Record Labels' Questionable Quad Release Program

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fizzywiggs41

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OD moved on from what scripts can do about 6 years ago. You can do a better job if you don't limit yourself to scripts. The Auroran script is the best OD produced as a script but produces inferior results compared to his manual processes (which he has never published unfortunately).

"The Auroran" that seems familiar

Wasn't he a member here at one time ?
 

fizzywiggs41

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I just believe the WEA Group and even MCA Records who owned NO 'financial stakes' in QUAD were much more cautious than Columbia/RCA who did profit from their respective QUAD systems and the cost of remixing the multitracks into QUAD and ordering separate LP jackets with the QUAD designations was a further deterrent. I did notice that WEA did release quite a few QuadReels as it didn't require any royalty fees and IMO, much better replicated the discrete QUAD experience which VINYL did NOT. And then there were those jazz labels [i.e. Impulse] and some pop recordings from MCA Records which chose the QS matrix route as, AFAIK, there were NO royalty fees incurred when using that system [but I could be wrong].

And yes, Britain's EMI records did release a slew of SQ QUAD Vinyl in the early 70's via both their EMI and Angel labels but ironically, European Classical labels DGG and Philips also RECORDED a slew of albums quadraphonically but NEVER commercially released them in ANY physicial QUAD format until just a few years ago when classical independent label Pentatone debuted them on their RQR series of SACDs through a licensing agreement.

And I do believe WINOPENER in his reply #5 on this thread adequately outlined the European approach to QUAD in the 70's.
Just in case you missed it :
Yes , Winopener did a very good job of his European Quad summation.
Hope you don't mind my additional thoughts though.

Also I think quad seemed to last a bit longer in Europe than the U.S. and Canada. Take for instance the BBC 's attempt to restart the Quad program.
In 1977 no less.(April 30th)
With their adoption of a quad matrix system , BBC Matrix H quad to be exact.
They broadcast ; Classical , Rock , Punk , Pop , MOR , and even Radio Plays all in quad throughout the better part of 1977 .
And Continued throughout 1978 , and switched or adapted another quad matrix in 78 , known as BBC Matrix HJ quad.
Likewise they shared these quad broadcasts with other interested European Countries such as Denmark, Sweden , Norway , and Holland .
It's assumed these Scandinavian Countries produced their own music programs in BBC Quad in addition to sharing the BBC Productions . For certain in Holland , Dutch Radio , NOS .
 

Marcsten

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Just in case you missed it :
Yes , Winopener did a very good job of his European Quad summation.
Hope you don't mind my additional thoughts though.

Also I think quad seemed to last a bit longer in Europe than the U.S. and Canada. Take for instance the BBC 's attempt to restart the Quad program.
In 1977 no less.(April 30th)
With their adoption of a quad matrix system , BBC Matrix H quad to be exact.
They broadcast ; Classical , Rock , Punk , Pop , MOR , and even Radio Plays all in quad throughout the better part of 1977 .
And Continued throughout 1978 , and switched or adapted another quad matrix in 78 , known as BBC Matrix HJ quad.
Likewise they shared these quad broadcasts with other interested European Countries such as Denmark, Sweden , Norway , and Holland .
It's assumed these Scandinavian Countries produced their own music programs in BBC Quad in addition to sharing the BBC Productions . For certain in Holland , Dutch Radio , NOS .
In North America, it always shocked me how CBS just pulled the quad plug and skipped town all at once, even with lots of new albums mixed and ready to go that never got released. After the huge investment in SQ in terms of design, development, encoders, engineering, and basically cranking out everything in their catalogue, to one day basically just say, no more. Usually these sort of things seem to sort of peter out as quad did in Europe, and as different formats like Laser Disc, 8 Track, etc. did. SQ was getting tons of support one day and then zero. Encoders were sold off and it seemed like within less than a year it was all shut down. Maybe Ben Bauer, who pioneered SQ and fought for it (I understand) retired or something. Don't know.
 

fizzywiggs41

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In North America, it always shocked me how CBS just pulled the quad plug and skipped town all at once, even with lots of new albums mixed and ready to go that never got released. After the huge investment in SQ in terms of design, development, encoders, engineering, and basically cranking out everything in their catalogue, to one day basically just say, no more. Usually these sort of things seem to sort of peter out as quad did in Europe, and as different formats like Laser Disc, 8 Track, etc. did. SQ was getting tons of support one day and then zero. Encoders were sold off and it seemed like within less than a year it was all shut down. Maybe Ben Bauer, who pioneered SQ and fought for it (I understand) retired or something. Don't know.
"Lot's of new albums mixed" ?

I only know of 3 Columbia quads in the Pop/Rock category namely from -Lou Rawls , Jeff Beck/Jan Hammer , and one more on Portrait , Joan Baez .

What were the others you knew of , @Marcsten ?
 

Marcsten

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"Lot's of new albums mixed" ?

I only know of 3 Columbia quads in the Pop/Rock category namely from -Lou Rawls , Jeff Beck/Jan Hammer , and one more on Portrait , Joan Baez .

What were the others you knew of , @Marcsten ?
Looking at my note, the announced but not release SQs are often Vanguards and others. But I think there were quite a few in the works but never announced. I conclude that from the fact that we have the quad mixes of Introducing Sparks, on Columbia. Clearly that was never announced but well on its way to being ready to go. I suspect there were many others. But its true that CBS only 'announced' the upcoming release of a few. CD-4 on the other hand had lots of announced and never released. I suspect they were in the same boat but CBS had held back on the announcements.
 

Marcsten

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Looking at my note, the announced but not release SQs are often Vanguards and others. But I think there were quite a few in the works but never announced. I conclude that from the fact that we have the quad mixes of Introducing Sparks, on Columbia. Clearly that was never announced but well on its way to being ready to go. I suspect there were many others. But its true that CBS only 'announced' the upcoming release of a few. CD-4 on the other hand had lots of announced and never released. I suspect they were in the same boat but CBS had held back on the announcements.
Also, Mac Davis, Forever Lovers was announced on SQ Columbia. Also John McLaughlin Apocalypse was announced on SQ Columbia and not released. Apparently another Paul Revere was mixed and not released as it is now on SACD. I think there were others, although officially this is short of 'a ton'. Hyperbole, perhaps.
 

Marcsten

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Also, Mac Davis, Forever Lovers was announced on SQ Columbia. Also John McLaughlin Apocalypse was announced on SQ Columbia and not released. Apparently another Paul Revere was mixed and not released as it is now on SACD. I think there were others, although officially this is short of 'a ton'. Hyperbole, perhaps.
Sorry my old brain keeps trickling in - there's also the controversial Sly and The Family Stone releases. One was labeled quad but isn't. Its called Family, I think? Also Heard Ya Missed me, Well I'm Back was announced and not released by Epic. Oddly also Genevieve Waite was on project, announced and not released. This info on some of these is not from memory but glancing at Larry Clifton's work.
 

mlrocker

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The record companies viewed the money as coming from the older-than-the-rock-crowd listeners in the seventies. Those people DID have most of the money.

Doug
I tend to believe this "who is our market and what do they like" driver for the output. Quad equipment was on the pricey side for the time, except for quad 8 track, I would presume. Quad 8 tracks are so finicky and players are so old they are not even worth messing with now.
 

4-earredwonder

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I tend to believe this "who is our market and what do they like" driver for the output. Quad equipment was on the pricey side for the time, except for quad 8 track, I would presume. Quad 8 tracks are so finicky and players are so old they are not even worth messing with now.
It always amazes me that Columbia Records released slews of Q8 Tapes [some dolbyized] but never bothered to release them on QR since they had their own tape duplicating facilities in Terre Haute, Indiana and released a ton of albums ONLY as NON~DOLBYIZED Stereo Open Reels which was also a further nail in the coffin for Quad Open Reel aficionados missing out on some of the BEST artists of the time in the BEST format of the early QUAD era!

Had Columbia just released QUAD ROCK, POP, JAZZ and CLASSICAL samplers as Dolby b QUAD OPEN REELS they would've sold in astronomical numbers....but as a consequence, would've exposed the inferiority of their SQ matrix system/decoders!
 
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timbre4

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In case you wondered:
I received a request a few days ago to split out the non-Atlantic Records posts into a new thread. After about 5-6 Atlantic posts, this thread wanders in every direction. Short of locking this Atlantic thread, I see no way to keep this straight.
There are so many label comparisons going on, I'm going to re-combine them all in this thread, give it more general thread title to be less specific which matches the general direction of the discussion.
 

furui_suterioo

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Had Columbia just released QUAD ROCK, POP, JAZZ and CLASSICAL samplers as Dolby b QUAD OPEN REELS they would've sold in astronomical numbers....but as a consequence, would've exposed the inferiority of their SQ matrix system/decoders!
My thoughts as well. I don't think that SQ would been completely destroyed by exposing its inferiority, if it was advertised for what it is and not held to the expectation of QR. It would have been purchased by people who might have heard the QR but could only afford vinyl, fully aware of the reduced seperation, I would have.
 

4-earredwonder

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My thoughts as well. I don't think that SQ would been completely destroyed by exposing its inferiority, if it was advertised for what it is and not held to the expectation of QR. It would have been purchased by people who might have heard the QR but could only afford vinyl, fully aware of the reduced seperation, I would have.
I lived through that entire early QUAD period and frustrated by poor SQ decoders, finicky CD~4 demodulators, substandard QUAD vinyl pressings and NOT having a lot of money at the time [in fact VERY little] I still saved up for a QUAD Open Reel recorder/player. even opting to pay more than a few $$$ for QUAD Open Reel pre~recorded Tapes. To hear QUAD done correctly for the first time sans poor front to back separation, ticks/pops and swishes from CD~4 was a 'breathtaking' sonic upgrade and IMO, well worth it.

So Columbia Records played it safe by releasing a lot of their Quad material on Quad 8 Tracks with their 3 3/4 ips playback speed and limited bandwidth so as NOT to compete with their SQ matrix system. Dolby b encoded QUAD Open Reel, even though the tapes were duplicated at 7 1/2 ips [which STILL constitutes 1/2 the speed of their 15 ips masters] would've certainly exposed the flaws of those early SQ/QS matrix systems in a heartbeat!

And Dutton Vocalion's recent QUAD SACD releases blow away all those previous Vinyl/Tape releases handily which are wholly representative of those extant original 15/30 ips QUAD MASTER TAPES!
 

MidiMagic

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We have to remember that we were in a big recession and inflation was rampant. People were not buying then. They were having enough trouble with the gasoline shortage. This lasted until 1982. As a result I built my own equipment (RM-based) instead of buying the expensive stuff they were selling.

We also have to realize that these decisions may have been made by boards of directors, not executives, artists, or engineers.
 

steelydave

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Columbia was in the business of selling music, and if they could've made a profit selling quad on reel-to-reel tape, I think they would've.

I haven't looked a ton, but the majority of the Columbia stereo reels I've seen are 3 3/4 ips - to put 7 1/2 ips quad on a tape would've required 4x as much tape stock, which probably made the idea entirely financially unfeasible.

The only reason the other labels (WEA, RCA, etc.) released quad reels is that they had licensing agreements with companies like Stereotape (Magtec) and Ampex who were willing to foot the bill to have them manufactured and promoted. The fact that both of those companies got out of the consumer tape business (Ampex entirely sometime around the end of 1975, and Stereotape sold their business to The Reel Society a couple of years later) says to me that there must've not been much, if any profit in it. I also suspect that if labels were farming out reel-to-reel duplication in the first place that they probably felt like there wasn't any significant money to be made in doing it themselves.

The introduction of quad in the early '70s just happened to coincide with the height of the reel-to-reel fad, and also the beginning of the 8-track tape fad, but by the middle of the decade both were starting to fade as consumer formats - R2R became an audiophile niche, and 8-track tape gave way to cassette tape which became the dominant tape format of the '80s and early '90s.

It was certainly the best sounding format at the time, but there was no way that R2R would ever have become a mainstream product, especially at the price that Stereotape and Ampex were charging, which was $14.98 for a single album in 1973 - that's over $90 in today's money. People today complain about having to pay $50 for a 5.1 mix buried in a box set, can you imagine paying $180 for a two-reel set of the Allman Bros. Eat a Peach? Big labels like Columbia didn't want to sell 1,000 copies of an album at $90, they want to sell 1,000,000 at $10 - something that I think is just as true today as it was back then.
 

marcb

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Big labels like Columbia didn't want to sell 1,000 copies of an album at $90, they want to sell 1,000,000 at $10 - something that I think is just as true today as it was back then.
I agree with your point, but wrt today, it's almost the opposite in many ways.

They'd rather sell 5,000 copies of a big box with some outtakes, stickers, book, etc at $100 than 12,000 copies of just a stereo/5.1 BD-A of the main album at $25.

Or do both - but do the 5,000 of big box first and then 8k-10k of the single disc a year later to maximize profits.
 

atrocity

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The only reason the other labels (WEA, RCA, etc.) released quad reels is that they had licensing agreements with companies like Stereotape (Magtec) and Ampex who were willing to foot the bill to have them manufactured and promoted. The fact that both of those companies got out of the consumer tape business (Ampex entirely sometime around the end of 1975, and Stereotape sold their business to The Reel Society a couple of years later) says to me that there must've not been much, if any profit in it.
There's probably an interesting (to us nerds, anyway!) story to be told about the history of not just reels but all consumer pre-recorded tapes. In my library I have several allegedly made by obscure companies that you never hear about any more. As far as I can tell, the only labels that made their own reels were RCA and Columbia while everyone else farmed out to Bell & Howell, Ampex, Bel Canto, Stereotape, Magtec, etc. And I assume some of those now-obscure ones became or merged with the bigger (relatively speaking) names.

RCA clearly stopped making their own reels by the 1970s but Columbia continued until 1980 or so, if for no other reason than to offer that format for releases they figured would sell enough copies through the record club.

Columbia was also apparently making at least a few retail reels for other labels. A&M comes to mind...I've got two Joe Cocker reels that, based on the boxes (horizontal opening, full color on both sides) and gray spools appear to be Columbia's work. Unlike Ampex and Stereotape, there's no explicit manufacturer listed, but Columbia had a style and those follow it.

It's not at all clear to me what the story was with cassettes and 8-tracks. I know Ampex made some of them for the labels early on (and Ampex even re-released some older albums on cassette using "Ampex" as the actual label!), but I don't know if or how often that stuff was brought in-house once the formats were clearly established as winners.

But then it gets even murkier when you realize that not all the major labels pressed their own vinyl. There's a lot of other-label stuff that was clearly pressed by Columbia or RCA, just for two examples. When you look at Discogs you realize that once upon a time there were TONS of independent pressing plants not tied to any label at all. I'm pretty sure Warner Bros. didn't have their own pressing plant until not long before CD came along.

Anyway, if someone wants to write a book about this, I promise to buy it!
 

4-earredwonder

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There's probably an interesting (to us nerds, anyway!) story to be told about the history of not just reels but all consumer pre-recorded tapes. In my library I have several allegedly made by obscure companies that you never hear about any more. As far as I can tell, the only labels that made their own reels were RCA and Columbia while everyone else farmed out to Bell & Howell, Ampex, Bel Canto, Stereotape, Magtec, etc. And I assume some of those now-obscure ones became or merged with the bigger (relatively speaking) names.

RCA clearly stopped making their own reels by the 1970s but Columbia continued until 1980 or so, if for no other reason than to offer that format for releases they figured would sell enough copies through the record club.

Columbia was also apparently making at least a few retail reels for other labels. A&M comes to mind...I've got two Joe Cocker reels that, based on the boxes (horizontal opening, full color on both sides) and gray spools appear to be Columbia's work. Unlike Ampex and Stereotape, there's no explicit manufacturer listed, but Columbia had a style and those follow it.

It's not at all clear to me what the story was with cassettes and 8-tracks. I know Ampex made some of them for the labels early on (and Ampex even re-released some older albums on cassette using "Ampex" as the actual label!), but I don't know if or how often that stuff was brought in-house once the formats were clearly established as winners.

But then it gets even murkier when you realize that not all the major labels pressed their own vinyl. There's a lot of other-label stuff that was clearly pressed by Columbia or RCA, just for two examples. When you look at Discogs you realize that once upon a time there were TONS of independent pressing plants not tied to any label at all. I'm pretty sure Warner Bros. didn't have their own pressing plant until not long before CD came along.

Anyway, if someone wants to write a book about this, I promise to buy it!
Came across this 'quaint' article from 1981 published in the New York Times. At least sheds some background [very little] on THE REEL SOCIETY:


I do recall the last Open Reel I purchased was from THE REEL SOCIETY in a generic looking box which was dolby b and contained a FULL REEL of Classic Disco hits by the original artists from the late 70's. Wish I could find it and post a pic!

And yes, Columbia did duplicate Stereo Open Reels for A&M Records. I have quite a few of them on those bland grey plastic reels. Ashame none of them were ever dolbyized!
 
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