This article is from the CD-Recordable FAQ, by Andy McFadden (email@example.com) with numerous contributions by others.
As noted in (7-4), there is no guarantee that brand X will be the absolute
best in recorder Y. However, some brands are recommended more often
than others. It does pay to be brand-conscious.
Brands most often recommended: Mitsui, Kodak, Taiyo Yuden, and TDK.
Sometimes Pioneer and Ricoh. It appears that HP, Philips, Sony, Yamaha,
and Fuji use these manufacturers for most of their disks. (Kodak no longer
Brands that are often trashed: Maxell, Verbatim, Memorex, Ritek, Hotan,
Princo, Gigastorage, Lead Data, Fornet, CMC Magnetics. Many "no-name"
bulk CD-Rs are one of these brands.
Sometimes a particular line of discs from a particular manufacturer or
reseller will be better than others from the same company. For example,
Verbatim DataLifePlus discs are recognized as pretty good, but Verbatim
ValuLife are seen as being of much lower quality.
Sometimes company names change. For example, in June 2003 Mitsui Advanced
Media was purchased from Mitsui Chemicals by Computer Support Italcard
(CSI) of Italy to form MAM-A, Inc.
The country of manufacture may also be significant. Some manufacturers
maintain plants in different countries, and don't always maintain the same
level of quality.
In humid tropical climates, care must be taken to find discs that stand up
to the weather. One user reported that the data layer on Sony CDQ 74CN
discs began cracking after a couple of months in an otherwise sheltered
environment (e.g. no direct sunlight). Mitsubishi CD-R 700 and Melody 80
Platinum discs fared much better.