Quadraphonics - Sound Affects

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Matrixed analogue quadraphonic (i.e. SQ or QS) sounds surprisingly soft, warm and cohesive. Anyone reared on digital surround will be amazed! Quad albums do really offer a sense of surround, with instruments moving around between all four speakers, but there’s a quite strong centre image - in part due to SQ’s poor separation figures. This isn’t a bad thing, however, as it doesn’t detract from the overall musical experience and can actually sound quite cohesive. The absence of a front centre channel simply isn’t obvious. Ultimately, QS (RM) sounded more vibrant than SQ, but this could be down to the equipment used. Nonetheless, on well-recorded discs, the surround effect was obvious but not intrusive.

CD-4 was probably the most impressive in a ‘hi-fi’ sense – the back channel information was most explicit – although it didn’t gel and cohere as well as QS. Some CD-4 recordings showed crass use of multi channel mixing spreading musicians all over the place needlessly, although the occasional CD-4 cut, such as Harry Nilsson's Nilsson Schmilsson, worked superbly with oodles of detail and clarity. Ultimately, CD-4 gives real sound fields between any combination of channels, which matrix recordings cannot – and it shows.





Comments (3)
"Decent two channel stereo"...
3Saturday, 04 April 2015 16:31
"At a time when technology barely enabled decent two-channel stereo" In the 1970s?!?

You have to be kidding. We are not talking about the 1930s! Who writes such things, I wonder, and how old is he or she...

The LP managed two channels at a push; trying to squeeze in four was beyond elegantly achievable.
Decoding matrix quad via Dolby Pro Logic II
2Friday, 23 November 2012 15:21
The Dolby Pro Logic II decoder does a very fine job decoding QS-matrixed recordings, with spot-on rear speaker placement of sounds. SQ recordings also deliver a good quad effect, but rear channel placements of sounds will not be completely accurate. The effect is still pleasing, but not as discrete as QS. The logic steering circuitry, used in PL II, are similar to the Tate-DES circuits used in some later SQ decoders, but geared mainly for the Dolby MP matrix. This matrix is similar enough to QS to yield excellent results.

Thanks Jay. This is one obscure subject. For the benefit of those scratching their heads, we are talking about decoding Four Channel SQ and QS LPs from the 1970s. You either have them in your LP collection because you were there at the time (me!) or you get them at car boot sales, charity shops etc, or from eBay. Buy an AV receiver with a phono input (or use an external phono stage) and you can then decode these discs through Dolby Pro Logic II for four-channel surround-sound. Oh what fun!
Decode quadradisc vinyls now
1Tuesday, 13 December 2011 13:42
Juan Carlos
Is it possible to decode the signal from a quadradisc vinyl with a home theater decoder?

It is possible to decode CBS SQ and Sansui QS, both matrix encoded discs, but not JVC CD-4. You will find this interesting, even if the results are a little approximate. Also, try putting TV sound through the receiver with matrix decoding switched on. You will find sounds coming out of the rear loudspeakers - entertaining!

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