Mix differences between SQ lp and Quad 8-track versions of the same recording.

Help Support QuadraphonicQuad:

camera-65

Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
10
Location
Washington State
I have a Harman Kardon 75+ quad receiver. I've got a turntable and a Panasonic RS-845 quad 8-track tape player hooked up to it. The amplifier has a mode selection switch which includes the options mono, stereo, SQ matrix 1, SQ matrix 2, enhanced stereo 4-ch discrete. I'm basing this discussion on the Columbia SQ lp and quad 8-track tape version of the Broadway revival cast recording of "No, No, Nanette" (1971). When I listen to the 8-track tape using the 4-ch discrete mode, the mix is fantastic. On numbers with the chorus, the voices come from the back channels and don't exist on the front channels. The tap dancing goes from front left to front right to rear right to rear left. It's incredible to listen to. When I listen to the SQ lp using either one of the SQ matrix modes, the back channels seem to exist only to provide a kind of theatre sound effect. There isn't any remarkable front/back separation. I'm new to quad. I've always been interested in it but never had the time or money. I decided to start out with quad 8-track tapes - but the selection is very limited and, many times, lp tracks were left off for space reasons. In the last few weeks, I decided to try out a few lps - starting with SQ lps because it's less complicated to get going with. I know this is old technology, but does anyone out there have any words of wisdom regarding whether or not SQ lps did not produce the same effects as their quad 8-track tape counterparts? Could it be that something is wrong with the SQ matrix functionality of my receiver?
 

timbre4

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
QQ Supporter
Since 2002/2003
Joined
Oct 18, 2002
Messages
7,458
Location
College Grove, TN
Welcome to the QQ! Q8 tapes are the real McCoy providing discrete quad with outstanding channel separation to flatter a good mix. The SQ format left a lot to be desired; later more capable decoding appeared with logic circuitry that improved the separation. I had a HK 100+ for a time and loved it. The RS-845US was my first ever Q8 deck in 1972. Others will chime in no doubt, there is a ton of info here so be sure to look around.
 

camera-65

Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
10
Location
Washington State
Thanks for the quick response! When I bought the receiver, there was no user's manual - so I've been kind of winging it. I bought a Pioneer SQ decoder when I decided to try out some SQ records, but if I've understood correctly the 75+ has the SQ decoder built in. I finally tracked down a user's manual (received it yesterday) and, according to it, the way I've hooked it up is right. That's why I'm wondering if it is possible for something SQ decoder-related in the receiver could have gone bad.
 

JonUrban

Forum Curmudgeon
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Since 2002/2003
Joined
Mar 2, 2002
Messages
16,869
Location
Connecticut
You have to remember that the SQ decoders of that era were notoriously poor. They did not have the technology to properly decode the encoded albums until later models of decoders arrived about the time quad was disappearing. Today we have decoders, like the "Surround Master 2", and late era vintage decoders like the "Tate II" that will do a much better job on the SQ than the primitive decoder in your receiver.

The Q8 holds the real quad master, but at the price of additional wow, flutter and hiss. There are also some liberties taken by the recording companies in that a really discrete mix could not be properly encoded for SQ LPs, so they used a modified mix. You can hear this if you have a Q8 and an SQ LP with a modern decoder, then play a title like Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years", or others. There are just some things that Matrix encoding and decoding just can't do.

Be glad you have both!
 

camera-65

Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
10
Location
Washington State
You have to remember that the SQ decoders of that era were notoriously poor. They did not have the technology to properly decode the encoded albums until later models of decoders arrived about the time quad was disappearing. Today we have decoders, like the "Surround Master 2", and late era vintage decoders like the "Tate II" that will do a much better job on the SQ than the primitive decoder in your receiver.

The Q8 holds the real quad master, but at the price of additional wow, flutter and hiss. There are also some liberties taken by the recording companies in that a really discrete mix could not be properly encoded for SQ LPs, so they used a modified mix. You can hear this if you have a Q8 and an SQ LP with a modern decoder, then play a title like Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years", or others. There are just some things that Matrix encoding and decoding just can't do.

Be glad you have both!
Is it possible that the Pioneer SQ decoder I bought (unnecessarily) does a better job of decoding than the built-in Harman Kardon decoder?
 

Sonik Wiz

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
QQ Supporter
Joined
May 30, 2005
Messages
2,494
Location
Kansas City
Is it possible that the Pioneer SQ decoder I bought (unnecessarily) does a better job of decoding than the built-in Harman Kardon decoder?
Hello & glad to meet you! What stand alone Pioneer decoder did you get? If it's the 210 you can read up here:
 

Doug G.

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Joined
Jul 8, 2007
Messages
2,020
Location
Austin, Minnesota
It depends on the development of the Pioneer. Is it just a basic SQ decoder? Does it have any steering logic or wave matching technology? Is the decoder in the HK basic or does it have improvements?

These questions must be answered to determine which decoder will be better.

As the other guys indicated, early SQ decoders were not very good, having only about 3dB separation between channels. While 3dB is readily discernible with, say, a steady tone, hearing it with active music sources is much more difficult.

It certainly is possible there are problems with components in either unit, being they are almost 50 years old but that takes a knowledgeable person in electronics and, especially solid state quad circuitry, to determine.

Doug
 

camera-65

Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
10
Location
Washington State
Hello & glad to meet you! What stand alone Pioneer decoder did you get? If it's the 210 you can read up here:
Yes, it's a 210. I'd just like to know how it matches up against the Harman Kardon decoder. To be honest, I'd just like someone else who has this SQ "No, No, Nanette" album to tell me if they notice the same things I do. It may just be that that's the way the disc is going to sound - no matter what decoder one has.
 

camera-65

Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
10
Location
Washington State
It depends on the development of the Pioneer. Is it just a basic SQ decoder? Does it have any steering logic or wave matching technology? Is the decoder in the HK basic or does it have improvements?

These questions must be answered to determine which decoder will be better.

As the other guys indicated, early SQ decoders were not very good, having only about 3dB separation between channels. While 3dB is readily discernible with, say, a steady tone, hearing it with active music sources is much more difficult.

It certainly is possible there are problems with components in either unit, being they are almost 50 years old but that takes a knowledgeable person in electronics and, especially solid state quad circuitry, to determine.

Doug
It's just a Pioneer QD-210. Nothing fancy. But I'd like at least to know how it compares to the built-in Harman Kardon decoder.
 

camera-65

Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
10
Location
Washington State
It's just a Pioneer QD-210. Nothing fancy. But I'd like at least to know how it compares to the built-in Harman Kardon decoder.
By the way, Doug - just want to reiterate that the difference in separation is incredible, not just 3dB. There's a male chorus that is only heard in the back two channels throughout the 8-track tape version. No separation exists on the SQ lp - at least with the equipment I've got. I'd love to hear from another owner of this album out there!
 

Doug G.

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Joined
Jul 8, 2007
Messages
2,020
Location
Austin, Minnesota
Well, I was referring to the basic SQ decoder only having 3dB separation, not the 8-track.

BTW, I am well aware of the separation capabilities of quad 8-track players, having been involved in their manufacture in the late seventies/early eighties. The only limiting factor was getting the players in perfect adjustment to eliminate crosstalk and that was more a characteristic of various tape inconsistencies than the player.

Doug
 
Last edited:

camera-65

Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
10
Location
Washington State
I dont see any mention of "logic" in the HK manual, so the Pioneer with the logic might have a tiny bit more seperation but also might not sound as smooth as HK.
Thanks for this response. It seemed funny to me too that the HK manual doesn't really talk about decoding or logic or anything like that. Do you have any idea how I could test this? I've tried connecting my turntable to the Pioneer decoder and then connecting the outputs from the Pioneer decoder to the "Discrete Phono/Aux" jacks of the receiver. The result: VERY low volume (even when the volume control is set to the max) and absolutely no apparent difference between the SQ Matrix 1, SQ Matrix 2 and 4-CH Discrete mode settings.
 

JonUrban

Forum Curmudgeon
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Since 2002/2003
Joined
Mar 2, 2002
Messages
16,869
Location
Connecticut
I am afraid you are finding yourself in the same position as a lot of consumers back in the early '70s. You have the equipment, you have the record, but when you play it, you go "WTF?"

SQ was never really good to begin with, and many people who tried it bailed on quad which was a shame and also what contributed to its demise. If the early quad records had the same separation as a Q8 or Q4 did, I am sure that quad would have flourished.

However, there were more disappointments like yours than not. If you really want to hear your album, you might want to look for a new or used Surround Master
 

Doug G.

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Joined
Jul 8, 2007
Messages
2,020
Location
Austin, Minnesota
A typical matrix decoder needs to be connected into the tape out/monitor in loop. It needs to have line level inputs, not low level inputs from a turntable. That's your problem with the low level output. The front outputs from the Pioneer then connect to the monitor inputs and the Pioneer rear (back) outputs then go to whatever amplifier you use to drive the rear (back) speakers. The monitor switch must be in the monitor position, of course.

This is unlike a CD-4 demodulator that DOES need inputs directly from a turntable.

Doug
 

furui_suterioo

500 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Sep 5, 2018
Messages
509
Location
kgLoks Agenjegleks, gCagliforgnjiga
Do you have any idea how I could test this?
There is a program to generate quadraphonic test tones on this thread:


Most SQ decoders besides Tate and SM will not be able to cancel out a center back tone from the from channels even on my kenwood kr9940 with SQ full logic, the non-logic RM cancels out rear center from front better than SQ. It also takes almost a full second sometimes for the logic to adjust when the tone goes from a front channel to a side-center channel, it's like an old car lurching into gear!
 

camera-65

Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
10
Location
Washington State
A typical matrix decoder needs to be connected into the tape out/monitor in loop. It needs to have line level inputs, not low level inputs from a turntable. That's your problem with the low level output. The front outputs from the Pioneer then connect to the monitor inputs and the Pioneer rear (back) outputs then go to whatever amplifier you use to drive the rear (back) speakers. The monitor switch must be in the monitor position, of course.

This is unlike a CD-4 demodulator that DOES need inputs directly from a turntable.

Doug
The Pioneer QD-210 SQ Decoder has got 2 phono input jacks (left and right) and 4 output jacks (Front L/R, Rear L/R), so it seems to be designed to work the way I have it set up.
 

Doug G.

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Joined
Jul 8, 2007
Messages
2,020
Location
Austin, Minnesota
The input jacks on a QD-210 are just labeled "Input", not "Phono Input" so they take a line level input from the receiver. As I said, you usually use the tape loop on the receiver.

Doug
 

camera-65

Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
10
Location
Washington State
Now THAT is very interesting. I'll have to try it out tomorrow. My decoder didn't come with a manual and I'm having trouble finding one on the Internet, so it was an invalid assumption on my part. I'll try this out tomorrow. Thanks! Andrew
 
Top