The true merits of quadraphonics

With no personal experience of quadraphonics, I am by intuition somehow led to believe that there could be significant benefit in having exactly four speakers, adjusted just right?

Actually what drives me to believe this is the proper inability of any stereo speakers I’ve ever heard to reproduce midbass knocking behind my right shoulder in a particular track. (Experienced with headphones obviously)

Quadraphonics was a very early attempt to break the 2-channel paradigm in audio. It never gained traction with consumers. I’m not sure why. But more importantly, multi-channel home theater later emerged as a technology the average consumer bought into. Specialized gear and signal processing algorithms, based on some modicum of established industry standards, made multi-channel audio whether for cinema or music only palatable. So, IMHO there was nothing inherently substandard about quadraphonics. It was ahead of its’ time but with no pressing market demand to keep it alive. Eventually superseded by 5.1 home theater (and variants) that sought to achieve the same thing, ambient effects.

I pursued quadraphonics in early 70’s with discrete phono cartridge for the format, 4-channel reel to reel decks, 4-JBL 100’s and a Marantz 4430 quadraphonic receiver. The Marantz 4430 had a Vari-Matrix feature that allowed user to synthesize quadraphonic with 2-channel sources. The 4430 was a fun and enjoyable piece and surpassed all the other quad equipment I had. I eventually gifted it to a godson. Later, I also purchased a Carver Sonic Hologram generator. It was interesting, but listener had to be be very locked in to a specific location for the effect.

Long ago and far away but I can still remember…

A friend of mine had a square room that he put a one inch thick glass table 1 beer case above the ground. He threw pillows around the room and a speaker in each corner hooked to a Sanusi or something quad receiver. In the center of the ceiling he hung a weighted roach clip on a long string. If you couldn’t catch it you didn’t need it.

Dark Side of the Moon was just released, and we had a quad copy. It wasn’t unusual to just keep flipping it over until someone had a better idea.

I remember think quad was just fine in that room but not so much for me in my rooms. Of course now Stereo is so capable we don’t need quad. But I enjoyed it during its brief existence.

1 Like

You bring back memories of my 1st system that was also Marantz-based. Their 4300 receiver fitted out with the CD-4 disc demodulator and SQ decoder which fit underneath the bottom of the casework. Pioneer PL-61 turntable with a Pickering XUV-4500-Q cartridge, Dokorder 7140 reel-to-reel and four Cerwin-Vega 211R speakers. It gave me many years of good service.

But… CAN stereo fool me to hear that the midbass is sharply knocking behind my shoulder? This is a track from Autechre, st epreo, full of bountiful aural tricks and grooves. It lasts just a second at one point with good headphones that yes, it knocked my shoulder from behind.

Is this a rare effect? I am not familiar with listening to a whole lot of aural music out there, have you encountered such phantom phasings that make themselves apparent “from behind”?
With headphones especially there is the technique of recording with a plastic head with ear mikes. Autechre might have sampled a binaural recording OR they might have mimicked it!
To mimic it, I am left to wonder and admire. Would love to understand how Mr. Phase plays its aural mind games for us.

I am especially left wondering if stereo can indeed mimic (or should we say reproduce) binaural sound. I think… Steve Guttenberg’s Youtube, there’s an interview of this guy with glasses who is working with such feats with precision DSP or smth. With Wilson speakers, which he says are “just okay”, comparing them to headphones I guess.

1 Like