Cyko'z Quad & Surround

By CykoMF CykoMF
updated 26 days ago

The story so far...

I scored an old quad copy of DSOTM from a friend and decided to give it a spin one day. Suddenly discovered my DTS surround system automatically detected and decoded the quadraphonic surround SQ signal, pushing it through my existing surround channel speaker setup. So I didn't have to lift a finger to get (an at least passable) quad system working to hear these surround mixes. Sue-weet!

It was mildly enticing. Not exactly a Maxell cassette tape commercial 'blow you back in your seat' moment but still, pretty cool. I actually heard things in the surround nook and crannies that simply do not exist in the stereo version of this beloved classic rock album that I'm sure (we all) have heard thousands of times before. It was a fun wake up, sparking a new fire lighting the way down a new path to hunt and discover.

This got me to digging through my collection to re-discover any more quad pressings I had tucked away over the years. Then I started picking up more, actively hunting specific titles, finding the odd one in a dollar bin somewhere. Collectors out there know the drill. I decided to leave some notes about my interpretations as I attempt to find and play em all before I blow up this surround rig. Also found out there are what appear to be legitimate sites documenting suckers. I've been staying away from them so the reviews don't taint my impression. So far so good.

Not to be considered a comprehensive review by any means, this is just an independent and personal listing of some of the cool things noticed during my listening experiences. I may try to impose a rating scale at some point but ratings are so subjective, meh.

Feel free to contact me you you'd like to compare notes on different pressings, mixes or whatever.
Especially if you have a bunch of Quads you'd like to dump on someone eager to accept them!

May contain spoilers!

Those of you looking to discover these releases on your own should not read any further.

  1. Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon

    17 For Sale from $64.94

    This is the one that kicked off the surround sound quadraphonic re-discovery.
    Thanks Dean! I think.

    This copy is a little scruffy, plays with just a little noise during the quiet bits. Still a good fun listen. Every so often I hear this album and pick out something that I didn't notice in the ga-zillion other times that I'd heard it. Was hoping to achieve a mega-dose of that experience on here but sadly, no, not too many. There are a few though. I figure my expectations were perhaps a bit high.

    The surround effect here is mostly ambiance and instrument placement with conservative deviation from the original mix. There are some new background bits enabled in the quad mix and preexisting ones that now have a lot more definition, probably because of the expanded placement options.

    A real surprise during the transition from Breathe to On The Run because of the speaker placement near the hallway to my front door had me questioning who the hell was in my house! LOL I'd never heard the mysterious visitor walk in and speak before. It was fan but overall not the Maxell tape commercial blow your hair back moment I anticipated.

    Seem there were a couple of 'missed opportunities' on this one. They could have added some real 'wow factor' if they'd added a bit more 4 channel swirling during Time and a few of the other trippy bits like the intro to Money.

    I found it considerably more immersive than the stereo version, obviously, with some shifts to the instrument and effect placement.

    Update: I ran across a bootleg quad version and did an A/B test. See that review for more detail.

    * Follow up. The 5.1 digital mix wasn't much improvement. Guess you just don't mess with a masterpiece.

    WARNING... spoilers ahead!

  2. John Lee Hooker - Free Beer And Chicken

    12 For Sale from $22.89

    This was actually one of the first Quad albums I'd acquired.
    Didn't even know it at the time I received it.
    Thanks Bernd my friend, where ever you are!

  3. Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar Babies

    17 For Sale from $21.00

    Interesting that the more expensive (at time of release) quad release cheeped out on the gatefold billfold cover. It has no die cut money clip, no billion dollar bill poster and no perforated trading cards.

    Sound is kinda flat to me, I was actually expecting a lot more from a Bob Ezrin production. The surround effect is there albeit very discreet. Seems like it's just ambiance, and at times the reverb actually muddys up the mix a bit.

    Not sure if they were unsure how to use the equipment or just left things to the engineer who had no idea how to fiddle for effect. Maybe they were told not to mess with Ezrin's mix, I dunno.

    In fairness, my copy is a bit marked up and kinda noisy in the quiet bits. I'd really like to have a nice clean copy and give it another chance sometime.

    As for now I'll call this one disappointing, a lackluster mix of an awesome classic rock album, worthy of far better sonic treatment!

  4. Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother

    10 For Sale from $25.97


    My copy is kinda marked up and there is quite a bit of 'rice krispies' in the quiet bits. Somewhat distracting at times but still, lots of cool phasing and flange effect. Sounds like you are actually sitting in the house space as the voices move around the room.

    I'd rather like to get a clean copy of this one to play before I get into any real critical analysis.

  5. The Doors - The Best Of The Doors

    8 For Sale from $10.00

    This was my first brand new/sealed Quad disc.
    Ahhhhh, pristine virgin pressing.
    Actually smelled like the early 1970's when I cracked the seal on this bad boy!

    Very enjoyable listen. Lots of good tunes. Mostly discreet ambient effect with excellent instrument placement and a few odd bits thrown in for fun. The storm effects on Riders sounds like it's actually coming from outside the room.

    Really really like the surround mix of 'People Are Strange' on this one!

  6. The Mothers - Over-Nite Sensation

    11 For Sale from $14.99

    Talk about yer 'Vigorous Circular Motion'
    Dihna-Mo Humm in Quad!

    Freaky cool vocal effect on the 'Whip me up some dragon lotion...' line. Background vocals seem to fill the peripherals while the front channels change focus throughout the program.

    I will play this one again (and again) because I thought I heard some slight differences in the mix that I need to compare to the other versions. Expect a better report after the next listen.

  7. Various - An Introduction To The World Of SQ Quadraphonic Sound

    53 For Sale from $1.50

    Actually had this one sitting around for a while and finally spun it.
    It's a sampler so, kinda 'meh' but, had a few interesting moments.
    Some of which were not so subtle.
    I.E. the Ten Years After track, Wow!
    Definitely going to get that LP!

  8. Santana - Abraxas

    28 For Sale from $2.99

    Features a noticeably different mix of Black Magic Woman, very cool trick with the swirling congas! Some of the phasing effects induced a mild sense of motion. An awesome listen, I'm definitely going to play this one again!

  9. Jeff Beck - Blow By Blow

    11 For Sale from $6.00

    This one sounds really cool.
    My copy has a mild edge warp and as a result, the needle hops quite a bit on one side, ruining the first track's playback. Rest of the album sounds incredibly huge.

    Gotta upgrade this one!

    *This is the older 'fan' logo label copy.
    I did get another copy, with the little 'e' labels, it's kinda marked up tho.
    Keep hunting. . .

  10. Black Sabbath - Paranoid

    9 For Sale from $40.00

    I've been looking forward to hearing this one and was not disappointed. Not much 'sonic trickery' on this one but the mix is loud and very clean, there is some rather noticeable instrument separation adding to the massive sound of this album. Have to play it twice cuz it sounds so nice. War Pigs is just incredible, with the panning guitars and Ozzy's vocals moving around you almost forget about drums and bass till they thunder in causing a mild start.

    There were some missed opportunities too but still a really great listen!

  11. The Who - Tales From The Who

    1 For Sale from $125.00

    First disc is a little harsh, little to no surround effect noticeable.
    Second disc is much better. The moving piano bit was unexpected.

    Story is they had some problems with the tapes used during the actual performance. I'm sure that didn't help matters.

    Hey, what does one expect from a Quad bootleg concert recording anyway?

  12. Deep Purple - Machine Head

    8 For Sale from $18.99

    I'm waiting for a special occasion to spin this one. stay tuned.
    Also picked up the (Stereo?) CD which is supposed to have the quad mix on it.
    Wanted to try to do an A/B test with both copies playing at the same time. Will advise.

  13. Jeff Beck Group - Jeff Beck Group

    13 For Sale from $3.99

    The song 'Going Down' sounds so dam awesome in surround!
    Serious instrument separation and some movement of the vocal, something kinda odd going on with the hand claps too. I had to play this one again right away because once wasn't enough.

    The mix is very spacious and just sounds huge! Like it extends beyond the room.

  14. Deodato* / Airto* - In Concert

    11 For Sale from $5.62

    I hope this will be a great one to crank up loud on a hot summer day, stay tuned.

  15. Mountain - The Best Of Mountain

    7 For Sale from $9.00

    Not much 'sonic effect' other than instrument placement. I'd like to compare this one to the standard Stereo pressing and see how much difference there really was in it. Sounded just a little flat to me but I played it right after listening to the Jeff Beck Group so, there's that.

  16. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir* & The Columbia Symphony Orchestra* - Climb Every Mountain

    23 For Sale from $1.30

    Got this one for free, and for good reason, it's a big steamy cup of 'meh'!

    Not my thing musically but, a good (accurate) recording with nice room ambiance to it.
    Puts me to sleep however.

  17. Miles Davis - Bitches Brew

    23 For Sale from $26.50

    Birthday present. Awesome. The quad mix provides a more spacious pallet for instrument separation, surround effects are subtle, not much 'wow' factor or studio trickery on this one, just good solid sound. There is a bit of weird phasing on the guitar solos and Miles' reverb at times but it is not really distracting.

  18. Frank Zappa - Apostrophe (')

    15 For Sale from $11.22

    B-day present, 2015.
    Simply awesome! the surround mix is spacious and as the label would imply, discreet. Front channel changes 'focus' throughout the album, at times making Frank's phase shifted vocal lines 'pop' right out atcha. The drum solo on the title track sounds like I'm sitting right in the kit, excellent placement. There are some trippy ping pong effects on the vocals at times but it's not overdone. Background voices to pop out at times too. Excellent definition on the guitar solo. Not sure that I ever realized this before but it sounds like Frank's pick noise was captured in the recording.

    Missed opportunity: A 'vigorous circular motion' on Nanook. The disembodied echoing 'we-ell-ell-ell' part is pretty cool tho!

  19. Eugene List, Frank Glazer, Barry Snyder, Maria Luisa Faini, Samuel Adler, Eastman School Of Music Piano Faculty - Monster Concert

    14 For Sale from $3.50

    Found it in my basement, not sure if I'm keeping it tho.
    The effect on this one is mostly just hall ambiance. There is very good separation effect when the multiple pianos are playing against each other. Overall sounds great but just not much surround excitement on this one.
    Lots of 'missed opportunities' in the program.

  20. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland

    35 For Sale from $6.02

    OK, I know this one isn't listed as a Quad release but, a friend grinned and told me to give it a try. Wow!

    The first track is enough to get the room spinning, there are a couple minor rough spots where the stereo phasing effects Jimi used reacted a little unexpectedly, mildly distracting. Overall it was a fun listen, worthy of a repeat performance once WI legalize it.

  21. Percy Faith His Orchestra And Chorus* - Day By Day

    20 For Sale from $3.99

    got this on BF-RSD for a buck.
    May have overpaid a little bit. LOL

  22. Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Stars & Stripes Forever And Other Favorite Marches

    4 For Sale from $3.65

    got this on BF-RSD for a buck also.
    Same feelings here.
    Maybe on 4th of July.

    Was actually better than anticipated. July Forth weekend aided digestion immensely.
    Very good environmental acoustics and separation. Not much effect actually, I had to increase the rear channels a bit. A rousing performance as you'd expect.

  23. The Eleventh House With Larry Coryell - Introducing The Eleventh House

    9 For Sale from $6.00

    This one provides a fun listen. The opening drum parts were a little wild, I actually had to add a quarter gram extra tracking force to prevent some groove hop issues.

    Lots of bang for the buck here!

  24. Blood, Sweat & Tears* - Mirror Image

    11 For Sale from $7.65

    Got a clean copy of this one for $2 in 2015.
    Finally played it in 2016. Not a bad album, notable jams with the keyboards moving around in the mix at times. Kinda minimal on the experimental effects. The cover would suggest a bit more, um, reflection.

  25. Frank Marino - Juggernaut

    7 For Sale from $4.23

    It is not listed as a Quad pressing but it is definitely mixed for it. Discovered this one by accident, around the same time I was playing with the Quad pressing of Dark Side of the Moon.

    I did an A/B test with the standard (non CX) pressing and found this one to be a superior experience.