More Nifty Information from the Incomparable Quad Bob
The first “modern” quadraphonic movie was The Who’s Tommy which was done in Sansui QS encoding……..the end credits of the movie even come up with a big “Sansui QS” for sound recording.
Star Wars was the first Dolby MP encoded release.
One of the “rumored” facts is the relationship between Dolby and CBS Labs……. Dolby “licensed” or purchased the rights to use SQ as the basis for Dolby MP….then reconfigured the matrix from; left-front, right-front, left-rear, right-rear……to Dolby MP’s: left-front, right-front, center, surround……..mono’ing the rear channels to gain encoding for the front-center channel which they wanted for dialogue in movies. The pretty reliable rumor is that Dolby paid CBS $250,000.00 for all rights to SQ, which Columbia happily sold as “quad” had just crashed and burned leaving a bad taste in all the record labels mouths! By 1977 Dolby saw the rising of “Digital” production and astutely realized that their mainstay business of professional/ consumer “noise reduction” technology and licensing would be evaporating as Digital recording grew (which it did!). By purchasing the rights to SQ from CBS, and realigning it for professional movie production Dolby was ensuring their survival by opening a new market. CBS couldn’t believe anyone would pay for the rights to an all but “dead” format!
Regarding Dynaquad…….it was great and helped to form the basis for the refinements that SQ and QS and a few lesser “matrix” quad systems developed AFTER Dynaquad. And it’s simplicity is still absolutely amazing……..and to think they are STILL producing the Dynaco Quadaptor!! My opinion of Jimi Hendrix’s statements and production of Electric Ladyland really need to be taken in the context of the time frame…………He made those statements in June of 1968, prior to ANY widespread discussion of “matrixing” or “quadraphonic”……..as he blended his multi-track recordings he had NO WAY to know what it would sound like reproduced through one of our high-end quad decoders like the Fosgate TATE II (which wasn’t released until 1979!) or my Sansui QSD-1000 (produced in 1982 for the Japanese home market). But, listening to this “stereo” recording through a quad decoder develops a soundfield and movement rarely surpassed by “intentional” studio produced quadraphonic recordings!
CD-4 began development in 1970 and the first American release was RCA’s ARD1-0001 Hugo Montenegro’s Godfather which didn’t hit the shelves until the end of ’72. Early problems with the vinyl compound and cutting speeds delayed further releases until the end of ’73 by which time JVC had created their “super” or “quad” vinyl and they went to “Half-speed” mastering to get the 20hz-45khz signals into the grooves without loss. Another interesting person at the heart of what was quadraphonic and later became “audiophile” lps was Brad Miller (who unfortunately passed away in ’98). As a college student in the early ’70s he began doing natural sound and train recordings on CD-4 quadraphonic lps. First on his “Soundbird” label and later re-released on Warner Bros. He did the same using studio musicians in his “Mystic Moods Orch.” releases. Brad continued to produce CD-4 lps and discrete quad tapes throughout the quad years, and then with the impending “death” of quad he formed a company called Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs to re-release stereo recordings utilizing JVC in Japan to cut the lps, using the same super-vinyl and Half-Speed Mastering that were REQUIRED for the CD-4 pressings. I knew Brad as a fellow quad collector/lover. And as a member of the San Diego Audio Society I’m reminded of him every time a fellow audiophile shows disdain for quadraphonic and yet prays to the Holy Grail of Mobile Fidelity OMR releases. The key facts here being that without the invention of “CD-4 quadradiscs” we might never have developed the “super vinyl” and most likely wouldn’t have pursued “half-speed mastering” to ensure all the music was properly cut into those grooves! But, then again it took the “death” of quadraphonics to actually cause Brad to start MFSL………..and give us those records to die for!
Another frequent comment even among “quadraphiles” is the superior listening of one quadraphonic format or another…..ie; quad reels, Q8s, CD-4, SQ, QS, or even Ambiosonics………..and my reply always begins with “What is your point of reference?” Each of the formats had their drawbacks, each had their strong points……and until you’ve listened to each of them “properly” set up and demonstrated on the best possible equipment…….a fair comparison cannot be made. I enjoy ALL the formats equally, “Luv ’em all” and listen to them based more on “what” I want to listen to rather than the format. But, it only took me 20+ years to approach getting it “right”!
And for that we can thank the industry as a whole; both equipment and music producers for making a giant mess out of quadraphonics! Unfortunately, as Digital Surround Sound continues to grow…….many of us see the industry heading down the same path again……..DTS, Dolby Digital, SDDS……..some wonderful recordings, and some crap labeled “surround sound” that would make “double-stereo” sound good!
Thanks for the right on information Mr. Quad!!!!! I know that Quad Bob, along with the mighty Hood Crow have been involved with quad for several decades. It’s great they are sharing their first-hand knowledge, both new and old, with the rest of Quaddom!!!!