So what’s happened to the SQ releases?

2 Oct

Good question, and a very good reason for another of my long-winded dire-tripe’s…..

After working on what became DS/IV (for Dolby Surround) i decided to utilizes the new process for it’s big brother SQ. Although SQ/III was perfectly ok, as i stated there could only be an SQ/IV if an improved way of performing the logic/expansion function, and as the new process worked so well for Dolby Surround it was obvious to try it on SQ.

So work started but it soon became obvious that there were some serious issues that had to be overcome and the problem lay in the lack of powerful enough tools to perform the process without causing any damage to the wanted information. So after a great deal of work SQ/IV was shelved indefinitely. Not one to give up on a good idea, the next day i started work on a hybrid process using SQ/III and IV which started to show good results.

Finally, after the usual testing and re-testing (thanks Owen for help in the final test) what i ended up with was a process that actually performed almost as well as IV but without any of the issues. In fact the differences are quite small and not even worth mentioning as i suspect nobody would be able to tell the two apart (if IV was possible) performance wise.

So out of the ashes of failure springs new life, and it’s called ‘SQ/Phoenix‘.

So what’s the difference? The only area of SQ that has remained a problem since it’s inception is the front channels. They still contain all of the rear channel information. Although i had made some inroads into reducing this throughout the II & III series there was still enough left over to reduce the Front to Rear separation and blur images. It is also the one major thing that stops SQ being considered as ‘discrete’. Until now.

Comparing Phoenix with CD-4 i believe it is fair say say this is the first time that discrete SQ decoding is possible. A brave statement i know, and one i do not make lightly, those who know me know i’ve never used that word publicly to describe any of the matrix decoding process’s. And to those who love to try and take me down, and yes i know this will get to you, best take your best shot, i’m ready for you!!!

So tomorrow will be the first release using ‘Phoenix’, so it would be nice to have some feedback, positive or negative. Oh and you may find at first that there’s something wrong. just remember all there coming from the fronts now is just the fronts, the rears are behind you.

Oh and please don’t ask about re-issues (although over time it will happen), this has been a long hard slog, i need some rest and also need to get to releasing new material…….




25 Responses to “So what’s happened to the SQ releases?”

  1. rayshackleford October 7, 2014 at 01:55 #

    Looking forward to checking out these new decodes, I have been out of the loop for a minute while I did some system cleaning and re-organizing.

  2. bayards October 5, 2014 at 11:06 #

    Anticipation ramped up …. thanks i’ll be scouring for this in new releases. Congratulations OD.

    • oxforddickie October 5, 2014 at 11:08 #

      All SQ releases from now will be decoded using Phoenix.

  3. Mats Lindgren October 4, 2014 at 19:17 #

    I can only say FANTASTIC. Thanks OD

  4. James H Garner October 4, 2014 at 00:16 #

    Any chance you might be able to create a java SQ phoenix app for those who have USB-based Turntables and soundcards with multiple audio outputs (HDMI for front left/right, analog for back front/right)?

    • oxforddickie October 4, 2014 at 03:38 #

      My knowledge of Java is pretty much zero but i doubt it is powerful enough to do the processing in real time

  5. ultimatetrouble October 3, 2014 at 09:59 #

    I can’t imagine all the hard work you put into these wonderful results. I would find it interesting if you made a video going through the challenges you face in your creations, sort of like a day in the life of OD. Sort of a video bio.

    • oxforddickie October 3, 2014 at 10:13 #

      Hmmm, not sure there would be much interest in video of a 59 year old man holding his head and crying into a cup of tea 😉

      • birdycat19 October 4, 2014 at 07:04 #

        Make a Freebie and we’ll see 😉

  6. joeerand October 3, 2014 at 08:32 #

    Thanks for letting us know what you’re working on. It’s fascinating to hear the results of your ground-breaking experiments.

  7. tarkus2013 October 2, 2014 at 15:22 #

    SQ/Phoenix…I only know that I want me some! Thanks as always!!!

  8. inquadwetrust October 2, 2014 at 15:05 #

    Dammit, I’m back in the UK for a while for some European work before heading back to California. No access to quad until I get back. Definitely planning a quad vacation of sorts on my return though as well and I look forward to hearing this one! I also have a lot of legacy reviews to write, the back log of quad has built up over the last year.

  9. bigtoad73 October 2, 2014 at 14:53 #

    I for one, appreciate your hard work and your drive to give us the best possible results.

  10. Owen Smith October 2, 2014 at 14:12 #

    I can confirm that the two test tracks I heard sounded very good indeed, with amazing separation on all four channels. There was one occasion where a very loud buzzing synth noise rear right had a tiny amount of leakage into front right, but it was almost a “worst case scenario” for the decoding to deal with and I was particularly listening for it as I thought it could be troublesome. An SQ/III decode of the same track had that buzzing so loud in the front right that it sounded as if it was mid right in the mix, whereas with SQ/Phoenix it’s obvious it is meant to be rear right.

    This does reveal a problem comparing decode processes. Unless you have a discrete source of the same mix, it’s hard to tell what is matrix process limitations leakage and what is because that is where things were placed in the mix. Thinking particularly of Dark Side of the Moon, Alan Parsons is on record as saying he mixed that as four stereo images (front, left, right and rear) and didn’t think of it as four speakers at all. Listening to a discrete copy of this bears it out, there are sounds all over the place smoothly panned and placed between all four speaker pairs. If you listened to a matrix decode of Dark Side, how would you know which of those were intended and which matrix leakage?

    I’ve never really appreciated before what this matrix leakage does to the mix.

    • oxforddickie October 2, 2014 at 14:53 #

      Hmm, you’ve made me think about ‘Space Experience’, which the track with the buzzing came from. If you listen closely i think the same mixing was used on that, as on some tracks is so complex and would need to be broken down as you described.Will ahe to listen to it over the next few days.

    • oxforddickie October 2, 2014 at 17:42 #

      The placement of rear sounds in stereo in all matrix systems is never where you’d expect them to be. With QS the fronts are narrowed in the stereo stage and the rears can appear outside of the speakers whereas in SQ the rears are placed inside the stereo stage. With SQ it is further complicated because left and right fronts have an amount of both rear channels added to them.

      Hope that helps?

  11. romanotrax October 2, 2014 at 14:07 #

    Well then… This WILL be interesting!! I really cannot wait to hear the results. Now get some sleep!!!

    • oxforddickie October 2, 2014 at 14:55 #

      Oh, that word again..Sleep. I think you may be a little surprised at my choice for the first album to use it, but i hope people will realize why, just give it a little time 😉

      • romanotrax October 2, 2014 at 15:50 #

        You’ve been working hard!!! You deserve it.

    • Glen S. Fleetwood October 2, 2014 at 17:50 #


  12. mickjerome October 2, 2014 at 14:06 #

    Thanks for your incredible technical work! I’ll tell you what i think.Amitiés,jérôme.

  13. beukenoot October 2, 2014 at 14:06 #

    Wow!! this is great news!

    If your statement is REALLY true, you might consider to submit/subcribe your idea to a Notary, well written down with date so that you secure that it was YOUR idea. Then you could talk with record companies to have access to the real material – original recordings- to convert them and issue these as official material (with the copyright costs of course, but since many material is very old already.. )

    Congratulations, and i am eager to find some test file. (any format is okay).

    Were there test-records for SQ like there were (and still are) for stereo algnment etc.?

    • oxforddickie October 2, 2014 at 15:01 #

      Although there are SQ test records none of them are accurate enough for serious work. There are errors even on ‘Quadraphile’, the encoder was obviously the one used for all such records as it shares the same problem as a CBS test record.

      And to be honest with you they are of very limited value. People seem to think that all you need to do is deal with a single tone coming out of each speaker. Well music is nothing like a single frequency test tone situation in one place at a particular time. It’s very complex, and don’t forget we are also dealing with a 360 degree space and not just four or five spots.

      • Len Costello October 2, 2014 at 18:44 #

        I for one appreciate and respect all the time and effort you have put forth to make the SQ process as great as it can be. I look forward to tomorrows release with anticipation and excitement….Thank you again!

        • circularvibes October 2, 2014 at 20:12 #

          Me too! I wish I had the brain power to do what you do to create these releases.

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