Does the public still even want music critics’ reviews, or are social media ratings sufficient? Do fake reviews exist? Do you need high-end devices to judge the quality of music production? These topics and more will be discussed by the “Critics’ Quartet” at this year’s High End in Munich.

The High End Society team told us: “In the case of music critics, the public relations business (home stories, interviews, portraits) has already crowded out the traditional methods of approaching works and their interpretation (the review) in many newspapers, periodicals and radio shows: Advertising supplants critics’ opinions. That is why genuine expertise is more important now than ever. Thus, a critical institution such as the quarterly lists of best albums, published for 35 years now by the independent German Record Critics’ Award Association (Verein Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, PdSK), remains an important source of guidance – not least for proud owners of quality high-end equipment as well”.

In 1963, a handful of music critics got together to create this award – with the goal of establishing a reliable quality control, providing clear recommendations and thus promoting the work of the artists and their labels, in a record industry deluged by advertising. Since 2010, the jurors of the German Record Critics’ Award have convened live at trade shows, festivals and concerts, to continue this dialogue. They discuss a particular music piece or exemplary productions”.

On May 20, 2017, the Critics’ Quartet will meet for the first time within the scope of the High End, at 2pm in room K4. This panel discussion will talk about the qualities of the productions presented, on the basis of listening samples, along with the sound quality of streaming, CD or vinyl. In doing so, the four critics will engage in discussions with guests and the public concerning questions such as:

What are the criteria by which we listen to music?

What are some differences in how critics approach entertainment versus serious/classical music?

What role does the recording technology play?

What do musicians think of critics?


Lothar Brandt (pictured above)

(music journalist with a focus on classical and rock, for many years editor-in-chief of Audio,

publishing editor at Home Electronics magazine, now a freelance author)

Ralf Dombrowski

(music journalist, book author and photographer with a focus on Jazz, e.g. for Süddeutsche Zeitung, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Spiegel Online, Jazzthing, music editor for Stereoplay, Münch-er Feuilleton)

Manfred Gillig-Degrave

(publisher of MusikWoche, music journalist and editor with a wide array of tastes, e.g. for

Sounds, Musikexpress, Stereoplay, Audio, HiFiVision)

Max Nyffeler

(freelance journalist with a focus on new music and media, e.g. for FAZ, NZZ and radio;)


Harald Reitinger

(composer, producer, TV moderator)

Andreas Spreer

(sound engineer, founder and owner of the Tacet label)

This Critics’ Quartet is a cooperative effort involving the German Record Critics’ Award Association and the High End.

The Association has as its members 156 music critics from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. They all work on the best albums lists on an honorary basis and without any compensation. Divided into 32 expert panels of judges, they also vote each autumn on the annual and honorary award winners, and once a year, the “Nightingale” is awarded – a trophy crafted by artist Daniel Richter in 2010 especially for this critics’ award.






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