why are some cd's so bright sounding

I just purchased Jewel's and Chris Isaac's newest releases and can't believe how bright they sound compared to their older stuff. What is up with that? I love the songs but can't stand to listen to the harsh sounds on my setup.
Bigwave, why don't you contact the artists, recording engineers, producers and mastering engineers and ask them. They might surprise you and actually tell you how and why the records sounds exactly like they wanted them to sound.
I believe the problem lies in the "Studio Monitors" that a lot of recording studios use to master music. Honky horns, with no top end response, and very little accurate bass. So, they mix & equalize so it sounds good to them in the studio. Play it back on a decent hi-fi and, presto! - ear-bleed stuff with lumpy bass. I recently had a talented session musician friend of mine over to hear the new song he had just recorded in a New York recording studio. Offered a very rare opportunity, I asked him if my system played back the song as he heard it in the studio, true to the artist's goal. He said, "Nope. I can heard all of the production mistakes on your system. We couldn't hear those in the studio. " I offered my home as a master listening place for his next recording, before the final mixdown. Sweet.

Swelled head & all, I remain...
It can happen that if a system has beend designed to accomodate the more common low-fi recordings and one unexpectededly aquires an album of superior sonic qualities, it can appear to be too bright when it is just revealing substandard qualities of the system.

Any serious audiophile who's goal is to attain 'true to the original' as closely as possible in their system, needs to first aquire sonically superior 'reference' recordings to evaluate the components of the system.

The problem is, before you get there, your system is not qualified to recognize such recordings. You have to go on trust.

I found someone trustworthy in that regard who has a list of recordings on his web page intended to be used as references in evaluating your system.

I decided to trust his ears, and the $30k Audio Artistry 'Beethoven' system he designed and listens with. And after recognizing the validity of his audio theories, and experiencing the practical application of his designs, I now vouch for him as an authentic audio guru.

In a give back spirit, he offers DIY speakers affordable to most active audiophiles that will be the last speakers you ever buy.

He assures us that with his DIY designs we will not be missing anything by not having even the 'Beethoven' flagship model of the Audio Artistry active EQ/XO open baffle diple speaker line.

Check it out: www.linkwitzlabs.com
Remember some of the old Columbia Cassette tapes? They kept clogging up so much that even as a kid I knew better than to buy this label. I got the Cd 'Motown's Greatest Hits' on the motown label. Terrible quality recording. I then got a collection of much of the same music on the Rhino label. Excellent quality throughout.

the ablove entry about "Just get it out" is so true. Another awful release is Cream's Greatest Hits.

I am right now listening to the new Led Zepplin DVD piped through my 2-channel system. Strange, I have yet to watch it, but the quality is so good that I have listened to it many, many times. I understand the quality of what they started with was seriously lacking. This Cd (DVD...) is awesome....and I am not all that much of a Zepplin fan. well, at least I wasn't until now.