There’s three, yes, count ’em, three ways to provide a quad source to your super-duper quad hardware; reel-to-reel tape, 8-track tape, and vinyl record. Okay, you can use cassettes, etc that have quad recorded on them, but, I’m talking about original sources here.
Of the three formats, reel-to-reel tape is the rarest and it’s the most expensive to buy today. 8-tracks can be the cheapest if you find them locally at garage sales, thrift stores and used record/tape stores. I’ve bought quite a few quad 8-tracks for 10 to 50 cents each. Whadda’ deal!!! If you buy quad 8-tracks at Internet auction sites, be ready to pay top dollar. Records are the most commonly found quad software. Prices can vary greatly. Stuff that’s still-sealed gets the highest prices. For example, my still-sealed CD-4 Muscle of Love by Alice Cooper sold for 30 American dollars. Some quad records are readily available. The Doors Greatest Hits is a common one. There are oodles and gobs of ’em out there. Others are harder to find. I hunted all over before finding my groovy Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan.
If you live in a big city, finding software is a heckuva lot easier than if you live in the boonies. To ease the search, make friends with local used record store owners. It’s nice when you drop by and the owner reaches down and pulls out a pile of quad records he’s save for your perusal. Another good source can be record shows. These are usually held in a large hall or building and have dozens to hundreds of record sellers. The smart sellers categorize their goods. It’s easier to find quad stuff if there’s a section just for quad. Often, sellers lump quad goodies in the ‘audiophile’ section. If sellers at your local record show don’t do this, ask ’em if they have any quad. Also, tell ’em how much more you buy when you can go straight to a quad section. I’ve trained the regular sellers in Omaha Nebraska, all of ’em have a separate quad section now; just to please “the Quad Guy.”
Some quad records are not obviously quad, at least when looking at the record jacket and/or the record inner label. Some records indicate quad via a small logo on the back cover. Some covers don’t mention quad at all, the indication is on the inner record label only. And, there’s a few records with absolutely no mention of quad anywhere yet they are quad encoded. “Phase 4 Stereo” is NOT quad. It was a recording technique that was supposed to improve stereo.
Some foreign quad pressings use alternative names for quad, but, most are decipherable. A few records mention that they are “quad compatible.” Some of these do not appear to be quad encoded. I think the term, in some cases, was a marketing gimmick to increase sales of a stereo record. For example, I’m turkey compatible, and mashed potatoes & gravy compatible !!! I can eat ’em all day. But, just because I am compatible with that food doesn’t make me a turkey. . . . I hope!
Remember bootleg records and 8-tracks??? These were “underground” recordings. Usually, the bootlegs were direct reproductions of commercially available music. Thus, it was simple theft since the artist and manufacturer did not get any of the loot. Another bootleg-type music was NOT released by the record companies. These not-released-by-legitimate-sources music was usually recordings of live concerts. Once in awhile, a recording company employee would get hold of studio recordings that were not included in an artist’s legitimate release. These are known as outtakes. A few outtakes were from studio sessions that were taped in a quad style. Though rare, there are quad bootlegs floating around. Most are live concert recordings with only ambiance in the rear channels. Some only mention quad on the record cover; the sound output does not indicate any quad encoding. Rarest of all are outtakes in quad.
The recording engineer greatly affected how a quad-encoded record sounded when played. I’ve noticed that some quad records had sound that bounced around the room while others had a sense of “depth” to them.
Santana’s Black Magic Woman, when played through a good decoder, is a nifty example of sound jumping around. Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline record, when played through my various decoders, doesn’t bounce around. Instead, there is a sense of ‘realism’; as if I’m present at the recording session.
Unfortunately, some quad encoded records sound just like their stereo version. I yearn to hear Ten Years After’s I’d Love to Change the World in good quad sound. For some reason, I can’t get the quad version to sound any different from the stereo record. My decoders can’t even get any decent synthesized quad from that recording, even though 97% of all stereo sound is synthesized quite nicely by my Vario-Matrix units.
Poking through the Sept. 1969 Hi Fi magazine shows a full-page ad touting Vanguard Records “Revolutionary new 4-channel system.” for vinyl records. No mention is made of the encoding-type, but I assume it is the EV-4 system. Further along, the ad says reel-to-reel quad tapes and cassettes are coming soon. Well, they got most of it right. Though quad cassettes did not reach the masses, you can record matrixed quad onto cassette for later playback through your decoder.