Santana – Abraxas

1 Aug

Santana - Abraxas DS407f front

Album info

Release: DS407f

Source: SQ LP

Process: SQ/II



66 Responses to “Santana – Abraxas”

  1. John February 20, 2016 at 22:35 #

    Hmmm… My favorite Santana album, but not quite as convinced as I was by the first album. The instrumental spread is great again – but things are a bit more disassociated and lacking in the center. I was a tad disappointed in Black Magic Woman and Samba Pa Ti. The lead on the latter sounded distant and too echoey. A great album, and so nice to be able to hear it all in quad, just not sure the mix on Abraxas is as strong… What a great band, right?

  2. atq November 27, 2015 at 19:45 #

    Thanks for this. The mix really helps to separate the multiple layers of percussion. Most of the time the instruments are clearly placed in one of the corners, and there’s quite a lot of panning. I would not have guessed this was from a matrix source.

    • oxforddickie November 27, 2015 at 21:25 #

      Thanks for the comments.

      It goes to show that all of the flack that matrix encoded albums received back in the day was primarily down to the poor performance of the decoders.

      • atq November 28, 2015 at 10:35 #

        Makes it even more frustrating when they can technically do it easily these days but artistically get it wrong. I listened to Rush’s 2112 Blu Ray before listening to Abraxas. The Rush has great sound quality, great picture quality, and it’s a great idea to link a comic book to the lyrics. Should be fantastic. But it’s a very dull mix.

  3. atq August 1, 2015 at 16:32 #

    Thanks for this! I find it nicely discrete. The mix is very active, but I like it that way, it suits the music.

  4. gregtanner August 14, 2014 at 14:37 #

    OK no prob’…

    It still baffles me why there is lead guitar bleed on the front left, rear left and rear right channels of the SQ version of Abraxas, but no guitar bleed on said channels of the Q8 version… why would they have purposefully put guitar blead on those channels on the SQ version ? You don’t have to answer that… i am questioning myself out loud… doesn’t make any sense…

    • oxforddickie August 14, 2014 at 14:41 #

      Unless the original mix was too discrete for SQ and it was tamed a little?. Guess we’ll never know.

  5. gregtanner August 14, 2014 at 14:01 #

    Ahhh… even though i’m a technical dumb ass when it comes to SQ i think i understand…

    Btw, the Q8 ZZ Top Tres Hombres is the best instrument separation that i’ve ever come across… the channels are as close to studio multitracks as you can get… Deep Purple – Machine Head being the second best… is there a quad version of Tres Hombres that you know of other than Q8 ?

    • oxforddickie August 14, 2014 at 14:10 #

      It was also released on Q4, i think i may still have it somewhere but i can’t release it as it’s someone else’s release from many years ago

  6. gregtanner August 14, 2014 at 13:29 #

    Btw, i’m not sure what you mean when you say “the Front L/R leakage which ‘theoretically’ shouldn’t happen”… the guitar bleed is there on the SQ version but not on the Q8 version… it’s just a fact, theoretically or not… i’m not having a go at you… i am just interested to learn what you mean when you say it shouldn’t be this way “theoretically” on the SQ version…

    • oxforddickie August 14, 2014 at 13:37 #

      SQ is the only quadraphonic matrix system that did not encode the front channels, so there is no compromise in the main front stereo separation, whereas all of the other systems mixed all four channels as part of their matrix’s.

      Of course this came at a price, the encoding of the rears is a lot more complex and it’s where many who attempt to decode SQ fail.

  7. gregtanner August 14, 2014 at 12:54 #

    Is Oxford Dickie your real name ?

    • oxforddickie August 14, 2014 at 13:06 #

      How did you guess? 😉

      • prefabfan August 3, 2015 at 01:42 #

        He goes by ODB for short.

  8. gregtanner August 14, 2014 at 12:53 #

    I can’t think of anyone that uses their real name as their user name…

    • oxforddickie August 14, 2014 at 13:05 #

      well i know of at least one

    • Owen Smith August 14, 2014 at 19:04 #

      That would be me. I just don’t like going by pseudonyms, it doesn’t feel like me. And anyway, if law enforcement peopel want to find you they will so using a pseudonym only gives a false sense of security.

  9. gregtanner August 14, 2014 at 12:44 #

    I sent you a donation for it and two others… Loggins & Messina – Full Sail & Chicago V, then you sent me the torrents…

    That’s why i prefer the Q8 version, as there is no guitar bleed on the channels that don’t feature the lead guitars…

    • oxforddickie August 14, 2014 at 12:48 #

      Now i know where the confusion was, that’s not your real name!

  10. gregtanner August 14, 2014 at 04:14 #

    Finally got my hands on this one so i could do a comparison with the Q8 version, and there are indeed differences with the instrument separation and mix…

    For example, Samba Pa Ti…

    Q8 Version

    Front Left – Bass guitar, Congos, occasional second lead guitar.
    Front Right – Lead Guitar, very low in the mix congos, Drums kick in half way through high in the mix.
    Rear Left – Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, low in the mix bass guitar
    Rear Right – Organ, Congos, kick drum, low in the mix bass guitar.

    SQ Version

    Front Left – Bass guitar, Congos, lead guitar bleed from front right, occasional second lead guitar, acoustic guitar.
    Front Right – Lead Guitar, Percussion, congos, low in the mix acoustic and bass guitar, occasional low in the mix organ, Drums kick in half way through low in the mix.
    Rear Left – Acoustic Guitar, Congos, Percussion, guitar bleed, low in the mix bass guitar, occasional second lead guitar.
    Rear Right – Organ, Percussion, Congos, guitar bleed, low in the mix bass guitar, occasional second lead guitar.

    Bottom line is i prefer the Q8 version, but it’s still nice to have the SQ version too… 😉

    • oxforddickie August 14, 2014 at 04:21 #

      Interesting, especially when it comes to the Front L/R leakage which ‘theoretically’ shouldn’t happen. Thanks for doing the comparison.

    • oxforddickie August 14, 2014 at 04:51 #

      And am also rather interested how you ‘finally got your hands on it’

  11. prefabfan August 12, 2014 at 05:40 #

    I have both the quad reel which is Romanotrapx and the dts disc. They are different mixes and the Romano is great in its fidelity and the dts in its discreteness. The dts does not have the fidelity of the tape derived. Both have the tacked on notes for The opening of Black Magic Marker.

    • Owen Smith August 12, 2014 at 10:08 #

      And how do either of your other copies compare to this LP sourced release? Is the mix the same as either of them or a third mix?

      • sacdtodvda August 4, 2015 at 11:22 #

        The Romanotrax reel conversion is probably one of the “Columbia Underground” aka “Mike Robin” reels and on that basis could be an alternate unreleased mix.

        There were reels of the two self-titled (1st and 3rd) albums as well, with the the 1st containing two alternate mixes of two of the songs. I’m not aware of these surfacing as conversions.

  12. jaypfunk August 11, 2014 at 14:06 #

    QQCC are Quad releases by a user known on certain torrent sites as rtrax. He is still actively posting and his stuff is great too.

    • oxforddickie August 11, 2014 at 14:21 #

      Not quite true i’m afraid.

      To my knowledge QQCC are an under the underground group going back quite some time who released titles amongst themselves and were not for ‘general’ consumption. Romanotrax has made a small number of these releases available more generally.

      While i’ve been away i’ve come to the conclusion i really don’t give a **** about these individuals, and some of their releases, properly credited to them, WILL appear on this blog in the future, suitably re-mastered if needed.

      • jaypfunk August 11, 2014 at 16:51 #

        Thanks for the details. I didn’t know much about QQCC other than what I posted.

      • romanotrax August 18, 2014 at 14:55 #

        Jaypfunk’s comment is quite true… but I am one of a few members.

        • Jack S August 18, 2014 at 15:32 #

          Will you be sharing Bridge Over Troubled Water, Pearl, Barbra Joan, etc. again? Maybe the story of the Columbia masters
          could be retold for a new generation…

          • oxforddickie August 18, 2014 at 15:40 #

            My plan is/was to release only the unreleased mixes, which sort of fulfills one of the blog’s side missions, so to speak. The original idea of the Archive was just to deal with matrix releases, primarily because of my interest in how they worked, and i have a reasonable collection i wanted to hear as well as could be decoded, hence the decoding project.

            As to the story of the tapes, that’s not for me to tell, basically because i don’t know the full story.

          • romanotrax August 18, 2014 at 15:41 #

            I can do that.

  13. rockyofpittsburgh August 4, 2014 at 05:00 #

    I might as well sell my DTS-CD copy.

    I was disappointed when I first heard this record through my Marantz SQ Decoder c.1974. OD fixed it!

  14. Owen Smith August 3, 2014 at 21:21 #

    This is great, the guitar lead Santana I like. Some Santana releases I haven’t liked because that lovely guitar sound and playing was missing, but here it is on this in all it’s gorgeousness. Great tunes, never entirely predictable, changes of style throughout the album, lovely,

    The quad mix is excellent, there is plenty going on all around and it makes sense and fits with the music. The decode is good, sounding nicely discrete. Wonderful. If only all Santana were along these lines,

  15. gregtanner August 3, 2014 at 11:19 #

    Ahhh… jamoke… thanx for that… just looked closer at the custom covers that came with the version i have and QQCC is written on the side…

  16. jamoke August 3, 2014 at 09:07 #

    Would like to hear some reviews of the separation and sonics of this SQ vinyl release.
    Wondering how it compares with others.

    I have the 5.1 DTS and a QQCC quad Reel DVDA conversion of this title and they are night and day different.

    The DTS version for some reason, is lacking in low end bass and just sounds horrible. Very tinny to my ears. I can’t sit thru a full playing.

    The QQCC DVDA release was sourced from a quad reel (a gen or two from the Quad Master so the story goes) and sounds incredible. Very slight tape hiss on quiet passages but that’s more than made up for in blissful full spectrum sonics, dynamic range, and discrete separation.

    This is a phenomenal album and a wonderfully aggressive 4.0 mix too. Nice that there are so many versions of it now.

    • oxforddickie August 3, 2014 at 09:10 #

      You have to remember that most people don’t even know about either the short lived DTS-CD version or even that ‘underground’ release of the tape by QQCC so i’d be surprised if you’ll get many comments.

      As you have them, how about a comparison by yourself?

    • Jack S August 3, 2014 at 11:07 #

      I agree about the QQCC version of Abraxas being superior to
      anything else out there. I also agree about the poor fidelity of
      DTS CDs in general. DVDA of 24/96 quality in DTS is my preferred
      mode of playback.

      • Owen Smith August 3, 2014 at 11:26 #

        DVD-A never contains DTS, DVD-A is always lossless either using MLP or LPCM. It is the DVD-V part of a disc that can contain DTS. But why on earth do you prefer DTS, a lossy format, to lossless?

        • Jack S August 4, 2014 at 10:21 #

          The discs I have from OD’s old blog contain LPCM, DTS and
          Dolby all on the same disc. I actually had to buy a cheapie DVD
          player to be able to access the DTS track because my stereo
          system doesn’t play the LPCM track with equalization. There
          were several titles done this way and the DTS was in the highest
          bitrate of 24/96, which is just shy of DTS HD for sound quality.
          I find the 24/96 DTS to be a transparent medium — just as good
          to my ears as the uncompressed LPCM.

        • Owen Smith August 5, 2014 at 22:04 #

          That’s a DVD-A/V ie. both DVD-Audio (LPCM multi channel) and DVD-Video (DTS and Dolby Digital). That’s how all the current blog releases are done, except the DVD-Audio section is now MLP. But it is strictly wrong to talk about DVD-A containing standard DTS, since there is no way a pure DVD-Audio only disc can do so.

          Also I find the idea of a lossy DTS 24/96 codec a strange one. I’d love to see the lossy acoustic modelling for frequencies that no-one can hear, does it just throw everything away? I’d rather DTS bit rate were spent on things people can actually hear. Remember that DTS is a fixed bit rate, so any bits spent encoding high frequencies no-one can hear means less bits to encoded the stuff people can hear, so sound quality of DTS 24/96 will actually be worse than normal DTS unless you happen to be a dog or a dolphin.

          • Jack S August 7, 2014 at 10:34 #

            I stand corrected on the strict use of the term DVD-A.
            Yes, DVD A/V is the term for the mixed disc. Thank you.
            DTS 24/96 was the highest format of surround on commercial
            DVD-V discs and was superseded by DTS-HD uncompressed
            sound on BluRay. Being a backward-compatible format,
            unlike Dolby, the DTS-HD 7.1 will play as DTS 5.1 on older
            equipment such as mine, with the rear channels blended.
            The frequency response remains uncompressed, however(?)
            The bitrate of 96 kHz has a better tonal quality than the
            48 kHz to my old ears — along the lines of the difference
            between open-reel and 8-Track. 48 kHz sounds much
            better than DTS-CD, of course. I think that the 96 kHz are
            divided amongst the 5.1 channels, so you are really only
            using 24 kHz or less per channel. Psychoacoustics play
            into the encoding somehow and DTS does a better job with
            that than comparable Dolby, though requiring more disc space. As for the 96 vs 48 bitrate, Dickie has stated that
            the cost of the equipment for an upgrade is prohibitive and
            is not justified for the small number of users who cannot
            enjoy the MLP properly equalized on older equipment.
            His posting of Abraxas with 24/96 DTS was passed along
            from another encoder many years ago. It’s my reference…

          • Owen Smith August 11, 2014 at 21:20 #

            I wasn’t going to reply to this, but I can’t leave it like this. The sentence “I think that the 96 kHz are divided amongst the 5.1 channels, so you are really only using 24 kHz or less per channel” shows you really don’t know what you’re talking about here. Not trying to be personal, that’s just how it is. Much of the rest of what you posted is similarly uninformed.

            And DTS sounds better than Dolby Digital precisely because it uses higher bit rate, or as you say more disc space. There may be differences in the efficiency of the codecs, but that pales into insignificance compared to the 448kbps max for Dolby Digital on DVD-V versus 1.5Mmbps max for DTS on DVD-V. That’s triple the bit rate for DTS, it damned well ought to sound better!

            And “The frequency response remains uncompressed”? I’m lost for words. What is that supposed to mean? Are we even talking digital data compression (lossy or lossless) or dynamic range compression as used by Loudness Wars?

            • Jack S August 11, 2014 at 21:48 #

              You seem angry.
              I was making a subjective statement about my preference
              for the transparency of sound at 24/96 in DTS format over
              the sound of 24/48 or the DTS-CD of 16/44.1.
              You said I was mistaken to hear any difference unless
              I was a dolphin, which I took as ill-informed on your part.
              I mentioned 4th level of DTS sound, the DTS-HD that is
              found on BluRay discs and is claimed to be uncompressed.
              I said that I could hear no difference between 24/96 and
              the HD, excepting that the rear channels are blended
              into 5.1 at 24/96 whereas 7.1 is the maximum for HD.
              Rather than discuss the facts and impressions, you
              launch a tirade. I don’t know what your problem is.
              I would use the Linear PCM tracks if my equipment could
              handle it, but I think the DTS 24/96 is a good substitute.
              Have I further enraged you now with more ignorance?
              Say something illuminating!

            • Jack S August 11, 2014 at 21:53 #

              Maybe you could discuss the relative use of psychoacoustics between the Dolby and the DTS formats.
              That would be more interesting than bluster — at least, to me…

            • Owen Smith August 11, 2014 at 22:04 #

              I am not angry, I am calm and just trying to explain things.

              The reason 96Khz often sounds better is the studios take more care with the mastering, not using EQ or dynamic range compression. The only way to be sure of what you are comparing is to take some 96KHz you already own, and downsample it (properly with dithering) to 48 or 44.1 KHz. Then do double blind listening tests such that neither you nor the person running the equipment know which is which, to eliminate listener bias and the person running the test giving hints. Under these conditions I doubt that anyone can distinguish the two, human hearing simply can’t hear that high. And that’s assuming the recording has anything up there anyway, most microphones stop around 20Khz.

              I don’t want this to turn into a flame war. But I really don’t like seeing misinformation out there that others could read and potentionally take as fact.

              • Jack S August 11, 2014 at 22:41 #

                Well, thank you. Maybe there is more lattitude available for mastering at 96/24.
                I admit to limited knowledge, but I do know that they gradually upped the standard
                for DTS till it’s now uncompressed. My equipment plays the HD in backward-compatible
                24/96 without degradation of the sound. The frequencies that suffer at the lower
                settings are in the midrange — there is a hardness similar to the difference between Q8
                and Q4. It’s admittedly subjective, but I know the controversies about the sound of
                CDs over these past 30 years. I prefer SACD-64 to every format other than DTS 24/96
                (or DTS HD, which plays as 24/96 on my Yamaha). Transparency of the format is what
                I prefer in these old recordings — the tape hiss and all the rest. CDs were a marvel in
                1983 when disc space was limited, but anything on a DVD disc sounds better to my
                ears. What were we talking about again? Restoring old sound in the best way possible.
                Dickie does some great work. The old Columbia masters in question here are great in
                their own way — part of which is encoding the DTS track at 24/96. Full circle and stop.

            • Owen Smith August 11, 2014 at 22:14 #

              I happen to agree that full bit rate DTS can sound very good (but not half rate 750kbps DTS used on some DVD-Vs). I have a small number of DTS CDs, all of which sound excellent. Full rate DTS is fairly close to being indistinguishable from lossless.

              However, none of that is anything to do with 24/96. DTS is fixed at 1.5mbps, so I would rather all of that were spent on things people can hear. Wasting bits encoding frequencies so high no-one can hear them means less bits available for encoding the stuff we can hear, and given this is a lossy codec that will degrade quality. 24/96 DTS should sound worse than normal DTS, not better.

              I wish I could discuss the different psychoacoustic models used by DTS and Dolby Digital, but I don’t know anything about them. I had a brief look a few years ago at one of the papers on them, but my maths isn’t up to understanding it any more (if it ever was). I try to know my limitations.

              I recommend this web page for an interesting discussion about why high res audio is actually detrimental due to ultrasonic aliasing, and why 20-20KHz is enough for most purposes:


              • Jack S August 11, 2014 at 22:52 #

                I agree that 24/192 is mostly a waste of disc space.
                It takes a might crash of cymbals to push complex
                high frequencies hard enough to need that extra
                measure of accuracy. 24/96 beats 16/44.1, though.
                In my humble opinion. We can skip SACD…

      • romanotrax August 18, 2014 at 14:52 #

        Thank you. i thought that one turned out pretty well.

    • Owen Smith August 3, 2014 at 11:24 #

      Who or what is QQCC?

      • sailorpaul August 3, 2014 at 23:30 #

        I would also like to know what QQCC is.

    • jaypfunk August 7, 2014 at 15:01 #

      I too have the QQCC quad reel rip (not Q8 like i originally posted) and yes it is fucking amazing. I’ve listened to ODs which also sounds killer but haven’t had time to compare them yet.
      As far as any tape hiss goes I do not mind it EVER! To me it reminds me of real analog listening.

  17. donhochiminh August 2, 2014 at 13:43 #

    Thank you!

  18. jaypfunk August 1, 2014 at 23:19 #

    I had a rip of the DTS-CD of Abraxas. It was complete shit. 🙂 The Q8 version I have is really great. Can’t wait to hear this to compare.

  19. sailorpaul August 1, 2014 at 19:26 #

    This is not a direct comment on this release, but more an interest in the comment made by OD:

    “As to those DTS-CD releases, they created a false center channel by summing the front pair together. Something that really is a no-no”.

    Can you explain a bit further? The reason… I own the two DTS-CDs McCartney (Wings) titles “Band on the Run” and “Venus and Mars”. While both have decent sonics, I have never been happy with the mix on either, though I seem to remember BOTR being the better of the two (VAM sounds disembodied in places). Going a step further, I am also of the opinion that the BOTR Q8 I played in my car in the 70’s was better mixed than the DTS release (but of course I had a different pair of ears then!). Spurred by a recent conversation (posted elsewhere), I plan to re-listen to both and get an up to date assessment. Anyway, if the DTS center channel butchery is truly the case with these releases, might this be corrected by removing the CC and slightly boosting the L and R signals? Can we somehow reconstruct the original Quad release? I’m gonna have to try this. Please…. discuss amongst yourselves.

    OD: A good conversion of Lennons’ “Imagine” and “Walls and Bridges” would be sooooo damn awesome. I have never heard either of them but always lusted after them.

    • oxforddickie August 1, 2014 at 19:56 #

      By summing the Left & Right channels, you end up with a mono track. Add this to the center channel, and depending on it’s level, it can have an effect on the front channel mix.

      I remember the BOTR Q8 really well, i liked the mix, and always thought that V&M was slightly odd. I can’t comment on the mix on the relevant DTS-CD’s.

      Depending on your system, to return the DTS-CD’s back to the original quad mix you’ll need to do the following:

      If you have an active center channel: Turn it down or disconnect it. Switching it off in either the players or amp’s software may force the center channel to be routed to both front channels.

      If you only have four channels then ensure your player and amp have the center channel set as if you had one or it will be mixed into the front pair.

      Convert the DTS-CD back to wav files and remove the center channel.

      Imagine… Hmmm, we’ll see………….

  20. gregtanner August 1, 2014 at 12:05 #

    OK thanx for the reply, but it’s like, i said 6, and you said half a dozen…

    I said…

    “and the center channel is either the front left and right channels mixed together”

    and you said…

    “they created a false center channel by summing the front pair together”

    Both mean the same thing… just different words…

    Thanx for clarifying though, and i do hope that the instrument separation of the SQ version is the same but better quality…

  21. gregtanner August 1, 2014 at 11:06 #

    I’m so broke at the moment that i can’t even afford to donate for this one right now, but will do asap as i want to compare it with the version i have…

    I haven’t heard the DTS CD version of this album either, but it’s my understanding that most DTS CD’s are made from the original Quad mixes anyways… then they just add a subwoofer channel, and the center channel is either the front left and right channels mixed together, or it’s empty…

    The version i have i’m not sure of the source… i’m guessing it’s from a Q8 because the instrument separation is really great but it sounds a bit muffled, like there’s a towel draped over the speakers or something haha…

    For example, Samba Pa Ti is as follows…

    Front Left – Bass, Congos
    Front Right – Lead Guitar
    Rear Left – Acoustic Guitar, Percussion
    Rear Right – Organ, Percussion

    Is the SQ CD version of Samba Pa Ti the same O.D. ?

    If not, i’ll still donate for it anyways when i can…


    • oxforddickie August 1, 2014 at 11:54 #

      I release these titles for those who want them to get them as and when they can, there’s no pressure, it’s just that i have a release schedule and i try my best to keep to it.

      And i know what it’s like to be broke, i have to struggle on the lowest Government disability payments.

      As to those DTS-CD releases, they created a false center channel by summing the front pair together. Something that really is a no-no.

      Regarding the position of the instruments, i decoded this over 2 weeks ago and i’m afraid the old memories not good enough nowadays to remember such details, and i’m rather tied up with a project to listen to it, but i can’t imagine there’s much difference between the Q8 and this SQ decode, apart from improved sound quality.

  22. Howard Pitfield August 1, 2014 at 10:16 #

    Tempted… if only to compare with DTS CD realse….hmmm 😉

    • oxforddickie August 1, 2014 at 10:23 #

      If you do, a review of both would be interesting, never heard the DTS-CD version

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