Don's Blog

My New Hobby / Addiction

Back in the 1970s there was an LP format called Quadraphonic or simply Quad. It was an early multi-channel format that would be equivalent to what is now called 4.0 surround sound. To enjoy a Quad record you needed a turntable, Quad amplifier or receiver, 4 speakers and Quad encoded records. One of the problems was that multiple standards requiring additional decoders and a special (expensive) phono cartridge. All depending on what standard a particular record label chose to implement. Here is a typical Quad speaker layout. I jumped in with both feet with a complete setup and as you can see, I was really happy.

Quad Insert

I loved it while it lasted. Quad arrived and left in to 70s and I moved on. Until now.

It seems that over the past few years there have been efforts to recover old master tapes for some of these old Quad recordings. A very select few of them have been released on Blu Ray audio discs. I've purchased them as they've become available. Jethro Tull, The Doobie Brothers, Chicago, Santana and more. All in glorious 1970s Quad! But what about the 100s of Quad albums that have not and may never be released. Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" comes to mind. What to do?

I started scouting eBay for albums that I'm interested in enjoying in Quad. I still own my trusty 1970s turntable equipped with an Audio Technica AT14sa for CD-4 Quad. I was even able to find a "new old stock" stylus on eBay. I've got a high quality phono pre-amp connected to my Mac so that I can capture these gems and digitize them for listening. I refurbed my turntable and aligned the cartridge to perfection so I'm good to go. Right? Not so fast.

It turns out that capturing these is a turning out to be a real PITA. I need a "special" preamp and software that can decode the captured audio into 4 channels. I figured that I'd need the software but finding the correct preamp has been, well, interesting. I'm trading e-mails with another enthusiast who lives in the Loire valley in France. He wrote an excellent book that covers everything that I want to do and developed software for the Mac that will help. He's been very generous with his time answering questions for me. His ebook set me back a whopping $7 and is turning out to be an invaluable asset. Well worth the small investment.

Screen Shot 2021-03-22 at 3.17.42 PM

So that's the story so far. If there is any interest I'll follow-up on this post with details of my success. Or I may just do it for therapy as this is driving me crazy.