Quadrafile

Quadrafile was a record released in 1976 as a demonstration of the four systems of quadraphonic sound reproduction.

Background

The record was a double album, with four sides containing identical material presented in each of the four quadraphonic sound formats: SQ, QS, CD-4 and UD-4. These had evolved as the result of four competing companies (CBS, Sansui, JVC and Nippon Columbia respectively) pursuing their own quadraphonic systems independently. This, and the incompatibility of the systems were factors in the slow uptake and eventual downfall of quadraphonic recordings.

The project was put together by Mike Thorne, then editor of Studio Sounds magazine. Able to persuade JVC and CBS via his own contacts, he soon found agreement from Sansui and Nippon Columbia and all four companies agreed to encode a side of the album each. Assembling material was more difficult since compilations spanning record labels were not as commonplace as they eventually became.

Tracks

The eventual album included a set of single and paired reference sounds, a surround-sound demonstration named "Electronic Footsy" (created in collaboration with engineer Tony Faulkner), a Stéphane Grappelli violin duet and two classical pieces by Mahler and Bartok, the latter being conducted by Pierre Boulez.

The album also included an excerpt from Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and Pink Floyd's "Money". To ensure consistency in the mastering process, Thorne took possession of the actual master tapes of Dark Side of the Moon, which caused him considerable paranoia to the extent that he hid it inside his piano, reasoning that a burglar was unlikely to steal such a hefty object.

Reception

The album was released just as quadraphonic sound was on the wane. Only 1,000 numbered copies were pressed and are extremely rare collector's items. This is further compounded by the fact that these albums represent the only example of material by collectable artists such as Mike Oldfield and Pink Floyd being presented in the QS, CD-4 and UD-4 formats.

Stereo Society page on the making of 'Quadrafile'

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