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Just what is RM?

13 Jul

One of the more confusing things about the Quadraphonic period in Japan is what is RM and what relationship do the three matrix systems QM, QS and QX have with it.

I’ve searched for as much information regarding this subject as is possible, and all i have come up with is that much information is missing, probably locked away in various vaults that will most likely never see the light of day.

What i have pieced together is:

The format we call RM is in fact a set of specifications laid down by the Japanese authorities as a guide line for any company wishing to produce their own matrix system. In the end three companies took on the work, Toshiba (QM), Sansui (QS) and Nippon-Columbia (QX), all being ‘based’ on the RM standard, but all three different, and therefore incompatible, if the idea of an accurate decode is wanted.

Different labels chose to go with their choice of system and albums were initially released in all three formats. There was also equipment for all three systems available in the market place, but quite quickly Sansui’s QS system won the day and became ‘the’ Japanese home grown matrix system.

What what of RM? There were releases on a few labels that actually state that the RM matrix system was used. Did the Japanese actually create RM encoders before QM, QS or QX came about? That would make sense because to demonstrate the idea of the matrix system that  had been decided upon as the basis of any future quad matrix system, there would need to be demonstration material.

It could be that some labels, eager to get in early, used the RM system for some early releases, before the format war began.

Fast forwarding to today, all of that leaves us in a little quandry, how to get the best out of the Four different matrices used in the early 1970’s. Unfortunately it has been almost impossible to find out exactly how QM, QX and RM worked, so we are left having to decode these albums using QS, which isn’t optimal or ideal if your after as accurate decode as possible.

But, until the day some information becomes available, it’s the bet we can do.

The reason i’m writing this is because of the next release, which i’ve finally given in after a few years holding back, has been decoded using QS. There are a number of Japanese releases that mention that it’s a 4-Channel LP, but say absolutely nothing else, which i’m suspecting could possibly be RM encoded. It’s interesting to note those albums were single inventory and any mention of them being quad was quickly dropped.

Seeing as the label who released this particular album was A&M, who went on to start using QS, you’d have thought that if RM and QS were compatible they’d have made a point by continuing labelling them, instead of removing any mention of them being quad.

I realise this is just my view on a rather complex issue, and there are other views, but all we are left with is an issue with very little to go on.


Ralf Nowy – Lucifer’s Dream – Updated

11 Jun

Have just made available a corrected version of the “Ralf Nowy – Lucifer’s Dream” release, which corrects an issue with the stereo track.

Web Radio Programme Broadcasting Quadraphonic Material

13 Aug

This may be old news to some of you, but there is an interesting radio broadcast on the internet that broadcasts quadraphonic material. The station broadcasts in mp3, so i’m not sure how well it decodes, i’m recording it as i type as a test, but it may be an interesting project for those so equipped

The radio station is here:

The program is broadcast twice on Sundays, at 9am and 9pm USA ET and is called “VINYL RESTING PLACE WITH WILLIE B

He broadcasts mainly in QS, which allows him to use 4-channel tapes he has, just listened to some unreleased quad mixes of ‘Paul Revere and The Raiders”

Hopefully you’ll be able to catch the repeat at 9pm USA ET.

Would be nice to hear of your views etc  🙂

The Art Of The Decoder, Pt1

24 Jun

For quite some time now i’ve meant to do a basic introduction to Matrix Decoding. This isn’t going into any mathematics, or how to do, or not to do, and why (not). The main idea is to get you, the reader, up to scratch with what the decoder is, what it’s supposed to do, and anything else that pops up.

So, to start, let’s take a visit to dictionary corner:


An encoder is a device, circuit, transducers, software program, algorithm or person that converts information from one format or code to another, for the purposes of standardization, speed or compressions.


A decoder is either a hardware device or piece of software that converts coded data back into its original form

So, from the above we can see that a decoder is principly a device to return a previously mathematical encoded message/signal back to its original form.

In the beginning there was…..

So, in an attempt to convince the general public the need for quadraphonic reproduction in their homes, it was decided that such signals needed to be available for playback via the recently introduced Stereophonic Long Playing record. (remember this for later!)

A brief attempt at just using Amplitude matrix encoding, where it was impossible to decoded the four channels back in the same format as they were encoded, showed that there was interest in the general public, but another method was needed to be able to return the four channels back as they were encoded.

When the PAM (Phase Amplitude Matrix) method of encoding/matrixing four audio channel audio into two, using 90 degree phase shifting, was developed by Peter Scheiber, things moved on at quite a pace. There were a number of competing PAM  systems available, but after a short while there were only two systems still being used, these being Sansui’s QS and Columbia’s SQ systems.

They were quite different in their method of encoding, to the point that they were completely incompatible with each other. But one problem they did share was poor separation between the Front and Rear channels


Also know as RM, this system utilised all four audio channels to encode them into a compatible stereo signal. This is certainly the easiest of the two systems to decode, mainly because it used all four channels in the encoding process.


Invented by Ben Briar whilst working for Columbia, this system took a completely different route by only utilising the two Rear channels in the encoding process. But by doing this caused some problems, most of which were never discussed outside of the companies laboratory. Also to correctly decode the rear channels it had to be done the correct way, there was no other way of doing it,

When is a Decoder not just a Decoder?

The word Decoder has become to mean more that it was originally meant to be. At first the competing companies sold what we would now call ‘Basic Decoders’, but their performance wasn’t that good, for any of the systems. The problem was due to the low level of seperation these matrix systems gave, bepending on system and circumstances, it was between 3db and 7db. Not much, so the companies developed various methods of improving their performance, which we shall just call Logic systems.

Basically these additions to the decoder circuitry varied the four levels from the decoder at such a rate/level, to give the impression that there was a greater level of seperation than there actually was by using the information in the audio itself. Unfortunately, such systems gave variable audible performance and one annoying side-effect….’Pumping’.

Now, as we can see from the above, including the logic circuitry in with the decoder, it became more than the name suggested. I make this point for one very good reason, which is that people seem to have forgotten that any decoder for either system must include both parts, the system decoder and the logic cicuitry designed to work with the information from the decoder.

I’ll leave it there for now so you can chew over what has been put forward in this basic introduction to the world of PAM.


The (dreadful) state of the Quadraphonic community

19 Jun

I’ve been forced to break my silence here because of the continued idiocy of those that are thought to be ‘In the know’ and ‘those to be followed’ in what it believes to be the font of all knowledge when it comes to all things Quadraphonic.

I feel sorry for those who know little, to nothing, of the heyday of quad in that all they have to go on is the tripe that is spurted out by these people held in (false) esteem. It is the one sadness that i have that i’ll be leaving having barely made a dent in these peoples strangle hold on the community.

What has brought this about (again) is the following statement by ‘kap’n krunch’ on a subject he quite obviously knows nothing about, in every respect:

Having done QC for this release, and for some insane reason, not stating ANYWHERE that it’s a DVD-A, I can attest to the fact that it was NOT an SQ decode.

First of all, you can not get that kind of separation even with the best of scripts (just listen to the perfect separation of the drums on the left rear, no way josé that it’s a decode.)

Second, I saw a note written by an engineer who did a transfer from the MASTER of one of Yes’  LANDMARK albums a YEAR after it was recorded and he found all kinds of imperfections; “surface noise”, clicks, etc.
Guys, remember , analog tape is great but it’s not perfect!
And this was a 40 year old tape!!! (and not even the 1st gen master!)

I was quite amused to listen to it and having it sound better than what I remember listening before it was released.

Yes, the cover is VERY sloppy; no info on who did what and the typos that remind me of the ELP BSS SACD (STS anyone??)… LPCDM??? DTX????  oh well..we got it and, as opposed to the “King Arthur” one which is a DISASTER, this one is quite enjoyable…I’ll give it a healthy 8.

So, you can attest that it’s not an SQ decode? Really? How? I certainly don’t remember you contacting ME (the person who actually did the (pre-phoenix) decode for, and used, on that release. The Quad master tapes most certainly were not available for any of the Rick Wakeman releases.

Where have you been living, the separation issue on SQ has long been broken (by myself), and may i state that if you think the level of separation is impressive (thank you for the back-handed complement) then you’ll be shocked just how more impressive the possibilities are now!

You continue to to use scripts from the dark past, wake up, things have greatly moved on in the world. All you do is to show just how little you, and the rest of the know-nothings there, actually know.

That release was/is, in my view, very poor and very badly treated by the compression happy ‘Abbey Road’ studios. That release is an embarrassment, so much so that i made available to a handful (literally) of people a uncompressed Phoenix decode in compensation as Universal were willing to do nothing to right what Abbey Road had done to it.

So people, please be warned, those who confess to know it all in a certain place are of this level. Basically they are technically devoid of anything resembling fact and are to be treated with the highest contempt. Unfortunately there is nowhere i can suggest to go for the facts, if that’s what you are requiring.


Staggered Closedown

21 May

Originally i was going to do a mass release of titles i had either completed, partly done or had planned to do, but it was quite a project and nothing was getting done.

Owen suggested i break it down, which after much thought, i have done. It will follow in four parts:  UHJ, Dolby Surround, QS and lastly SQ.

After that DS600 will be released to finally close the doors.

I hope you find the collection (over the two blogs) of releases of some small interest.

The Final Dyretripe

25 Apr

Everything comes to an end at some point or another, and so it is with blogs. I am closing both (Popular & Classical) blogs once some ‘housekeeping’ has been taken care of.

The reasons are many, and varied, but top of the list is that there has been a greatly reduced level of traffic through the blogs, especially recently, to a point that they are no longer paying their way and i’m back having to subsidise them once again, which as i’ve made clear in the past, i cannot afford to do.

It is quite ironic that whilst i’ve spent the recent downtime working on a new, very accurate, decoding process for Dolby Surround, the blogs have been dying on their feet. To make it even more so, during the time working on the new process it became apparent that i’d found a missing piece of the puzzle in relation to decoding SQ which has led to there being a modified version of ‘Phoenix’, which is now fully complete.

I am planning a two stage close down as there are a couple of releases i want to put out before finally calling it a day. The first will be a small number of (D) reissues, on both blogs, that were used as testers. These will only be available for ONE WEEK. After that they will not be available, no matter what!

The final stage will follow, where DS600 will be released, again for the limited time of ONE WEEK. After that, there will be the final bye-bye posting.

The first of the stages is planned for the 1st of May 2017.

Once completed i will then leave the Quadraphonic community for good.


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