The Columbia "Underground" Quad Reels of the late '70s

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JonUrban

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A quad collector who will remain nameless sent me a few of the Mike Robin reels to photograph for the web page and this thread. Thanks to him/her, we have a glimpse of the reels and the cards and notes that came with them.

I was having serious issues with my flash blasting over the pictures, so the shots of the two reels look a little "brown", but hey, just pretend they're old!!! :smokin
 

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ingresman

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A bit hard but if a "secret" brokering of people with tapes and people with hardware could be done that would be fantastic !
 

ArmyOfQuad

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Update for the list, tape 12, the 2nd mix of Blood, Sweat and Tears 2nd album, isn't the released mix. It appears this album got mixed in quad 3 times! Spinning Wheel ends kinda the same (but a little different) as it does on the stereo album. Also, none of the mixes are edited versions of the songs. Plus, the Greatest Hits reel doesn't use edited versions of the songs either, I've not verified all, but I think the songs that overlap between the GH reel and these are the same mixes. I guess all these early mixes of BS&T were scrapped, and then the released mixes were done, with edited versions of the songs on both. I haven't had a chance to verify all mixes song by song, so there might be some overlap.
 

Led9

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I'd be curious to hear what the Santana 3 sounds like. The last time I listened to the SQ LP I thought the mix was terrible in places. Lead off track "Batuka" has absolutely no bass for example. I wonder if this was lost in a bad SQ encoding.

Rick
 

Disclord

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if you haven't heard the Q8, barbra's voice is in the front, the 'you are woman' track has omar shareef in the rears. Nice instrumental spread.
The SQ LP uses that mix too, which is a 'violation' of CBS' SQ encoding 'rules' since Center Back disappears completely in mono and because Center Back wasn't part of the "official" SQ system specs. Too bad they didn't use the "London Box" for the SQ LP.
 

JonUrban

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Disclord,

What do you make of these Columbia Reels? Were these test food for SQ encoders?
 

Disclord

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I think they didn't know the 'rules' for proper SQ mixing yet so just mixed to make it sound good in discrete quad and let the SQ mix take care of itself. It was because the SQ mixes sounded weird, or had mono incompatibility (like Funny Girl), or mixers couldn't get effects they wanted from SQ - stuff they could easily do in discrete - that Ben Bauer and the other CBS tech's worked on improved SQ encoding - plus Michael Gerzon's harping on SQ's anomalies - but, it turned out good because CBS fixed all the problems.
 

Q-Eight

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Since I have about 50+ Columbia Q8's spanning the entire series from 30108 (Ray Price) to 34261 (Burton Cummings) you can "hear" the evolution of how mixes were done. The Early 30xxx series were a "Four-Corner" mix with instruments spread W-I-D-E into the corners with only vocals taking up front center. Even the bass guitar was off to a single corner. Drums were spread about the corners as well making them often times getting lost in the mix. (Pearl comes to mind, also Loggins & Messina S/T) By the 31xxx series things start to come together a little bit better. For most of this series bass is almost always front center, drums are usually building a wall either across front or rear but rarely both and mixed WIDE with clear definition of kicker/hi-hat/snare/toms. Vocals again predominantly in the front. 32xxx series starts to put drums and bass in the fronts, very rarely in the rears. I like these the best as having the drums and bass front and center gives the mix more focus. However, the drawback to this is less going on in the rears and leaving Quad black holes (or silence). The 33xxx and 34xxx series are very similar. Heavy instrument placement up front drums and bass centered with drums mixed quite narrow, guitars or keyboards spread left or right and very little happening in the rears when compared to earlier mixes. Usually a background vocal, percussion, and oddly on some albums, the kicker drum in back left or back right. JUST the kicker. Always found that to be a bit odd.
 

Obbop

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Fascinating!!!!

History comes to life.

I would not be surprised that buried within various "vaults" (storage areas) of of various manufacturers are located other quad softwares such as tapes that have been forgotten and perhaps not labeled as quad waiting to be found or, perhaps most likely, tossed into the trash as unwanted/unneeded relics of a bygone era.
 

berninahusq

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if you haven't heard the Q8, barbra's voice is in the front, the 'you are woman' track has omar shareef in the rears. Nice instrumental spread.
Funny Girl and Barbra Joan Streisand are at the top two favorites of my Q8 tapes. On the Barbra Joan Streisand One Less Bell to Answer/A House Is Not A Home medley, I liked how the engineer mixed her duet with herself singing One Less Bell in the front channels and A House Is Not A Home in the rear channels (or was it the other way around) in the Q8 discrete mix. You just don't get that effect in the SQ LP. What I would give if I could hear these two quad titles in pristine condition. I've been waiting all these years for these two titles to be released in discrete 4 channels in DVDA, Dolby Digital, Blu-Ray or whatever! I may die before it ever happens. :-(
 

kap'n krunch

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You know, I just put 2 and 2 together....
About 2-3 years ago I got a DTS version (thru DesertRat's now defunct blog-he wasn't the source , though) of Santana's III LP which sounds MUCH better than ANY SQ or Q8 I've ever heard-I was convinced it was from a Master tape ; something he mentioned back then but I wondered how it was possible....

Anybody has I and III and is going to share them?

The "Abraxas" is just TOTALLY out of this world-NOTHING to do with either the SQ (no bass-early bad SQ encoding) or the Brad Miller DTS cd (horrible mastering and or source).... the Master has some serious WALL shaking bass and beautiful presence...
 

par4ken

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So sad to hear that Michael Robin passed on and so long ago. I used to purchase LP's from him on a regular basis, he would send send the order COD, not COD through the post office, he would trust you to send the auction amount plus his actual shipping cost after receipt of the order, (and this on an international order). I purchased my Space an Image Composer from him as well. I had wanted to get some of the Columbia Quad reels from him, but could not afford them at the time, I wish now that I would have purchased copies of them all. It's nice when copies surface. Janis Joplin Pearl was my first Quadraphonic album, the tape sounds great. The two versions of Mercedes Benz I think are different from the SQ version, not as much echo as I remember. will have to pull out the SQ album again to compare.
 
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StevePianoForte

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It's obvious from this thread that there are members on the QQ Forum who own the actual Mike Robin "original copies" of the Columbia quad masters.

What would you all think about the legitimacy of offering such items for sale in a public forum such as eBay? Has enough time passed, or would this still be considered a copyright infringement?
 

Old Quad Guy

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It's obvious from this thread that there are members on the QQ Forum who own the actual Mike Robin "original copies" of the Columbia quad masters.

What would you all think about the legitimacy of offering such items for sale in a public forum such as eBay? Has enough time passed, or would this still be considered a copyright infringement?
It would be copyright infringement and a violation of eBay's rules.

How Long Does Copyright Protection Last? http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-duration.html

"The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years."

Chapter 31, Duration of Copyright: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap3.html
 

ArmyOfQuad

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Well, there's 2 questions as I see it.

1. Is it copyright infringement.

Yes, it is.

2. If one were to list one of these tapes on ebay, would they get busted for copyright infringement

Possibly, but not likely.

I think that people selling blank tapes that have materials recorded on them, while technically copyright infringement, happens quite frequently on ebay. I actually have a few open reel tapes that were blanks with stereo material recorded on them, that came with something I bought off of ebay. However, this is a little different, since the rarity of the material does result in the value being significantly increased when it comes to the Robin reels. I would guess that a few Mike Robin reels appearing on ebay would sell for big money, and that would be the end of it. Of course, the large dollar amount could possibly get someone's attention. Or, if one were to start duplicating Mike Robin reels and sell large amounts of them on ebay, that would certainly increase the chance that someone would notice and take action. But, selling a few originals, probably would fly under the radar.
 

JonUrban

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Whoever sold the first one on eBay would probably set a record for a reel tape on eBay, and that would trigger many more to follow. It would be interesting to watch, anyway! :)
 
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