The Kings New DSP Gathers No Moss

10 Aug

For the last week or two i’ve been involved in matters of decoding, but not necessarily blog related. Then at the beginning of the week i was contacted by someone who i’ve gotten to know via the blog with regards a decoded concert he had acquired. Now it seems as though this decoded concert was being advertised as being ‘discrete’, but after hearing it he felt something was wrong, because discrete it certainly wasn’t.

He sent me an encoded track from the file that was said to have been the source of the decode, which i decoded and sent the files bask to him. Seems as though that was all he needed. He sent me the same track from this ‘discrete’ version so i could compare them. It was not nice!

I noticed immediately the Audio fingerprint of the particular method of decoding that was used, and it rather got me annoyed.

The thing is, throughout the week that feeling has grown, and to be honest, i’m pissed off! For too long people have been duped by people who are nothing short of incompetent. What i’m talking about is this useless piece of plastic:

Over on QQ, this unit is thought of as the best thing since sliced bread, and is said to be able to decode QS and SQ. Fact of life, it can’t. When this was first announced i tried to talk to these people because they didn’t appear to understand the issues in getting one unit to be able to do two totally different matrix systems, especially when one of them was SQ, because if ANYONE knows how to decode Ben’s child they’ll understand the special requirements needed.

But they weren’t for listening and tried to ‘put me down’ by stating (and here’s that phrase again) “We’ve Been To University”. Yea, right!

This unit is based around an “Off The Shelf” Stereo Digital Sound Processing IC. It’s said to be based on the principle of Sansui’s original work on the Variio-matrix decoder. The fact it is based on Sansui’s work doesn’t mean that the new DSP IC is actually a QS decoder. It’s basically  the logic section as there would be no use in producing anything that can decode something specific like QS.

But then they announced that it will also decode SQ. That was when i knew they didn’t have a clue. Unfortunately, the nobody’s at QQ saw this as the answer to their prayers and didn’t like the fact i wasn’t just questioning the units ability to decode SQ, i point blank said it was impossible, because they don’t understand exactly what is needed.

Anyway, those Australians have sold god knows how many of this piece of crap to really gullible people.

Remember, this unit uses an Off The Shelf Stereo DSP. And there’s the reason why it’s totally incapable of decoding SQ. The IC would have been created for use in today’s Hi-Fi equipment, which means it processing a stereo signal and outputting four (or more) channels.

So, why can’t it decode SQ?

Simples! (copyright Alexander Meerkat)

Due to the way the rear channels are encoded, the SQ encoded signal needs to be decoded in a very specific way. In fact it’s so specific i can’t imagine any other use for for particular circuitry needed, it’s that specific. And if it’s not done in that particular way, it’s not decoded!

For there to be any chance of the DSP used in the Aussie Box, it would require external decoding hardware that would feed FOUR channels into it. And being a Stereo DSP, it’s never going to happen.

All this unit is doing is attempting to create a quadraphonic Sound-field, and failing. It’s very easy to hear the phase mess it produces (look back a couple of posts to find what i mean). I’ve had people complain about sounds appearing in wrong places, images are blurred and move when you move your head, etc etc. And what amazes me, some of the people who bought into this have Tate SQ decoders!! I can’t believe they are willing to let the best SQ hardware decoder gather dust whilst listening to the Aussie Box.

So, why have i finally decided to publicly speak out? It’s because there are a growing number of substandard decodes being made at particular download sites, and these are giving people a completely wrong idea of what Quadrophonie is about. This isn’t the last i’ll be mentioning this bloody awful box, but in the next day of so i will be making available my decode of this particular concert, which i would like to be made freely available anywhere where concerts are made available.

This is an extra release and doesn’t mean i’m continuing, by the way. There’s still two more to go before closing time, one here and one on the classical blog, both on the same day.

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17 Responses to “The Kings New DSP Gathers No Moss”

  1. Jefferson Douglas August 14, 2018 at 08:22 #

    OD, You’re really offering no technical data to back this up. Your comment about it would only work with 4 discreet signals doesn’t really pass the smell test (How did QS / SQ work in the first place???). Since you’re making your comparison on a shitty radio show it further undermines your credibility. Look you’ve made some great recordings, why do you feel the need to shit all over someones product that offers no direct “competition” with you, and smacks of pettiness IMHO. I would expect more from someone of your renown in the community.

    If anything, when I A/B surround master rips directly to your recordings (QS OR SQ) I get comparable separation, with the SM many times offering a BETTER decode than your release (Maybe these were older rips while your were still working out the kinks in your process but the data doesn’t lie.)

    In addition, some folks enjoy being able to hear the original media being decoded on the fly.

    Just offering some perspective.

    • oxforddickie August 14, 2018 at 09:57 #

      Thank you for you interest in my collection of articles that are an attempt to supply enough information for those who are able to continue researching the subject and, I was hoping, to possibly look into further improving the ‘correct’ methods of decoding the matrices from the 1970’s.

      After reading your comments a couple of times, it’s obvious that these articles aren’t for you.

      Ever since returning to the quadraphonic scene, my main mission was to create an accurate as possible method of decoding SQ, the others being added on later.

      During the early days it was very apparent that there was no attempt anywhere to do the same, people just seemed to be happy doing anything to create the impression of decoding, 99.9% of the time failing completely, as will be shown towards the end of the series.

      Perhaps, because of my training (which didn’t help working for the Armed Forces for a year, and being OCD), i prefer things to be correct and hate it when people are taken advantage of by the Arthur Daley’s of the world, charging for goods that fail to perform as advertised.

      So, do you really think that I base everything on the release of an archive concert advertised. Proof that you know nothing of what I’m about!

      It is plainly obvious that your really not qualified to make any serious judgment on my work, I think you really need to re-read the articles, then you’ll understand how wrong you are.

      I’m closing this blog down very soon, and I’m sure, by now, people understand why I’m doing what I’m doing.

      It is a very sad fact that the item you purchased IS NOT a QS/SQ decoder. It is a Stereo DSP With a pseudo SQ addition that only attempts to create the effect of decoding, with the unfortunate result of a very poorly realised image.

      If you happy, then what i am doing is not for you, so thank you 😕 for your rather poorly viewed perspective.

      • tubeliciousJefferson Douglas August 14, 2018 at 22:25 #

        Thanks for allowing my comment to be posted. You didn’t really address any of my issues (especially the QS comment, which you’ve yet to correct), Regardless, it seems you’re more of a “Shoot the messenger type), Going forward, I’ll just continue to get the shows I want and not try to engage you. Your bitterness and sense of entitlement speak for itself, especially when you were CHARGING for these releases. Did you send a royalty to the copy write holders? The Creator of BitTorrent that you use for distribution? Exactly. Both of whom have brought more to the table then you’ll ever do.

        It doesn’t mean you haven’t done good work and for that I’m appreciative, but I’m very discerning about whom i spend $$ with. Nothing you’ve provided is worth the attitude you give. Especially when I have it already and can continue to get it. I thought you were shutting down?

        • oxforddickie August 14, 2018 at 23:11 #

          Yep, a typical QQ member, and mindless with it. Can’t you read, or is the subject to complex for you?

          You haven’t a clue what your talking about, just go back where you belong please.

          • tubelicious August 15, 2018 at 02:14 #

            “Typical QQ Member” You say that like its a bad thing!! You know NOTHING about me.

            Thanks again for the decodes, they were OK until the SM was released.

            Keep checking your math, and maybe you’ll get it right someday 🙂

            You need help dude, but self-awareness is one of the hardest things to achieve.

            Take care, I’ll continue to take what’s worthwhile. Certainly not your attitude.

    • Malcolm Lear September 12, 2018 at 10:24 #

      Hi Jefferson,
      I totally agree with your comments. The requirement of 4 inputs to the DSP would suggest that a simple or complex decode from a 2 channel input would pose a problem. This is far from the truth. Creating wideband J shifts to determine 3-axis control for an analog domain coefficient decoder such as the SM is fairly trivial, indeed complete decoding within the DSP would also be possible. Also the idea that a DSP cannot change mode to effectively decode a wide range of matrix systems would indicate lack of fundamental knowledge of DSP’s. The statement that particular circuitry is required to perform a decode is very odd, are we talking about the flexibility of the DSP or the analog section of the SM? Even in the analog domain, its not essential nor even desirable to enhance separation from the outputs of a conventional basic decoder, at that point the evil work has been done. The Tate, Shadow Vector and SM never perform a standard decode, instead employing dynamically changing decode coefficients for the 4 output channels directly from the stereo input pair. It would be nice if OD can clarify some of the points raised in this article.
      Cheers,
      Malcolm

      • oxforddickie September 12, 2018 at 12:46 #

        Jefferson????

        The fact that the mentioned decoders/process’s don’t perform a ‘standard’ decode is probably the reason that none of them are actually capable of performing a ‘decode’ to a standard that is required to to meet even the most minimal of acceptability.

        I’m very much of the view that we need to forget the attempts of the past, they have proven to be ineffectual and seriously wanting in performance when attempting the process of:
        a) performing an accurate decode of the encoded material, then
        b) perform the process of separation enhancement with as little affect on the quality of the quadraphonic mix.

        I have yet to see any proof that an off the shelf DSP chip is capable of fulfilling the first of the two statements correctly. I have proof of the unit in questions inability to perform issue one above, but as the blog is close, and will NEVER restart, it is no longer possible to write yet another article which will then be ignored or read wrongly and then I’m taken to task of something I’ve not written due to the readers inability to read properly!

        Fed up? Passed off? Have I wasted my time? YES!

        • Malcolm Lear September 12, 2018 at 18:15 #

          Hi Richard,
          Thanks for replying to my post. Indeed I’ve not any inside information on the precise architecture of the SM box, and would agree it’s not capable of fulfilling your first criteria. However I would still maintain that attempting to enhance the separation of a standard decoder is a bad idea and harks back to the days of gain riding or dynamic blending. On the other hand, no matter what architecture the SM uses, its no guarantee of quality.
          I hope you change your mind and reconsider closing down.
          Cheers,
          Malcolm

          • oxforddickie September 12, 2018 at 18:54 #

            Hi

            Well, all I can say is that I have worked strictly to the work of Ben Bauer in using a standard decoder for my process’s and I think it works just fine.

            Any future work on a possible hardware SQ decoder is going to need the use of very open minds that aren’t stuck with the ideas of the past. SQ is SQ and it needs to be accurately decoded to be able to use any form of separation enhancement to work correctly without side-effects.

            There’s one issue with SQ that is never discussed, unless it’s by me, and that is the mess that is the front channels. What chance have you got in getting a stable image with a respectable degree of separation when all of the four channels are still there in the fronts? Pretty much none, I’d guess.

            So that needs to be dealt with, and thankfully my dear friend ‘Phoenix’ is on hand to help reduce some of that unwanted mess, thereby allowing a fairly respectable degree of image stability and separation.

            Now there’s one very important thing about my bird of fire, the more accurate the decode is, the better the output. Hence my continual drive to iron out as many issues as possible. So using a good old fashioned style decoder is, as far as I’m concerned, the only way to go.

            Of course I could be totally wrong and what I’ve managed to do is a pure fluke, but from what I’ve seen of other peoples attempts, they aren’t even in the same universe. 😏

  2. Owen Smith August 11, 2018 at 05:21 #

    I downloaded a QS and SQ decode from this box some years ago. Neither were great, but the SQ one was noticeably worse.

    • romanotrax August 11, 2018 at 13:02 #

      Since the source was from a KBFH show – and it was a crappy source for sure – it would have been SQ to begin with. I actually did two versions of this. The first was using an early version of one of QD’s scripts. Because it was sooo long ago I couldn’t tell you which one. The second was done using the SQ mode on the Surround Master and may have been done with the first version of the box which had a different SQ decoding process. There was a second version of the box with a slightly different process.

      In any case, The new SQd process sounds really nice on the samples I have heard. The only problem is nobody has the SQd process but you. So, should I put away my Surround Master box, never to hear any kind of SQ again – or- should I use what I have and listen to my records in real time using a box that, when I compared it to LP’s decoded using a Tate or S&I sounded pretty darned close. I don’t really think I have a choice. Unfortunately.

      Thanks for the new decode.

      • oxforddickie August 11, 2018 at 13:36 #

        Leaving my decode process out of it, the best thing you could do is to use the Tate. It does decode SQ which the Surround Master is totally incapable of doing.

        The problem with SQd and QSd being made available in hardware form is money, people with open minds to new ideas, and time. As much as i’d like to see it done, the first part would be hard to get, and the second part… Impossible.

        Think on this:

        If those people behing that box actually took the time to listen to what i had to say, instead of being so stuck up, just imagine what the Surround Master could have been!

        A Super Tate maybe?

      • Owen Smith August 12, 2018 at 21:49 #

        I have much the same issues as Romanotrax. I actually own no quad decoding equipment at all (I don’t count my home cinema amp’s Dolby Surround, DS/II or DSP modes). I’d have to be incredibly lucky to find a Tate in good condition in the UK, and I don’t have SQd. I don’t have a Surround Master either and probably won’t buy one, but it is the only option I could easily get my hands on. It is not surprising the Surround Master is popular despite its shortcomings, it is the only option that is easily available to all.

        • oxforddickie August 13, 2018 at 00:11 #

          My question is: Is it preferable to have a unit that does not actually decode but relies a DSP to attempt to make sense out of the raw QS/SQ source material?

          • oxforddickie August 13, 2018 at 00:17 #

            I’ve been meaning to mention this before, but for those without any form of SQ decoder, try this little trick using either DS or DS-II:
            Swap the Left and Right leads on your LP/CD amp inputs.

          • Owen Smith August 13, 2018 at 15:07 #

            Won’t that cause the front channels to be swapped over left/right? Since they’re not processed in SQ and have little or no processing in Dolby Surround?

            • oxforddickie August 13, 2018 at 16:24 #

              Indeed, it was just an experiment for people to see what came out of the rears.

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