BMG CD's ARE worse

I have seen this question somewhere before so when I got Rush's "2112" on both BMG and not I compared the two.

Both CD's say "Anthem Records", "Mercury" and "Polygram" but the BMG version says "This compilation @1990 PolyGram" "mfd. for BMG Direct, 6550 East 30th St., Induanapolis, IN 46219" and the non-BMG CD just says 1976 Mercury Records.

The BMG version sounded much less dynamic. The sound was compressed and flat. To prove my ears were not imagining things I looked at the playback level meter on my CDR-500 and the non-BMG version was showing higher peaks. The BMG version was showing a virtually constant playback level on the same part of the opening track.

Note this is not just a recording at a lower playback level but the actual dynamic peaks are showing to be less on the BMG disc. BMG is cheaper, looks like you get what you pay for.
I have not purchased from BMG or Columbia for some time now. The prices are lower than available through other sources but selection of music and artists is often poor. I too had the sense that the "club" recordings were not of the same standard as retail store CD's. I did not do the measurements. I only used my ears.

Do you or does any one else know how or if it would be less costly for the clubs to produce "compressed" versions of the music? Do we have any "experts" out there who could comment on the subject?
I believe CDC. I don't BMG, never have, never will - but I have heard with my own ears what he's talking about. Can't remember what recording, as it was years ago, but I've been left with the same lingering question, long before I really started listening critically. Just a nod to the post, anyone have anything solid on this? It's a great question.
You guys may find this interesting:

I agree that the club CD may been a poor remaster (because of the dates). They don't have the same digital information. Stereophile and some others have done very complete and detailed tests (technical and blind listening) of identical store bought CDs versus CD club CDs, and did not find any difference in any of the CDs tested. They even compared the two by reversing the polarity. If they are the same they will cancel each other out. If not, then sound will be heard or a signal will register on the test equipement. They all cancelled out each other perfectly.

Later when they did find small differences they think those differences could be from "jitter" differences from different production runs, but store CDs may just as likely be the worse ones.

Also when I got married, my wife and I had some duplicates (mine clubs, hers from the store), so I did my own test. I used a changer as a transport for the DAC and had her put the CDs in, so I would not know which was which. I could not tell either for the few I tried.

And finally, some CDs are just defective from production, even though the record companies claim it can't happen. I have returned CDs before because of defects (store and clubs both).

A copy of the Stereophile article is at:

Thanks, Sugarbrie, for your input. I've never heard any difference, either. If audiophiles can imagine a difference, there?
Many years ago I had two copies of Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms that were vastly different in sound quality, so much so that anyone could tell instantly, even on a poor quality system. I believe one of them was a BMG. So I agree too, something stinks here.
i don't hear a difference between the retail and BMG discs i've checked out.

aside from the BMG stamp where the UPC code goes, i've noticed that BMG sometimes shaves pages off pages in the booklet or may use a jewel cases instead of the digipak.

columbia house doesn't do this, but many of their discs have a line saying that they are for columbia house on the packaging. columbia house shares the facilities that press discs for retail sale.

cdc, i think that your bmg version is just the older version of the cd because of the different dates noted on the back; the rush catalogue was remastered a little while back. I am curious if you bought the cd recently and straight from BMG.
This is for everyone. I used to be in the music business and I am an audiophile ever since my old man pass down his open reel machine. Generally, those discs made in Germany sound muddled. British recordings have higher frequency but the bass is flat. American pressings and Japanese pressings sound the best. All my discs are either made in the United States or in Japan. Japanese discs have extended frequency nad clarity but some people might find it too cold sounding. American discs are definitely warmer sounding. Compilations and Best of discs sound really bad. You could buy a Vanilla Ice CD, his-best-of and a compilation featuring one of his song and make a comparison.

Of course the mastering process is important but all things being equal, the American and Japanese does sound much clearer. Perhaps, one of you could find the latest release by Celion Dion and get a American print, a British print, a German print and a Japanese release of the same CD and make a comparison.
The BMG version was 2112 in Rush's "Chronicles" (a 2 CD set) and apparently was compiled in 1990. No mention of remastering so I thought they were using the original master tapes.
The other version is the actual "2112" CD. It was not manufactured for BMG and looks to be mastered in 1976 by Mercury.
As I mentioned, the differences are not imagined. My CDR-500 display shows the compression I was hearing.
Buyer beware I guess.
CDC...From your last post, it sounds like it is a re-mix of some kind. The tests I mention are of identical CDs made from the same digital master (after mixing). Some are made for record stores, and others are made separately, possibly in a different factory, for CD clubs.
they have a manufacturing rights and their pressing quality is worse of the worst. they're only designed to be in pocket or car player.
Hi Cdc...

Any album had to be remastered before it was put on CD, because it had to be transferred from analog to digital (at least once). There's no way that album was digitally remastered in 1976. Both versions could have used the original master tapes...that has nothing to do with digital remastering. I think the question is, were both versions pressed from the same digital masters? Based on your description, it sounds like one of them was probably the original digital master for the original CD release (from the mid-late 80s) and the other was a newer (or different) digital remaster from 1990.

Remastering isn't always a good depends on how well the first one was done, how well the second was done, the equipment used in both cases, etc. The 1990 version was probably a remaster done by the label. BMG may have produced the copies and released them, but they probably had nothing to do with the remastering. Companies like BMG usually get a license to produce copies with their names on them, but they get the masters from the labels...they don't make them themselves.

And yes...I do think you're hearing the differences you described. Almost all CDs are mastered "louder" these days, which usually means more compression. Mainstream pop/rock is usally the worst, but almost all recordings are probably compressed to some extent in the mastering process...even if it's very little. The amount it affects the recording and dynamics depends on the talent of the person doing the mastering. The digital mastering equipment has improved technically and a new remaster *should* sound better than an old 80s master, but there are many that are compressed WAY too much. Excess compression squashes the loudest signals and raises the volume on the quiter signals, so it will bring up the volume level of the background details (more breath on vocals, more decay on instruments, more background or room noise, etc), but dynamics suffer. That's why so many CDs become fatiguing. It sounds like that very of 2112 suffers from bad mastering, but it probably doesn't have anything to do with BMG.
Cdc your info about the non BMG disc is confusing-1976 is the year the record was recorded-CD's weren't issued till 1984-I do suspect the non-BMG disc is from the Rush Remasters series however it could easily be another earlier issue.
The Rush Remaster series was issued late 90's (I think)in the UK they are easily recognisable since they are marked on the front perspex panel Rush Remasters.
one more thing: whenever i bid on any ebay cd i make sure to ask seller if it's bmg-columbiahouse-free or any dumb-club-free issue. otherwise it ain't worth a penny for me.
cdc, Your BMG version is a different version than the store-bought version. But it's not different or inferior because it's a BMG edition. It's different because the CD title "Chronicles" has earlier mastering of the material than the current CD of the album "2112".

In other words, if you bought "Chronicles" in a store today, it would also sound comparatively worse than the "2112". When Mercury Records remastered the individual album CDs I do not think that they did the same for the Chronicles set. This is probably because they were issuing two new compilation sets at the time, Retrospective. Or if they did, then you may have an older copy (that's why I asked when you got the BMG disc).

By mastering, people here mean the process of prepping a recording for CD format. Sometimes the record labels put a new date to indicate the remastering date (e.g., "(c) 1976, 2002"), but sometimes they do not (e.g., "(c) 1976" only). I think this depends on whether the label feels that a newly mastered recording warrants copyright registration as a "new" work. Obviously, that Rush album was not mastered (for CD) in 1976.

In most cases, record companies will change the artwork or place a sticker on the plastic to advertise a "new mastering". But this is not always the case: the Bruce Springsteen catalogue was redone with no change to the packaging. The Who's Who's Next CD used to be like that too; in the U.S. MCA originally issued a "Steve Hoffman" master of that album on CD, then changed to another master without changing the packaging. (The Who's Next CD is currently a totally different package, with bonus tracks and yet another remastering.)

So with something like Springsteen's catalogue someone could potentially have two similar looking versions of the disc and think, "BMG's CDs are better sounding than my Tower Records copy!"
The Rush CD was just called "2112" which you cn buy in any store. The BMG version "Chronicles" only has the first and second part of "2112". So the discs aren't identical and that would better define if it's really BMG's fault or not.
I did not think a compilation CD would be remastered but this one did say "Manufactured for BMG". That statement bothered me. Perhaps "remastered for BMG" would be more like it?
Marakanetz, it seems to be important to you to pay more for CDs that are not labeled as being from BMG, ColumbiaHouse, or, perhaps, the Musical Heritage Society. As they say in Texas, go head-on.
Hello Brianmgrarcom! It is indicated on the back of the CDs where it is manufactured. Made in the E.U., Made in the U.S.A, Made in the U.K., Made in Japan, etc, etc ...

For example, The Carpenters'Greatest Hits might have many mutations and versions. Different compilation, less or more songs, different year of release, re-masters, anniversary issues, etc, etc ... All will sound different. Sad but true!

Sometimes, the recording company lose the rights and the rights are transfer for example from Polygram to Warner Music.

Hope this helps.
As I mentioned earlier, the CD in question may have been compared to a remastered version. In this case the remaster will usually be louder and sound better. When the CD medium became popular, many companies wanted to get their products on the market as fast as they could. Many times 3rd and 4th generation mix down tapes were used instead of the original masters. This coupled with the use of early generation AD converters made for sucky sounding CD's. This is the reason vinyl sounds so much better than earlier CD's. 1995 was the year digital recording got much better because of the much improved AD an DA converters.

The Japanese issues are much better in general and sound as good as most remasters of today because they took the trouble to use the master or first generation mix down tapes for their releases.

BMG, more than likely, simply makes a digital copy of the CD that they are going to sell. If it is an early generation CD, then it is going to sound like it. BMG is owned by Bertlesman Music Group. They have access to many original releases but not as many as Columbia House.

Columbia House is owned by Sony Music and Universal and have a much larger back catalog to choose from. Therefore they have many more original releases to choose from.
Thanks for the information. I will be comparing BMG CD's to the same "non BMG" CD's in the future for a fairer comparison. If I find quality differences again, I'll repost.
go purchase 2 copies of any CD somewhere now go a/b the 2 "identical" disks. Are they different? I always hear slight differences. I believe nothing man makes to be exactly identical is impossible.
If the discs are from the same final Digital master, they will be identical. Jitter is a different issue.
I finally got two identical CD's, one is BMG version, brand new right out of the case; of Steve Winwood's "Arc of a Diver". The other is from the library.
The library CD had minor scratches all over it. It also had two thin metal detection strips taped to the back of it. So I would expect the library CD to sound worse.
First I put the BMG in my Marantz CDR-500 CDR (better) drive and the LIB (library version) in the CD drive.
The BMG version sounded "better" by quite a noticeable amount. I put in quotes because the clarity seemed to accentuate the "digital nasties".
- Listening the BMG was subjectively louder but the output level meters on the CDP showed identical output levels.
- BMG was clearer and more dynamic. This is probably why it accentuated the "digital nasties".

Switched BMG to CD drive and LIB version to CDR drive. Same results but perhaps BMG was TINY bit worse than the first time due to worse quality CD drive.

Put Auric Illuminator on BMG CD and digital nasties reduced by 10%. I'm calling the difference between the two CD's was 100% so A-I reduced the difference by 10%.

After 20-30 minutes of this my ears got fatigued and I couldn't really hear differences anymore.

My conclusion - compilation CD's not BMG CD's are worse.
An example: The Heart Greatest Hits CD is remastered but the single album CDs are not. The sound on Greatest Hits is better.

I mentioned in my post that there are two newer compilation CDs of Rush material than Chronicles, released around the time that they upgraded the single album CDs. I don't think MCA updated the sound quality on Chronicles because they were putting out the two newer compilations.

If you check out the newer compilations, I think that your conclusion might be that older version CDs, not BMG CDs or compilation CDs, are generally worse than remastered CDs.
Be careful when generalizing the superiority of Japanese CD's. True, there are some truly amazing recordings to be had there, but most of this is of "classic" status (regardles of genre). Listen to past and current J-Pop offerings and other material as well -- most of it will make your ears bleed. What dreck (from a fidelity standpoint)!
I agree that BMG's CD's are inferior to regular House Brand CD's.I have a few and find them very dry sounding.Like lack of air and soundsage!

Do not have 2 to do a comparision ,but I alway's thought there was something missing in their Manfacturing process!

I just bought Missing Person's at Amazon and it sounds shrill!I will keep a watch on what is there to purchase!It was the only one out of about 100 that I had recieved that was BMG and I noticed the lack of sound right away!
Yeah,lawrencegrac, why do a real comparison of say, 10 company CDs and 10 BMGs to get some kind of definitive conclusion when you can buy 1 BMG and notice the "lack of sound"? Hell, if ANY CD I bought from Amazon had "lack of sound", that sucker is going back! Solution: Get Amazon to email you back which CDs are BMG and which are not. Then you'll avoid the heartbreak.
I'll keep the sucker and watch out for the jinx of BMG cd's!
Thanx for the concern though!