CD Buying Guide???

I was wondering if anyone knows of a book/mag/publication that rates the sonic quality of (most/all) of the CD's on the market. It seems like it would be possible. I have been disappointed to say the least with some of the digital recordings in my collection. I'm not interested in rating the content but more the quality of the product from a strictly fidelity based aspect. I see that remastered CD's are getting VERY popular but I would like a guide to help me avoid the dogs while picking up the gems. The thought of re-buying CD's isn’t all that appealing to me but the chance of getting some of the rotten first attempts at digitizing analog cleaned up is very appealing. I just wish I had a guide. It seems long ago I had picked up such a book from Powel’s in Portland. It gave each disc a 1-5 rating for audio quality and information about how, when, where it was recorded. I thought it was a yearly publication. Man would that be nice when I get on line or head to the local used CD store. There is a lot written on vinyl but I cant really find anything on Compact Disc.

HELP ...
I have never found a reliable guide. The best thing is to follow recording and mastering engineers. When you find someone who is good or you like (such as Doug Sax, Chuck Ainlay, Al Schmitt, Jack Renner, Michael Bishop, etc.) Then look them up on artists direct and find out what they worked on. Generally the good guys get more say in how it sounds....i.e. they get more respect from producers who leave them more freedom. (A producer will often push around a lesser known engineer to produce a hot CD = compressed and bad sounding CD)

Good luck!
chase songs...not a rule however, newer releases sound better because because the mixing and mastering process has improved.
I mostly disagree with Jaybo. I've found that untouched original cd's with the hiss sound far better than 99% of the remasters. As always, there are exceptions. The Joni Mitchell remasters in hdcd are great. On the other hand, those Cat Stevens remasters were a joke.
You may want to consider picking up a copy or a subscription to Paste Magazine if you are interested in below the radar alternative type of artists.

It is a music magazine and normally each issue includes a free CD with twenty tracks by different artists/labels.

It won't give you a sonic guide per se but you can judge the sonics for yourself, Plus, hear great music.

I have no connection to Paste other than being a satisfied customer.

Have Fun.
Slightly off topic here, but which issues of Cat Stevens are good? I saw Cat on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday...hadn't heard his music for 20+ years, but liked it back then & would like to pick up a couple CDs today.

As for the catalog of ratings...sounds like a good idea, though I doubt any recording company would make the effort. A big part of their business is in figuring out ways to encourage people to repurchase the same music over, and over, and over....
I bought the remastered "Tea For the Tillerman" a while back. Absolutely awful! What a shame because that album was exceptional and the memories are priceless.
After that experience I've been leery of "remastered" label.

This is good stuff - I wish I could keep it going. I guess I could be more specific in my posts and get specific opinions on certain remasters. I was looking at the Cat Stevens remastered "Tea For the Tillerman" as well.

Too bad we cant preview music like we can movies ... in my house on my system.

I did fork out for the Led Zeppelin remaster box set and was VERY happy. In contrast I have a bunch of SACD's that sound as bad as the original CD's did.

Thank you for the idea ... maybe I dont need a book ... I'll just use the forum. I had illusions of being in a used CD store and as I find a CD that looks good I would look it up to see if the recording was any good. There is a certain amount of subjectivity but I think for the most part bad fidelity is fairly easy to identify.

Oh well ... I have a new idea. I'm going to start a post on the quality of remastered CD's.

See you there!
I'm sure this thread is long dead ... but I found a few guides that are exactly what i was looking for:

For Claasical stuff : The Penguin guide to Compact discs and DVD's ... I then used that to search more and found a blues guide book, a book called 1001 Albums: You Must Hear Before You Die - and I even found a heavy metal guide so with that as a benchmark I figure there has to be a Jazz guide out there somewhere. granted most of it is directed towards the material I believe recording quality is part of the review - it is with the Penguin Guide.

But then again ... I'm probably talking to myself.

I'm so alone
There's a Penguin Guide to Jazz available on Amazon. I've never looked at one though, so can't tell you whether it discusses recording quality as well a content.
I have been frustrated over this subject for quite some time. Many of us have invested (dare I say) tens of thousands of dollars into awesome audio systems, but the source of the music, the CD's are more often than not poorly engineered. The reason for this is simple: there's no profit incentive for the music companies to put out quality. The vast market for recorded music today is on MP3 - highly compressed and available directly through ones computer. The "artist" records the music and a minimal amount of engineering goes into the production of the final product. The market accepts this poor quality since it wants it on MP3 (where everything sounds lousy) and there aren't enough purchasers of CD's (who might actually care) to justify the added costs of making it sound correct.
I'm convinced we audiophiles are a dying breed... Ken
This would be great. A bad cd is going to make even the most expensive system sound, well bad. I too have bought remastered cd's that don't sound all that great. On the other hand some others have been exceptional.

It gets worse ...

Go to and do a search for "loudness war" the production of modern the CD has gone to the dogs ... or worse ... the MP3.
I, too, am bothered by cd's that sound bad. It is more of a problem(an expensive one at that) with cd's than lp's. When the sound is bad on cd's, you won't listen to them. My current thinking is similiar to Jaybo's. I think that they are doing a better job now. I do wonder about cd's made in the eighties and early ninety's. Most of them sound horrible. Is there anything that can be done about them? I think most of the original analog can benefit from how they make cd's now(with some exceptions). When I have a bright, recent cd, I have used Liquid Resolution to good effect. Does burning those eighties or ninety's cd's improve them to the point where they are listenable?
I have a remastered copy of "Tea For the Tillerman." Man that music brings back the memories. Unfortunately, the cd is overly bright on most cuts, IMO.
I agre this kind of a book would be heaven sent. I have rebought many of myu favorite cd's so as to have them remasterd. In all but a couple of cases they were way better sounding than the original. I caould never figure out why a artist or producer would put out a bad sounding product. One in particular I was disappointed in was Derek / Dominoes Layla. In it's case I think the origianl recording is so poor that remastering can do so much. It just sounds too compressed to me.