songs so I get a wide variety throughout my drive.

A caveat: remember that playing anything via Bluetooth or satellite isn’t a perfect representation of the music – it’s a downscaled digital rendering of a higher-quality track. But realistically, how many people are carrying around full lossless audio files to get perfect sound reproduction in an automotive listening environment that will be otherwise marred by road and wind noise, let alone kids who want to play whatever crap music they’ve found on TikTok? I did attend an Acura event a few years ago where the admittedly excellent ELS audio was noticeably enhanced by a thumb drive of FLAC files playing from the center console, but I only listened in a parking lot. I can’t imagine the difference would be noticeable when driving.


Now you know what two of us listen to while testing. What do you all out there listen to when commuting?

[Images: Yevhenii Orlov/, © 2021 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.

Source link