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Billy Joel: Piano Man - SQ LP mix vs Q8 Mix

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JonUrban

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I guess I was bored, as I had just redone my Q8 conversion of this tape which gets a '10' for surround but a '6' for audio quality, so I wondered how it really stacked up against the SQ decode, so I fired up my SM2 and did a May 21 2020 Quarantine fresh decode of the SQ Album to see exactly what the wav files looked like against each other. Well, the SQ decode gets a '10' for audio quality but a '6' for surround. It just makes it more annoying that AF could not get this album for SACD, and apparently DV can't either, as both Piano Man and Turnstiles would be very popular 4.0 SACDs, but as we all know MFSL got them a few years ago and could not be bothered with the quad so they quad-blocked AF and possibly DV as well. ARGH!!! :mad::mad::mad:

Anyway, back to my experiment. What I did was take screenshots of the intro's to every song on the album, as the intro's are where you can really see the differences in the mixes. If I had to guess, I would say there was an SQ mix and a Q8 mix done, which only fuels the fire that SQ was not a great way to get quad out to the masses other than it was less expensive. Anyway, old debate, not for this thread.

So here we go, looking at the intros to the 10 tracks on the album, and I have to say, there are a few surprises....

Piano Man SQ and Q8 450.jpg
 

JonUrban

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TRACK ONE: Travelin' Prayer

SQ DECODE ON TOP; Q8 RIP IN THE LOWER SECTION

01-Travelin Prayer Intro.jpg


Here you can see that on the Q8 there is silence in the fronts, and the percussion sits solely in the rears while the SQ Mix has the percussion in all 4 channels.

TRACK TWO: PIANO MAN


SQ DECODE ON TOP; Q8 RIP IN THE LOWER SECTION

02-Piano Man Intro.jpg


On the Q8 (Lower) The Piano is in the fronts as the rears have the bass which joins in after a bit. There is some residual piano echo in the rear right, but the whole piano and harmonica are just in the fronts. On the SQ mix, the piano, as you can see, is center sum.
 
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JonUrban

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TRACK 3: Ain't No Crime

SQ DECODE ON TOP; Q8 RIP IN THE LOWER SECTION

03-Aint No Crime Intro.jpg


Again, the Q8 has silence in the rears as the song starts while the SQ fills all of the channels with audio. On this track, the Q8 mix shines over the SQ, as you can clearly see from this intro section


TRACK FOUR: You're My Home


SQ DECODE ON TOP; Q8 RIP IN THE LOWER SECTION


04-Youre My Home.jpg


Now here is a real surprise! The mixes are identical, as both start with the acoustic guitar in the rear right which is a bit amazing, as the SM2 SQ decode has essentially 3 of the 4 channels silent at the start! Is this the mix or the SQ encoding working extra well?
 
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JonUrban

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TRACK 5: The Ballad of Billy the Kid

SQ DECODE ON TOP; Q8 RIP IN THE LOWER SECTION

05-Billy the Kid.jpg


Again, the Q8 and the SQ are virtually the same mix! Pretty amazing if you ask me, and one of the reasons I am posting all of this stuff, just for future folks to check out.


TRACK 6: Worse Comes to Worst

SQ DECODE ON TOP; Q8 RIP IN THE LOWER SECTION

06-Worse Comes to Worst.jpg


Another track where the SQ and Q8 are very close. The definition is a bit better on the Q8 source, but you have to admit that eye balling them makes them appear very similar.
 
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JonUrban

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TRACK SEVEN: Stop in Nevada

SQ DECODE ON TOP; Q8 RIP IN THE LOWER SECTION


07-Stop in Nevada.jpg


OK, now we're back to the different mixes. Here the Q8 is silent in the rears at the start, with Billy and the piano in the fronts alone. On the SQ, he's everywhere. You can also see when the rears come active, the definition is clearly better on the Q8.


TRACK EIGHT: If I Only Had the Words (To Tell You)

SQ DECODE ON TOP; Q8 RIP IN THE LOWER SECTION

08-Only Had the Words.jpg


Just about the same as track 7. Silence in the rears at the start on the Q8, SQ has audio everywhere.
And, again, better definition of the rears on the tape, as to be expected.
 
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JonUrban

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TRACK NINE: Somewhere Along the Line

SQ DECODE ON TOP; Q8 RIP IN THE LOWER SECTION

09-Somewhere Along the Line.jpg


Here you can see the both start out almost the same, then the Q8 goes silent for a while at which time the SQ does not. Again, it looks like 2 different mixes at work.


TRACK TEN: Captain Jack


SQ DECODE ON TOP; Q8 RIP IN THE LOWER SECTION

10-Captain Jack.jpg


Looking at the intro they look pretty much the same, but if you look to the right you can see the rears actually go silent when Billy is solo at the piano on the Q8 and the SQ still has audio info there. This track pretty much has the orchestra and the big sound in the rears on the Q8, while the SQ puts it in the middle to backs, but Billy and the Piano are audible in the rears through the entire song.
 
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JonUrban

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So, to sum up, this is really a good example of two different takes on the same album. If you remember, Billy Joel signed a bad contract with Family Productions before he got famous, and thus his first 10 albums were tied to Family. However, Columbia got him out of that deal but as part of that deal the tape rights to his albums stayed with Family up until Turnstiles. So the 8-Tracks of Cold Spring Harbor (No quad), Piano Man, and Streetlife Serenade came out on Family Productions tapes, which were made by Ampex, who sadly did not do as good a job as Columbia did on their quad tapes. For some unknown reason, Columbia never produced a Q8 of Turnstiles. (I don't think there was ever a Family Productions Turnstiles stereo 8-track, so the reason for the lack of a Q8 would be interesting to know)

Anyway, here's hoping that DV can get Piano Man and Turnstiles out on SACD and all of this crap can be moot. If they did get the quad masters, I wonder what mix they would get?

Interesting question! :rocks
 

sjcorne

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Very cool! I love seeing this kind of stuff. I'm pretty confident the SQ LP and Q8 are the same mix though - I can't think of any CBS quad titles where the mix on the tape does not match the LP. I recorded the SQ LP out of my Tate II a few weeks ago and it seems to have done a better job than the SM2 on the sections where there's one or more dead channels.

Here's the first two minutes of "Billy The Kid":
Billy The Kid Tate SQ First 2 Min.jpg
 

JonUrban

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Very cool! I love seeing this kind of stuff. I'm pretty confident the SQ LP and Q8 are the same mix though - I can't think of any CBS quad titles where the mix on the tape does not match the LP. I recorded the SQ LP out of my Tate II a few weeks ago and it seems to have done a better job than the SM2 on the sections where there's one or more dead channels.

Here's the first two minutes of "Billy The Kid":
View attachment 51427
Cool, here's the SM2 first 2 minutes:

billy kis 2 minutyes.jpg
 

sfactor23

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I guess I was bored, as I had just redone my Q8 conversion of this tape which gets a '10' for surround but a '6' for audio quality, so I wondered how it really stacked up against the SQ decode, so I fired up my SM2 and did a May 21 2020 Quarantine fresh decode of the SQ Album to see exactly what the wav files looked like against each other. Well, the SQ decode gets a '10' for audio quality but a '6' for surround. It just makes it more annoying that AF could not get this album for SACD, and apparently DV can't either, as both Piano Man and Turnstiles would be very popular 4.0 SACDs, but as we all know MFSL got them a few years ago and could not be bothered with the quad so they quad-blocked AF and possibly DV as well. ARGH!!! :mad::mad::mad:

Anyway, back to my experiment. What I did was take screenshots of the intro's to every song on the album, as the intro's are where you can really see the differences in the mixes. If I had to guess, I would say there was an SQ mix and a Q8 mix done, which only fuels the fire that SQ was not a great way to get quad out to the masses other than it was less expensive. Anyway, old debate, not for this thread.

So here we go, looking at the intros to the 10 tracks on the album, and I have to say, there are a few surprises....

View attachment 51415
Does anybody know for how long MFSL has the rights to Turnstiles and Piano Man?
 

Q-Eight

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That's really fascinating. I was going to chalk up the lack of front/rear separation to the deficiencies of the SQ matrix. But then you post those songs where the rears are practically silent and well, completely destroyed my theory.

Thing is, the Q8 is too .... sparse. I had always planned on taking the discrete version, playing with some echo and tightening up the mix a little bit because I find this album has some long periods where channels are completely silent. It's similar to Steve Millers' "The Joker".
 

privateuniverse

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Does anybody know for how long MFSL has the rights to Turnstiles and Piano Man?
According to Discogs, MFSL issued both titles in 2011. The MFSL online store no longer has these titles in stock. The only Billy Joel SACD title they still have in stock is Glass Houses. They have LP versions of a couple other Joel albums still in stock, although they have discounted the price on some of them. Looks like the SACDs are no longer available from places like Amazon & importcds any more either.

I would imagine that if MFSL's license to print these titles hasn't already expired, it probably will soon. Hopefully then DV will seize the opportunity.

And just for some perspective, DV's SACD of Earth Wind & Fire's That's the Way of the World was released fifteen years after MFSL's. So maybe we can look forward to DV getting this out in 2026! :eek:. (It feels like I've been waiting longer than that for The Seeds of Love!)
 

gvl_guy

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And just for some perspective, DV's SACD of Earth Wind & Fire's That's the Way of the World was released fifteen years after MFSL's. So maybe we can look forward to DV getting this out in 2026! :eek:. (It feels like I've been waiting longer than that for The Seeds of Love!)
Not to sound totally stupid, but what's "DV?" I know MFSL is Mobile Fidelity, but not sure what that one is. Thanks
 

sfactor23

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According to Discogs, MFSL issued both titles in 2011. The MFSL online store no longer has these titles in stock. The only Billy Joel SACD title they still have in stock is Glass Houses. They have LP versions of a couple other Joel albums still in stock, although they have discounted the price on some of them. Looks like the SACDs are no longer available from places like Amazon & importcds any more either.

I would imagine that if MFSL's license to print these titles hasn't already expired, it probably will soon. Hopefully then DV will seize the opportunity.

And just for some perspective, DV's SACD of Earth Wind & Fire's That's the Way of the World was released fifteen years after MFSL's. So maybe we can look forward to DV getting this out in 2026! :eek:. (It feels like I've been waiting longer than that for The Seeds of Love!)
Better 2026 than never at all, right?šŸ˜Š

Maybe we should start a poll: Which will come out first- Piano Man & Turnstiles or PFā€™s Animals? šŸ˜œ
 
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