Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Quadraphonic Dreams and Reality
My obsession with music and records started pretty early on when I was a wee lad. As a kid I had the opportunity to frequent a pretty thriving flea market held on Sundays a few towns over from mine. It remained for many years a great place to score vinyl. There were even some near misses with greatness at this flea market – at various points I passed up a paste-over Butcher Cover, the torso-cover original pressing of The Velvet Underground and Nico and an opportunity to have about five more still sealed original copies of the first NRBQ album (dude had a bunch and I only bought one – for a dollar!). Mostly I went to this flea market because I was not exactly rolling in bucks. I was looking for the best way to stretch my vinyl habit on a limited budget.
Every so often I would find old Quadraphonic records that I bought because they were the only copies of those titles I might find that Sunday (and within my budget of 1 or 2 dollars an LP). Here are three that I found at this particular flea market in those days:
The very idea of hearing great records with instruments popping up around you was, to say the least, quite an exciting proposition. Not knowing anybody who had this equipment coupled with the reality that I’d never seen any of it for sale – new – in the stores pretty much fueled my frustration. As I got older I just kind of shrugged it off and got interested in other things. Yet, the notion haunted me as I periodically bumped into other quadraphonic records in my travels.
With the advent of the internet and the launch of ebay I was able to finally see examples of quadraphonic hardware for sale, yet it was all pretty mysterious and expensive if the idea was to experiment. Not to worry – the enthusiasts were alive and well and founded a fantastic website dedicated to everything quad – see QuadraphonicQuad here: http://www.quadraphonicquad.com/forums/forum.php
Anything a person could ever want to know about multi-channel music can be found there (or linked to from there). Multi-channel music made a comeback with the emergence of DVD technology in the early 2000s. New encoding formats were devised to play multi-channel music – SACD, DVD-A, DTS, Dual-Disc and more recently Blu-Ray. Plenty of great albums were released on these formats and the list continues to grow. That’s where I finally heard what surround-sound music could be like. The equipment was reasonably priced and plenty of new titles came out (and even some old quadraphonic mixes were resurrected).
Through the QuadraphonicQuad site, I learned about quad 8-tracks and got a nice little bunch of those as well. There were other places in cyberspace for enthusiasts to sample rare quad titles that were converted from the old formats to the new. This kind of hobbyist activity led me to the next step toward hearing the old quad vinyl LPs as they were intended...........
Without getting into a big history of quad here, suffice to say there were three main types of quad records – each with their own decoding method (probably why consumers balked at these things in the first place). Different record companies used these formats to compete with each other.
Over the last winter, I’d checked back at QQ headquarters to catch up on new info and everybody (well, almost) was speaking in tongues about a NEW DECODER BOX – that handles both SQ and QS matrix encoded LPs. I eluded to it in one of my posts back in the winter and, after saving some extra dough – I jumped in. Behold – the Surround Master SQ edition:
Involve Audio. Thanks for bringing my quad dreams to reality! You folks ROCK!!!