Chicago – IV: At Carnagie Hall

18 Jun

Chicago - IV DS395f front


As is well known, out of Chicago’s first ten albums, only Chicago IV, a 4 LP set recorded at The Carnegie Hall, was never released in quad, even though it was planned to be. The main reason for it’s cancellation was probably down to sound quality, which was primarily down to the poor acoustics in the hall.

During testing of an improved version of the Ambisonic SuperStereo process, i used two albums, one being a nice baroque album supplied by Owen Smith, and the other was Chicago IV. The results have moved me to break one of my own rules.

As this blog is dedicated to the decoding of quadraphonic & surround encoded material, this is a one off release.

I hope you all enjoy it in the way it is meant: to complete the ten album series in quad.

Album info

Release: DS395f

Source: Stereo CD

Process: Ambi-SuperStereo (UHJ-SS/IIa)

Format: 2 x DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

 

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38 Responses to “Chicago – IV: At Carnagie Hall”

  1. ultimatetrouble July 27, 2014 at 21:00 #

    This sounds so good. relaxing with a couple cold ones while it plays. Ah days of our youth.

  2. gleeksmirt7 July 23, 2014 at 20:38 #

    This album set has always been a favorite of mine when it was first released. This is like REALLY hearing it for the first time. It’s like sitting in Carnegie Hall! I absolutely love this!!

    I’m looking forward to more Chicago multi-channel releases! Thanks so much. Cheers!

  3. gjwAudio July 4, 2014 at 06:13 #

    Well, well, well… I finally have a discretionary moment and picked this classic live Chicago album to audition.

    WOW… sure sounds good – manufactured surround or not – and takes me faaaaar down Memory Lane. Back when Chicago IV came out, I nearly wore this LP set out, with heavy rotation on the dreaded record-changer my parents owned at the time. Hey… 4 records… stack ’em up and retreat into Headphone Land !

    The Carnegie Hall live performances have a special attraction for me, as Chicago was the first “rock concert” I ever attended, I was so excited to see the band – and what a show it was !

    …from 1971-Feb-01…

     photo Chicago_1971-02-01_MLG.jpg</

    The night got off to a really bad start… the band got through Canadian Border Customs OK, but their equipment truck was another story and the show was seriously delayed. I can just imagine the freak out for management & the promoter, as a full house of 15,000 fans expected their heroes to take the stage at 8 pm. Yikes.

    The local FM DJ host came on, explained the Customs delay, and the band came on to apologize directly to the fans. The crowd was calm and understanding – BOO's for Customs notwithstanding ! Somehow, somebody scrambled to obtain local gear, and the band went on about 9 pm, playing with strange, totally inadequate, instruments, amps and PA. Try as they might, technical shortcomings sabotaged their efforts, but they soldiered on for the sake of the crowd.

    Good News arrived about 10:30 pm… The Truck WAS HERE !! Thunderous applause – in appreciation of Persistence in battlefield conditions – and 45 minutes to strike the rentals and set up the Real Deal.

    Shortly before midnight house lights went down, and a fully-equipped Chicago took the stage. WOW – now THAT'S what I'm talking about !

    We were treated to an incredible, high-energy performance. From some deep reserve – after all the grief of the day – these guys found the power to put on a show that exceeded everyone's expectations. They played their hearts out for us till 2 am !

    And for me – little kid from the suburbs, never at a "rock concert" before – it was a six-hour sojourn I could barley take in. What a great night it was !

    …and this Live Set takes me back to that evening, and memory of my first Big Show.

    Thanks OD for being completeist about the Chicago catalogue… I really appreciate the trip back to 1971 !

    • gjwAudio August 14, 2017 at 23:20 #

      Hi OD… just checking my photolink in the aftermath of the PhotoBucket 3rd Party Ransom Campaign… and I see my post is somehow syntactically corrupted.

      An you edit and repair it ? Thanks 🙂

  4. Owen Smith June 26, 2014 at 22:07 #

    Well, I struggled through disc 1, skipping the more boring tracks, and I doubt I’ll ever listen to disc 2. Chicago is still not doing it for me, though at least one of their albums was OK.

    The audience works best for me with the Super Stereo, it spreads the applause and cheers very nicely near the start of track 1. But as a test of what Super Stereo can do, this is wasted on me I’m afraid. The baroque album OD mentions was far more interesting, but then the original of that is a treasured possession of mine.

  5. oldsiamsir June 25, 2014 at 23:18 #

    Many thanks for this quad offering OD. Was always amazed at this Behemoth of a box set as a young lad upon release. Dad played it endlessly, and have nothing but the fondest memories. Would poor through that booklet and was mesmerized at the poster thinking these cats were too cool for words. Have since collected all the quad incarnations both SQ and Q8. A perfect compliment to the set. I salute you kind Sir.

  6. quadro2013 June 25, 2014 at 19:18 #

    Just found the time to listen to.

    It’s great. It seems to me, that there are more details on this one. The Stereo-CD’s are muffled compare to this.

    The quad-feeling is a real experience.

    Well done, O.D.!

    • oxforddickie June 25, 2014 at 19:30 #

      Glad you enjoyed it. Seems this release has gone down well, the response from all of you has cheered the cockles of this old guys heart.

  7. lonky53 June 23, 2014 at 21:36 #

    I do love me some horns , however, Chicago leaves me cold. i believe they lack the material/hooks to be interesting.The first BST album featuring Al Kooper and the majority of
    Southside Johnny albums show that the integration of a great horn section coupled with
    great songs, can be an amazing musical experience.

  8. oxforddickie June 22, 2014 at 09:42 #

    I must make mention of the ground breaking work by the late Michael Gerzon and the original team at Calrec for their belief in their work that brought Ambisonics to the world.

    Although developed in the 1970’s, it’s still in active use, being extended and improved. The more you learn about Ambisonics the more you realize that it is quite possibly THE system for all occasions, be it four channel reproduction at home, to a full blown multiple speaker set-up for concerts, etc.

    And both can use the same recording. How’s that for flexibility.

    If anyone from the BBC reads this i have a message for you: I know what your developing, so drop that dreadful idea of surround via the internet (how bad was that!) and start broadcasting in proper surround.

    • Owen Smith June 22, 2014 at 16:26 #

      I have to agree, I’ve been very impressed by both the theory and practice behind Ambisonics. They really understood mathematically what goes on when humans hear things, and how to translate that into recording techniques.And OD’s UHJ decodes have worked amazingly well for me now I’ve got my ear in (they didn’t work at first for me).

      As for the BBC’s surround audio broadcast tests, the simplest thing to do with the largest pool of people with the equipment needed to listen to it would be to broadcast an audio only HD channel on Freeview HD and Freesat which people can feed to their 5.1 receivers.Given that COM8 on Freeview HD is still empty 6 months after it launched, there’s plenty of space for it.

  9. sacdtodvda June 22, 2014 at 08:43 #

    To try and better assess the “quad-ness” of this conversion I decided to compare it to the KBFH broadcast of Chicago in Louisville, Kentucky in 1974. I have 3 versions of this recording, two of them being an abridged version and the full version of concert both decoded from SQ, and the third being the complete KBFH show including adverts from the discrete 4 track tape sent to radio stations to run through their own decoder for broadcast. It was this last version I chose for the comparison.

    The result was very pleasing. The two mixes are very similar, with the core band and vocals predominantly at the front, and the horns, while present in the fronts, more prominent in the rears. If anything, the KBFH show has more of the vocals present in the rears, making the Carnegie Hall conversion seem slightly more discrete which was an unexpected surprise.

    The KBFH show does have some advantages with less padding (although the actual concert could have been edited down) and superior sonics with deeper bass (Cetera rocks more than I thought) and clearer percussion. In addition the band swings a bit more in Kentucky – the Carnegie performance sometimes seems a bit stiff, as if they were trying too hard to be perfect given the venue.

    However, for me the similarity of the two mixes validates the outcome of this conversion and affirms that that applying the UHJ process to the Carnegie show was well worth the effort.

    • oxforddickie June 22, 2014 at 09:03 #

      Thanks for doing the comparison, i’m pleased people have found the experiment worthwhile and that it has helped fill the gap, so to speak.

      As to the KBFH show, it is planned……

  10. sacdtodvda June 22, 2014 at 01:18 #

    Personally, I’m usually not one for manufactured surround. However, I also know OD has been a staunch advocate for quad and has copped flak for debunking some of the alleged unmarked quad releases. On that basis I figured that if OD was prepared to put this out there it was worth hearing.

    And it was. So far I’ve listened to D1, and enjoyed the four channel presentation a good deal. While I don’t think I noticed anything particularly discrete in the rears, there were certainly some sounds more prominent in the rears and some sounds that seemed to stay in the fronts only. Nitpickers may talk about “artifacts”, but I found it to be a well balanced sound field and an enjoyable surround experience. It was far better for example than listening to the radio in Dolby surround mode on the receiver (as I sometimes do) where you often only get the rhythm guitars or a sax solo in the rears. I’ve certainly heard less interesting genuine quad mixes.

    The performances on the other hand are a different thing. I enjoy a band where the brass section is an integral part of the group, and Chicago’s brass arrangements are usually very good. However, for me a lot of their actual songs aren’t that exciting, and I find in these live performances especially there is a lot of padding. For example, I didn’t find that piano solo piece particularly interesting. I think this could easily have been kept to a triple or even double album release like the lesser known Live in Japan.

    Still, overall it was worth the experience for the UHJ process.

    • oxforddickie June 22, 2014 at 03:46 #

      I’ll openly admit i’m not a fan of fake (up-mix) surround releases, especially when encoded material is decoded incorrectly. But what does interest me about the ‘Super Stereo’ process is that it keeps the general feel of the original in place, with no radical/artificial alterations in instrument placement.

      Admittedly it is not a discrete presentation, but it’s the whole feel that is generated where, in my view, the system really scores. The one down side is that the overall effect is very much dependent on the system it is played on, the more ‘ambisonically’ compatible it is, the better the image will be.

      I do agree with the view there was a lot that could have been trimmed to cut it down to a more respectable length, there’s far to much ‘padding’.

    • g335 June 22, 2014 at 05:16 #

      Not many people know about the “Live In Japan” release from Chicago. I just learned of it last year and found it to be fantastic. It’s concise and sounds great! Regarding this title though, I agree that it is too long. However, I’m very happy to have this posted version of the Carnegie concerts. Appreciate this one OD, thanks!

  11. vax2man June 21, 2014 at 17:14 #

    This is one of my favorite albums. It was originally a gift for my birthday, along with a portable stereo record player, when I was a teenager. I’ve owned several copies since then.

    Disc 1 is amazing! it is the best that I have ever heard this album sound. It makes you feel like you are sitting in the concert hall near the stage. Many of the instruments, especially Terry Kath’s guitar, come through much better than in the stereo mix.

    Disc 2 was very interesting… 😉 I did not burn the ISO to disc. I played both ISO files directly from my NAS with my Patriot Box Office via HDMI to my Pioneer AV receiver. Until I read the blog again, I thought my Box Office or my network was having problems.

    Looking forward to the updated Disc2. Thanks for sharing this one, OD!

  12. bigheadrascal June 19, 2014 at 22:03 #

    The process does seem to create a pleasant “presence”, particularly during the quieter passages.

    • oxforddickie June 19, 2014 at 22:05 #

      Anyone notice the brass biased towards the rear?

      • bigheadrascal June 19, 2014 at 23:26 #

        I did

  13. jaypfunk June 19, 2014 at 00:03 #

    OD… So is this UHJ-SuperStereo process sort of like an upmix? If not can you give some details about what’s going on in the process and how it works. The “For Dummies” version if you can. 🙂

    • Owen Smith June 19, 2014 at 00:35 #

      I recall from the original Stereotomy release discussion that UHJ is double encoded effectively. The matrix decode of UHJ encoded stereo material produces W, X and Y channels (raw amplitude, left to right, and front to back signals). True 4 channel ambisonics also has the Z channel for height information, but this isn’t included in the UHJ to stereo encoding so can’t be extracted in the decode. Then the W, X, Y (and Z if you have the raw 4 channel source) is passed through the ambisonic converter from Leicester University, this renders it for however many speakers the particular converter is for, OD uses the 4.0 decoder.

      So in the case of Super Stereo, the stereo to W, X, Y process is not a matrix decode since it wasn’t encoded in the first place. Exactly how that works I don’t know, but that is what the UHJ/SS process does. Having created this “invented” W, X, Y it is then passed through the University of Leicester converter to 4.0 just the same as any other ambisonic material.

      From the baroque album of mine that OD tested the new UHJ-SS/IIa with, the results are very subtle (which is true of Ambisonics in general compare to blantant discrete quad) and yet surprisingly pleasing and effective.

    • Owen Smith June 19, 2014 at 00:41 #

      You might also want to read this from the Stereotomy discussion:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ambisonic_UHJ_format

    • oxforddickie June 19, 2014 at 00:43 #

      Not quite so easy. Basically, the new version of my Super-stereo process is based on a later set of equations (than i used before) by Michael Gerzon, i had stumbled upon. This set of equations creates a set of ‘artificial’ W,X & Y streams from a standard, unencrypted stereo source, that is then fed to the B-Format decoder as if it was a decrypted UHJ source.

      This may (or may not) help: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambisonic_UHJ_format#Super_stereo

      • prefabfan June 19, 2014 at 02:06 #

        Hello OD, does the quad product result from the B Format Decoders own proclivities, or did the original engineers of the LPs have any input, or impact into how the disc(s) would sound in quad? Tia

        • oxforddickie June 19, 2014 at 04:41 #

          It’s down to the equation used in the creation of the W,X & Y streams that feed into the B-Format decoder.

          It’s a good idea to think of any UHJ/Ambisonic decoder as being two decoders in one.

          The front end is where the Stereo/UHJ signal is converted back to the original(almost)Ambisonic streams W,X &Y. These streams are then fed into the B-Format decoder. It’s there where it is decoded back into audio, depend in how it is set. The decoder is set to four speaker output, but could be set to more for systems with larger speaker arrays. The problem there is the larger number of speaker settings are normally used for live playback as there is no commercial system that can handlemore than five channels of audio.

          So, why not do 5.0 disc’s? Basically because the center channel needs to be the same as the other four, which it normally isn’t.

          • prefabfan June 21, 2014 at 04:57 #

            Gratzi’

    • Owen Smith June 19, 2014 at 01:00 #

      And here is the Bruce Wiggins site page with his software decoders to go from the intermediate formats to the final speaker array. If I remember correctly, OD uses one of these to go from his decoded WXY to the final 4.0 on the DVD-A:

      http://www.brucewiggins.co.uk/?page_id=78

      And I appear to have mis-remembered the university, this page says he’s at Derby (not Leicester as I said earlier).

      http://www.brucewiggins.co.uk/?page_id=2

      I’d still not found anything in all this that says how Super Stereo is meant to create WXY. The encode/decode equations are there for true matrix UHJ, but not Super Stereo.

      • oxforddickie June 19, 2014 at 01:11 #

        The Super-Stereo equations have taken me quite some time to track down. I originally used the set that were published in a magazine in 1977, and that is what i used for the one unencrypted track on the Alan Parsons Project album. As i mentioned before, i stumbled upon a later set of equations Michael Gerzon created, and personally i feel the results are far superior to the original set.

    • Owen Smith June 19, 2014 at 01:08 #

      Given how complex UHJ and Ambisonics is (much more complex that traditional quad), it’s a minor miracle that it works as well as it does.

      It is pleasing that new recordings are still being made in it, one day we may get real surround sound for everything.

    • Owen Smith June 19, 2014 at 01:20 #

      My brain exploded while trying to understand this page and how WXY gets converted to 4.0 speakers with all the phase information:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambisonics

      This stuff is damned complex, talk of diffraction of lowe frequencies around the human head etc.

  14. romanotrax June 18, 2014 at 20:04 #

    Looking forward to this one!! Thanks.

  15. birdycat19 June 18, 2014 at 16:05 #

    Looking forward to hearing this–thanks again for your hard work!

  16. lupineassassin June 18, 2014 at 15:29 #

    Fantastic!

  17. quadro2013 June 18, 2014 at 15:29 #

    This is great!

    Chicago IV was always one of my favourite Chicago albums, since I bought it, when it was released.

    The 4 LP-Set, the booklet and the posters – I still own this box (but I listen to the CD-Set nowadays and not to the LP’s, because I haven’t a good LP-Player right now).

    You write, that the Chicago albums from I to X are all in quad. This is really new to me. I have the DVD-Audios II and V and know your releases of I, III, IX and X, but I didn’t know, that all ten albums were realeased in quad (except IV of cause).

    That is fantastic!

    Great work, O.D. Can’t wait to listen to.

    Thanks again!!!

  18. jaypfunk June 18, 2014 at 14:02 #

    Awesome. Can’t wait to hear this one.

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