There is no difference to my knowledge as long as they use the same master source material, they should perform the same. Most CD's are manufactured in the local country/region. It cost too much to ship and import CD's for what they sell for. It cost nothing to send the master digital code to a local factory.
There are rumors out there that CD club CD's are inferior to the identical store release, but all tests and other attempts to prove it have failed. It makes sense also. I cannot believe Sony, or any commercial record company would allow a CD club to sell an inferior product with the Sony (or other company) label on it. The two biggest CD clubs are owned by BMG and Sony. They just use their own factories to make the other label's CD's.
They mark them "made for BMG club" etc, to keep retail store owners from buying them and reselling them in retail outlets.
As long as the facility stamps the cd's in accordance with ISO standards, there should be no difference in sound quality. However, the mastering during the recording and pre-production mastering prior to the manufacture of the glass master will have the most, if not all, of the impact on the sound quality.
There have always been rumors that cd's manufactured in Germany, Japan, etc. are superior to US discs, etc., but I think it is just a holdover from the old days when import lp's were a big deal (indeed, many imports were pressed in limited numbers and some used virgin vinyl).
IMHO... If it comes from France, don't buy it.
There is a definite difference in CDs made in Japan and the UK compared to US. Check out any of those Japanese mini LP jacket CD's and compare to the U.S. version and they blow the US versions away. I bought the Beatles UK version of the White Album with the special mini LP packaging and it is superior to the US version. Then I bought the Sony Superbit mapping of Dire Straits Love Over Gold and the first Dire Straits album pressed in US and the British version pressed by Vertigo and the U.S. version is garbage. Unfortunately those who commented above probably don't have revealing enough systems to tell the difference. Too bad.
We are discussing ordinary, everyday, off the shelf CD's, not some special edition that in many cases are made for audiophiles.
So what you say we will notice with the import CD's compared to domestic CD's is "blow away". I am not familiar with the audiophile term "blow away". How will we recognize "blow away" when we hear it? Once we know what to listen for, how can we optimize "blow away" in our system?
What I have found over the years is this:
US manufactured CDs of US music typically sound superior to the same CD produced in the EU (European Union). (The EU CDs are not labelled more specificically than "produced in the EU".) I am talking about normal CDs, not special audiophile editions. And yes, Japanese CDs do beat them all.
I remember a label representative saying a few ago that "when you send a master to five differnt production plants you get back five different sounding CDs". If you study JVC's XRCD process you will see where standard CD production methods can and will go wrong. A lot has to do with proper clocking of all the involved components.
Also, do not forget that the "red book" (i.e. audio) CD standard requires that the data be treated as a real time data stream (translated: there is no re-reading of data until it can be read correctly, which means that error correction needs to chip in when there is an error). I suspect that differences in sound between different pressings of CDs really all boil down to how hard the error correction in the CD player has to work.
I will note that sugarbrie's response to the comments of Hifimaniac seem to be quite appropriate. One must compare apples to apples and not assume something sounds better because the package is more attractive. And of course, one should expect that a remastered cd would be much better than a cd released in the early 80's.
Columbia House CDs are wretched! They are harsh and edgy. I've heard that it may be because of double-speed mastering? I don't about that, I just know they sound awful.
I've been told that the answer is YES. Alot of it depends on the format of the "master" sent to the duplication plant and how they handle that format. If you send a DAT tape or a CD-R to the duplication plant, they will then convert it to an Exabyte tape format (done via an audio dedicated computer) from which they will produce a glass master for stamping purposes. This transfer process, while entirely digital, is not completely transparent. Jitter and clocking issues could be the culprits.
Any generalizations about U. S. releases manufactured in Canada?
BMG SUCKS!I agree about Columbia!Japanese CD's are of good quality.Most stuff remasterd is worth it!DECCA sucks!
Maybe I should clarify my comments above. I am talking about remastered CD's of the original recording released at the same time in the U.S.,UK and Japan, not a newer remastered version being compared to an older CD version. I bought copies of each and the UK and Japanese sounded better than the U.S. version. By the way, Vertigo is not some audiophile label or pressing, but in the case of Dire Straits, their UK label. Comparing the Dire Straits Vertigo label from UK to the Japanese LP mini disc packaged disc revealed fairly equal quality. "Blow Away"...what do I mean for Mr. Sugarbrie...I guess better resolution, less grain, and more analog sounding to me...not as smooth as the XRCD's, but very close.