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BLACK SABBATH: What are the best remasters available?

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
I'm debating between the Castle box and the Warner box (aka Black Box).....any opinions?
post #2 of 63
Neither. Get ready for this...

This is taken from a Steve Hoffman thread that I have been following for more than a year. The OP's username is rjstauber. I have bought/tracked down all versions talked about, and I agree with all points.

1. Black Sabbath
This is probably the most complex album on CD. We have two different track listings, the original UK vinyl with Evil Woman and the US vinyl with Wicked World. Well, I like both these songs and want to have both of them in the best possible format. In order to compile my favorite version for all tracks, I need two or three different CD versions:
For the best sounding side 1 of the original album and for the best sounding version of the song Evil Woman, I recommend the first Japanese pressing (33PD twofer which doesn’t have the long song Sleeping Village/Warning and which also features the album Paranoid) or the 1986 Castle version (CLACD or NELCD prefix). These two sound quite similar, and I haven’t finally made up my mind which version I like better (right now I slightly prefer the 1st Japanese pressing, which is a tad brighter but a little more defined).
For the best sounding side 2 of the original album and for the best sounding version of the song Wicked World, I recommend the Creative Sounds CD, but: You must make a CD-R copy of this CD and manually set the PE flag in EAC, since the PE flag is missing on the original CD. The resulting CD-R sounds awesome in my opinion.
Now you are probably wondering, why the Creative Sounds CD doesn’t also make the perfect side 1 of the original vinyl? Well, there seems to be some kind of tape alignment problem from approx. halfway through the first song to somewhere in N.I.B. Sounds like an azimuth error or something. Otherwise, side one would sound awesome as well. Just compare the first half of the title track, it is mind-boggling.
If you don’t want to mess around with all of this, the early Castle version is a good choice, but it doesn’t have Wicked World.

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.

3. Master Of Reality
My favorite version is the 1986 Castle version (either CLACD or NELCD prefix). It’s a little on the dark side, and some people might consider it muddy, but it sounds great and very natural to me, and you can really crank it. I like it better than the 1st Japanese pressing (another 33PD twofer, together with Vol. 4).

4. Vol. 4
Same as with MoR, I prefer the 1986 Castle version. In this case, it is by far my preferred version and I haven’t heard a version which comes close to it (that includes the 33PD twofer).

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

6. Sabotage
Similar as with the first album, my favourite version is made up of two different CD’s. I have to say though that I never heard an early Japanese pressing of this album. The US Warner Bros. CD sounds pretty good for this album. It seems to be made from the right tapes, but it sounds a little harsh at louder volumes, especially some of the heavy rock tunes like Hole In The Sky. The early Castle CD from 1986 sounds a little more natural, but it has some tape problems during Symptom Of The Universe and Megalomania. To me, side 2 of the original vinyl sounds better on the Castle, but you need to have the US Warner Bros. for those songs with the tape problems.
If you don’t want to deal with different CD versions, then I recommend to just get the US Warner Bros. CD.

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).

8. Never Say Die!
I have the US Warner Bros. CD and think it’s o.k. As far as I know, there is no early Japanese version of this album (not in the 23PD series). It’s not my favorite album anyway, so for me the US Warner Bros. is sufficient.



Also, if you are not adverse to going on the "little green man" website, a user with the name of pbthal has needledropped the best vinyl versions of the first six albums. They sound friggin' amazing!!!
post #3 of 63
The upcoming "deluxe" editions of the ozzy era albums on Sanctuary records sound pretty good ( they are said to be remastered from the original master tapes ) and include some good bonus material, as of today only paranoid is out ( i have a copy ),but you can find some shop accepting preorders for Master Of Reality and Black Sabbath.

However the digital rip from my vinyl copy ( not the original press on Vertigo, it's a 1973 WWA copy ) sounds just as good if not a tad better...but that's the only one of my Sabbath albums that i have on both CD and LP, so i can't speak for other cd versions..
post #4 of 63
Has anyone heard the new Rhino remasters, pressed on 180-g vinyl? I'm thinking of this for my wife, who is a big Dio fan: Black Sabbath - Heaven And Hell (Vinyl) - at Rhino
post #5 of 63
Just to keep things simple..............
I have both the Castle "album replica" boxset and the Rhino "black box" set and if I could only keep one I go with the Rhino set which is actually a bit cheaper now used/new



Like RTN said
There are many versions of the individual CD albums out there including many foreign releases that can give best possible sound, but for me that is just too much trouble and expensive to track all those down.....
post #6 of 63
I have the Rhino Black Box and I like it quite a bit. I haven't done any A-B comparisons with other versions but I've been a Black Sabbath Listener for the last 20 years and have owned several versions. I didn't think "oh no they ruined these" when I listened to the Black Box remasters. I found mine just searching in google for about $65 shipped.
post #7 of 63
Rhino black box, its good enough if you are not overly picky. But if you can find some of 'em japanese releases, you may be able to tell the difference, but to be honest, I've never had any major complaints with the black box. But then Paranoid on Vinyl sounds way better IMO
post #8 of 63
To me, the differences in all of the different album releases is greater than the differences between most hardware (DACs, amps, so on... but obviously not headphones and speakers themselves). Not singling anyone out, but for a forum that goes ape-stuff over the smallest of differences on the hardware level, differences in masterings and pressings seems to get pushed to the background.

Trust me, once you hear a 1986 Castle or great original UK needledrop of the early albums, all of the other versions are not that great in comparison. This is especially in the treble. I'd rather kill myself than listen to a recent mastering of a Sabbath album.
post #9 of 63
Where do you generally find copies of such old pressings up for grabs? I have a 1996 Castle Vol. 4, FI, and it's among the most lifeless masters I've ever heard. I've never even seen those 80s ones. I'll probably end up buying the Rhino box, but I'd love to get the first two albums in the best digital form possible.
post #10 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by cerbie View Post
Where do you generally find copies of such old pressings up for grabs? I have a 1996 Castle Vol. 4, FI, and it's among the most lifeless masters I've ever heard. I've never even seen those 80s ones. I'll probably end up buying the Rhino box, but I'd love to get the first two albums in the best digital form possible.
I found everything on ebay. When I was looking for the 1986 Castles, I would put out auto searches for "CLACD", "NELCD", "1986 Castle", or "Black Sabbath 1986". They are interesting in that they can go for $20+ or as little as $5 each. It is the luck of the draw and the quality of the auction description.

If you have a great vinyl setup, you can also find UK Vertigo pressings there, but expect to pay A LOT more and be careful about who you buy from and shipping terms. Vinyl needs to be packed well from what I have read.
post #11 of 63
The 180g Earmark remasters sound better than anything else out there. Actually, anything Earmark touches turns to gold.
post #12 of 63
I prefer the originals,hate remasters.
post #13 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by roadtonowhere08 View Post
I'd rather kill myself than listen to a recent mastering of a Sabbath album.
I'd tell you to end your life, I wish I could but it's too late
post #14 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by bodine1231 View Post
I prefer the originals,hate remasters.
Remasters are cheaper than a nice vinyl rig .
post #15 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post
I'd tell you to end your life, I wish I could but it's too late
Haha, didn't you see a past interview with Ozzy? He insists it's "I tell you to ENJOY life, I wish I could but it's too late."

cerbie: if you get lucky, you can score the 1986 Castles for less than a retail CD... assuming you want a CD copy and not a vinyl one.
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