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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:

ENCODER

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.

DECODER

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

SANSUI QS

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.

COLUMBIA SQ

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.

 

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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.

 

Nektar – Down to Earth

21 Apr

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS141p+

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix+’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Ash Ra Tempel – Starring Rosi

20 Apr

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS153p+

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix+’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

 

The Isley Brothers – Go For Your Guns

20 Mar

This album was released towards the end of CBS’s quadraphonic period and is pretty hard to find.

Allmusic

Release: DS82p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

 

 

Johnny Cash at San Quentin

20 Mar

Recorded in 1969 and contains his surprise, novelty hit single ‘A Boy Named Sue’

Release: DS100p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Barbra Streisand – Live Concert At The Forum

16 Mar

Much has been written about the mix on this album, which i’m finding hard to understand. With this decode i find that it’s a fair representation of a live concert. There has been mention made that the Q8 is ‘under-whelming’, well i’ve not heard it so i can’t comment.

What i’d really like is those who get this new reissue to make comments on how they find the performance/mix, even more so if they’ve heard the Q8.

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New source and decode

Release: DS140p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

 

 

 

The Baker Gurvitz Army – In Concert 1975

28 Feb

the-baker-gurvitz-army-in-concert-1975-ds78p-front

It’s nice to be able to make available this concert of The Baker Gurvitz Army from 1975. I remember hearing it on Radio One (in stereo) back in the day and now hearing it in quad brings back more than a memory or two.

Release: DS78p

Source: SQ Transcription LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Walter Wegmuller and The Cosmic Couriers – Tarot

23 Feb

walter-wegmulle-and-the-cosmic-couriers-tarot-ds76p-front

This, almost one and a half hour long, double LP album was released in 1972 and is quite possibly high on the ‘wants’ lists for those who are interested in Krautrock, Klaus Schulze or Manuel Gottsching.

In its original release format it’s quite rare, as is the 2 x CD release released in 2016.

Review

Release: DS76p

Source: 2 x SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Message – From Books and Dreams

13 Jan

message-from-books-and-dreams-ds165p-front

Review  Reviews

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS165p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Airto Moreira – Fingers

11 Jan

airto-moreira-fingers-ds35p-front

Allmusic

Release: DS35p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

John Gregory And His Orchestra – A Man For All Seasons

5 Jan

john-gregory-a-man-for-all-seasons-ds374p-front

A United Artists UK only dual inventory release, “A Man For All Seasons” was released with much fanfare in the press, but unfortunately failed to catch the public’s imagination and disappeared without trace after a very short while. This makes the stereo version hard to find, and the quad version a prized collectors item.

When you consider the money that was put into, what was after all, just a ‘middle-of-the-road’ album, i would doubt UA ever recouped the cost of the elaborate artwork, let alone all the other costs related to such an ambitious release.

For a little more on the release, visit HERE (on the right of the page)

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS374p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Santana – Caravanserai

2 Jan

santana-caravanserai-ds308p-front

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS308p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Argent – In Deep

2 Jan

argent-in-deep-ds307p-front

 

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS307p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

 

 

George Blackmore – Live

17 Dec

george-blackmore-live-ds13p-front

It’s hard to believe that after almost 600 releases, this is the first album i’ve released of music played on a cinema/theatre organ. very much a sound of days gone by, but what a sound!

I have fond memories of going to the saturday morning cinema club, watching old cliff-hangers like ‘Flash Gordon’, ‘Buck Rogers’ and so many westerns, and at the beginning and end of the show we sang the club song, with the cinema’s organ being played by the local church organist.

Ah, the 60’s, such a magical time……

Of small interest, this was Doric’s first quadraphonic release, which is in SQ. I suspect this was used because it was the system used by the radio broadcaster who sourced the material for this release, as all quad releases afterwards were in QS.

Release: DS13p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A?V  MLP/DTS/DD

The Buddy Miles Band – Chapter VII

6 Dec

the-buddy-miles-band-chapter-vii-ds599p-front

I found this an easier album to get into than its follow-up, Booger Bear. More likely just personal taste.

Allmusic  Review

Release: DS599p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

 

 

Eberhard Schoener – Meditation

4 Dec

ebenhard-schoener-meditation-ds598p-front

Review 1  Review 2  Review 3

Release: DS598p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

 

 

Johnny Hammond – Higher Ground

30 Nov

johnny-hammond-higher-ground-ds128p-front

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS128p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

David Bedford – Instructions For Angels

28 Nov

david-bedford-instructions-for-angels-ds110p-front

This album is better known as the only mainstream album released in the UK in ‘BBC Matrix H’, although it was meant to be the first of a series of Quad albums to be released by Virgin, but the BBC’s decision to replace ‘H’ with the incompatible ‘HJ’ in the autumn of 1977 meant the project was brought to a sudden end. Thankfully it was released in SQ in France, which is the source for this release

For the Mike Oldfield fans out there, he appears on one of the tracks. David died on the 1st of October 2011, a great loss to the musical community.

I’d been putting off this reissue for a long time, originally planning to put it out as a dual disc, SQ and Matrix H, but after rethinking it out i saw little point in doing so as the decode performance on the SQ version out-stripped the Matrix H decode in every respect.

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS110p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

 

 

David Essex – Rock On

23 Nov

david-essex-rock-on-ds181p-front

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New Decode

Release: DS181p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

B.T.Express – Energy To Burn

18 Nov

b-t-express-energy-to-burn-ds597p-front

One of the slightly rarer late 70’s releases by Columbia

Allmusic

Release: DS597p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

The Firesign Theatre – I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus

15 Nov

the-firesign-theatre-i-think-we-are-all-bozos-on-this-bus-ds25p-front

This final decode shows that the mixers ignored the recomendations regarding where not to place sounds when mixing for SQ. They appear everywhere including the big no-no, centre rear, which is as rock solid as the centre front sounds.

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New Decode

Release: DS25p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

MFSB – Love Is The Message

13 Nov

mfsb-love-is-the-message-ds113p-front

Allmusic

Release: DS113p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Deodato 2

11 Nov

deodato-2-ds596p-front

Allmusic

Release: DS596p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Andy Williams – Love Theme From ‘The Godfather’

11 Nov

andy-williams-love-theme-from-the-godfather-ds284p-front

This album is one of my all time favourites, and it’s quite a surprise to me that it’s taken so long for me to get around to doing a ‘Phoenix’ decode of. Personally, it captures a period in time when anything still seemed possible and life had yet to become oppressive under the weight of what was yet to come, and from which this country has never recovered from.

Reissue: (D) New Decode

Release: DS284p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Santana – Greatest Hits

8 Nov

santana-greatest-hits-ds287p-front

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS287p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Neil Diamond – Serenade

4 Nov

neil-diamond-serenade-ds15p-front-uk-sq-lp

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New Source (UK SQ Release) and Decode

Release: DS15p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Barbra Streisand – Butterfly

29 Oct

barbra-streisand-butterfly-ds595p-front

Allmusic

Release: DS595p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Billy Paul – 360 Degrees Of

14 Oct

billy-paul-360-degrees-of-ds592p-front

Allmusic

Release: DS592p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

 

Morton Subotnick – Sidewinder

11 Oct

morton-subotnick-sidewinder-ds591p-front

Although this album is a bit of a slow starter, and quieter, i found the quad area to be used to good effect with some nice use of dynamics. I think Sidewinder just has the edge on his previous album Touch  in my view.

Release: DS591p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Janis Ian – Between The Lines

9 Oct

janis-ian-between-the-lines-ds31p-front

Another in the series of long overdue reissues.

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS31p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Phoebe Snow – Second Childhood

7 Oct

phoebe-snow-second-childhood-ds590p-front

Allmusic

Release: DS590p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Aerosmith – Rocks

3 Oct

aerosmith-rocks-ds21p-front

A long-overdue reissue

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New source and decode

Release: DS21p

Source: SQ LP

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

 

Be Bop Deluxe – In Concert 1976

19 Sep

be-bop-deluxe-in-concert-1976-ds349p-front

Recorded & broadcast, in stereo, live on BBC Radio 1 on the 2nd October 1976 at the Hammersmith Odeon, London. It was then remixed in quad by the BBC’s subscription service for broadcast overseas.

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS349p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

 

 

Yehudi Menuhin & Stephane Grappelli – Tea For Two

25 Aug

Mehuhin & Grappelli - Tea For Two DS585p front

Three years after releasing ‘Fascinatin’ Rhythm‘ the pair reunite for this album of standards, performed in their own unique style.

Release: DS585p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Thjis Van Leer – Introspection 3

23 Aug

Thijs van Leer - Introspection 3 DS415p front

This is another previously unlisted quad release. By the time it was released CBS had all but given up on quad, so it was just put out as a normal stereo release.

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New Decode

Release: DS415p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Thijs Van Leer – Introspection 2

23 Aug

Thijs van Leer - Introspection 2 DS67p front

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New Decode

Release: DS67p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Cosmic Jokers – Gilles Zeitschiff

11 Aug

Cosmik Jokers - Gilles Zeitschif DS580p front

Allmusic

Release: DS580p

Source:  SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

 

Stan Kenton – National Anthems Of The World

5 Aug

Stan Kenton - National Anthems Of The World DS579p front

In the spirit of the 2016 Olympic Games that start today in Rio, i present to you an album you can play to keep the spirit alive during the hours the games aren’t on the box.

Release: DS579p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Mike Oldfield – Collaborations

16 Apr

Mike Oldfield - Collaborations DS57p front

The 4th and final disc from “Boxed”

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS57p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V MLP/DTS/DD

Stan Kenton – Live At Brigham Young University

16 Apr

Stan Kenton - Live at Brigham Young University DS576p front

Release: DS576p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Mike Oldfield – Ommadawn

26 Mar

Mike Oldfield - Ommadawn DS56p front

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS56p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

The Taj-Mahal Travellers – 15th July 1972

26 Mar

The Taj-Mahal Travelers - July 15,1972 DS182p front

The Taj-Mahal Travellers were a legendary improvisational group from Tokyo who combined Eastern and Western instruments, electronics and vocal chants, and used heavy post-production processing to create unique long flowing jams, with deep organic droning and pulsing.

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS182p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Ray Conniff – The Way We Were

26 Mar

Ray Coniff - The Way We Were DS236f front

Withdrawn until further notice

Reissue: New decode

Release: DS236p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Morton Subotnick – Touch

26 Mar

Morton Subotnick - Touch DS364f front

Warning:

If you unaware of Morton Subotnick, or his compositions, it is advisable you do some research.  This is not everybody’s cup of tea!!!

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS364p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Andy Williams – An Evening With

26 Mar

Andy Williams - An Evening With DS402f front

This is the reasonably rare Japanese only release of a concert in Japan 1973.

I have very fond memories of the Andy Williams show on television, and i’ll admit to enjoying his albums to this day.

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS402p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Roberto Cacciapaglia – Sonanze

26 Mar

Roberto Cacciapaglia - Sonanze DS316p front

This is Roberto’s first electronic music album from 1974 that may possibily find favour with fans of early Klause Schulze, Tangerine Dream and the like. This release continues Roberto’s wishes that the album is heard as one continous track, with no chapter points.

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS316p

Source: SQ CD

Process: Phoenix

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

Azteca – Azteca

26 Mar

Azteca - Azteca DS138p front

Azteca was a Latin jazz-rock-fusion group formed in 1972, started by Coke Escovedo and his brother Pete Escovedo, who had played on Santana III (1971). Azteca was the first large-scale attempt to combine multiple musical elements in the context of a Latin orchestra setting, featuring horns, woodwinds, multiple keyboards, three vocalists, guitars, drums, and multiple Latin percussionists.

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS138p

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

The Cosmic Jokers – Galactic Supermarket

14 Mar

Cosmic Jokers - Galactic Supermarket DS570p front

Allmusic

Release:  DS570p

Original Release: KM58.010

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

 

 

George Benson – Body Talk

12 Mar

George Benson - Body Talk  DS341f front

Allmusic

Reissue: (D) New decode

Release: DS341p

Original release: CTI CTSQ-6033

Source: SQ CD

Process: ‘Phoenix’

Format: DVD-A/V  MLP/DTS/DD

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