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

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

  1. damnit

    damnit Great Cd Mastering Only Please

    See above
  2. OK, but you haven't answered these:

  3. damnit

    damnit Great Cd Mastering Only Please

    1) Yes the 33pd does sound a bit clearer than the Castle 86 for Paranoid
    2) I did do comparisons a while back
    3) The point of emphasizing the similarities is to let other forum members to know they have other options

    The pre emphasis thing can be off puting for some members I would think

    Hope this is the answers you are looking for :)
  4. OK, thanks. I just think you really overstate some of those similarities. IMO the 4 SACDs I like are significant upgrades over the 1986 Castle CDs. It is one thing to say that buying a used SHM-SACD for 150 US$ (plus possibly the equipment to play it) is not absolutely necessary for a casual listener, and quite another thing to claim that it sounds pretty much like the 1986 Castle CD. Yes, there are several good-sounding digital releases of at least some Sabbath albums, and they do share some characteristics. But there's a also significant differences between them. Same goes for the Paranoid Intercord vs. the Castle and 33PD. When I compared the Castle and the Intercord for the first time, I thought they were identical except for the volume level. When I continued, I noticed I was dead wrong. And my shootouts (with volume levels adjusted) confirmed to me that I wasn't just imagining the differences, I consistently preferred the Intercord CD.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
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  5. damnit

    damnit Great Cd Mastering Only Please

    Yes those Sacd and 09's have better tape sources and /or transfers used it seems
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  6. Nycademon

    Nycademon Forum Resident

    I'm definitely interested in what you discover. I don't much like the 2009 CD, but I'm not happy with the 1996 Castle either (I haven't heard other digital releases). My current thinking is vinyl is the only good option for this album. I have the 2011 Rhino (Chris Bellman) and a (slightly scratchy) 1975 WB which sound much better.
  7. damnit

    damnit Great Cd Mastering Only Please

    The original WB cd is really good
  8. OK, I just did two series of Sabotage shootouts using Lacinato ABX/Shootouter 2.40. Replaygain (track gain) had been applied to all tracks in order to adjust for (perceived) volume level. Each shootout featured 2 to 4 releases.

    In the first series of shootouts, the track "Megalomania" from the following releases was tested:
    • 1975 9119 001 NEMS (original UK LP) LP-rip
    • 1986 France for UK CLACD 202 Castle (de-emphasised with SoX)
    • 1987 USA 2822-2 WB
    • (allegedly 1989) USA 6003 Creative Sounds, red print, matrix: 6003 (11515 AZ) SRC+01
    • 1996 UK ESM CD 306 Castle
    • 2009 Germany 2716664 Sanctuary
    • 2016 USA RR2 2822 WB/Rhino
    Starting with the first shootout, it was always either the 1987 WB or the 2009 Sanctuary that won. None of the others, incl. the LP-rip, made it to a second round. My conclusion from the first series of shootouts was that the 1987 WB and the 2009 Sanctuary are clearly ahead of all other digital releases I tested (and even the LP-rip of the original UK pressing - but who knows, maybe it was is from a bad vinyl copy or it was a bad digital transfer). Between those too, I couldn't really make up my mind. Given that "Megalomania" is one of the tracks that is damaged on the 1986 Castle, I chose to do a second series with another track.

    Second shootout series:
    Track tested: "Am I Going Insane (Radio)". Releases included:
    • 1986 France for UK CLACD 202 Castle (de-emphasised with SoX)
    • 1987 USA 2822-2 WB
    • 2009 Germany 2716664 Sanctuary
    Turns out that with this non-damaged track, the 1986 Castle is a much more promising contender. The results are not fully conclusive though: 10 times I preferred the 2009 Sanctuary, 7 times the 1987 WB, 13 times the 1986 Castle. It depended a lot on which part of the song I was listening to. Given the tape damage on two tracks of the Castle, I would go for the 2009 Sanctuary rather than starting to mess around with some hybrid version; anyway, I am far from certain that the 1987 WB wouldn't be the winner next time. But I do know that I can rule out all other releases of Sabotage that have been brought up here. For me, it's really only between these three: the 2009 Sanctuary, the 1986 Castle (but only for the non-damaged tracks) and the 1987 WB.

    For what it's worth, this also strengthens the case for the 1986 Intercord CD being my favorite version of Paranoid, given that the winning margin for the Intercord vs. any other copy was a lot bigger than it was for any release in any of my Sabotage shootouts.

    This one?
    Black Sabbath - The Ozzy Osbourne Years

    I have it. Just compared a few tracks. The Vol4 tracks I checked sounded brighter and less good than the 1986 Castle and the 2009 Sanctuary. The Paranoid tracks sounded a lot like my 1991 Germany Castle Legends CLC 5036 which I don't like very much either - again, brighter, and worse-sounding, than the 1986 Castle. Maybe this is another release where Castle re-used the 1986 digital files without de-emphasizing them? Doesn't sound identical to the non-deemphasized 1986 Castles though, so they did some EQ tweaking. Whatever they did, I am not happy with it. Besides, everyone needs these albums in their entirety anyway. ;-)
  9. Just for fun, I did a few shootouts between for the track "Wicked World" from the self-titled album: original US WB CD, 2014 HDtracks (downsampled to 16/44.1), 2016 WB/Rhino CD, 2016/2017 The Ultimate Collection. Turns out I haven't got a clear preference between those by now. I do hear differences, large at some spots (especially regarding the stereo image), barely noticeable at others; but after 10 shootouts, score is 2 to 2 to 3 to 3, in one word: inconclusive.
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  10. On this track, the stereo separation is quite extreme, which made the comparison rather interesting at some spots.
  11. damnit

    damnit Great Cd Mastering Only Please

    What about the creative sounds disc
    09 and 16 for Wicked World?
  12. I am not aware of any Creative Sounds Sabbath releases from 2009 or 2016.
  13. damnit

    damnit Great Cd Mastering Only Please

    I meant all 3 not just the creative disc
  14. The 2009 Sactuary Deluxe 2xCD has an extremely bad-sounding WW on the bonus disc. Apparently there's no good tape for WW in Europe, the good-sounding WW copies are always from the US. The 2016 WB/Rhino CD version was included in my shootout, see again my post above. I haven't tested any Creative Sounds CD for WW. Possibly I will include them in a future shootout, but as many others already pointed out, most CS releases are just bad, so I don't expect much from them.

    EDIT: And keep in mind there is not just ONE, but multiple Creative Sounds releases for most of the first 6 Sabbath albums, and some of them sound very different from each other.
  15. damnit

    damnit Great Cd Mastering Only Please

    I had a few of those discs and sold them all off!!
    See if you have the one Roland has mentioned.
    I did make a hybrid myself and it came out sounding very good although the creative tracks for warning and ww are still a bit brighter sounding
  16. So you followed Roland's advice to apply de-emphasis to the CS portion of the s/t?

    Personally I don't want to start messing around with de-emphasis just to make a bright recording sound darker. That's not what de-emphasis filters have been created to do. If I am unsatisfied with the sound of a recording and I don't find a better version, I'd rather ask an expert to properly EQ it. AFAIK, there is no evidence whatsoever that any Sabbath CS CD actually has pre-emphasis.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
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  17. rnranimal

    rnranimal Senior Member

    Yes, this track has pretty extreme separation. Notable during the guitar solo which is hard right with nothing in the left channel on the masterings that keep full separation intact. The US CD and HDtracks have the full separation intact while the '16 DE/Ultimate Collection have it narrowed up to around the middle of the frequency range (which is very different to the lower bass summing of the main album masterings in the HDtracks/'16 CDs). The guitar solo is still to the right but not so extreme. This narrowing nearly mimics the channel bleed I found on the playback of the vinyl. It makes me wonder if maybe they decided the track had too much separation and tried to make it sound like the vinyl for this mastering. This mastering does have the tonality I like best and I'm not sure how much of that the narrowing contributes to. The WB & HDtracks tracks come off too thin and bright for my tastes, but that could potentially be fixed.
  18. Thanks very much! With "WB" you are referring to the 2016 WB/Rhino CD? or the original WB CD?
    And what do you think about WW on the original WB CD? (Sorry, I am almost sure I asked you that before, regrettably I don't remember your answer).
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  19. damnit

    damnit Great Cd Mastering Only Please

    Yes I know the creative disc does not have pre emphasis it was to create a hybrid with the Castle 86
  20. rnranimal

    rnranimal Senior Member

    I meant the original WB CD. I've just always referred to it that way and haven't gotten used to it not being the only one now. :) I find it to be too bright and thin. Although, after shooting out a bunch of needle drops of the 1st LP, I found some to be very similar in tonality (which meant they were more bright than I like) while others fit more with how I remember my WB LP sounding on my system which was similar to PBTHAL's US LP rip. I'm thinking this is mostly down to the different cartridges used. That can make the sound vary quite a bit. Though I haven't noticed that much of a difference between the UK LPs from different rippers, so maybe there are brighter masterings of the 1st album on different pressings with the US tracklist. In my recent WW shootout, I wasn't sure if I liked the original WB CD or HDtracks better between those two. I used to think I liked the HDtracks better but I wasn't decided this last time.

    The '16 WB/Rhino is very similar to The Ultimate Collection. It has the narrowed low-mid frequencies, but also is a little brighter and louder than on TUC. Not enough that I think it's worth buying if someone already has the WB/Rhino '16 or is buying it for the other content as well but if they are buying one or the other purely for WW, I'd go with TUC.
  21. I fully understand that. What I was getting at is that I believe that's likely a mistake. ;-) If you need a hybrid, and if one part of it needs EQ in order to better match the other part, EQ it, or have an expert EQ it. A pre-emphasized recording is not just bright, but bright in a very specific (odd-sounding) way. The de-emphasis filter is a very special filter built for one specific goal: removing the very specific, odd-sounding kind of brightness from a pre-emphasized recording. De-emphasizing a recording that doesn't actually have PE may seem like an easy fix, but it is also likely to be a rather bad fix: it may, coincidentally, remove whatever you want to remove, but it will probably also remove/reduce sounds in frequencies that would better remain untouched. Again, it's not designed for the job you want it to do, so a bundle of EQ moves specifically adjusted for your needs would likely be a much better solution.

    Thank you. A friend of mine who has been collecting multiple copies of any Sabbath LP release for many years told me that US vinyl-pressings generally vary much more in quality and sound than e.g. UK or German pressings. I don't know if that's true, but it would match your findings in this case.
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  22. Another Wicked World blind-test shootout series. I finally wanted to check out the Creative Sounds. Here's the results:

    Completed shootouts: 22

    Individual test results from among 4 possible files:

    "A" chosen: 5 times (22.73%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\SAMPLES S-T\1970 Black Sabbath_1988 USA 1871-2 Warner_04. Wicked World - track gain applied.wav)
    "B" chosen: 9 times (40.91%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\SAMPLES S-T\2016 The Ultimate Collection_2017 US_2CD_R2 558485 Rhino-Warner_15. Wicked World - track gain applied.wav)
    "C" chosen: 3 times (13.64%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\SAMPLES S-T\1970 Black Sabbath_1987 USA_6006_Creative Sounds_black_INTER SERVICE PRESSE DIGIP 6006_05. Wicked world_track gain applied.wav)
    "D" chosen: 5 times (22.73%) (file: D:\Uploads for Filehosting\SAMPLES S-T\1970 Black Sabbath_1999 USA_6006-2_Creative Sounds_6006-2_05. Wicked World_track gain applied.wav)

    So basically, at least at this point of listening, I prefer the WW version from "The Ultimate Collection" over the original WB CD and the Creative Sounds CDs I tested. I do need to do another shootout between TUC, 2016 CD, and the 2014 HDtracks.

    Please note:

    As I keep saying, multiple Creative Sounds releases of the Sabbath s/t (and some other Sabbath albums) exist. Many of them sound identical, but some are very different from others. The Creative
    Sounds 6006-2 that I have tested here here is the one with the matrix being identical to the cat#: 6006-2, and it is one of many releases of this album that share the following peak values:
    The printing on the disc is black.

    The 6006 I tested has black printing too, the matrix reads INTER SERVICE PRESSE DIGIP 6006. Peak values are:

    All other CS releases I have share the exact same peak values as the 6006-02 above.

    Based on what I heard during this shootout, there is really nothing whatsoever suggesting the any of these releases had been pre-emphasised. If anything, all of these are a little too bright for my taste. IMO, while there are notable differences between some of these, they sound much too similar to suggest that any of them had pre-emphasis while the others hadn't (and hopefully nobody will claim that ALL of them have been pre-emphasised:D). Nor do I believe that any of these should be treated with a de-emphasis filter. If anyone seriously feels that applying de-emphasis to a non-pre-emphasised CS release improves it, why not apply e-emphasis to "The Ultimate Collection" (2016/2017) or the original WB CD or the 2016 CD as well? If you feel like reducing the brightness, better just use whatever EQ controls you have. Adjusting EQ may subjectively feel more invasive than just switching a flag/adding a tag; however, in fact the highly specialised DE filter is much more likely to produce undesirable side effects when misused this way than whatever individual EQ move you choose. Many thanks to rnranimal for his very helpful thoughts and explanations on the matter.

    More importantly, at least for now, today's shootout series suggests that the CS releases of this album are not needed anymore.
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  23. el supernautico

    el supernautico A traveller of both, time and space

    Just read myself through the last 20 pages and felt the urgent need to say THANK YOU!
    Great idea to continue Roland's thread - keep coming those discussions, Sabbath only seems to get better with age!:righton:
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  24. Freezerburn

    Freezerburn Spendin' Monopoly Money

    Pennsylvania USA
    For Black Sabbath S/T like Roland I prefer the 86 Castle. However for Wicked World there is a much better solution than any version of the Creative Sounds CDs.

    Rip Wicked World from The Ultimate Collection from 2016. It has a DR 11, and is from the US master.

    No compression, but output level is too loud to match the other tracks. Pull track into Audacity or any digital editor of your choice. Reduce volume by 30 percent. It will then sync up to the peak and RMS values of the other songs.

    This version of Wicked World burned to CDR with the other tracks DE- Emphasized will give you a true audiophile listening experience finally, for the complete album. :righton:
  25. Jerry c.

    Jerry c. Forum Resident

    Is NELCD 6002 the original castle that’s being referenced?

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