Arthur Stoppe on mixing the O'Jays, Spinners and Sigma Sound's quad output

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steelydave

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As I've mentioned occasionally in various threads, I've been in touch with Arthur Stoppe, one of Sigma Sound's longest-serving engineers, and the one most intimately involved with their quad output. He started there as an assistant in early 1973 and assisted on their first quad mix, the self-titled Spinners album, and over the course of the next few years became the studio's de-facto quad supremo because of his extensive knowledge of the SQ matrix system. He'd end up doing the studio's final couple of quad mixes in 1976, The O'Jays Message in the Music and Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes Wake Up Everybody.

Before Christmas I was in touch with him to share the news about D-V releasing the O'Jays Ship Ahoy/Message in the Music/Live in London 3fer, and also of the Spinners Quadio release. Arthur has a ridiculously good memory, and our conversation stirred up a lot of them - his stories have so much detail it's hard to believe some of them happened nearly 50 years ago.

I thought there might be sufficient interest here to read some of them, so I asked him if he minded if I shared them and he was all too happy to oblige, so here they are with his blessing:

[my comments and clarifications in square brackets]

"[I'm] glad to hear that "Ship Ahoy", "Live in London", and "Message in the Music" are now out in quad on SACD. I was assistant engineer on at least a couple of the original stereo mixes for "Ship Ahoy". Of course there are all those sound effects on the title track, and since the studio was still just 16 track at the time all those effects were "flown in" from separate sources. The "creaking ship" and cracking whip effects were tape loops that ran continuously, and we'd just push up the relevant faders when we needed them. The surf sound effect was on a record that was running on a turntable in another room and the thunderclap was an original stereo sound effect someone at the studio had recorded which got put on a separate piece of tape that I had the job of cueing in at the proper time (and if we did another take of the mix, -all of this was before we had automated mixing, I had to cue that tape up again). So that mix was a lot of fun (and, for me, a lot of running around starting, stopping, and rewinding tapes, making sure the tape loops were still running, and checking to see that the surf record wasn't going to run out in the middle of a take.

The other mix I remember was "For the Love of Money". The original stereo mix was three of us on the console: Kenny Gamble on the left side, Joe Tarsia in the middle, and me on the right side which was where all the stereo panpots were on the Electrodyne console that was in Studio A. Kenny and Joe were both pushing faders around, and I started doing weird things with the panpot for the reverse echo effect that was on the background vocals. I thought it would be cool for people listening on headphones if that effect would pan from side to side when it kind of "whooshed up" in front of the backgrounds, so I started doing that on my own. (Which prompted Gamble to say to me "I don't know what you're doing over there, but keep doing it".) So that was another fun mix. It was Gamble's idea to put the reverb on the bass in the intro (not something you normally did as that could create phase issues that would drive whoever had to master the tape to disc crazy), and when he did that for the first time Joe looked at him like he was crazy, but then he caught on to what Gamble was going after.

And I do remember that I got to assist Don Murray on the quad mix of "Ship Ahoy". I had saved all the sound effects elements from the stereo mix, and since I knew how all that went together I got to set all that up again for the quad. When we did the quad of "For the Love of Money" I tried to do something panning-wise with that reverse echo effect similar to what I had done on the stereo, but there were limitations to what you could do in SQ quad (for instance, you couldn't pan anything to center rear, as the 90 degree phase shift that the SQ encoder put on each rear channel would add up to 180 degrees, and that would really drive the disc mastering engineer crazy as that would translate to pure vertical movement of the recording (or playback) stylus, and there was the risk that the stylus would either lift off the lacquer blank or dig into the aluminum that was underneath the lacquer.

When we did the earlier quad mixes we just made a discrete 4 track tape mix and strictly stuck to the guidelines that Columbia gave us as to things we couldn't do as they could mess up the quad effect once the 4 track was encoded by someone at Columbia. Later Columbia gave us one each of the CBS Labs SQ encoder and decoder, and we were supposed to mix while listening to the output of the encoder brought back through the decoder. That way we could (supposedly) catch anything weird that happened during the encode/decode process and fix it on the spot. But mixing that way sounded pretty bad, and we didn't do that very much except maybe as a quick check at the end of every mix. Most of the time we listened to either the quad mix output of the console or playback from the 4 track tape. All these years later I'm glad we did that as it meant that we didn't compromise the discrete 4 track mixes in order to maybe make the SQ encoded mix work a little better.

One good thing about our having the SQ encoder was that we got to make the SQ encoded tape for LP mastering directly from the mix coming off the console, and then we got to oversee the transfer of that tape to master disc at Frankford/Wayne in Philadelphia. (In order to not mess up that mastering they had to take the "usual stuff", i.e., EQ and limiting, out of the circuit and pretty much do a straight tape to disc transfer. Then we'd get to check a lacquer disc reference before the master discs got sent off to the pressing plant(s) (Columbia had several across the US) and then got test pressings back from the plant(s). I still have a test pressing of "Message in the Music" with a generic white label on it that says it was made at Columbia's Pittman NJ plant (which was something like a half hour drive from Sigma). I wonder what that might be worth. (I also have the original SACD of "Ship Ahoy", although I guess its worth may plummet now that the new disc is out.)

FYI, when quad "died" Columbia/CBS never asked for their encoder and decoder back. The last time I saw it, -a long time ago, it was kept in some obscure corner of the studio's basement.

And thanks for sending the link to those reviews
[ @sjcorne 's IAA review] of the new quad releases. It's great to finally get some feedback on something we did close to 50 years ago. And all those complaints about what the SQ mixes sounded like decoded were why we didn't like listening to the SQ in the studio.

I'm also glad to hear that the Spinners' quad album is out on Blu-ray. I started working as an assistant engineer at Sigma Sound in early April of 1973. On the day I first reported to work Joe Tarsia was in Studio B working on the first quad mix of that album (the one that got rejected) but they sent me upstairs to Studio A to work with Don Murray who was doing a string and horn overdub session for the group Blue Magic on their first album for Atlantic. I have to admit to that session being far more interesting, especially on my first day at the studio. But all that gives you some kind of time frame of when the original quad mix of the Spinners was done.

For reasons I never heard explained adequately Atlantic didn't like that first quad mix of the Spinners, and so a month or so after it was done they sent the studio a 4 track reel that was a sampler reel of mixes from some of the other Atlantic artists that were being released in quad. The only thing I remember that was on it was the quad of J. Geils Band's "Give it to Me"
[from the unreleased Bloodshot quad mix]. After listening to that sampler reel we went ahead and mixed the Spinners in quad again and tried to make those mixes more like the ones of the sampler. And the second time around Atlantic accepted the mixes.

I was the assistant engineer on most if not all of the quad remix of that album, and I remember editing together those final 4 track master tapes whose tape boxes you sent me the pictures of
[from the gatefold of the new Quadio BluRay]. So it was me who typed up those labels, and the date that's handwritten on those boxes (6/16/73) may be in my writing, although it's hard to tell (and why didn't I type that on the labels?). But that date, the fact that those labels do say "Remix", and the fact that the original CD-4 LP catalog and disc matrix numbers are written on the labels does prove that what they mastered to Blu-ray is the correct version of the quad album. (And once again I got to see some tape boxes that I never thought I'd see again.)


[and then a few follow-up comments with some good tidbits from his reply, after I (extensively) praised the quality of the Sigma Sound quad mixes]

I appreciate your comments regarding the quad mix of "Message" and the other albums, but all I can say is that at Sigma we did our best to keep the quad mixes faithful to the stereo mixes, and that we didn't pay much attention to how the SQ encoded mix was going to sound. In other words, we weren't going to compromise the discrete 4 track tape in order to make the SQ perhaps work a little better. Of course we would put together the 4 track mix in accordance to all the strict guidelines that we were given by Columbia/CBS records such as using no other panning positions other than the four corners and front and center, NO center rear material, and if we panned anything to "quad center" (which would be directly overhead), it was done on a diagonal basis by sending that channel to the left front and right rear or right front and left rear (one of those may have been preferred, I forget which one, though).

I'm sure you've heard quad mixes where the engineer who did the quad mix wasn't the same one(s) who did the stereo mixes, and possibly didn't even work in the same facility. You can usually tell those because things like tracks that weren't in the stereo popping up in the quad (like the background vocals or strings that were on the multitrack in the first verse of the song but not used in the stereo mix). Then of course you've got things like the overall EQ, reverb, and other effects having no resemblance to what was on the stereo. (This is where the "360 Degrees of Billy Paul" quad mix falls short, even though Joe Tarsia was there in Columbia Studios in NYC supervising Larry Keyes, -I'm guessing that Joe was deferring to Larry on a lot of things and didn't want to "step on his toes" too much. And I think that experience was part of the reason why Joe and Gamble/Huff/Bell wanted all subsequent quad mixes done at Sigma in Philly.)

So if there was any "secret" to the Sigma Sound quad mixes those things would be it.

I can tell that the quad mixes of "Ship Ahoy" and "Live in London" were done prior to CBS giving us an SQ encoder so we could make the encoded 2 track tape for the LP directly from the quad mix coming off the console, thereby saving a tape generation. The clue is the extensive tone set that they asked us to put on the 4 track, including that 7.5 KHz of 5 KHz tone. Since SQ encoding depends on phase shift being added to the rear channel program material, any additional phase shift that might be added by the azimuth alignment being off on the heads of the machine playing the 4 track mix back could cause errors. So they had us put all those additional high frequency tones on the tape so they could make sure there was as little azimuth error as possible (usually the 10 and 15 KHz tones are more than adequate for that)."
 
and if we panned anything to "quad center" (which would be directly overhead), it was done on a diagonal basis by sending that channel to the left front and right rear or right front and left rear (one of those may have been preferred, I forget which one, though).
Interesting, but I don't see how that could be.

The SQ encoder had an "Internal" setting which would bypass the 0° phase reference network of the front channels to decorrelate front from back which could then be used to provide full centre/height effects. Done that way the same signal could be encoded as Cf and Cb without cancellation. It is referred to as as Ct "Center Top" on the Audionics test record.

Some recordings did use Cb as well. It was "prohibited" mainly for mono compatibility.
 
Seems like a good alternative to placing a sound equally in LF,RF,LB, RB to get a sound overhead - a sound placed equally in LF,RB or RF,LB would also place the sound overhead.

also:
"...limiting, out of the circuit and pretty much do a straight tape to disc transfer."

IIRC, a letter to one of the monthly audio magazines mentioned that the limiters in the disc mastering system were turned off when mastering SQ encoded content, has anyone compared the peak levels of a given SQ quad disc and the stereo release (does the SQ disc have higher peaks)?


Kirk Bayne
 
Seems like a good alternative to placing a sound equally in LF,RF,LB, RB to get a sound overhead - a sound placed equally in LF,RB or RF,LB would also place the sound overhead.
I don't think that would work very well. You want the signal to emanate equally from all four speakers. Trying to encode the same signal like that will not work. You will have cancellations, or image build ups either way skewing the sound away from the centre.
 
IIRC, a magazine article (I think I scanned it and posted it in the QQ library) about SQ encoding for FM stereo broadcasts mentioned that feeding the same signal to LF,RF,LB,RB (basically an overhead signal) caused the stereo to be +2dB and -8dB (I don't recall if is was Lt,Rt or Rt,Lt), which could cause problems with the FM broadcast modulation limiter, the diagonal option wasn't mentioned though.


Kirk Bayne
 
IIRC, a magazine article (I think I scanned it and posted it in the QQ library) about SQ encoding for FM stereo broadcasts mentioned that feeding the same signal to LF,RF,LB,RB (basically an overhead signal) caused the stereo to be +2dB and -8dB (I don't recall if is was Lt,Rt or Rt,Lt), which could cause problems with the FM broadcast modulation limiter, the diagonal option wasn't mentioned though.


Kirk Bayne
There should be no problem if the "internal" encoder setting is used. There will be an imbalance if the normal position is used.
 
I recall the David Essex “Rock On” quad had an additional echo added in center back. It’s definitely not there in stereo.
I keep reading comments that SQ releases are mixed "drier" than the stereo versions. That is a comment that I have always disagreed with!
There are many examples of "wet" SQ encodes. I can't even think of a stereo mix that is "wetter" than it's quad counterpart! IMHO the SQ encode process itself also adds a bit of wetness to the overall mix.
 
As I've mentioned occasionally in various threads, I've been in touch with Arthur Stoppe, one of Sigma Sound's longest-serving engineers, and the one most intimately involved with their quad output. He started there as an assistant in early 1973 and assisted on their first quad mix, the self-titled Spinners album, and over the course of the next few years became the studio's de-facto quad supremo because of his extensive knowledge of the SQ matrix system. He'd end up doing the studio's final couple of quad mixes in 1976, The O'Jays Message in the Music and Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes Wake Up Everybody.

Before Christmas I was in touch with him to share the news about D-V releasing the O'Jays Ship Ahoy/Message in the Music/Live in London 3fer, and also of the Spinners Quadio release. Arthur has a ridiculously good memory, and our conversation stirred up a lot of them - his stories have so much detail it's hard to believe some of them happened nearly 50 years ago.

I thought there might be sufficient interest here to read some of them, so I asked him if he minded if I shared them and he was all too happy to oblige, so here they are with his blessing:

[my comments and clarifications in square brackets]

"[I'm] glad to hear that "Ship Ahoy", "Live in London", and "Message in the Music" are now out in quad on SACD. I was assistant engineer on at least a couple of the original stereo mixes for "Ship Ahoy". Of course there are all those sound effects on the title track, and since the studio was still just 16 track at the time all those effects were "flown in" from separate sources. The "creaking ship" and cracking whip effects were tape loops that ran continuously, and we'd just push up the relevant faders when we needed them. The surf sound effect was on a record that was running on a turntable in another room and the thunderclap was an original stereo sound effect someone at the studio had recorded which got put on a separate piece of tape that I had the job of cueing in at the proper time (and if we did another take of the mix, -all of this was before we had automated mixing, I had to cue that tape up again). So that mix was a lot of fun (and, for me, a lot of running around starting, stopping, and rewinding tapes, making sure the tape loops were still running, and checking to see that the surf record wasn't going to run out in the middle of a take.

The other mix I remember was "For the Love of Money". The original stereo mix was three of us on the console: Kenny Gamble on the left side, Joe Tarsia in the middle, and me on the right side which was where all the stereo panpots were on the Electrodyne console that was in Studio A. Kenny and Joe were both pushing faders around, and I started doing weird things with the panpot for the reverse echo effect that was on the background vocals. I thought it would be cool for people listening on headphones if that effect would pan from side to side when it kind of "whooshed up" in front of the backgrounds, so I started doing that on my own. (Which prompted Gamble to say to me "I don't know what you're doing over there, but keep doing it".) So that was another fun mix. It was Gamble's idea to put the reverb on the bass in the intro (not something you normally did as that could create phase issues that would drive whoever had to master the tape to disc crazy), and when he did that for the first time Joe looked at him like he was crazy, but then he caught on to what Gamble was going after.

And I do remember that I got to assist Don Murray on the quad mix of "Ship Ahoy". I had saved all the sound effects elements from the stereo mix, and since I knew how all that went together I got to set all that up again for the quad. When we did the quad of "For the Love of Money" I tried to do something panning-wise with that reverse echo effect similar to what I had done on the stereo, but there were limitations to what you could do in SQ quad (for instance, you couldn't pan anything to center rear, as the 90 degree phase shift that the SQ encoder put on each rear channel would add up to 180 degrees, and that would really drive the disc mastering engineer crazy as that would translate to pure vertical movement of the recording (or playback) stylus, and there was the risk that the stylus would either lift off the lacquer blank or dig into the aluminum that was underneath the lacquer.

When we did the earlier quad mixes we just made a discrete 4 track tape mix and strictly stuck to the guidelines that Columbia gave us as to things we couldn't do as they could mess up the quad effect once the 4 track was encoded by someone at Columbia. Later Columbia gave us one each of the CBS Labs SQ encoder and decoder, and we were supposed to mix while listening to the output of the encoder brought back through the decoder. That way we could (supposedly) catch anything weird that happened during the encode/decode process and fix it on the spot. But mixing that way sounded pretty bad, and we didn't do that very much except maybe as a quick check at the end of every mix. Most of the time we listened to either the quad mix output of the console or playback from the 4 track tape. All these years later I'm glad we did that as it meant that we didn't compromise the discrete 4 track mixes in order to maybe make the SQ encoded mix work a little better.

One good thing about our having the SQ encoder was that we got to make the SQ encoded tape for LP mastering directly from the mix coming off the console, and then we got to oversee the transfer of that tape to master disc at Frankford/Wayne in Philadelphia. (In order to not mess up that mastering they had to take the "usual stuff", i.e., EQ and limiting, out of the circuit and pretty much do a straight tape to disc transfer. Then we'd get to check a lacquer disc reference before the master discs got sent off to the pressing plant(s) (Columbia had several across the US) and then got test pressings back from the plant(s). I still have a test pressing of "Message in the Music" with a generic white label on it that says it was made at Columbia's Pittman NJ plant (which was something like a half hour drive from Sigma). I wonder what that might be worth. (I also have the original SACD of "Ship Ahoy", although I guess its worth may plummet now that the new disc is out.)

FYI, when quad "died" Columbia/CBS never asked for their encoder and decoder back. The last time I saw it, -a long time ago, it was kept in some obscure corner of the studio's basement.

And thanks for sending the link to those reviews
[ @sjcorne 's IAA review] of the new quad releases. It's great to finally get some feedback on something we did close to 50 years ago. And all those complaints about what the SQ mixes sounded like decoded were why we didn't like listening to the SQ in the studio.

I'm also glad to hear that the Spinners' quad album is out on Blu-ray. I started working as an assistant engineer at Sigma Sound in early April of 1973. On the day I first reported to work Joe Tarsia was in Studio B working on the first quad mix of that album (the one that got rejected) but they sent me upstairs to Studio A to work with Don Murray who was doing a string and horn overdub session for the group Blue Magic on their first album for Atlantic. I have to admit to that session being far more interesting, especially on my first day at the studio. But all that gives you some kind of time frame of when the original quad mix of the Spinners was done.

For reasons I never heard explained adequately Atlantic didn't like that first quad mix of the Spinners, and so a month or so after it was done they sent the studio a 4 track reel that was a sampler reel of mixes from some of the other Atlantic artists that were being released in quad. The only thing I remember that was on it was the quad of J. Geils Band's "Give it to Me"
[from the unreleased Bloodshot quad mix]. After listening to that sampler reel we went ahead and mixed the Spinners in quad again and tried to make those mixes more like the ones of the sampler. And the second time around Atlantic accepted the mixes.

I was the assistant engineer on most if not all of the quad remix of that album, and I remember editing together those final 4 track master tapes whose tape boxes you sent me the pictures of
[from the gatefold of the new Quadio BluRay]. So it was me who typed up those labels, and the date that's handwritten on those boxes (6/16/73) may be in my writing, although it's hard to tell (and why didn't I type that on the labels?). But that date, the fact that those labels do say "Remix", and the fact that the original CD-4 LP catalog and disc matrix numbers are written on the labels does prove that what they mastered to Blu-ray is the correct version of the quad album. (And once again I got to see some tape boxes that I never thought I'd see again.)


[and then a few follow-up comments with some good tidbits from his reply, after I (extensively) praised the quality of the Sigma Sound quad mixes]

I appreciate your comments regarding the quad mix of "Message" and the other albums, but all I can say is that at Sigma we did our best to keep the quad mixes faithful to the stereo mixes, and that we didn't pay much attention to how the SQ encoded mix was going to sound. In other words, we weren't going to compromise the discrete 4 track tape in order to make the SQ perhaps work a little better. Of course we would put together the 4 track mix in accordance to all the strict guidelines that we were given by Columbia/CBS records such as using no other panning positions other than the four corners and front and center, NO center rear material, and if we panned anything to "quad center" (which would be directly overhead), it was done on a diagonal basis by sending that channel to the left front and right rear or right front and left rear (one of those may have been preferred, I forget which one, though).

I'm sure you've heard quad mixes where the engineer who did the quad mix wasn't the same one(s) who did the stereo mixes, and possibly didn't even work in the same facility. You can usually tell those because things like tracks that weren't in the stereo popping up in the quad (like the background vocals or strings that were on the multitrack in the first verse of the song but not used in the stereo mix). Then of course you've got things like the overall EQ, reverb, and other effects having no resemblance to what was on the stereo. (This is where the "360 Degrees of Billy Paul" quad mix falls short, even though Joe Tarsia was there in Columbia Studios in NYC supervising Larry Keyes, -I'm guessing that Joe was deferring to Larry on a lot of things and didn't want to "step on his toes" too much. And I think that experience was part of the reason why Joe and Gamble/Huff/Bell wanted all subsequent quad mixes done at Sigma in Philly.)

So if there was any "secret" to the Sigma Sound quad mixes those things would be it.

I can tell that the quad mixes of "Ship Ahoy" and "Live in London" were done prior to CBS giving us an SQ encoder so we could make the encoded 2 track tape for the LP directly from the quad mix coming off the console, thereby saving a tape generation. The clue is the extensive tone set that they asked us to put on the 4 track, including that 7.5 KHz of 5 KHz tone. Since SQ encoding depends on phase shift being added to the rear channel program material, any additional phase shift that might be added by the azimuth alignment being off on the heads of the machine playing the 4 track mix back could cause errors. So they had us put all those additional high frequency tones on the tape so they could make sure there was as little azimuth error as possible (usually the 10 and 15 KHz tones are more than adequate for that)."
Dave, this is just.. incredible 🤯❤️

thank you so much for reaching out to Mr. Stoppe in this way 🙏 and how wonderful to have all this info and insight from such an accomplished engineer, one of the finest the Quad years ever saw in my opinion 🤩😍

those Dutton Vocalion SACDs of the Classic Philadelphia International albums, several of which showcase Arthur Stoppe's Quad mixes in stunning discrete Multichannel master tape quality for the first time, are a testament to the talents and enduring legacy of Arthur Stoppe as well as those he worked alongside at Sigma, such as Joe Tarsia, Don Murray, Carl Paruolo and Jay Mark 💘

having lost too many friends and family members the last few years where i think to myself "if only they were here, so i could ask them about such and such...", i'm mindful there are similarly too many of Quad's Unsung Heroes of engineers and mixers, the likes of CBS' Larry Keyes and Don Young, who are sadly no longer with us and unfortunately no Surround enthusiasts were able to interview them before they met their maker, which makes what you have done here with Arthur Stoppe even more significant and quite brilliant.

thank you 💓
 
Dave, this is just.. incredible 🤯❤️

thank you so much for reaching out to Mr. Stoppe in this way 🙏 and how wonderful to have all this info and insight from such an accomplished engineer, one of the finest the Quad years ever saw in my opinion 🤩😍

those Dutton Vocalion SACDs of the Classic Philadelphia International albums, several of which showcase Arthur Stoppe's Quad mixes in stunning discrete Multichannel master tape quality for the first time, are a testament to the talents and enduring legacy of Arthur Stoppe as well as those he worked alongside at Sigma, such as Joe Tarsia, Don Murray, Carl Paruolo and Jay Mark 💘

having lost too many friends and family members the last few years where i think to myself "if only they were here, so i could ask them about such and such...", i'm mindful there are similarly too many of Quad's Unsung Heroes of engineers and mixers, the likes of CBS' Larry Keyes and Don Young, who are sadly no longer with us and unfortunately no Surround enthusiasts were able to interview them before they met their maker, which makes what you have done here with Arthur Stoppe even more significant and quite brilliant.

thank you 💓
What fred sed. What an amazing guy he is, and how rewarding for you to have cultivated such a great relationship with him. I can't help thinking that, together with all the research you've done, these interviews with Stoppe could be built into a long-form piece for an outlet like Mix or Tape Op magazine.
 
What fred sed. What an amazing guy he is, and how rewarding for you to have cultivated such a great relationship with him. I can't help thinking that, together with all the research you've done, these interviews with Stoppe could be built into a long-form piece for an outlet like Mix or Tape Op magazine.
What a great idea! Tape Op for sure, and maybe Mix, would welcome such quality content. It might even encourage them to seek out more information (content, for them) about the relatively early days of multichannel mixing.
 
IIRC, a magazine article (I think I scanned it and posted it in the QQ library) about SQ encoding for FM stereo broadcasts mentioned that feeding the same signal to LF,RF,LB,RB (basically an overhead signal) caused the stereo to be +2dB and -8dB (I don't recall if is was Lt,Rt or Rt,Lt), which could cause problems with the FM broadcast modulation limiter, the diagonal option wasn't mentioned though.


Kirk Bayne
I remember this.

The LF and RB were +2 dB. The RF and LB were -8dB when using the 4-corners encoder.
 
What the others said! Incredible!
All of the engineers who worked at Sigma Sound in Philadelphia were personally trained by owner Joe Tarsia, who had the most exacting standards and was universally revered by all who were a part of the staff as well as by the visiting engineers and clients.

I'm not sure that there were any quad-specific comments he ever made during interviews, but it's possible that some of that information may have been published in trade magazine like Mix Online when they had a print edition?
Doing a quick search with Bard indicates that there may be some mentions of it in interviews as follows ( I added the links, and realize all of this may already be well-known):
Additionally there are some people who were involved with this who may still be around like staff engineer Jay Mark.

Bard said:
There are several interviews with Joe Tarsia where he discusses quadraphonic sound at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia:
  • Tape Op Magazine - Joe & Mike Tarsia: Sigma and The Sound of Philadelphia: This long-form interview delves into Joe Tarsia's career and Sigma Sound Studios. He mentions embracing innovations like quadraphonic sound and talks about its application in specific recordings.
  • YouTube - Interview with Joe Tarsia of Sigma Sound Studios (audio): This interview by D.W. Fearn primarily focuses on the origins of Sigma Sound and its impact on Philly soul. However, Tarsia mentions utilizing quadraphonic systems and the challenges they presented.
  • YouTube - Joe Tarsia The Legendary Sound Engineer and Owner of Sigma Sound Recording Studios in Philadelphia: This video includes snippets of various interviews with Tarsia, where he briefly touches on experimenting with quadraphonic sound at Sigma.
 
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