The absolute best and worst-sounding CD you own ?

This could be a tricky one. Many audiophiles and music lovers will care more for an artist they like in mediocre sound than a artist they can't stand no matter how great the recording is. Still, I am interested in finding out what truly outstanding recordings there are out there. Of course there are listening biases and all that can be said about the equipment.

My personnal best: Harry Belafonte at Carnegie Hall

My worst: The standard cd issue ''YES-Fragile'' just plain bad no matter on what you play it on. OK so this is a ''rock'' cd and they are all supposed to sound bad right?, still, there is no excuse for this turkey.

Let's have your choice...
My best sounding newbie is Norah Jones. The worst is a Neil Young live in Cincinnati. It's a boot leg and it is as bright as a halogen bulb. Reguardless of what you do it stays bright too....................
I have two choices for best:
1. The Super Extended Resolution Sound of TBM (three blind mice). Cant stand some of the cuts, but wonderfull recording.

2.Pinetop Perkins - Born in the Delta. Pinetops best, delta
blues genre. Very clear, dynamic, and crankable blues jams.
Not bad for an 83 year old man.
Telarc Blues enhanced CD

Worst: Anything by Sting.
Any CD made by Mobile Fidelity will sound significantly better. Rickie Lee Jones' CD's are also well engineered. The boxed set of Ray Charles Atlantic recordings and the Chess Boxed set of Muddy Waters are also extremely well done.
David Gray - A Centuary Ends (very sweet mids)

Counting Crows - August and Everything After (I used to think this was well recorded when I used an HK reciever as my pre and a Carver amp)
I am not prepared to name a "best" at this point, but I think I have a worst:

Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska" sounds absolutely abysmal.
Mary Stallings "Fine and Mello" on Clarity recordings (Canadian Import version) is STUNNING. Everything from the balance between the instruments to the utter rightness of her vocals is sublime. Worst: Are you kidding? I would say at least 9 out of 10 recordings are crap.
At the risk of being accused of stealing this thread, my best worst sounding CD is MILES Sketches of Spain. Love the music, hate the recording.
Best - Lyle Lovet "Joshua Judges Ruth" Maybe not the absolute best recording that I own, but when considered as a complete package, it's a phenomenal piece of work AND it sounds good! Unfortunately, a lot of the really great recordings are just plain BORING.

Worst - Patricia Barber "Cafe Blue" I know that a lot of people think this is a great recording, but PLEASE! High frequency distortion abounds. My dog runs for cover!
Mdomnick, August and Everything After is the only CD I own by The Counting Crows. This recording is actually very good for rock music. Mine is not the Mobility Fidelity disc.

My only compliant was that there was background hiss during the softer passages (noticable because I listen quite loud). As I’ve refined my components, I was amazed at how much lower this hiss became. I would rate this recording very high.

If you want superb, Steely Dan’s latest, Eveything Must Go.
I think sonically it is their best—better than Two Against Nature, which was also very, very good.

Another well recorded rock disc by a lesser known band is Bring It On by Gomez.
The ones that come immediately to mind

Best: First Impression Music - River of Sorrow

2nd Best: Reference Recordings - Dick Hyman: From The Age of Swing

Worst: B.B. King Songs of Praise (content is great, recording is terrible, bad bootleg type sound)
Gullahisland, sign me up. I am glad that someone finally said it. Cafe Blue is the worst sounding recording I have ever heard with the possible exception of Picnic by Robert Earl Keen. Best is the Steve Greene Trio's Acoustic Living; good music too.
Best; Ricki Lee Jones's first album. Better than the LP IMHO.
Worst: A live recording of Joan Sutherland that i bought at Border's Books. It apparently is some sort of bootleg type CD that was obviously recorded by someone in the audience with a stereo tape recorder in their lap and sounds like you would expect for someone in the rear of the hall. You can hear people next to the recorder moving in their seats and the sound kind of warbles and drifts. It is copyrighted and sold commercially however so not sure what gives.
Here are some more great recordings --

Lyle Lovette -- Joshua Judges Ruth

Alison Kraus and Union Station -- Live

Bela Fleck -- Live Art

The Cure -- Galore
Best sounding - Alan Parsons Project: The Definitive Collection. Superb remastering of some great songs.

Worst Sounding - Concrete Blond: Bloodletting. One of my favorites, musically, but recording wise, have never heard a more abysmal sound.
Thank you Viridian. Why anyone would use this recording as a "reference" is beyond me.

Quick Story: The first time I heard Cafe Blue was while purchasing a preamp from a fellow AudiogoN'r. He wanted to demo his system for me. As shrill as this cd can sound, you ain't heard nothing 'til you you've heard it through Audio Physic Virgo IIIs driven by a Krell KST-100...NEARFIELD! Whew! That was brutal.

Priz - In reference to Counting Crows August and Everything After" - I just listened to it a few nights ago (for the first time on my new system) and noticed a few things. First, as a whole, it's not a bad recording. Up until Hard Candy was released, it was their best sounding album. Hard Candy, while highly "produced" is a better recording, but still not great. Anyway, August and Everything After varies greatly from track to track. I haven't looked at the liner notes, but I'd guess that some tracks were recorded in different studios. "Omaha" is the best track, sonically by a long shot. "Anna Begins" is a close second. The hiss that you refer to is primarily found on the opening track and is quite noticable. Either it gets better as the album progresses, or the neurons stop firing and I don't hear it anymore :)
yeeeeesssss, ¨Rickie Lee Jones¨, circa 1978, is maybe the best sounding cd i have heard.
This mortal coil´s ¨blood¨ is most excellent,too.

The worst: P.J.Harvey´s ¨is this desire¨...pity, because the songs are excellent... but the bass is out of control most of the time, and the rest of the spectrum is modulated and fierely distorted

Me, from Buenos Aires
Curbach, Springsteen recorded "Nebraska" on a 4-track cassette in a non-studio setting (motel room?).

Fmoreno - that's exactly how P.J. Harvey wants it to sound. She's never made a non-distorted recording in her life. The distortion is part of her signature sound.
Yet another list that makes me glad I'm a music fan rather than an audiophille,a lot of bonkers postings including a guy who states he hates the music but loves the recording!
Nebraska is a classic.
About Alison Krauss and Union Station "Live". Its good no doubt. However "Now that Ive found you: A collection" is the best sounding release from Alison Krauss. The vocals are smoother and more natural sounding, less hiss and breath, more voice. I own all of the hybrid sacd's and the CD layer on all 4 of these are the best cd's I own. I havent even heard the sacd layer yet! I cannot wait.

Rounder records is doing something right!

Any SACD recordings that is related to the Police,Doors is the worst transfers I've ever heard.Great groups but the A/D is so bad its so unlistenable...Have anyone listen to Stings recent recordings?..boy I guess we know who the real force before the group was,it sure wasnt Sting.
Hey now. Sound quality was the point of the thread and the point of my post. I am aware Nebraska was essentially a demo recording, and I am certainly not knocking the musical content. It is probably my favorite Springsteen album. But there is no question the cd sounds like $*&^. I prefer to listen to it on cassette actually (don't have a turntable these days).
Spatial quality of the recording is very important, particularly for multichannel stuff, where it central to the purpose of the disc. I will compare two Multichannel discs, one a Sony Classical SACD of violinist Hillary Hahn playing a concerto, and the other is any of the series of DVD-A put out by the German audiophile label Tacet, mostly chamber music. Both these discs have very clear and musical sound, as they ought to do, being high resolution.

First the good news. The Tacet discs are superb in presenting the performance from the perspective of one of the performers. You can imagine that you yourself are playing the violin, and your buddies on viola, cello, and piano are sitting around your chair. Not everyone can appreciate this "performers perspective" but I think that all would agree that from a purely technical point of view it is astonishing.

The Sony disc, although acclaimed by the trade, is terrible. The performance is excellent (Hillary is good) and the sound quality is up to standard for SACD. However, the person who mastered this disc put the violin almost equally in all channels. Now, a violin is a small sound source, and belongs isolated in the center front. This is almost universal practice for soloists in stereo recordings. There is something else wrong with the mix, in that even with the rears shut off, the violin will not image at the center speaker, but is all over the place. I know this is not an imaging problem with my system because when I play Pentone multichannel discs, which are four channels (not five) it is almost impossible to tell that the center speaker is not playing.

I wonder how much of the skepticism about multichannel sound derives from badly mastered discs?
Best - Mickey Hart - Dafos. This is my reference recording when I audition new audio gear. It was recorded in 1982 at the Japan Center Theater, San Fran. The tonal qualities and airiness are exceptional. The recording was done on two track with no overdubbing. This is the same philosophy that Mapleshade Studios applies in their recording. Check out some of the reviews on Mapleshade Studios at their website ( to gain an understanding of the philosophy. Pierre Sprey is an absolute genius who thinks way outside the box.

Worst - Bob Marley - Legend. Unbearably bright. Can't even listen to it.
M*A Recordings make sublime sounding CDs. 

Worst? Most all I bought in mid 80 when cds 1st came out. Gawdawful transfers. 
Don't know about the best, have to think about that.

The worst: love the music, but the recording is just god-awful.  Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes: Tooth, Fang, and Claw.
Some CD's that sound absolutely blissful in terms of sonics, presence, and tangible, holographic feeling when playing:

1. Ponty, DiMeola, and Clark - Rites of Strings ('95, I think). Exquisite production and atmospherics, not to mention virtuoso, melodic playing.

2. Herbie Hancock - The Joni Letters ('07). Absolutely three-dimensional presence here. Great music to listen to your system through.