Quad LP/Tape Poll Bacharach, Burt: Make it Easy On Yourself [Q8]

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EMB

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Burt's second A&M album from 1970, issued in Q8 only, 8Q-54188.


Program 1:

Promises, Promises
Whoever You Are, I Love You
Pacific Coast Highway
Any Day Now
This Guy's in Love With You


Program 2:

I'll Never Fall in Love Again
Make it Easy On Yourself
Do You Know the Way to San Jose
Knowing When to Leave
She's Gone Away
Wanting Things

The Q8 track sequence is completely different relative to the original stereo Lp.

Burt Make it Easy Q8A.jpg

ED :)
 

Simon A

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So what's the verdict on the mix for this one? Crap Quad or worth it?
 

Q-Eight

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To be honest, I think there's only four A&M Q8's that are properly 4-corner discrete. There's about a half dozen or so that are derived from stereo sources (Joe Cocker, Wes Montgomery, Herb Alpert, Humble Pie, Burt Bacharach, Cat Stevens (although I think "Foreigner" is reasonably discrete), and the rest are very narrow, unadventurous mixes. They're similar to early RCA mixes where you're pretty sure there's separation but you can't quite put your finger on just what is where.

There's a vintage article out there in internetland that comes from Billboard Magazine and explains that the fellow in charge of Quad mixes at A&M tried to mix them as close to the stereo mixes as possible without getting "gimmicky". Which, resulted in some of the most lack-luster Quad mixes I've ever heard. They honestly might as well have not bothered. The whole point of Quad is to let it all hang out.
 

Q-Eight

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Would you be so kind as to share which titles please? :)
I'm going to have to think about this!

Billy Preston I know is for sure one. The first Joan Baez is another. One of the Quincy Jones tapes is.... the one with the theme from Sanford & Son and one of the Carpenters tapes is.... I want to say it's the Now & Then album. But even then, it's not as aggressive as the others, but it's delectably discrete enough to be able to tell where sounds are coming from.
 

steelydave

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Sorry but I don't agree with this at all. Maybe I'll start a thread about A&M's quad tapes in the appropriate forum, but to say they only had 4 releases that were actually discrete is a gross misrepresentation. A&M did almost 40 Q8 releases, and I'd say at least 25 of them were very discrete. Amongst them would be the 4 Quincy Jones albums, 3 x Rick Wakeman, Captain & Tennille 'Love Will Keep Us Together', most of the Carpenters tapes, Cat Stevens 'Foreigner' & 'Buddha & The Chocolate Box', Ozark Mountain Daredevils 'It'll Shine When It Shines', Joan Baez 'Come In From The Shadows' and 'Diamonds & Rust', Chuck Mangione 'Bellavia' and 'Chase The Clouds Away', Carole King 'Music', 'Fantasy' and 'Rhymes & Reasons' (only Tapestry is fake), Wes Montgomery Greatest Hits and the London Symphony Orchestra version of 'Tommy'.

Generally speaking (with a few exception) the rule of thumb is that everything A&M did that was recorded 1972 or after (when they started releasing their quad product) is real quad, it's only some of the earlier albums that are upmixes or from 3 or 4 track sources.

ETA: it's also a mischaracterization to say that Marv Bornstein who (along with engineer Bart Chiate) did all the A&M quad mixes that weren't done by the artists themselves was trying to replicate the stereo mix and that that's why some of the A&M quad mixes are lackluster. The lackluster ones are from the ones that are stereo or 3 track upmixes in my opinion. Bornstein did the Rick Wakeman quad mixes which are amongst some of the most aggressive in the format.

This is the article in question, from the Aug. 9th, 1975 issue of Billboard: (bolded a few bits that pertain to his mixing philosophy)

MARV BORNSTEIN IS A&M's QUAD MIXING EXPERT and he has a simple formula for mixing stereo LPs into 4-channel. He puts elements where he wants them but always tries to keep the "integrity of the original mix."

Bornstein has created quad LPs for the CBS SQ and CD-4 systems, with the label now committed exclusively to the discrete CD-4 concept.

And since none of A&M's artists or producers are expressly arranging music for the quad medium, Bornstein does not try to change in any way the concept of their music by interjecting directional gimmicks or altering the balance of voice with instruments. "A&M doesn't direct its artists or producers on how to go creatively," Bornstein answers. Some artists have discussed planning out a quad LP but so far none has actually taken the initial step.

So that leaves Bornstein to create his own modus operandi, knowing that what he does is as good as anybody else because there are no industry standards for how a 4-channel disk is supposed to sound.

And the fact that A&M product has come out in both matrix and discrete has had no bearing on how Bornstein has mixed the music, because he's primarily extending the stereo mix into four channels.

Bornstein has been mixing A&M's quad LPs for three years as an adjunct to his regular job as quality control director. He says he mixes everything "discrete", even when he was producing product for the SQ matrix mode.

When he mixes a quad LP (usually at night), neither the artist nor producer is at hand, so he refers to the stereo tape for some idea as to where elements have been positioned. The artist and his producer have final approval of the quad mix and Bornstein is cognizant of their potential for nixing his efforts, so he doesn't do anything radical.

He says the reason producers aren't doing the quad mixes is because their schedules don't allow them to come back and work on this aspect of the project.

Bornstein works with independent engineer Bart Chiate (formerly on the A&M staff). A mix averages 30 hours.

Before an LP is transferred to quad the artist must give his permission. Several musicians have mixed their own quad LP, including Quincy Jones, Rick Wakeman and Chuck Mangione. But in the main it's been Bornstein responsible for 4-channel product by Cat Stevens, the Carpenters, Joan Baez and others.

Bornstein says he doesn't use any psychoacoustical principles in mapping out the quad mix. And he doesn't get involved in having "sound run around the room."

"We have managed to mix quad to where you don't have to sit in the middle of the room to hear it." he claims. How so? "We use a lot of criss-cross echoes. We don't have any set formula where to put the rhythm and we don't stick a guitar in the corner just to let the listener say, 'there's a guitar coming out of that corner.' " Bornstein says that's not music; that's a gimmick.

The executive feels that he gives the listener a new experience by enveloping the room in sound. There are several things he's discovered even though he doesn't make an emphasis point out of them.

To wit: he places the guitar with the singer who's using it; the human voice is positioned somewhere in the center; percussion is generally placed in the rear; horns or strings are generally placed in the right or left center.

Having listened to other quad LPs, Bornstein doesn't enjoy "things popping out of corners."


Bornstein says the proper way to mix for matrix is to have the encoder-decoder right in the control room so "you know what the device is doing to your music."

There are certain parameters, Bornstein claims "the SQ people will tell you about, like not to put things in the center."

Both SQ and Sansui's QS have limitations in the amount of separation you can get, Bornstein says. "CD-4 comes closest to what we originally mixed."

When A&M began experimenting with quad, SQ was the best system available, according to Bornstein, but once CD-4 improved its cutting capabilities, that affected A&M's decision to go exclusively discrete.

Bornstein says he found that with SQ, when putting something in the center of the room, it ended up on a diagonal. He recalls placing Karen Carpenter in the middle of the rear but she shifted to one side when going through the decoding process.

A&M's quad catalog as of early July totals seven SQs and three CD-4s. There is no justification for releasing all LPs in quad and it isn't always feasible to release the stereo and quad simultaneously.

The quad version tends to follow a hit stereo LP. Since he is the quality control director, Bornstein is especially hard on quad LPs if the pressings are no good. "Our records are pressed with an antistatic compound worked out between A&M and Kaiser Chemical. JVC does the cutting and Monarch the pressing. But Bornstein says A&M might start pressing with Columbia which presses Warner Bros. CD-4s.

Why isn't there more of an aggressive posture at the company for promoting quad? There isn't a rich market for quad LPs just yet, so the attitude is one of being laid back and moving slowly.

And with no one showing any great concern for actually arranging music for quad, mixing a stereo record into quad means enhancing the artist's creativity and not offering anything shocking to jolt the performer and the home listener.
To me that says he just didn't like the Columbia style mixes with 360 swirling pans (like Abraxas for example) and favoured a mixing approach that was a lot more like what RCA and Warners were doing. I think a lot of the lack-luster-ness of the A&M quads is down to the quality of the Q8 tapes themselves.
 

Q-Eight

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Actually, Dave, you're agreeing with me! LOL

If you'll re-read my post, I said there's only 4 that are four-corner discrete, or, let's say "Columbia-style".

There's a bunch that are derived from stereo and now that I have all the tapes in front of me, I can rattle them off:
Quincy Jones - Walking in Space
Burt Bacharach's Greatest Hits
Burt Bacharach - Reach Out
Burt Bacharach - Make it easy on yourself
Joe Cocker - Joe Cocker
Joe Cocker - With a little help from my friends
Herb Alpert & the TJB - Greatest Hits
Herb Alpert & The TJB - Whipped Cream (although SOME tracks on this tape come from three-track source)
Wes Montgomery Greatest Hits
Sergio Mendes and the Brasil '66 (Questionable, might be a really tight mix from four-track. I've never compared to the stereo version)
Cat Stevens - Greatest Hits
Cat Stevens - Teaser & the Firecat
Humble Pie - Smokin'

The rest like the Carpenters, Rick Wakeman, the remaining Cat Stevens titles, Ozark Mtn Daredevils, Captain and Tennille are all very tight, sort of cramped Quad. I wouldn't describe them as discrete because there's always blend from other channels in.... other channels. Some are better than others but they are to the casual listener almost double stereo. We had a discussion on here once upon a time whether or not the Ozark Mountain Daredevils tape was in fact real Quad. That one takes some real specialized equipment to detect any difference front to back.

I have all the A&M and Ode Q8's in my collection and sadly, they are the least played of the bunch. I'd almost go as far to say that three of the four Carole Kings are faked. I think "Music" is the only one that actually has some front/rear difference going on. Tapestry is completely fake.
 

4-earredwonder

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Actually, Dave, you're agreeing with me! LOL

If you'll re-read my post, I said there's only 4 that are four-corner discrete, or, let's say "Columbia-style".

There's a bunch that are derived from stereo and now that I have all the tapes in front of me, I can rattle them off:
Quincy Jones - Walking in Space
Burt Bacharach's Greatest Hits
Burt Bacharach - Reach Out
Burt Bacharach - Make it easy on yourself
Joe Cocker - Joe Cocker
Joe Cocker - With a little help from my friends
Herb Alpert & the TJB - Greatest Hits
Herb Alpert & The TJB - Whipped Cream (although SOME tracks on this tape come from three-track source)
Wes Montgomery Greatest Hits
Sergio Mendes and the Brasil '66 (Questionable, might be a really tight mix from four-track. I've never compared to the stereo version)
Cat Stevens - Greatest Hits
Cat Stevens - Teaser & the Firecat
Humble Pie - Smokin'

The rest like the Carpenters, Rick Wakeman, the remaining Cat Stevens titles, Ozark Mtn Daredevils, Captain and Tennille are all very tight, sort of cramped Quad. I wouldn't describe them as discrete because there's always blend from other channels in.... other channels. Some are better than others but they are to the casual listener almost double stereo. We had a discussion on here once upon a time whether or not the Ozark Mountain Daredevils tape was in fact real Quad. That one takes some real specialized equipment to detect any difference front to back.

I have all the A&M and Ode Q8's in my collection and sadly, they are the least played of the bunch. I'd almost go as far to say that three of the four Carole Kings are faked. I think "Music" is the only one that actually has some front/rear difference going on. Tapestry is completely fake.
I never bought into Q8 but preferred Open Reel back in the 70's and I do recall that A&M/ODE used CBS to duplicate their Stereo Open Reels and compared to AMPEX at the time, I always found the CBS/A&M/ODE reels to be substandard. When The Carpenter's "Ticket to Ride" stereo Open Reel was released, I remember calling the company to complain that there was distortion in Carpenter's vocals and they agreed that there was a problem with the masters they were supplied. I cannot comment on the Q8 quality control but only to their Open Reel products which, IMO, were hardly state of the art during that period.

And to be fair, even AMPEX and MAGTEC had their share of quality control issues at the time with dropouts and failure to clean and/or to demagnetize their heads when duplicating their Open Reels. But their QUAD Open Reels did seem to have better quality control with only occasional snafus.

I do think the quality of the tape they used for duplication was also a major factor in assessing Q8 and Open Reel duplication. AMPEX used their own brand [low noise/high output] and God Only Knows what brand CBS used for their Open Reels and Q8 products....and those ugly, prone to warpage, Gray reels they stored the tape on were equally El Cheapo!

I also found it ironic at the time that A&M/ODE and Columbia never released any QR tapes but yet companies like Vanguard/Project 3/Command and most of the majors did!
 
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