Sound Quality of Remastered CD's

Is there a website (or book) that explains the recording process and music industry? The following should give you an idea of the kind of things I'd like to learn. I'm not asking these questions now, just looking for a source of info about this sort of thing...


I have bought "remastered" CD's and compared them to the original purchase I made of that CD. In some cases there was a noticeable improvement. In other cases there was an improvement in some ways and it wasn't as good in other ways. In one case I felt the "remaster" was actually worse than the original. I do know that a lot of it has to do with the quality of the original tapes. In some cases there isn't much room for improvement, such as with the Beatles recordings. BTW I listen to pop/rock, not classical. It seems that the quality of the recordings/releases is really a mixed bag in the world of pop/rock.

Is there really something to this idea of "remastering"? Aren't all CD's by their nature remastered?

What about "imports"? Better sound quality?

Is there a difference between Columbia "club" releases and the originals - in other words, are Columbia club releases of lesser sound quality?

Can I know which remaster releases to avoid and which ones to buy simply by knowing the label releasing it?

etc, etc, etc.
Remastering is like mastering: Some do it well and others do not, so there is no general rule about whether they are superior.

How can you tell which are? Read reviews. Get to know the producer's names.

I agree that there is no general rule and that you have to take remastering quality on a case-by-case basis or series-by-series basis. Like you I have experienced CDs that were superior to the original LPs and others that were inferior. In general it might be said that earlier remasterings--that is, from the early days of CDs when manufacturers were in a rush to hurry to market with their popular titles and artists--often weren't done very well, and more recent remasterings are likely to be better. But even this isn't always true.
I bought a few CD's which I noticed were remastered, some sounded great and some I found to be very bright. However, the remastered versions of SACD's I found to be superb and well worth every penny spent for example the RCA Living Stereo SACD's.
"Is there really something to this idea of "remastering"?"

IMO, yes there really is something to this idea. For instance, as an old Yes fan from the 70's I really appreciate the vast improvement in the remastered version of the live recording "Yessongs," which I stand in awe of to this day. The original LP was a really poor recording. But I've listened to it, bad recordings and all 100's of times. The remaster of this album is a vast improvement sonically and I've read here that the Japanese remasters of some of the Yes recordings are superior. I'm heavily into classic jazz these days and I've found that the best remasters I've experienced have consistently been those done with the JVC process 20 bitK2 supercoding aka JVC XRCD2. These discs consistenly have more resolution,impact, bass, midrange palpability, a fuller sound. It's no coincidence that JVC is a Japanese company. Japan has long had a reputation for being a technology leader. I've read that Telarc and GCC gold also offer excellent remasters. The only problem with all these remastering processes is the variety and selectionof titles available (there just aren't enough XRCD remastered titles out there in Jazz or other genres.) Now I make some of my purchases in classic jazz based first on the artist but second on whether the title is in XRCD or not. An Agoner once posted that the first key to great performance in cd playback is the medium and I've found that is very true. XRCD remasters make the cd medium great.
I think the key here is; who does the remastering and whattis being remastered. If it's someone like Steve Hoffman or the XRCD guys using original tapes it's probably going to sound pretty good. If it's some unknown using 2nd or 3rd generation tapes it's a toss-up. Well done remastering can definitely make improvements.
Thanks for the responses. Here's a website I found that has also been very helpful.

Does Sony have something called K2? Or are you (Foster_9) saying that there is JVC XRCD and also JVC XRCD2?

The JVC XRCD technology is used to remaster CD's by any label who cares to buy the equipment? Or am I looking for the JVC label on the CD packaging?