Roland's favorite CD versions of Black Sabbath albums (part2)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by MilesSmiles, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. MilesSmiles

    MilesSmiles Oenologist Thread Starter

  2. O.k., new part to this thread, my first thread that reaches the 1,000 posts count.

    This are my current preferences for each album:

    1. Black Sabbath
    This album gives me a headache. For the best version, it probably requires a "hybrid-CD-R" (made up from different sources). My favorite version is a certain Creative Sounds CD (there seem to be different ones) which needs to be burnt as a CD-R with the PE flag set manually. Find all the info in the first part of the thread in many different posts.
    I am hoping for an SHM-SACD release for this album which betters all other versions.
    1986 Castle is also pretty good, and the new 2009 remaster is also quite decent. First Japanese pressing on twofer (P33D) is also quite good, but incomplete.

    2. Paranoid
    My favorite version is the first Japanese pressing (33PD twofer – see above). The 1986 Castle is a good second choice, but sounds a little muffled in comparison. Some people also prefer the 2nd Japanese pressing (23PD), but it has too much EQ for my taste. I do not like the new remaster nor the SHM-SACD.

    3. Master Of Reality
    My favorite version is the SHM-SACD. Second the new 2009 remastered CD.

    4. Vol. 4
    I prefer either the 1986 Castle or the new remastered CD from 2009. New remaster is clearly from better tapes and quite nicely done, but the old Castle has a smoother representation. I am hoping for an SHM-SACD with the same characteristics as the "Master of Reality" SHM-SACD.

    5. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
    My favorite version is also the 1986 Castle CD. I prefer it over the 1st Japanese pressing (23PD).

    6. Sabotage
    New remaster for me on this one (2009, Andy Pearce).

    7. Technical Ecstasy
    I have the 1st Japanese pressing (23PD), and it is the best I have heard so far. I once compared a clip of the US Warner Bros. CD to this, and it turned out to be digitally identical. There could still be minor differences due to different pressing quality, but I am not going there in this thread (I am only talking about clearly different masterings here). WG Vertigo is quite heavily EQ'd also, but not too bad. 2009 remaster is very bad.

    8. Never Say Die!
    I like the WG Vertigo best at the moment. Another album that gives me a headache on CD. The Spectrum CD is also quite good, but the WG Vertigo sounds less harsh, but the bass is a little boosted. 2009 remaster is bad.

    9. Live At Last
    The early Castle version with NELCD prefix is the best version I have heard so far. The NELCD versions of the first six Black Sabbath albums (as well as the NELCD version of Greatest Hits) each feature a bonus live track from Live At Last also. The sound of the bonus tracks is the same as on the full album, but War Pigs from the full album was not available on any of the studio albums.
    I haven't done any extensive comparisons for this one, but apparently, there are different Castle versions out there.

    10. Heaven And Hell
    New 2009 remaster is great.

    11. Mob Rules
    Original US Warner Bros. CD for me.

    12. Live Evil
    Not sure yet, but the new 2009 remaster is pretty good. Haven't done any extensive comparisons on this one.

    13. Born Again
    I like the new 2009 remaster. Haven't done any extensive comparisons on this one.

    14. Seventh Star
    I like the new 2009 remaster best.
  3. gedsmit

    gedsmit Fair Weather Member

    Still waiting for the single disc version of the 2009 Andy Pearce Heaven & Hell - don't like those bulky deluxe editions, and not fussed about the extras. I bought all the other single discs from Fopp in the UK for a fiver each!
  4. agentalbert

    agentalbert Forum Resident

    San Antonio, TX
    I got this today and am mostly happy with it. I'll have to compare to the Castle later. The only thing I don't like on the remaster is that the relative volume of Laguna Sunrise seems too high. It's weird to go from Cornucopia to the acoustic LS and suddenly want to turn the volume down. Then move it back up again when St. Vitus Dance starts.

    Maybe the Castle is the same way. I'll have to check it out later.
    Emmett66 likes this.
  5. Holy Diver

    Holy Diver Forum Resident

    I just got the WG NSD and I really like it. It does take off the high end that the US WB has. Thanks for the recommendation, Roland. I have also been playing my 86 SBS through my old stereo, and it has plenty of bass now. It does sound really good when not being played on my PC. You can really crank it. I do like the WB Sabotage better than the 2009. The drums on the 2009 are a little compressed sounding. The WB can really be turned up, too. I may have to compare the two Sabotage again just to be sure.
  6. Funny enough to notice you prefer the 2009 Andy Pearce remasters for Master Of Reality, Vol. 4 and Sabotage since all of these are compressed, not heavily, but still a tad too much.

    They all top at -0.2dB with DR values around 9 or 10 at best while the originals are somewhere near 13 or 14. Of course, the EQ has much to do with your taste and good EQ can somewhat make up for dynamic range reduction (not to mention the remasters are supposed to be from better tapes, they should be at least as dynamic as the originals).

    This is also interesting that you don't like Paranoid at all while you believe that Black Sabbath is a good enough release when both show the very same amount of compression. The EQ is not that different either between the two, smiley-faced EQ vs the twofer.
  7. I found the Andy Pearce remasters to have about the same dynamic range as the old Castle CD's/Warner Bros. CD's, maybe 1 dB less or so.

    For MoR, I get a DR11 reading for the album, for example.

    You cannot directly measure the WAV-file rip of the Castle CD's since these are pre-emphasized, and this significant treble boost will result in a much higher dynamic range value, which is incorrect. You have to first apply the de-emphasis curve.

    If I compare the US Warner Bros. CD of "Sabotage" to the Andy Pearce 2009 remaster, I find them to have about the same dynamic range, but I do like the EQ of the 2009 remaster a little better.

    You are right, some of the 2009 remasters have some slight compression applied, but I still felt overall they were good for the albums that I mentioned.

    For Vol. 4, I am still a little undecided between the 2009 remaster and the 1986 Castle.

    For "Sabotage", the 1986 Castle has too many tape problems on some tracks, so not really a great option for all of the tracks.

    The 1986 Castle of "Master of Reality" is problematic also, the 2009 remaster was a big improvement. Another big improvement is the SHM-SACD, that one has a dynamic range of DR13 for the whole album.

    My preferences are on a relative basis, i.e. which digital version I like best.

    Overall, I am still not 100% happy with any CD version of "Black Sabbath", "Vo. 4", "Sabotage" and the last two Ozzy albums.

    I am hoping for great sounding SHM-SACD of some of these albums.
    blacksabbathrainbow likes this.
  8. After double-check, Black Sabbath is indeed not that bad regarding values, only Paranoid has DR13 and DR14 on some songs of the 33PD Twofer.

    Still the Andy Pearce remasters have these nasty -0.2dB values revealing what I would call unlawful digital processing :D.

    I now know about pre-emphasis (I even posted something about a few methods, in the end SoX is still doing a good job with 16bits files), but I haven't got the Castle CD's since I did not want to mess with pre-emphasized CDs at that time, thinking it was a very outdated method that could not produce consistent results.

    Anyway, back to the topic:

    The 33PD Twofer has random peak values:

    DR Peak RMS Duration Track
    DR11 -2.54 dB -17.07 dB 6:21 09-Black Sabbath
    DR12 -1.97 dB -16.82 dB 4:25 10-The Wizard
    DR11 -1.59 dB -15.63 dB 3:38 11-Behind The Wall Of Sleep
    DR11 -2.52 dB -15.20 dB 6:09 12-N.I.B.
    DR11 -2.62 dB -17.07 dB 3:22 13-Evil Woman, Don't Play Your Games With Me

    Andy Pearce 2009 Black Sabbath (songs that are in common)

    DR Peak RMS Duration Track
    DR9 -0.20 dB -12.02 dB 6:20 01-Black Sabbath
    DR10 -0.20 dB -12.66 dB 4:24 02-The Wizard
    DR10 -0.20 dB -11.54 dB 3:37 03-Behind The Wall Of Sleep
    DR9 -0.20 dB -11.60 dB 6:08 04-N.I.B.
    DR10 -1.43 dB -13.01 dB 3:25 05-Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me)

    The same goes regarding Master Of Reality

    DR Peak RMS Duration Track
    DR11 -0.20 dB -12.11 dB 5:06 01-Sweet Leaf
    DR10 -0.20 dB -12.44 dB 5:27 02-After Forever
    DR11 -0.20 dB -13.46 dB 0:28 03-Embryo
    DR13 -0.20 dB -15.36 dB 5:16 04-Children Of The Grave
    DR10 -1.70 dB -15.98 dB 1:31 05-Orchid
    DR11 -0.20 dB -12.44 dB 5:26 06-Lord Of This World
    DR10 -4.61 dB -18.77 dB 5:02 07-Solitude
    DR12 -0.20 dB -13.56 dB 6:11 08-Into The Void


    Should I be completely honest :goodie:, I would admit that I am just quibbling with the 2009 remasters. They sound very fine and I whish all remasters were at least that good.

    By the way, thanks for pointing out that the SHM-SACD is worth it, I'll have to eventually check that:righton:.
  9. ricks

    ricks Custom Title:

    Nowhere Fast

    The SHM-SACD is pretty much the same volume as the 1986 Castle. Huge issue that 1986 Castle with the suspected pre-emph flag wrong, etc. The MOR may very well be my favorite SHM-SACD's, which says a lot there are only 3 in total that I feel were worth the money.
  10. Yes, it is clear that they have some minor peak limiting or something like that. Still, better these stay at -0.2 dB instead of hitting 0 dB.

    Of course, I'd prefer they had no limiting whatsoever, but for some albums, they are still the best digital versions at the moment (in my opinion), and as far as remasters go in general, they are quite well done.
  11. Rick, in my experience, it is hard to judge playback volume of SACD's. I have two SACD players, and the volume difference between these when playing back SACD's is quite big (but only small when playing back CD's). I had to change the settings of my SACD player to get the most dynamic playback. My other SACD player converts to PCM internally before the DAC, and I assume the louder playback is a result of that.

    Anyhow, based on my experience and measurements, the SHM-SACD of MoR is quite a bit more dynamic than the Castle 1986 CD. A good song to hear that is "Children of the Grave". The volume in the beginning is quite low on the SHM-SACD and it gradually builds up, more so than on the Castle CD.

    SOONERFAN Forum Resident

    Norman, Oklahoma
    I don't mean to threadcrap but I think it is a shame that these SHM-SACD discs are not hybrids. I understand they are about 60 USD each. I might swallow hard to get "the best digital version" of a given title for 60 bucks if it was a hybrid but I'll have to pass at this price for a single layer SACD. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy SACD and have playback capability for it in my home. However, at 60 dollars I expect to enjoy the favorable mastering on the CD layer while in my car and other settings as I can for the Blue Note AP releases and recent Nat King Cole Hybrids which were much less money. I'm going to stick with what I have for Black Sabbath (see below). I guess we all have to draw a line in the sand somewhere so to speak.

    Black Sabbath: 2009 remaster
    Paranoid: 33PD 2-fer
    Master Of Reality: 2009 remaster
    Vol 4: 1986 Castle and 2009 remaster
    Sabbath Bloody Sabbath: 1986 Castle and 2009 remaster
    Sabotage: 2009 remaster
    Technical Ecstasy: Original US WB disc
    Never Say Die: Original US WB disc

    PS: Thanks to Roland for this thread as it lead to what I have listed above which I am quite happy with.
    BDC likes this.
  13. Holy Diver

    Holy Diver Forum Resident

    Yeah. I agree with you. I would not mind having better sound if they bring that, but $60, single layer, and SHM, no way. I also don't care for the 2009 Sabotage. I like the original WB better. It has so much power.
  14. Maidenpriest

    Maidenpriest Setting the controls for the heart of the sun :)

    Under Wheels Of Confusion 1970 to 1987

    Any thoughts on how the sound of this box set from Castle Communications released in 1996 matches to the forum favourites ?

    Attached Files:

  15. Holy Diver

    Holy Diver Forum Resident

    I guess it is just the 96 remasters, right? Most will not like it, but it is your ears. :cheers:
  16. celticbob

    celticbob Forum Resident

    Just ordered the first 6 remasters from amazon UK. All of which are under 5GBP if anyone is interested.
    Anyone know how the upcoming SHM of BORN AGAIN sounds?
  17. Claus

    Claus Senior Member

    bad..... 2001 Castle remasters.

    I sold my box... the new remasters are better, except for NSD and TE.
  18. Maidenpriest

    Maidenpriest Setting the controls for the heart of the sun :)

    But i bought it in 1996:confused: ?
    danielbravo likes this.
  19. The 1996's were repressed a few times. The 2004's are the same as the 1996's too.
    danielbravo likes this.
  20. OK, in the other thread Gerry asked about Sabotage. I had never compared the US WB to the UK 09. Casually, I knew I liked both, but I had never done a head-to-head.

    One thing, man, this is a great sounding record !! I have a long term plan to gather up 5 or 10 excellently mastered discs, and keep those as a gold standard. And then I want to average all their EQ profiles just to see if that would be valuable at all. (Is there some universal EQ curve that sounds good vs bad? It's a tricky question when you compare across bands due to how they can be mixed differently, keyboards vs no keyboards, etc.)

    Anyway, on my list I have things like the original Houses of the Holy, the original Red, the US WB for Made in Japan, the AF for Hell Bent for Leather, the AF for Bad Co, the remaster for Rocks, eh, maybe that is the list so far. (Need to add some Pink Floyd, maybe the original Japanese for the Final Cut.) Long term plan. Anyway, I think I want to add Sabotage to it. :D

    OK, offline TT dynamic range meter numbers:

    DR10 ... 01 Hole In The Sky 09
    DR11 ... 01 Hole In The Sky WB

    DR9 ..... 04 Megalomania 09
    DR12 ... 04 Megalomania WB

    DR11 ... 08 The Writ 09
    DR12 ... 08 The Writ WB

    The old US WB CD is a hair better. Don't know why the bigger difference with Megalomania vs the other 2.

    EQ difference:


    I added the "trendlines" so it would be easier to see what's going on up high with all the "noise" in the subtraction there. (No, never have figured out why some graphs look cleaner than others for that.)

    OK, so for whatever reason, the low end of the 09 has been really reduced from the US WB. Does anyone feel the US WB has too much low end? I don't, and haven't in the past. But to be honest, I do the bulk of these comparisons on headphones, and frankly, I'm not really hearing that difference. (Grado SR225i at the moment.) Maybe too low to register, although for other comparisons like this, I can hear the difference. Bottom line is that the 09 has less low end, but I'm not hearing it, and it's not bothering me. (Roland? :) )

    OK, Hole in the Sky listening. See the dip in the light blue and red lines that's centered below 10kHz? (about 6.5kHz) That results in the US WB actually sounding brighter to me than the 09. Now here's the strange part for HitS: with that dip there, the 09 seems less balanced and the low end sticks out more than the US WB !! Even with the rolled off low end for the 09.

    The Writ: I listened and listened, and I just couldn't hear a whole heckuva lot of difference between them with this track for some reason. Maybe just two different flavors where I can't form a preference at all. (Now I compare a "side 1" track and a "side 2" track.)

    So in conclusion, personally, I always give the benefit of the doubt to the older mastering. Hey, that's just me. In this case, I don't hear much of anything wrong with the US WB. For Hole in the Sky, the mids stand out a little more (cymbals and high hats), but they aren't fatiguing, or harsh or brittle in anyway. To me. But the highs (mids) on the 09 seem a little subdued and mushy in comparison, and the lows stick out a hair too much. But for the Writ, it's really a pick 'em for me. But then you have the overall reduced dynamics for the 09 too.

    But then the 09 has "Blow on the Jug" and the US WB doesn't.

    So personally, I'd go with the original US WB CD, but the UK 09 is awfully close.


    I'll do some casual listening to them both in entirety over the next little while and report back if I hear anything else.
    blacksabbathrainbow likes this.
  21. Holy Diver

    Holy Diver Forum Resident

    There you go. I just do not like the mushy highs and mids on the 09. For me, it just sounds dull and muddy. I do miss Blow on the Jug with the WB, though. I also think SBS 09 is even worse, besides the reversed channels. Thanks, Kevin. Now where are my pie charts? :D
  22. Did you mention SBS? Maybe I'll do that one next. I have the '86 Castle and the UK 09 for that one. Used to have the US WB.
  23. Kevin, thanks for the comparison for "Sabotage". I always found the US WB CD a little bright and harsh, and it is probably the higher energy (compared to the 09 remaster) in that 5-9 kHz range.

    I will listen to it again.

    The higher dynamic range could be (at least partly) a result of the frequency difference.

    Do you have the 1986 Castle of "Sabotage" also. You could throw that one in. The tracks "Hole in the Sky" and "The Writ" don't have the tape problems, and I actually prefer the sound of the 1986 Castle for these two songs.
  24. I just compared the US WB CD, the 2009 remaster and the 1986 Castle again for "Sabotage".

    I find the US WB CD a little too bright, Ozzy's voice doesn't sound natural to me anymore.

    Overall, I prefer the 2009 remaster.

    I am hoping for an SHM-SACD with similar quality as "Master of Reality", that would be about perfect.

    In the end, it comes down to personal preference and your system. Can't really say one is clearly better than the other, but I prefer the 2009 remaster.
    Music_dude likes this.
  25. Holy Diver

    Holy Diver Forum Resident

    That's cool. I know you do tend to like less bright CDs. Maybe Kevin can do a SBS shootout next.

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