Enlighten me please

I keep hearing about "audiophile" redbook CD's and notice folks alluding to better quality CD's. I realize that the likes of BMG are mass market garbage. What other labels are considered crap? Also, what labels are higher quality? If you have a particular CD available on one label, Sony for instance, is it often available from a more esoteric label as well, or do the rights to produce a given album lay with the label? I notice BMG usually has its stamp along with the original label on the disk, denoting that BMG has probably paid some liscensing fee to produce that disk.

Any insight would be nice, I think I know some of the answers but would like more information. Also, can anyone provide links to resellers of good quality recordings?

See the comments of Abex, 11/8/03 and others on this thread for more enlightenment on this issue.
Here is a Stereophile link on the same subject.


Now some CD's are remixed from the originals. They may be better or worse. But no conclusive differences have been found in identical masters made for clubs. If you are buying a compilation CD made just for the club, that is not an original master, It was redone for the compilation. A compilation is like a...."Pop hits of 1986" type special issue.

While rare, a CD could be defective for other reasons. But I've had more defective store CD's than I've ever gotten from a club. The few bad ones I got from BMG over the last 15 years were replaced by them no questions asked. Try bringing a bad CD back to a store. They'll likely tell you CD's can't be bad..

I've been a BMG member since it was the International Preview Society Classical LP Club back the the late 1970's. To get me to switch to CD's when they were phasing out LP's around 1989, they offered me 2 free CD's per year for life. I still get my coupon for the 2 free CD's every year from them. So they've kept their word. Must be up to about 30 free CD's now. (Any single disc CD they sell.)

They also back then sent me an inventory of all their left over LP's for me to buy, for just a couple bucks a piece (shipped free). I still have some unopenned still in the shrink wrap!!
There's great sounding CDs out there but it can be a crap shoot finding them. Most of the JVC xrcd stuff sounds great, especially the few newer xrcd24 titles. Many Japanese manufactured CDs sound good but again not always. Recently purchased a Japanese remastered Santana Caravanserai, sounded really terrible. I've also been listening to some Japanese 24K gold Pat Methenys and Enya CDs, marvelous! Many DCC and MFSL gold CDs sounded nice, but there were a lot of dogs too. A couple Jennifer Warnes CDs I picked up recently sound fabulous, The Hunter & The Well. These are regular old CDs. The gulf between good and bad sounding CDs seems broaden as the quality of playback equipment increases. One thing for sure, it's difficult to listen to a really bad CD. Makes you feel like your ears are bleeding. As Sony Phillips said when the CD first came out: "Perfect sound forever!". My motto: "Mass produced junk forever!". Bottom line is, those who pay attention to the details and quality of manufacturing frequently produce fine sounding CDs. Those who don't usually produce crap. Unfortunately, most don't know the difference and don't care. Can you believe there's format battle? The CD hasn't been perfected yet nor do we know it's true potential. Ever wonder why a Steve Hoffman mastered CD sounds good?
Stay away from ANY CD's on the "One Way Records" label! Absolute CRAP! They are usually re-releases of older rock material.
Any CD by Mobile Fidelity will sound great.
Mapleshade sampler {festival:$7.99}.Burmester #2+3,XRCDs {get a second recommendation} and Jim Aud/Purist Audio demo CDs-very nice {$25/each}. Maybe CHESS and Rounder records.