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How Quad is made 101

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boojidad

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Mar 18, 2005
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I started to address this in a separate post yesterday but I'm hoping for a wider response. It was always my understanding that quad releases were made by taking a multitrack studio tape, and mixing it for quad balancing to create a 4-track master tape. That master would then be used directly to make discrete commercial forms like CD-4 records and 4-track quad 8-tracks and reel tapes. For matrix releases (SQ, QS, EV, etc), the 4-track studio master would be put through an encoding process, ending up with an encoded 2-track master tape, from which encoded records would be made.

If I'm right so far, I figured that in countries other than the one where the original is made, the home country would send a copy of the 4-track master or 2-track encoded master so that the final product could be manufactured locally. The important point here is, the local country wouldn't have any input on the choice of format - they would have to use whatever form of master the home country supplies.

Now it looks like maybe I was wrong. The example here is two albums by Rick Wakeman: 'The Six Wives Of Henry VIII' and 'Journey To The Centre Of The Earth'. 'Six Wives' was released on vinyl in the UK and US with SQ encoding. But in Japan, it was made available in CD-4! Did the UK/US supply Japan with a copy of the 4-track studio master even though they didn't manufacture it that way themselves? Did Japan create its own 4-track master by using a quad 8-track tape to create a 4-track master? Did Japan take an SQ disc and decode it to create a 4-track master? But wait, there's more....

The next album 'Journey' was released in the US/UK on discrete CD-4 vinyl. But in Argentina and Brazil, it was released as SQ encoded. Did those countries make their own SQ 2-track master? Or did the US/UK create a 2-track SQ master just for them?

And then there's EV-4 on records like The Flame and the Beach Boys' "Surf's Up". Was a true quadraphonic mix created for those, then put through EV encoding to create a 2-track encoded master? Or did they just use a certain amount of phasing in the stereo master that they knew would come out when the final product was played through an EV decoder?

My brain hurts....
 

jimfisheye

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
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Jan 8, 2010
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You are quite correct about making a mix. And it's really that simple. You mix from the multitrack to create a mix for the final channel format of your choice. There may be all kinds of unique cases with the original multitrack. An original recording may be a mono 1 track recording in the raw original form. There is no multitrack! Or there may be a multitrack all right but some of the tracks are a live mix of multiple elements to begin with. So you only have control in mixing over parts of it.

Special cases aside, you simply create a mix from your sources and mix to the format you please. 2.0, 4.0, 5.1, etc.

The ugly truth is sometimes in the industry mistakes are made and corners are cut for cheapness. The quad format and especially with the need to entertain all the encoding schemes to allow use of two channel formats to deliver encoded quad led to a lot of mistakes. Sometimes at the end of the day someone said "Screw it. This is what they get."

You'd think all the possibility for mistakes in the analog days around using masters vs copies would be a thing of the past now. Collecting for the most intact copy of a recording would no longer be a thing. The digital master everyone uses now would surely be the proper master copy. It's actually gotten worse! There are more digital copies with either a wrong copy or something intentionally reduced in quality for portable devices than there are correct ones. Hunting and collecting for genuine unmolested copies (clones) of a digital master is a wilder ride than it ever was in the analog days!
 

sjcorne

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The important point here is, the local country wouldn't have any input on the choice of format - they would have to use whatever form of master the home country supplies.
No. The quad format could change depending on who the distributer of the given album was in the local country. You cited Wakeman's Six Wives as an example of this. At the time this album was released, A&M supported the CBS SQ format in the United States. However, A&M product in Japan was distributed by King Records, who supported the JVC CD-4 format. Both labels received the same discrete 4-track master tape, but A&M U.S. ran it through an SQ encoder and King Records Japan cut a CD-4 lacquer.

Deep Purple's Machine Head is another good example. In the United Kingdom, Purple Records (the band's label) was distributed by EMI, who supported SQ. In the United States, it was distributed by Warner, who supported CD-4. However, in this case--for reasons unknown--an entirely different quad mix was created for the U.S. CD-4 LP.

And then there's EV-4 on records like The Flame and the Beach Boys' "Surf's Up". Was a true quadraphonic mix created for those, then put through EV encoding to create a 2-track encoded master? Or did they just use a certain amount of phasing in the stereo master that they knew would come out when the final product was played through an EV decoder?
I'm not sure about The Flame, but Surf's Up was falsely labeled as being EV-4 encoded. In fact, it's not quad at all! Steven Desper mixed that album in what he called "virtual surround", a psychoacoustic two-speaker surround system similar to QSound. It does sound interesting when played through a matrix decoder, but that was never the intention.
 
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