Stereophile Special Issue: 10 Years of Records to Die For

Audiophiles are often accused of being interested in the gear first, and in music a distant second. Yes, we all love our audio systems, but owning such a system would be pretty pointless if we didn't have music to play on it. Something that Stereophile's reviewers have in common is that, no matter how expensive their audio systems, their collections of recorded music are worth more. So at the beginning of each of the last 25 years, this magazine has celebrated its love of music by publishing "Records to Die For," aka R2D4: a list of the two albums that each reviewer, whether of equipment or of music, could not, that year, bear the thought of leaving behind.

Available on newsstands and the Stereophile online Shop this week is a special 148-page "Collector's Edition" of Stereophile, in which we have compiled all of the reviews comprising the past 10 years' worth of R2D4—some 500 albums selected by 46 writers, organized by musical genre and listed alphabetically. Along with six short essays on recorded music by the magazine's music editor, Robert Baird, there are: 48 pages of Rock reviews, 20 pages of Jazz reviews, 15 pages of Opera & Vocal reviews, 14 pages of Classical Orchestral & Film Score reviews, 9 pages of Chamber Music & Instrumental reviews, and 10 pages of Folk, Blues & World Music reviews. If you bought every one of these 500 albums, you would have an extraordinary record collection.

Stereophile: 10 Years of Records to Die For costs $7.99 and can be found at your newsstand and bookstore. (We regret that the economics of publishing do not allow this special issue to be mailed free of charge to subscribers.)

COMMENTS
CarterBro's picture

I just downloaded the Stereophile iPhone app and don't see the issue listed. Is it possible to get it digitally somehow?

jjljr's picture

would be happy to purchase it, and I really don't want a paper copy ... will you be making this available for download?

loumarcos's picture

Hi guys,

I'm a regular reader from France and I wanted to know if it was possible to receive a paper issue of this special edition in my country ?
Can it be ordered from the website ?

Thanks
Marc

dalethorn's picture

The "add to cart" doesn't say whether it's a PDF or some proprietary format.

John Atkinson's picture
As far as know, no electronic edition is planned, but that might change.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

BKinTheBK's picture

I tapped "special print editions" or whatever the verbiage is and no action occurred. Tapped the other selections as a test and got the same result.

I'm also overseas and would love to get my hands on a copy of this. How can we do it?

I have an iPhone but no iPad.

hackmartian's picture

There are some really inspired choices and some great writing, but it's riddled with really sloppy typos and errors (including a few cases of the wrong album title). C'mon guys. Pro up.

John Atkinson's picture
hackmartian wrote:
it's riddled with really sloppy typos and errors (including a few cases of the wrong album title).

We'd appreciate some examples, please.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

hackmartian's picture

Here are a few nitpicks to check out:
Go to Fountains Of Wayne in the pop section. Their album "Welcome Interstate Managers" is recommended twice with two different reviews and the credits differ between the two reviews: The 2nd review, which is also listed a a review for the CD, lists the mastering chain as "AAD?" while the other review of the same CD omits the question mark, gets the selection number wrong, and lists several additional engineers. Same thing applies to the inconsistent credits between the two Robert Wyatt reviews for the same album.

Related, and this is perhaps an editorial decision rather than any sort of objective error, it's strange that certain albums are included twice (Neil Young's "Ragged Glory," Mal Waldron's "The Quest" and others in addition to the ones mentioned above) especially when they're reviews of the same version/pressing. The separate reviews of the Beatles Mono boxes in LP and CD certainly make sense given the effects of the AAA mastering of the vinyl version.

The Jo-Jo Gunne cover shown is not the cover of the album you're recommending, it's the cover of a budget-priced 5-disc set of several albums.

Deep-nerd nitpick: The cover for Costello's "Armed Forces" isn't the one used on the Columbia LP the review is based on according to the credits, but the UK release and subsequent CD reissues.

John Atkinson's picture
hackmartian wrote:
John Atkinson wrote:
it's riddled with really sloppy typos and errors (including a few cases of the wrong album title).

We'd appreciate some examples, please.

hackmartian wrote:
Here are a few nitpicks to check out...

Thank you for getting back to me. The decision to include duplicate reviews was mine. Over the 10 years' worth of the monthly issues from which this issue was compiled, it was inevitable that more than one writer would pick the same album. I thought readers would find it illuminating to read more than one opinion. I hardly think that my decision in this respect was an "error."

Regarding the differences in metadata, the more recently a review was published in the monthly magazine the more information could be included, due to the increasing information available from sites like All Music Guide. If these metadata are inconsistent, I didn't regard it as a high priority to make them consistent. Again, my decision as editor and I don't see it as justifying your description of our special issue as being "riddled with really sloppy typos and errors."

Finally, on the two examples of the wrong album cover being used, yes you are correct. But with all due respect, you are picking at very tiny nits.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

dmineard HT's picture

Yes, we need a digital issue?

hapinoregon's picture

38 reviews of "classical" music, where sound quality is paramount vs 48 reviews of rock where sound quality is, shall we say, of less importance or interest?

At times like these I despair for Stereophile...

Travis's picture

How can I purchase this issue?

John Atkinson's picture
Travis wrote:
How can I purchase this issue?

The Special Issue can be purchased from our on-line shop: http://store-badz031c.mybigcommerce.com/ or by calling toll-free (888)237-0955.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Travis's picture

I should have been more diligent. Cheers!

David Mansell's picture

This just turned up as a paper copy at my newsagent in the UK. It's a truly weird list. Two versions of Messiaen's Turangalila symphony but not a single Haydn symphony ; Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito but no Don Giovanni or Magic flute or Cosi fan tutte ; two multi-CD Kathleen Ferrier (whom I love) compilations but not a note of Maria Callas ; Eric Dolphy listed in two versions of Mal Waldron's The Quest but no Out to lunch ; two Blossom Dearie LPs but only one John Coltrane, etc., etc. It just appears to be a heterogeneous mish-mash of personal predilections without any quality control being applied. Quite a lot of the jazz selections seem to be of second or third league acts.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. How is it possible that I never thought of including her? Remedy coming: Just give me some time, and the memory necessary to not lose track when the annual call for R2D4s comes from JA.

cundare's picture

Actually, there are digital copies online, and for free. I'm looking at one right now. And, apparently, this is not some cheap bootleg rip-off b/c the entire 148pp magazine has been encoded into issuu format, which is not a quick hacker job.

That doesn't do me much good, though, b/c I'm looking for a print copy. For whatever reason, I haven't been able to get Stereophile's online store to work (and frankly, Stereophile's online account / e-commerce facility is a bit of a nightmare in general. Since a redesign several years ago, it's been SO difficult to buy anything on this site.) And when I called the 800 number that John listed above, the nice lady there told me that the magazine actually _cannot_ be ordered over the phone.

So I feel I'm in some sort of wake-up-screaming rat-in-a-maze scenario. I've been trying for a month to find SOME way to buy a legitimate copy of this magazine (it's not available on any newsstand around here), but if Stereophile wants so hard to make it difficult to purchase legally, I'd be reluctantly willing to download a torrent. Even if it is a mere PDF.

John, I don't want to do that if there's any other option. Can somebody at Stereophile work with me here?

John Atkinson's picture
cundare wrote:
Actually, there are digital copies online, and for free. I'm looking at one right now. And, apparently, this is not some cheap bootleg rip-off b/c the entire 148pp magazine has been encoded into issuu format, which is not a quick hacker job.

Unfortunately, this is a bootleg version.

cundare wrote:
Can somebody at Stereophile work with me here?

I am sorry our ecommerce store is proving unresponsive. In the meantime, you can call toll-free (888) 237-0955, which is the number of the fulfillment company that handles the on-line sales.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

cundare's picture

John, that's the same number I'd called previously, and reached a person who told me that this particular issue could only be purchased online. But at your urging I tried again and this time, it worked. In seven to ten business days, I'll be the proud owner of a copy of "10 Years"! Thanks!

Now I'm thinking I should have ordered a half-dozen copies. There are so many budding vinyl fans I know whom I think could use a copy.

Regardless, happy ending.