Black Sabbath - tape flaws or drop-outs on "Evil Woman" - where exactly do they occur?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by blacksabbathrainbow, Oct 15, 2019.

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  1. It has often been mentioned that "Evil Woman", a cover song included on the original UK version but not in the original US version of Black Sabbath's legendary self-titled first album, contains several tape flaws/drop-outs on most 1990ies or later releases, including the otherwise great-sounding Japan SHM-SACD and the 2009 Sanctuary CD (I am talking about the standard album version of the song, NOT the alternate version with horns). Apparently those tape problems were not yet present on the 1986 Castle CD, but I am not a big fan of the overall sound of that CD.

    Anyway, my question is: where exactly are those flaws or drop-outs notable during the song, and what do they sound like? I admit I have never noted them, but given that some people with what I know are better-trained ears than mine have stated they are there, I don't doubt they exist.

     
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  2. MrEWhite

    MrEWhite Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Listening to the Deluxe Edition, I don't hear any tape drop outs. I might if I listen to it a few more times, but I never noticed any. But, the one in The Ultimate Collection still sounds miles better.
     
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  3. sathvyre

    sathvyre formerly known as ABBAmaniac

    Location:
    Europe
    Listen with headphones please...
     
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  4. MrEWhite

    MrEWhite Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    I listened through the SACD version of the song on my Audio Technica AT-R70xs, and I think I heard one around 2:49? I dunno if this is one though.
     
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  5. pool_of_tears

    pool_of_tears Searching For Simplicity

    Location:
    Eastern Iowa
    Listening to the 2016 deluxe and I didn’t hear anything
     
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  6. Well, at least I am not the only one having trouble to notice those drop-outs. I did listen with headphones, I guess I am really not well-trained in detecting tape problems. I never even noticed the drop-outs in Iron Man (on several European releases including the 1986 Castle CD and the 1986 Intercord CD) until someone told me at which mm:ss they occur. If anyone could provide that information for Evil Woman, that would be great.
     
  7. OK, still not sure what those tape problems are like and where they occur; anyway, I did a series of shootouts today and I want to share the results here:

    First round of Evil Woman shootouts - the earlier releases:

    Completed shootouts: 14

    Individual test results from among 4 possible files:

    "A" chosen: 9 times (64.29%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (1970 Black Sabbath_1989 Japan_23PD-133_Vertigo) - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)
    "B" chosen: 0 times (0.00%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (1970 Black Sabbath_1986 France for UK_NELCD 6002_Castle_de-emphasised w SoX) - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)
    "C" chosen: 5 times (35.71%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (1970 Black Sabbath_1991 Japan_TECP-23892_Teichiku) - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)
    "D" chosen: 0 times (0.00%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (1970 Black Sabbath_1987 Japan_33PD-353_Vertigo) - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)


    Looks like the 1986 Castle and the 33PD version are too dull for my taste, at least at this moment.


    Second round - the 2016 & 2017 releases:

    Completed shootouts: 15

    Individual test results from among 3 possible files:

    "A" chosen: 6 times (40.00%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (1970 Black Sabbath_2017 official download_Ten Year War_Sanctuary_downsampled+dithered to 16-44).1 - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)
    "B" chosen: 5 times (33.33%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (2016 The Ultimate Collection_2017 US_2CD_R2 558485 Rhino-Warner) - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)
    "C" chosen: 4 times (26.67%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (1970 Black Sabbath_2016 USA_2CD_R2 552928_Warner_Single A-Side, TF1067)_ - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)


    I believe these 3 share the same mastering (which would likely be the 2012 Pearce remaster) or are at least very similar. I couldn't really distinguish them.

    This time I did hear what might be tape problems, I noted them from about 3:00 onwards. I find it most notable when focusing on the hi-hat or the bass. Not sure how to describe it - to me it sounds a bit like an old, worn out cassette tape.


    Third round - SACD vs 2009 Sanctuary vs. 2017 Ten Year War:

    Completed shootouts: 15

    Individual test results from among 3 possible files:

    "A" chosen: 4 times (26.67%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (1970 Black Sabbath_2017 official download_Ten Year War_Sanctuary_downsampled+dithered to 16-44).1 - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)
    "B" chosen: 2 times (13.33%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (1970 Black Sabbath_2012 Japan_SHM-SACD_UIGY-9094_DSD64 ISO2DFF to 16-44.1) - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)
    "C" chosen: 9 times (60.00%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (1970 Black Sabbath_2009 Germany_2CD_2700817_Sanctuary) - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)


    Here the 2009 CD clearly wins. Which was a surprise: Last time I compared another track from these releases (probably the song Black Sabbath or maybe N.I.B.), the SACD clearly won. However, Evil Woman is from a different recording session than the other tracks (and IIRC, Wicked World is from yet another recordings session), it sounds quite different to begin with; plus, it is possible that, precisely for that reason, Evil Woman was remastered differently from other tracks by Pearce in either 2009 or 2012 or both times (I believe the 2017 Ten Year War version contains the 2012 Pearce remaster, as do the other tracks from that release).
    So far, while I understand why the 2012 remaster of EQ may sound more pleasing to some people because it's remastered rather bright, which compensates for the original dullness of the recording a bit, I don't really like it at a closer listen. It does not really fix the dullness, it just adds some brightness to the dullness which makes it sound less natural (to me, of course).
    Anyway, I am not finished yet. :)


    So here's round four: Japan 1989 CD vs. Japan 1991 CD vs. 2009 Sanctuary vs. a good friend's very nice needledrop of the first UK LP press of the s/t:

    Completed shootouts: 13

    Individual test results from among 4 possible files:

    "A" chosen: 3 times (23.08%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (1970 Black Sabbath_2009 Germany_2CD_2700817_Sanctuary) - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)
    "B" chosen: 1 time (7.69%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (1970 Black Sabbath_1970 UK_1st LP press_VO 6_847 903 VTY_Vertigo_swirl_DBP 2019 LP-rip) - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)
    "C" chosen: 6 times (46.15%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (1970 Black Sabbath_1991 Japan_TECP-23892_Teichiku) - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)
    "D" chosen: 3 times (23.08%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\Samples OK\Evil Woman (1970 Black Sabbath_1989 Japan_23PD-133_Vertigo) - TRACK GAIN APPLIED.wav)


    This time, the 1991 CD wins. Surprisingly, the LP-rip is the loser. That was a surprise, since I compared the song Black Sabbath as well as N.I.B. from this rip to other LP-rips (including Pbthal's) as well as to some digital releases and clearly preferred my friend's version over the other needledrops as well as most digital releases (but for those songs, the SACD always won). So again, it looks like Evil Woman is a special case. I have to finish for today, but this isn't over yet. I will have to do at least one more shootout between the 1989 and 1991 Japan CDs because the 1989 won the first but the 1991 won the last shootout. Probably I will throw one or two of the other releases back into the mix as well. Anyway, for now, it looks like I totally agree (subconsciously, given that these were all blind tests) with rnranimal that the 1989 and 1991 CD versions seem to be the best-sounding digital copies of Evil Woman available. Thanks for pointing them out to me!
     
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  8. Any thoughts? I would love to see some feedback and discussion on this matter.
     
  9. Why ask, and ruin your listening experience? Once you find them, you'll never un-hear them.
     
  10. You're not the first to point that out to me, and I freely admit you've got a point there.;) However, I am really a curious person, and I want to understand other people's listening preferences. In this case, the problem might in a way solve itself: rnranimal, who is one of the people who do find those drop-outs notable, has tested pretty much every existing digital release of Evil Woman and found that the 1986 Castle, 1987 Japan 33PD as well as the 1989 and 1991 Japan CDs don't have the drop-outs yet; and my blind tests posted above suggest that either the 1989 or the 1991 Japan CD seem to be my favorite versions anyway. As I said above, I will do more shootouts, and if today's results hold, my preferred hybrid version of Sabbath's self-titled debut will probably look like this:
    • Japan SHM-SACD for all tracks other than Evil World and Wicked World
    • Wicked Woman from The Ultimate Collection 2CD or the 2014 HDtracks (either way, this track will likely need to be EQed in order to reduce its brightness and match the sound of the SACD)
    • Evil Woman from the 1989 or 1991 Japan CD (possibly this track will need to be EQed as well, not sure about that yet)
     
  11. MrEWhite

    MrEWhite Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    I listened to the 1989 CD, and wow does it sound good for Evil Woman. But I'd rather not EQ files, so I'll stick with the SACD or the 2009 CD.
     
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  12. Nice to hear you like it! So maybe we do hear those tape problems after all - or rather, we don't consciously notice them, but they do affect our listening experience. The 1989 and 1991 are significantly less dull than the 1986 Castle and the 33PD, but sound significantly more natural to me than the 2012 remaster.
     
  13. kevin5brown

    kevin5brown Analog or bust.

    Ok, when you say the 1989 CD, that's the Vertigo, not the 33PD? (Another reason why I've been confusing myself.) And the 1991 is the Metal Mania/Teichiku. I need to check that one out someday. In my experience, I have never come across a good sound Teichiku disc. They all suck for Deep Purple, and for Judas Priest. Maybe this one's the exception. :)
     
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  14. MrEWhite

    MrEWhite Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
     
  15. Devin

    Devin Time's Up

    Pure speculation on my part but it could possibly be due to 'cupping' on the master tape, where the tape edge is no longer perfectly flat but instead curves in a wavy s-shaped pattern. So instead of making constant flat contact with the heads it's drifting slightly off and then back onto the heads every split second which could result in subtle eq fluctuations during the damaged passage.

    This type of damage usually affects only acetate tapes. If the tape is Mylar (polyester) this likely wouldn't happen. Both formulations were in use in 1970. But Mylar was more expensive and the band had a studio budget of only £900.
     
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  16. Well, are you positive that the 1989 Evil Woman would need EQ to fit in on the SACD? I haven't checked that. And Evil Woman sounds different from the rest of the album anyway, because it was recorded differently. Also, if you want to include Wicked World, you might face the same problem as it is likely brighter-sounding than the on the SACD (the best versions being the 2014 HDtracks, the 2016 CD (which has actually a different mastering and possibly is from a different transfer than the 2014 WW) or The Ultimate Collection (which is similar but not identical to the 2016 CD WW). What I know after the above shootouts is that I am very dissatisfied with the sound of Evil Woman on the SACD, so if I used that version, my urge to change its sound would likely be even bigger. (I have never EQed anything myself, I will have to ask someone else for help with that btw.)

    Kevin, just download the samples I sent you, it is all in there. :) Yes, I am referring to the 1989 Japan 23PD-133 Vertigo and the 1991 Japan TECP-23892 Teichiku. Mind you, I have NOT recommended the 23PD or the Teichiku as a whole, my discussion is strictly limited to the track Evil Woman - which, once again, does sound different from any other song on the album on every release anyway. My favorite version of the debut album as such is the SACD, but I dislike the sound of Evil Woman on that release. (And Wicked World is missing, so I need a hybrid for that album anyway.)

    EDIT: If you're totally happy with the sound of Evil Woman on the Castle 1986 or the 33PD, you will likely not need any of this anyway. If, however, you want to give it a try, do what I did: a blind Evil Woman shootout between the 1986 Castle, the 33PD, the 23PD and the Teichiku. I can totally imagine that someone who is strongly leaning towards dark sound will prefer the 1986 or 1987, but I like a good shootout. :)

    Thanks, that's the one!

    Interesting idea, but I doubt that Acetate was involved here.

    Btw, if anyone here would like to hear some sound samples from whatever release we're discussing in this thread, just let me know.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
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  17. MrEWhite

    MrEWhite Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    I like listening to albums as they were originally formatted so I'd either listen to one with Wicked World or one with Evil Woman :)
    I honestly prefer EW over WW, so I just stick with the SACD.
     
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  18. Oh, I see. For me, that would have to be the SACD (for best overall sound) and either the 2016 CD or the 2014 HDtracks (for a great-sounding Wicked World and good overall sound). The price would be: no good-sounding Evil Woman. Which I guess would be OK since Evil Woman is my least favorite track on the debut anyway.

    My approach is different in that I want to have one definitive version for each Sabbath album, containing all songs that I feel belong to that album (including e.g. Japan bonus tracks and certain outtakes, especially "The Fallen" from Born Again). Which poses certain problems, especially since I have never EQed a recording (other than on the fly in Foobar2000), and my approach will probably require some EQ adjustments to certain tracks (most likely WW and/or EW). Anyway, I am sure I will find help when it comes to that. ;-)
     
  19. MrEWhite

    MrEWhite Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Yeah, I got the Complete Studio Albums set from HDTracks, so that has my Wicked World fill :D
     
  20. P.s.: The Paranoid 1991 Teichiku is good IMO. It sounds like a slightly EQed version of the 33PD. I tend to prefer it over the 33PD (at least currently), but I am 90% sure you'll prefer the 33PD because it sounds darker. ;-)
     
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  21. Yeah, that's a very nice-sounding WW. Have you noticed the stereo separation? It is rather extreme compared to the 2016 s/t CD and the 2016/2017 TUC version, especially with headphones. Very good, but unusual.
     
  22. MrEWhite

    MrEWhite Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Haven’t done much critical listening of it, but I’ll make a note for that.
     
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  23. I recommend that. Comparing the e 3 aforementioned WW versions and the one from the original WB CD was one of the more interesting shootouts (again, with headphones) as there are large similarities in terms of EQ, while the stereo separation notably differs.
     
  24. rnranimal

    rnranimal Senior Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    I found the details I had mentioned about when I compared the '89 vs '91 Japanese CDs. I can't recommend these discs for anything other than Evil Woman. This is from a discussion I was having with blacksabbathrainbow when we were comparing/shooting out Evil Woman versions a while back.

    " ...the '91 Japan disc is interesting. It's nearly the same as the '89 but has some differences. A little difference in volume but that difference also includes a small difference between the channels which shifts the vocals a little closer to the center for the 1st 4 tracks (but then it also shifts the tracks with centered vocals a little to the right - but we're talking very small amount here). That's not the odd part. The odd part is that there is white noise/hiss between tracks on the '89 which isn't on the '89. But it's not just that it's been silenced on the '91 because various other sounds, like a 1khz signal running through the 1st 4 tracks, are still present. It's like there is a layer of hiss over the '89 which is separate from the album audio. It's like a very heavy layer of flat dither but that doesn't seem very likely for an '89 CD.

    Comparing Evil Woman between the two, I can hear an overall difference to the sound, but can't decide if I like one better. Sometimes the '91 seems more natural but then sometimes the '89 seems to have better detail and separation. I like them both better than the Castle '86 Evil Woman (just this track) but can't say which of the two Japan CDs is better."
     
  25. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    I have the 2016 deluxe (US one). I've always thought it sounded a little rough, like the tape was on its last legs, but never noticed any actual dropouts.
     
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