1992 Records To Die For

Letters? Boy, did we get letters last year when we ran the very first "Records to Die For": subscription renewals, subscription cancellations, groveling gratitude, death threats, paeans, pans, madness, ecstasy, invitations to any number of sanity hearings (we sent our regrets)---and that was just from our own staff. How could we not do it again?

And here we go---"Records to Die For II," guaranteed to tickle or offend almost everyone. As in "RTDF I," which appeared just over a year ago in the January 1991 issue, our writers' choices were narrowed down to impeccable performances recorded in topnotch stereo sound. Sounds easy, doesn't it? You never heard such caterwauling as what Stereophile's otherwise intrepid writing stable let fly with as they stampeded for the nearest barn door: "No! No! Don't make me! It's impossible! There are no such recordings! There're too many! Do I have to? Is this required? Can't I just review a little $10,000 speaker or two? How do I chooooooose?!?"

Readers, I was hard but firm, and the results follow. Writers who listed five choices last year got two picks this time around; writers new to "Records to Die For" got to name their full first five. And following this year's new mini-reviews is a master list of all of last year's to-die-fors. Next year the master list will also include this year's picks, and the year after that---you get the idea. JA, fretting against the tightness of the rules he helped formulate, has also included a list of his runners-up from last year, all of which, he feels, are good enough to be on the primary list.

Like last year, those recordings that have been reviewed in Stereophile since the birth of the regular monthly music section in October 1987 (Vol.10 No.7) are so noted; ie, a listing ending in "(XI-5)" was reviewed in Vol.11 No.5.

So do your worst---here's our best, in reverse alphabetical order.