Linda's favorite digital versions of all Black Sabbath albums

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by blacksabbathrainbow, Dec 1, 2019.

  1. Thanks for the info! Actually, since the Vol. 4 2021 remaster has been released, it is now my 'least favorite' Sabbath remaster. If I had to pick either that one or the Black Box mastering (I am so happy I don't have to!), I would pick the BB. The 2021 remaster is the perfection of horror via sound - even though it isn't extremely compressed. A masterpiece of bad work.
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  2. thetman

    thetman Forum Resident

    good to know thanks.
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  3. Gus Tomato

    Gus Tomato Stop dreamin’ and start drivin’ Stevie!


    Never saw this before - and I thought I’d seen everything on video from the 70’s.
    Ozzy sounds brilliant on it!
  4. Jam757

    Jam757 Forum Resident

    Finally getting a chance to sit down and listen to the 2010 Heaven and Hell Deluxe and the album sounds excellent. Nice case and booklet as well. I’m quite pleased with the mastering. I had this on the IPod but it’s a different experience playing it on the stereo with my favorite headphones.
  5. pauluz

    pauluz Forum Resident

    Of course that is your opinion based entirely on digital playback and based on your expectations, individual hearing, assumptions and experience. We are all different.

    Many enjoy the new remaster including myself (vinyl) but it is by no means a replacement for the original mix.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
  6. Well thanks for throwing these truisms at us.

    No surprise there, given that it is the same mix.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
  7. topekatj

    topekatj Forum Resident

    NorCal, Bay Area
    The online retailer Deep Discounts currently has the 2020 repress of the Paranoid Super Deluxe Box (4 CDs, book, poster, etc.) listed at $23.76!

    Use promo code MADNESS and you’re looking at $24-, plus tax, shipped to the US.

    Black Sabbath Paranoid on DeepDiscount

    GREAT BOX, thought I got a deal at approx. $35- when Amazon blew the first pressing out a few years back.
  8. Gus Tomato

    Gus Tomato Stop dreamin’ and start drivin’ Stevie!

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  9. hutchguv

    hutchguv Rock/Metal/Prog/Power Pop fan

    Thanks for the heads up, much appreciated

    I usually get my magazines digitally now and read them on my iPad, but I’ll make an exception for this one
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  10. Gus Tomato

    Gus Tomato Stop dreamin’ and start drivin’ Stevie!

    I know what you mean (at least as far as books are concerned anyway). Love my Kindle but always buy the paperback when it comes to a music book.
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  11. Jmetamatic

    Jmetamatic This is the end of our oxygen supply.

    Glasgow, Scotland
    Whatever you're on, I want some.
    Dio blows Ozzy out of the water.
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  12. I don't generally find these two singers comparable, as they're just too different in almost every possible way. But I have a very hard time imagining Ozzy singing on Dehumanizer. It wouldn't make sense, as Ronnie wrote the lyrics and melody lines, and I am sure he was involved in some of the song writing as well.
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  13. Jmetamatic

    Jmetamatic This is the end of our oxygen supply.

    Glasgow, Scotland
    Aren't all Metal albums full of stereotypes?
    It's what makes Metal , well ... Metal!
  14. Jmetamatic

    Jmetamatic This is the end of our oxygen supply.

    Glasgow, Scotland
    I know what you mean.
    Ozzy is great on the Sabbath albums he sings on, but the Dio material is more Vocally challeging and to be fair to the Ozzman... he's not up to it.
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  15. Gus Tomato

    Gus Tomato Stop dreamin’ and start drivin’ Stevie!

    Iommi and Halford? That would be a ‘Hell Yeah!’ from me!
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  16. hutchguv

    hutchguv Rock/Metal/Prog/Power Pop fan

    Maybe it’s just me, but I love both on Sabbath equally, but for very different reasons

    Ozzy had a unique sound which just worked on the first 8 Sabbath Records. Whilst he may not be the most technically gifted singer, he was one hell of a vocalist with a unique sound that fit the music perfectly. I’d even go to say for not the most technically gifted singer he could certainly hit those high notes in his prime

    Dio is just one of the all time great singers and vocalists.

    I couldn’t imagine Ozzy singing any heaven, mob or Dehumanizer songs

    I also never really thought he did Ozzy period stuff as well as he sung his own Sabbath era songs. Although I always thought he did a phenomenal job on N.I.B on the live evil

    Although thinking about it, I think that was the first time I actually heard the song N.I.B on the Live Evil album
  17. Jmetamatic

    Jmetamatic This is the end of our oxygen supply.

    Glasgow, Scotland
    You're not the only one, Ozzy with Sabbath was indeed, class.
    I think Dio tried to sing the Ozzy era material, in a different way and not just follow Ozzy's melodies, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.
    There's no doubt Dio, Gillan, Hughes, Gillen and Martin are all technically better singers than Ozzy, but, no one sings the Ozzy era like Ozzy does.
  18. @sathvyre asked for me for an update a while ago, so here you go (even though I am still far from finished going through all the albums). In this post, I'll ignore bonus CDs and bonus tracks for the most part. For any details and links missing here, see the first post in this thread.

    If a release isn't mentioned here, it usually means that I don't consider it to be a serious contender. Anyway, feel free to ask, of course, if you feel that something worth mentioning is missing here.

    Please note the 1986 Castle CDs have pre-emphasis.

    Black Sabbath (self-titled debut)

    For the main portion of this album, my favorite is the Japan SHM-SACD, second favorite is the darker-sounding 2009 Sanctuary CD. The 1986 Castle CD, the 2016 Rhino CD and the 2014 HDtracks (same mastering as the 2016 CD, except for Wicked World) are also good.

    Anyway, this album requires a hybrid due to the differing track lists - Evil Woman in Europe, Wicked World in America - and certain problems with both tracks. Wicked World sounds terrible on every European release that includes it as a bonus track, and Evil Woman suffers from tape damage on most or all digital post-1991 releases. For Wicked World, I currently prefer the 2014 HDtracks, but both the 2016 Rhino CD and the 2016/2017 The Ultimate Collection masterings sound great as well. Main difference I hear is that the HDtracks has guitar and bass hard-panned while the other two have some channel-bleeding. The only other real contender is the original WB CD, but it sounds a bit thin compared to the aforementioned three versions. My favorite (non-damaged) mastering for Evil Woman is included on the 1989 Japan 23PD-133 CD, with the 1991 Japan TECP-23892 CD as a very close 2nd.


    My favorite is the 1986 WG Intercord CD. Its only real flaw are the drop-outs on Iron Man, but since a friend created a "fixed" version using EQed patches from the 1987 Japan 33PD-353 Vertigo CD twofer, I am fully happy with this CD. At this point, the Japan SHM-SACD is my 2nd favorite even though it sounds overly hissy. The 33PD-353 is good and dark-sounding and not hissy, but it lacks "punch" of both the Intercord and SACD IMO. The difference is most notable when you listen to the bass drum hits in the beginning of Iron Man. The 1991 Japan TECP-23893 CD seems to be a slightly brighter copy of the 33PD-353 mastering - nice, but still lacking "punch". The dark-sounding 1986 Castle CD is OK but less good IMO as the aforementioned ones and has the same drop-outs as the Intercord. The 2016 Rhino CD/2014 HDtracks (both share the same mastering) sound great in terms of tape quality but alas have been mastered way too bright.

    Master of Reality

    Japan SHM-SACD for me. This is just perfect. Last time I checked, the 2009 Sanctuary CD, the original WB CD and the 2016 Rhino CD/2014 HDtracks (both share the same mastering) all sound good too. Sometime I have to do a shootout between those for the 2nd place.

    Vol. 4

    I am currently undecided between the Japan SHM-SACD and the darker-sounding 2009 Sanctuary CD (thanks to @Anthrax for pointing me to the 2009 CD again, with the new headphones it sounds really great). The 1986 Castle CD is 3rd.

    Live at Last/Past Lives/Live in the UK 1973

    This live album has been compiled from two shows: Manchester 1973 and London 1973. My favorite mastering of Live at Last is the 1996 Castle CD, its main flaw being the omittance of the "Will you welcome Black Sabbath" intro at the beginning. The 1996 Castle has some compression added vs. the 1986 Castle CD, but in this case, it actually improves the recording a bit IMO by making it sound fuller and bringing Ozzy's vocals more to the front. 2nd best is the 1986 Castle (which does include said intro). 3rd is the Creative Sounds 6001 CD with "CSL-NEMS 6001" on the red-printed disc and "13S 10749 AZ" matrix. 4th is another Creative Sounds CD: 6001-2, with "CSL-NEMS 449800-2" on the black-printed disc and "PILZ CD 449800-2 [ K 30550 B ]" matrix. (Please note there are multiple versions of each Creative Sounds Sabbath release, often but not always using different masterings.)

    Disc 1 of Past Lives contains the exact same material that is available on Live at Last. All copies of Past Lives that I have - the 2002 US Divine CD, 2003 Japan Victor CD and 2010 German Sanctuary CD - are victims of the Loudness War (DR7 to DR8). However, disc 1 of the Japan Victor is an exception as it is obviously a copy of the 1996 Castle. Disc 2 of the Victor, however, is just as overcompressed as on the other releases. I am not too worried about that though, because Past Lives is 100% obsolete anyway.

    Disc 4 of the Vol. 4 2021 Super Deluxe 4xCD contains a live album called "Live in the UK 1973". It mostly includes the same material that has already been released on Live at Last and Part Lives, but replaces 3 tracks originally taken from the Manchester 1973 show with tracks from the London 1973 show (same songs though) and adds 12 minutes of instrumental music and chatter. Moreover, the recordings have been remixed. Regrettably the mix lacks bass and sounds rather bright. Soundwise, I actually prefer Live at Last.

    Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

    Japan SHM-SACD for me. Sometime I have to do another shootout for the 2nd place, comparing the 2009 Sanctuary CD, 1986 Castle CD and 2016 Rhino CD/2014 HDtracks (both share the same mastering). The 2009 Sanctuary has the stereo channels swapped.


    If you want just one CD for this album, there's only two options really: the original WB CD (which sounds crisp and fully dynamic and very close to the original vinyl) or the 2009 Sanctuary CD (which sounds darker/rolled off and a tad compressed). My current favorite is a hybrid that was originally suggested to me by @hutchguv (thanks to him!): original WB CD (side 1)/1986 Castle CD (side 2). The 1986 Castle has some tape damage on Symptom of the Universe, Megalomania and the 2nd half of Don't Start (too Late). Hole in the Sky doesn't seem damaged on the Castle but still sounds worse to me than the WB version. For side 2, however, the Castle is a very serious contender, especially because the WB sounds a tad bright for my taste (and more so on side 2 than on side 1), plus I recently noticed a drop-out on "Am I Going Insane (Radio)" on the WB CD at 0:45, when Ozzy sings "me" (in "Tell me people am I going insane"). I haven't heard that drop-out on any of the other tested CDs.

    Technical Ecstasy

    There is no entirely satisfying digital release of this album. Originally I preferred the original WB CD, but I have since switched to the original WG Vertigo CD which IMO sounds closer to the original LP. The WB now sounds too dull to me. Some prefer the 2016 Rhino CD/2014 HDtracks (both share the same mastering), but those are is mastered too bright for my taste.

    Never Say Die!

    My favorite is the 1993 German Spectrum CD (although it is a tad compressed), the original WB CD is 2nd. The 2016 Rhino CD/2014 HDtracks (both share the same mastering) are mastered too bright for my taste. Like with Technical Ecstasy, there is no entirely satisfying digital release of this album.

    Heaven and Hell

    I really like both the 2010 Sanctuary CD (huge bass) and the Japan SHM-SACD. The 1986 Japan 32PD-129 CD and the 2013/2014 HDtracks (which sounds a tad bright IIRC) are also very good (make sure to pick the right HDtracks version though, see @Raf's post here). The original WG Vertigo CD isn't bad at all either.

    Mob Rules

    The Original WB CD was my favorite for quite a while, but since @MrEWhite pointed out there is a drop-out at the very beginning of Turn up the Night (at the 2nd or 3rd hit of the hi-hat, before any other instrument kicks in), I cannot unhear that drop-out any more. :) My current favorite is the 2010 Sanctuary CD. The 2013/2014 HDtracks is very good as well but a bit bright IIRC (make sure to pick the right HDtracks version though, see @Raf's post here).

    Live at Hammersmith Odeon

    I am aware of the following two releases of this live recording: the original, limited Live at Hammersmith Odeon 2007 US Rhino CD and the bonus disc of the Mob Rules 2010 Sanctuary Deluxe 2xCD (plus a Japan SHM 2xCD, which is identical to the European Deluxe). Last time I checked, I slightly preferred the Sanctuary mastering to the Rhino because the former seemed to sound a tiny little bit darker, but maybe I am just hearing things.

    Live Evil

    My favorite is either the original WB 2xCD or the 2013/2014 HDtracks (make sure to pick the right HDtracks version though, see @Raf's post here). I am limiting my comparisons to the 2xCD releases and the 2013/2014 HDtracks, thus ignoring any incomplete versions of this album. The 1996 Japan TECW-350189+350190 2xCD sounds way too bright, and I agree with @sathvyre that something is "off" with the 2010 Sanctuary 2xCD - one channel sounds muffled, resulting in an overall unbalanced and dull sound. The 2013/2014 HDtracks is great but a bit too bright for my taste. The HDtracks release and the 2010 Sanctuary 2xCD sound more dynamic (DR11) than the original WB (DR9), though I guess that's partly (but not entirely) due to the added brightness. EQ-wise, the original WB is perfect, but sometimes I find the HDtracks a bit easier on the ears, possibly because it is more dynamic.

    Born Again

    My favorite is the 2011 Sanctuary CD, 2nd best is the 1990 Japan PHCR-2054 CD (which contains a unique mastering). Both sound dark and much better than the original WG Vertigo CD and the 1996 Castle CD, both of which sound way too bright. The PHCR-2054 sounds a bit darker and more dynamic than the 2011 Sanctuary.

    Seventh Star

    For me the best, or least bad, mastering of this album is contained on the 2010 Sanctuary CD. 2nd place is shared by the 1996 Castle and the original 1986 West German Vertigo. EQ-wise I prefer the Castle to the WG Vertigo, but I don't like the added compression on the Castle. The 1990 Japan PHCR-2055 CD is digitally identical to the original WG Vertigo after correcting for offset; the 2013 US R2-25337 Rhino Flashback CD is digitally identical to the 1996 Castle after correcting for offset.

    The Eternal Idol

    Last time I checked I was leaning towards the 2010 Sanctuary CD, but the original West German Vertigo CD is very close. 1996 Castle is close too, but compressed. Original US WB CD and 1996 Japan TECW-20188 sound thin.

    Headless Cross

    For details, see this post. I don't hear much of a difference between any of the available official CDs (haven't tested any pirate copies). The 1989 Dutch 564-24 1005 I.R.S. and the 1989 UK CDP 241005-2 I.R.S. are digitally identical after correcting for offset and, unlike other releases, don't hit 0.00 dB, so these are my go-to versions. The 1999 EU 07243 5 21299 2 8 EMI CD has a bit of compression added (not much though).


    For details, see this post. Basically, if you have either the 1990 UK EIRSACD 1038 I.R.S., 1990 Japan VICP-67 Victor, 1990 Dutch 24 1070 2 I.R.S., 1990 US X2 13049 I.R.S. or the 1999 EU 07243 5 21298 2 9 EMI CD, you should be fine, since all of them contain the same mastering. It is not perfect, but dynamic-sounding (DR12). If you want to be on the safe side, the 1990 UK, Japan or Dutch CDs may be preferable over the 1990 US and 1999 EU CDs since the latter 2 were likely copied from the UK CD in a way that introduced certain additional (minor) issues, most notably a 1-sample azimuth error. But it is very unlikely that you'll actually hear the difference. The only release I have that contains a different mastering is the 2001 US 72435-30415-2-6 I.R.S. CD. Given that the only discernible difference is its added compression (DR9 vs DR12), it is hardly commendable.


    The very dark-sounding 2013/2014 HDtracks is my favorite (make sure to pick the right HDtracks version though, see @Raf's post here). The 2011 Sanctuary CD allegedly mastered by Pearce actually sounds very similar to the original 1992 CDs (all of which sound identical to each other). The 2019 Rhino CD uses the same mastering as the 2011 Sanctuary.

    Cross Purposes

    I have tested the following CDs, and they all turned out to contain the same mastering: 1994 Italy 0777 7 13222 2 8 I.R.S.,1994 Dutch 0777 7 13222 2 8 I.R.S., 1994 US 07777 13222 2 8 I.R.S., 1994 Japan TOCP-8128 I.R.S. and 1994 USA DPRO-10744 I.R.S. (promo CD).

    Cross Purposes - Live

    I only have the European release. I suspect it is likely identical to the US release, but that's just my guess. DOES ANYONE HAVE THE US CD, SO WE CAN COMPARE? PLEASE LET ME KNOW.


    On my to-do list.


    On my to-do list.

    Live from Radio City Music Hall

    Formally this live album was released by Heaven & Hell, not Black Sabbath, but it was 4/5 of the same band that released Mob Rules - instead of Geoff Nicholls (RIP) on keyboards, we now got Scott Warren.

    Another album on my to-do list.

    The Dio Years

    This is officially a Black Sabbath compilation, rather than a Heaven & Hell album, even though it includes three new studio tracks by the same band that was touring as Heaven & Hell at the time.

    Another album on my to-do list.

    The Devil You Know

    The only full-length studio album under the Heaven & Hell moniker. I have the German and the Japan CDs, DR and peak values match, but I haven't yet compared if I hear any difference. Awfully brickwalled: DR5.

    Neon Nights - 30 Years of Heaven & Hell

    Subtitled "Live in Europe" for the US market and "Live at Wacken" for the European market. The final live album by Heaven & Hell. RIP Ronnie! On my to-do list.


    This is another brickwalled mess (DR5). IIRC, all the multiple standard, Deluxe, Special and Super Deluxe Editions as well as the Blu-ray (which contains a mono track along with the usual stereo version) share the same mastering but I haven't closely compared all of them. On my to-do list.

    Live… Gathered in Their Masses

    On my to-do list.

    The End

    8-track CD exclusively sold at concerts during "The End" Tour 2016 through 2017:
    Black Sabbath - The End

    Since I am only aware of one release, there's not much to do for me here.

    The End - 4 February 2017 - Birmingham

    Unrelated to the aforementioned 8-track CD simply called The End, despite the partly identical title. This one got quite a lot of releases, both audio and video:
    Black Sabbath - The End (4 February 2017 - Birmingham)

    This is on my to-do list. Some of the available releases include the Angelic Sessions, which IMO are the most interesting part of this album.
    Last edited: May 13, 2021
  19. Gus Tomato

    Gus Tomato Stop dreamin’ and start drivin’ Stevie!

    Surprised you went for the brighter sounding mastering for that one Linda :).
  20. Oh, I actually did that with several of these albums. For example, for both the s/t and Vol. 4 I prefer the SACD to the darker-sounding 2009 Sanctuary and 1986 Castle CDs, for Paranoid I prefer the Intercord to the darker-sounding 1986 Castle, and for TE I prefer the WG Vertigo to the darker-sounding WB. I like dark sound (and clearly, none of my picks here is extremely bright-sounding), but I also like e.g. transparency, clarity and heaviness.
    Last edited: May 13, 2021
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  21. wrat

    wrat Forum Resident

    Hell for 13 even the vinyl is only a 9 0r 10 , the 2nd disc of the best buy edition is a 4 , who thought this was good?????
  22. Dissidence

    Dissidence Forum Dissident

    With great courage, I finally dug up in the absolute mess that is my secret musical room the Vertigo 832 703-2. lol

    It sounds like the vinyl to my ears with a slight smiley equalization. I have Snowblind samples from the SACD and the Sanctuary remaster.
    They sound harsh. And the Castle has no punch.

    Your opinion?
    Last edited: May 14, 2021
  23. Well, as usual with Vol. 4, a lot depends on which song you're listening to. When I listen to St. Vitus, the WG Vertigo CD sounds decent and indeed not too far removed from the original UK LP. I also agree the 1986 Castle lacks a bit of punch. However, I disagree that the SACD or the 2009 Sanctuary CD sound "harsh". They simply have more clarity than the Castle, the WG Vertigo and the LP, probably due to being sourced from the master tape (and of course, vs. the LP, having no vinyl distortion etc). Or, to put it differently: the latter all sound a bit dull in comparison. The SACD sounds a bit bright for my taste on this track though.

    Anyway, when I listen to Tomorrow's Dream, the results are quite different. Here, the WG Vertigo CD sounds ridiculously bright - way brighter than any of the other aforementioned releases. The LP, the Castle CD, the 2009 Sanctuary and the SACD all sound much more natural than the Vertigo CD. For this song, the 2009 Sanctuary CD is the one that sounds closest to the LP (to these ears, of course).

    I used headphones (beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80 Ohm) for these comparisons, and it turns out that on these, the 2009 Sanctuary CD is now my favorite. I'm curious for what will happen next time when I compare on speakers.
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  24. hutchguv

    hutchguv Rock/Metal/Prog/Power Pop fan


    This post is really interesting to me as it replicates what I have found with various masterings as they sound on my speakers Monitor Audio gold floorstanders and my headphones Sennheiser HD 650 I still generally prefer the same masterings on both, but they definitely sound different eq wise between the two

    so I can see how you would prefer one mastering on speakers and one on headphones

    I suspect your hearing is more acute than mine though which is why I think you notice these things more
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  25. Dissidence

    Dissidence Forum Dissident

    Digital versions:

    We agree about Paranoid, Sabotage & TE, almost regarding MoR & NSD. Not at all on SBS. lol
    The Vertigo Vol. 4 CD seems correct for the moment by ear, but I will listen to it several times.
    I hope to seal my collection for good very soon. Thanks!

    Sometimes I envy those who bought the Black Box ... It is rated to the max everywhere ...

    PS. No one in the world will make me change my mind about the first album and the cheap CS.

    hutchguv likes this.

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