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Thread: In retrospect

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    Default In retrospect

    OK, so now we have some time to create a bit of a fantasy. Let's go back in time to the '70's. Now, each of us is in charge of a record company and it's up to us to decide which of the major quad systems for vinyl to go with. Would you choose QS, SQ, or CD-4? And why would you do so?

    Since I brought up the topic, I'll start. Actually, my avatar speaks for me. I would choose QS. To begin with, it offers what I think is better stereo imaging
    for two-channel playback. Rear information tends to sound wider in stage than SQ, which places it between the two stereo speakers in a basically mono display. A CD-4 record played in stereo merely folds the rear channels forward, putting the
    rear channel sounds into their respective front speakers. While some may feel that means better compatibility with stereo, I like the idea of the matrix enhancing the stereo presentation. Second, the QS system was a regular matrix, meaning that separation was the same all the way around. With no logic, there was still more there than SQ. SQ emphasized left to right separation, and rendering only about 3 dB of center front to center back separation. This is why some form of logic enhancement was crucial for SQ. Sansui's introduction of Vario-Matrix logic rendered QS virtually discrete under ideal conditions. Although hose condiions were rarely ideal in practice, the process still rendered a better effect than the logic used by the SQ decoders of the day, pre-Tate.
    The thrd reason is that, like SQ, no special stylus or cartridge were needed to play the record in quad. And playing the record in stereo would not affect the ability to play it in quad later on.

    OK...next?
    Give me surround or give me silence!

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    Default Re: In retrospect

    CD-4 all the way. It is the only truly discreet vinyl format, and sounds great when done right. Matrix just can't compare. I like to know what the mix is supposed to sound like, not just get an idea of it and wonder what it's really supposed to sound like. Even with a tate or software decoding, you lose subtleties in mixes, I've done A/B comparison between SQ and Q8.

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    700 Club - QQ All Star jaybird100's Avatar
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    Default Re: In retrospect

    Good point. I liked the concept behind CD-4, but in reality the system was quite finicky. If things weren't just right, and they rarely were, the system could sound really bad. That along with erosion of the carrier signal when the record would be played on standard stereo equipment with a heavier tonearm.
    Give me surround or give me silence!

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    Default Re: In retrospect

    Well it all comes down to quality control. There are plenty of inexpensive cartridges and turntables that will do cd-4 adequately, and if the vinyl meets the specs that the system calls for there should be no problem. However, when companies start cutting corners with pressing quality and junk for turntables and cartridges, that's where the problems start to come in.

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    Board Operator JonUrban's Avatar
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    Default Re: In retrospect

    If CD-4 LPs were done with the same care as the early MFSL LPs, it would have been a no brainer. The RCA "dynaflex" recycled vinyl LPs were a joke. Sure, you could bent them like a taco, but that was not the point.

    I always favoured CD-4, because matrix decoders in 1972-1977 were hit or miss (mostly miss) and with CD-4 there was no question where the imaging was. It was just a matter of getting it out of your system.

    QS got short changed, IMHO, because there was never a big pop/rock output of QS records. The ABC Command stuff was good, but it did not even mention QS! If Capitol had indeed done the same titles that they released on Q8 (BOTR, DSOTM, FLAE, etc) as QS LPs, that might have made a difference.
    :-jon

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    The Real Thing Cai Campbell's Avatar
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    Default Re: In retrospect

    CD-4, of course. No matrix system can ever come close.

    Stereo compatibility? Bah! Buy the stereo disc. Just as stereo records are compatible with mono systems, a mono mix of the same recording is almost always going to sound better on a mono system. The same is true for quad recordings played on stereo systems; the stereo mix of the same recording is almost always going to sound better, no matter the format. However, I will give the nod that matrix offers better compatibility in this regard but it is still an unacceptable compromise in my book; for ultimate sonic enjoyment, stereo records should be played on stereo systems and quad records should be played on quad systems.

    And since we're dreaming, my record company would press all those CD-4 records in Japan at JVC's record pressing plant, half-speed mastered on super vinyl (just as all the CD-4 records they produced were so treated). JVC invented the system, set the standards and produced fantastic CD-4 product. American companies ignored the standard and produced mediocre (at best) product.

    Yes, it was all about quality control and sticking to the standard.

    Don't blame the technology: it rocked! Blame the short-sighted American record companies who cut every conceivable corner and shafted the American "Quadradisc" consumer.

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    Default Re: In retrospect

    Heck, even 8track when done properly could stand well... cutting corners over corners reduced the meat BIG time.

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    Default Re: In retrospect

    I"m still trying to find a list of those Capitol albums confirmed to be QS encoded. My local used record stores wouldn't know what hit them!

    All the points about CD-4 are well taken. But so far, no one said they would have gone with SQ. What does that say for the system?
    Give me surround or give me silence!

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    The Real Thing Cai Campbell's Avatar
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    Default Re: In retrospect

    If I had to choose SQ or QS, I would choose QS. From my experience, SQ CAN sound better, but it is too content sensitive. QS is a better format overall.

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    Exiled Ex-QQ Lizard Quadzilla's Avatar
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    Default Re: In retrospect

    Quote Originally Posted by Cai Campbell View Post
    If I had to choose SQ or QS, I would choose QS. From my experience, SQ CAN sound better, but it is too content sensitive. QS is a better format overall.
    I think that QS LPs are more stereo compatible as well. Playing SQ in stereo sounds a bit hollow to me, and that would not bode well for a single-inventory product. That would certainly be key to a format's success ... hence why single-layer SACDs got things off to a bad start.

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    Default Re: In retrospect

    My CD-4 albums played back with great impact with a passive Dyna rear speaker setup.

    Richard

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    Default Re: In retrospect

    Quote Originally Posted by Cai Campbell View Post
    If I had to choose SQ or QS, I would choose QS. From my experience, SQ CAN sound better, but it is too content sensitive. QS is a better format overall.
    I wonder how things might have been if the Warner Music Group had stuck with their initial plan to release in QS instead of switching gears and going CD-4. It might have changed the complexion of how the rest of the industry went.
    Give me surround or give me silence!

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    Default Re: In retrospect

    In my experience, CD4 was too problematic to implement well across the board. Sound quality was too dependant on the pressings themselves (RCA were the worst), so even with a high quality shibata cartridge, turntable and proper cables, one could still get pretty mediocre or even crappy sound by today's noiseless standards. For me, there's more to quad sound than just discreteness and separation.

    If time travel were possible, between SQ & QS, I'd vote for QS as the standard for all quad recordings, no question.

    ss9001

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    Default Re: In retrospect

    Quote Originally Posted by Cai Campbell View Post
    ....American companies ignored the standard and produced mediocre (at best) product.

    Yes, it was all about quality control and sticking to the standard.

    Don't blame the technology: it rocked! Blame the short-sighted American record companies who cut every conceivable corner and shafted the American "Quadradisc" consumer.
    I couldn't agree with you more!! It had so much potential and RCA and other labels mucked it up. The irony is that RCA & JVC were sister companies. Some RCA CD4 pressings I bought and still own (can't stand to play them today) were abominable. I have several CD4 Gordon Lightfoot LP's (Warner, I think), that are nearly unlistenable; that was an era when I loved Gordo's music. Early this year I bought several of the Lightfoots on CD's and now listen to them with QS Synth or DPLIIx. MUCH better. Some CD4 LP's I have still sound quite good, so it was possible to have a good-sounding LP with low noise levels.

    It was embarrassing to say many of these LP's were "high fidelity".

    ss9001

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    Junior Member Quadradude's Avatar
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    Default Re: In retrospect

    I've finally gotten my CD-4 setup working, which was amazingly simple once I found a good cartridge, and I must say that I am really enjoying the distortion-free and well separated 4-channel resultsI'm now getting with the new cartridge. Scratches, even minor ones, are considerably more apparent with the decoder on than they are when tracking it in 2-channel stereo but even my most beat-up quadradisc is not too shabby and thoroughly enjoyable to me, which is what matters in the end...

    I'm looking forward to stepping into the world of SQ very soon since I own several VG+++ to NM Command Quadraphonic titles and I'm anticipating impressive overall results.

    I must say that maybe I've just never found a good decoder but SQ has always totally underwhelmed me to the point that I try to avoid buying SQ records even when they're super clean and at dirt cheap prices. I place almost no value on them whatsoever personally. I actually choose to buy the unpredictable, hissy, cross-talk burdened Q8 Cartridge of the same artist if I can find it or in most cases I simply do without the quad version completely.

    I'd love to have many more Q4 Tapes to play on my Akai SS deck but they prices are so astronomical on Ebay for ones that interest me.
    "4D Discrete" all the way! and if not, then CD-4 next, then QS, unless someone wants to donate a Tate-II to my collection, then I'd consider SQ as a last resort...

    Just my 2 cents...

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    Default Re: In retrospect

    Quote Originally Posted by Quadradude View Post
    I've finally gotten my CD-4 setup working, which was amazingly simple once I found a good cartridge, and I must say that I am really enjoying the distortion-free and well separated 4-channel resultsI'm now getting with the new cartridge. Scratches, even minor ones, are considerably more apparent with the decoder on than they are when tracking it in 2-channel stereo but even my most beat-up quadradisc is not too shabby and thoroughly enjoyable to me, which is what matters in the end...

    I'm looking forward to stepping into the world of SQ very soon since I own several VG+++ to NM Command Quadraphonic titles and I'm anticipating impressive overall results.

    I must say that maybe I've just never found a good decoder but SQ has always totally underwhelmed me to the point that I try to avoid buying SQ records even when they're super clean and at dirt cheap prices. I place almost no value on them whatsoever personally. I actually choose to buy the unpredictable, hissy, cross-talk burdened Q8 Cartridge of the same artist if I can find it or in most cases I simply do without the quad version completely.

    I'd love to have many more Q4 Tapes to play on my Akai SS deck but they prices are so astronomical on Ebay for ones that interest me.
    "4D Discrete" all the way! and if not, then CD-4 next, then QS, unless someone wants to donate a Tate-II to my collection, then I'd consider SQ as a last resort...

    Just my 2 cents...
    Umm... those Command Quadraphonic records are QS, not SQ. Play them on the wrong decoder and you're bound to be disappointed.
    Give me surround or give me silence!

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    Moderator The Quadfather's Avatar
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    Default Re: In retrospect

    CD-4 beats 'em all. Yes, it can be finicky, but less so with good components. Also, you must keep CD-4 records clean. I clean before every play. Quadradude, what cartridge are you using? I am getting good results with an Audio Technica AT440MLa. It's not supposed to work for quad, but it does allright. I have always thought that CD-4 could have been improved, had it lived on and more development was done. Now that is being done by Mr Dorren, so we'll see how it goes. You can get a clean play with most discs, and the thing about poor carrier longevity is a myth as long as some cheapo compact system with a BSR changer (do they still, make those?) is not used. Yuck, I wouldn't play my stereo records on one of those. You might want to read Lou Dorren's article about how RCA and Warner's made their decision. It's an interesting read. It's in the Lou Dorren thread in the CD-4 section.

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    Junior Member Quadradude's Avatar
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    Default Re: In retrospect

    Quote Originally Posted by jaybird100 View Post
    Umm... those Command Quadraphonic records are QS, not SQ. Play them on the wrong decoder and you're bound to be disappointed.
    Sorry, that was a pretty big typo...
    Yeah, I now know Command used QS.

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    Junior Member Quadradude's Avatar
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    Default Re: In retrospect

    Quote Originally Posted by The Quadfather View Post
    CD-4 beats 'em all. Yes, it can be finicky, but less so with good components. Also, you must keep CD-4 records clean. I clean before every play. Quadradude, what cartridge are you using? I am getting good results with an Audio Technica AT440MLa. It's not supposed to work for quad, but it does allright. I have always thought that CD-4 could have been improved, had it lived on and more development was done. Now that is being done by Mr Dorren, so we'll see how it goes. You can get a clean play with most discs, and the thing about poor carrier longevity is a myth as long as some cheapo compact system with a BSR changer (do they still, make those?) is not used. Yuck, I wouldn't play my stereo records on one of those. You might want to read Lou Dorren's article about how RCA and Warner's made their decision. It's an interesting read. It's in the Lou Dorren thread in the CD-4 section.

    I got a 440MLa and it made all the difference in the world. It's pretty stable and VERY listenable with only a coarse ballpark install of the cartridge since the protractor it came with is mediocre and I've misplaced the nice one I found and printed from the web a while back. I'm suspecting that the few remaining minor issues that occasionally come and go will be gone once I get the mounting verified 100%.
    Thanks for the article references, I'll have to check them out!

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    Default Re: In retrospect

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    Last edited by Lucanu; 03-01-2008 at 07:52 AM. Reason: deleted by me
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    Quad Goddess & Moderator Quad Linda's Avatar
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    Default Re: In retrospect

    CD-4 is to Quad LP what DVD-A is to 5.1 hi-res. The best. Once CD-4 hit, we NEVER demoed Quad with matrix LP's, unless the customer wanted to audition a decoder.

    Linda
    CD-4 Cutie
    KWAD KITTY

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    Default Re: In retrospect

    Linda, if the American record companies that issued CD-4 LP's (RCA, WMG, Arista, etc.) had followed JVC's lead on the quality of vinyl used, things would have been different for the format. Sure, it was impressive in terms of separation, but poor pressings would have made for unimpressive demos. Were the CD-4 LP's you used all imports from Japan? Those, and some Korean pressings, were way better than the domestic pressings, most of which used substandard vinyl. And with CD-4, substandard vinyl means substandard sound. That can also apply to matrix as well, and even stereo. Also, because of carrier erosion, you really can't call a CD-4 LP compatible. A compatible LP could be played in stereo or quad at any time, without loss of information over time when the record was played on standard stereo systems. RCA's initial plans to go entirely single-inventory CD-4 would have been a disaster. I had also heard some quadradisc mixes that, while they made sense in quad, didn't make sense in two-channel playback. This was mostly obvious on tracks that put sound in motion around the listener. Those sounds moving rapidly side to side were reminiscent of RCA's "Stereo Action" albums, and you see where that idea went.
    Give me surround or give me silence!

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    Quad Goddess & Moderator Quad Linda's Avatar
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    Default Re: In retrospect

    We used WEA CD-4 titles for demo. Stardrive - Intergalactic Trot, JVC Quadradisc demo album, Best of Doors, and Best of Bread. Later, Court and Spark was another. At that point, I was not aware of Japanese vinyl, even though we sold vinyl and I LIVED in every record store in Chicago. European imports were everywhere in Chicago, Quad, Electronica, Brit rock and Krautrock. Coincidentally, I discovered Japanese vinyl in '78. One store dove in all the way. The first Japanese LP I bought was Carnival - Sergio Mendes, which I special ordered. Imagine my surprise when it arrived and I found it was SQ!! A typical "live concert" mix, but one of my most cherished vinyl albums.

    Linda

    Quote Originally Posted by jaybird100 View Post
    Linda, if the American record companies that issued CD-4 LP's (RCA, WMG, Arista, etc.) had followed JVC's lead on the quality of vinyl used, things would have been different for the format. Sure, it was impressive in terms of separation, but poor pressings would have made for unimpressive demos. Were the CD-4 LP's you used all imports from Japan? Those, and some Korean pressings, were way better than the domestic pressings, most of which used substandard vinyl. And with CD-4, substandard vinyl means substandard sound. That can also apply to matrix as well, and even stereo. Also, because of carrier erosion, you really can't call a CD-4 LP compatible. A compatible LP could be played in stereo or quad at any time, without loss of information over time when the record was played on standard stereo systems. RCA's initial plans to go entirely single-inventory CD-4 would have been a disaster. I had also heard some quadradisc mixes that, while they made sense in quad, didn't make sense in two-channel playback. This was mostly obvious on tracks that put sound in motion around the listener. Those sounds moving rapidly side to side were reminiscent of RCA's "Stereo Action" albums, and you see where that idea went.
    KWAD KITTY

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    LaserVision Landmarks Disclord's Avatar
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    Default Re: In retrospect

    Quote Originally Posted by Quad Linda View Post
    We used WEA CD-4 titles for demo. Stardrive - Intergalactic Trot, JVC Quadradisc demo album, Best of Doors, and Best of Bread. Later, Court and Spark was another. At that point, I was not aware of Japanese vinyl, even though we sold vinyl and I LIVED in every record store in Chicago. European imports were everywhere in Chicago, Quad, Electronica, Brit rock and Krautrock. Coincidentally, I discovered Japanese vinyl in '78. One store dove in all the way. The first Japanese LP I bought was Carnival - Sergio Mendes, which I special ordered. Imagine my surprise when it arrived and I found it was SQ!! A typical "live concert" mix, but one of my most cherished vinyl albums.

    Linda
    I discovered Japanese LaserDisc's before I discovered European and Japanese LP's. But, oh, what joy when I finally found out how much better non-USA LP pressings were in both sound quality and fidelity of the vinyl - and lack of defects in the vinyl. Unfortunately, LaserDisc didn't share the same joys - while letterboxing started in Japan on LD in a big way, the transfers were often inferior to the US discs - so Japan LD's became only a way to get stuff that wasn't released here yet, not a way to 'upgrade' in audio/video quality as it was for LP's. And LaserRot in Japan was just as bad as the US, if not worse.

    Any experience with Japanese pre-recorded cassettes? Were they as bad as most US releases?

    Quadraphonic and other technical documents at: Disclord
    The history and development of the LaserDisc System at: LaserVision Landmarks

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    700 Club - QQ All Star jaybird100's Avatar
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    Default Re: In retrospect

    Interesting that I have a large laserdisc collection, which I still play. They look like crap on a high definition TV, but they all still play just fine. No laser rot. Maybe I'm just lucky. The WEA quadradiscs, particularly those from the Atlantic/Atco division, were particularly bad pressings. The Warner-Reprise CD-4's were mostly better sounding, presumably from better vinyl. Elektra was hit or miss. Some RCA pressings were good, some were atrocious. Arista must have used some really bad vinyl. Their pressings had high surface noise and "bubbles". CD-4 was a great format on paper, but in actual use, it left much to be desired. It shouldn't have had to be so difficult to set up and calibrate the turntable and cartridge, and most demodulators at the time were extremely finicky. QS decoders, on the other hand, were a breeze to set up and enjoy. The pressings were also better. SQ decoders could sound better, too, but neither format could give truly discrete separation.
    Give me surround or give me silence!

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