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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Chris/Darwin Quadraphonic sound, what happened to it? (34) RE: Quadraphonic sound, what happened to it? 07 Jan 00

I heard my first really good stereo system in about 1963 - a (rich) friend set up his 28W/channel valve amp/Wharfedale mega-box speakers/Shure magnetic cartridge stereo system in the Town Hall we were setting up in at the time. It sounded as close to a full orchestra as I have ever heard from a stereo system in a public hall.

It seems to me that stereo equipment companies have been trying to reproduce this sound in our living rooms ever since. In a large hall, you get all sorts or reflections and reverberations, which add to the whole experience of listening to a symphony orchestra in a concert hall.

Current "surround sound" systems try to capture the experience of watching Star Wars in a theatre. Space ships roaring past from the right. Somebody having a coughing fit on the left..!

The best systems introduce reverberation (with choice of room dynamics) and come close to the theatre experience. The rear speakers initially tried to capture the reflected sound off the back of a hall, but I am not sure what they attempt these days! The side speakers in the new formats permit film makers to bring action in from the side.

Quadraphonic did none of this. It broke a musical source into 4, and had a bit coming out of each speaker. Like sitting in the MIDDLE of Mingus's band! I am sure that being so close to Mingus was quite instructive, but after the novelty wore off, most people realised that there was something basically unnatural about sitting in the middle of a band. Most people liked the experience of sitting amongst lots of other music lovers listening to their favourite band/orchestra in a hall-type situation. Sitting in the middle of the stage was UNNATURAL!

Even if the greed of various companies hadn't killed off quad with different standards, it would have eventually died anyway. I suppose sensitive use of the technology could have resulted in accurate reproduction of theatre experiences, but the music produced at the time did not do that. What a waste! Why are music industry people such philistines!!


Regards Chris

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