June 7, 2014 | Posted in MUSIC, VINYL RECORDS | By Jason Sositko
One specialty area of Vinyl record collecting is quadraphonic. This basically means records that have a special sound mix of 4.0 surround sound.
Many times these records can sell for 3 or 4 times the amount of the regular stereo issue as well.
Here’s a list of vinyl records that are quadraphonic.
Some of these records can sound very different from their stereo counterpart, and not always better I might add, but I’ve found a few that were exceptional:
Take Miles Davis’ Jazz Rock masterpiece Bitches Brew for instance, the Quad mix really Brings out all the instruments, and the echo on the trumpet is very startling, I can’t find the adjectives to do it justice.
To get the exact experience intended, you could invest in the original equipment and decoders for each version.
I have had success with the pro-logic setting on my receiver, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and Live-Evil sound very different from the original vinyl releases on the pro-logic setting. I also experimented with the “effect” controls on my JVC receiver. I was able to decrease the echo to the effect I liked the best. It’s all a matter of personal taste of course.
The trumpet has added punch, some times I feel I have to add a little punch on the bottom end with some vintage quad releases, perhaps this is a limitation of not having the original equipment?
Here’s what vintage quad equipment is selling for now on eBay’s secondary market.
What is Quadraphonic?
“Quad is an early 4.0 sound mix, or early surround sound that needed special equipment, this was basically the precursor to surround sound as we know it.”
Below is a cool YouTube video from someone showing off their impressive Quadraphonic LP collection.
Using Dolby Pro-Logic settings for quadraphonic?
SQ or QS = 5.1 play back
CD4 = need decoder.
If I find a quad LP in thrift store bin I never pass it up, as these records are rare and typically in very playable condition, as your typical quadraphonic buyer was an audiophile, and usually took great care of their vinyl.
I have been seriously collecting vinyl now for about 9 years, I had amassed a rather large collection of these records, and when I would cross compare them to the normal stereo issues, I would hear very different mixes.
I mentioned above, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and Live Evil in particular, sound amazing in the quad format using the Pro-Logic setting on my receiver.
I also have a sampler LP, with “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” from Bitches Brew, that sampler’s version of Miles’ “Voodoo” sounds different to my ears than the double vinyl quad Bitches Brew I have.
Miles’ Solo on “Voodoo” is stupendous, I think that sampler is the definitive way to hear that solo by the way. The reverb or “echo” on that track does seem to do something for the recording I really find appealing.
The records that are marked with SQ or QS sound incredibly different, not always better to my ears, Santana’s Abraxas comes to mind, as not sounding that good at all. way to much echo, the vocals don’t seem natural either.
Some quad records I have did not have any discernible difference in sound, I did not realize at the time, I needed a decoder for the records marked CD4, as this was the only discreet quad mix, and just sound bad in the Pro-Logic setting.
The CD4 marked quad pressings sound OK using the regular stereo settings, But I would rather listen to the original through the Pro-Logic, as at least it doesn’t sound synthetic, as on the quad CD4 pressing. Also is worth noting that, some people have reported that the Pro-Logic setting only pushes the sound to the center on these SQ or QS LP’s. I have not experienced this.
Perhaps they have ears that are better trained, or possibly they have a super sensitive, or not sensitive enough receiver. The bottom line is for me: I don’t hear this push to the center at all.
I would like to get the vintage equipment someday, but I am just not ready to spend hundreds or thousands on a vintage system, that might be impossible to return.
Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon Quadraphonic Versions
The Pink Floyd Immersion box sets are geared toward the fan boy, no doubt about that. Also the audiophile who can’t get enough of the different sound mixes could spend hours listening to the same music over and over.
If you are Pink Floyd fanatic, you probably will need these sets. You do get a lot of extras, things like a nice book, marbles, drink coasters, and lots of cards and photos. I suppose it would be cool to get to hear the 4.0 Quadraphonic sound mixes.
Be Careful Buying Vintage Quadraphonic Receivers Online.
I have to tell you, be careful buying vintage quad equipment like this online. If you’re not experienced, make sure that the seller knows how much it will cost them to ship the item in question.
Many times I have run across people, even when I bought vinyl from sellers that didn’t know about Media Mail, they tried to ship Priority and pass their “not advertised” charge on to me.
Media mail is not available for shipment of an item like this. A inexperience seller might not realize that shipping is based on weight and distance,if the seller is in California, and the buyer is in Maine, you’re talking about huge costs, that might blow the sellers profits out the window.
I can promise you this, and it has happened to me with other larger heavy weight purchases, you’ll get that email saying : “Sorry but shipping costs 3 times more than I thought, I am going to need more money for the shipping”.
All you can do, is give them a negative feedback, but many times they will just close out that account and open another one. It might not be a bad idea to reason this into your purchase to begin with. So it is probably not a bad idea to expect something like this, you can go to the USPS Shipping Calculator and check the cheapest shipping method to get an idea, yeah I know, the seller should have done this before setting the shipping price.
As a vinyl record seller on eBay, I know off the top of my head how much any specific number of vinyl shipped is going cost, but new sellers make the mistake of listing large lots of vinyl and then putting a charge that I know is half of what real costs are going to be. They don’t understand vinyl can be shipped the cheapest Media Mail route.
Many times I will contact these guys and let them know what’s up, sometimes they are happy for the tip, other times they don’t listen.
Also if a seller says that shipping must be calculated after auction, they’ll factor in the distance of the shipment. Be clear that you will not accept a shipping charge above postage + packing material costs. Understand though, packing material could cost up to $5.00 to pack a heavy and fragile item safely.
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Jason Sositko, a freelance writer and entrepreneur is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I also use services such as Viglink and Skimlinks to earn income via links placed inside articles.
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August 16, 2017
Thank-you for all this wonderful info. I have some quad records and was looking into getting a decoder but I have a dbx 224 already hooked up for transferring vinyl to reel to reel tape. I tried some quadraphonic records using the dbx decoder and some of them (columbia quadraphonic) sounded excellent through 4 speakers. Do you know if a dvx unit decodes them properly or is this wishful thinking on my part. Thanks in advance for any info you can provide.
March 3, 2018
A DBX decoder is only of use for decoding DBX noise reduction encoded material and has nothing to do with the Phase Matrix encoded systems like SQ and QS, so i’m afraid what your hearing isn’t quad.
Using Dolby Pro-logic on any of the quad systems will only give you ‘something’ coming out of the rears, but in no way is it correct.
The only way to truly enjoy the delights of Quadraphonic playback is to either use a true decoder for the particular system the lp is encoded in (as none of them are compatible with each other) of to aquire a properly decoded version from elsewhere.
I used to run a blog devoted to the decoding of these albums and am pleased that the record companies have finally woken up to the fact that they have many priceless treasres locked away in their vsuts, with a number of them being made available again in discrete using either DTS, DVD-A or SACD.
On the point that some of the quad mixes don’t sound good or right in stereo is because they really weren’t meant to. They only come alive when correctly decoded, because that is the way they were meant to be played.
March 3, 2018
A small point i forgot to make regarding DBX encoded records. There were a small number of QS encoded albums released as DBX encoded versions by ‘Turnabout’ in the USA in the 1970’s and a few others on Japan too.
November 11, 2018
How many LPS (quad) were usually pressed ? Do prior sales indicate a Quad pressing for cost effectiveness (most likely).. Mott the Hoople “the Hoople” is a drastically different mix ,which is quite thrilling.tnx,John/PHL/USA
March 17, 2021
I tried playing SQ LP’s with Pro Logic and all I get is 4 channel stereo. The same in every speaker.