The Quad F.A.Q.

resemble Stereo-8  cartridges. QUAD-8 tapes allocate tape tracks 
differently, combining tracks 1, 3, 5, and 7 to Program 1 and combining 
tracks 2, 4, 6, and 8 into Program 2.  QUAD-8 cartridges contain a small 
vertical notch in the top left corner, so the QUAD-8 player can 
automatically set up the proper program/track configuration.  
Unlike the various quad LP formats, which used matrix or 
demodulation schemes to retain full compatibility with existing stereo 
record players, QUAD-8 cartridges provide "discrete" four-channel audio. 
QUAD-8 cartridges won't properly reproduce on a Stereo-8 player, but 
QUAD-8 players can reproduce Stereo-8 cartridges. 
heads and circuitry which contacts the correct group of four tracks, and 
produces four discrete (separate) channels of audio output.  QUAD-8 
players also can play Stereo-8 tapes, but QUAD-8 tapes won't 
satisfactorily play in a conventional Stereo-8 deck.  
Prominent makers of Quad-8 decks include Akai, Panasonic, Pioneer, 
Wollensak, Electrophonic,  Realistic, and Sanyo.  However, some 
combination 8-track player/receivers prominently trumpet simulated 
quadraphonic sound (i.e. "quatravox", "quadradial", "4D", "quad 
matrix").  Some of these "impostor" Quad decks even have 4-channel 
joysticks!  Unless a player is plainly  labeled QUAD-8, Q-8,  or 
DISCRETE QUADRAPHONIC 8-TRACK, the unit won't play Q8 tapes in discrete 
quad. The "pseudo-Quad" decks merely provide simulated surround sound 
from regular Stereo audio - they lack playback heads designed for 
QUAD-8. playback.  
MUSIC TAPES: RCA and Columbia far exceeded other companies in terms of 
QUAD-8 tape releases. Other companies committed to significant numbers 
of QUAD-8 releases include A&M, ABC, Command, and Warner Group 
(Elektra/Nonesuch/Asylum Records).  Curiously, very few QUAD-8 titles 
were issued by EMI (Capital Records/Angel), by Decca/London, or the 
Polygram labels. QUAD-8 tapes on the Polydor, Mercury, Decca/London, 
Philips, and Deutsche Grammophon labels are extremely rare.  
CHRONOLOGY:  Introduced in the fall of 1970, shortly after the initial 
appearance of quadraphonic open-reel decks and tapes, QUAD-8 tapes were 
available a year before the initial quadraphonic vinyl LP records 
appeared on the market.  
Some of the earliest QUAD-8 tape releases were "remixes" from older 
multi-track stereo releases. Among the initial RCA QUAD-8s: the 1964 
soundtrack to "The Sound of Music" and the 1962 Reiner/Chicago 
Symphony album of Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra."  After 1971, most 
QUAD-8 releases were albums specifically mixed down for quad playback, 
often with truly stupendous (if controversial) aural effects. 
QUAD-8 tapes generally retailed for $1 more than Stereo-8 tapes. Part of 
this additional cost reflected the greater volume of tape jammed into a 
QUAD-8 cartridge, to offset playback time lost due to  elimination of 
two programs.  A few QUAD-8 releases were issued on two cartridges, 
or had some editing. 
QUAD-8 tapes were unsuccessful commercially. Some explanations for this 
*The public resented the industry's Quad LP "format wars". the lack of a 
uniform and high quality Quad LP system would tarnish acceptance of all 
Surround Sound home formats for many years. 
*Some equipment makers cheapened product quality in order to provide 
Quad capability at a price comparable to regular stereo. The resulting 
low-fi audio systems, with cheaper amplifiers, cut-rate tape transports, 
and mediocre speakers, turned off many prospective buyers from Quad 
*QUAD-8 cartridges were somewhat less convenient than Stereo-8 
cartridges. Instead of four programs,  there were only two programs. 
QUAD-8 playback decks were about 30% more expensive than Stereo-8 decks, 
and very few record decks had QUAD-8 record capability. Maximum playing 
time was half that of Stereo-8. 
*QUAD-8 cartridges used thinner tape (similar to double-play 90-minute 
Stereo-8s), increasing the risk of tape print-through and mechanism jamming. 
*The Arab Oil Embargo of late 1973/74, and the corresponding price 
inflation, drastically curtailed consumer discretionary spending.  In 
the United States and other industrial countries, consumers struggled to 
buy gasoline and other inflation-impacted necessities.  They ignored 
costly frills such as Quad sound equipment. 
QUAD-8 releases peaked out during 1973-74, and sharply declined by 1976. 
The final commercial QUAD-8 tape release, in 1978, apparently was Isao 
Tomita electronic synthesizer performance of Holst's "The Planets" on 
RCA's Red Seal label. (This also was the final CD-4 Quadradisc LP title). 
COLLECTING QUAD-8 CARTRIDGES:  QUAD-8 tapes have become something of a 
"holy grail", as these tapes have become very scarce. Titles from EMI 
and Polygram labels (i.e. Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon") are 
exceptionally hard to locate in QUAD-8 format.  If you seriously collect 
QUAD-8s, build a network with other collectors, share "wish lists", and 
make trades when you locate desirable tapes. 
Ron Bensley 
More on quad:
Quad 8-track was more successful at home than in the car. Almost anyone
who made home decks had a quad version. The biggies - Sony, Akai, Pioneer,
Wollensak, Technics and others - also made quadraphonic RECORDERS. 
into quad is even more justification for being into 8 tracks than otherwise. Quad 8 track and open-reel are the 
only true discrete 4-channel sources around...almost everything else is just 
matrixed into two channels.
For vinyl, the CD-4 (aka Quadradisc) format had the rear channel information 
stored at high frequencies on the record, and required a special cartridge 
that worked up to 50,000 Hz in order to play the records back in quad. 
The rear channel info was MATRIXED 
onto the record - just like FM stereo, only doubled. Discrete to me means 
four channel source - period. CD4 was a two-channel source with the other 
two piggybacked on top - and by the way, never really worked well. The 
theory is: Left channel F + L channel R on one side, normal frequencies; 
LF minus LR on upper frequencies. Added (LF+LR + LF-LR) gives you LF 
only; Subtracted (LF+LR minus LF-LR) gives you LR only. Same goes for the 
right channel. At least that's how it was supposed to work. Trouble was, 
the act of playing the record several times shaved off the 
already-fragile upper frequencies. And that's assuming the record was 
pressed perfectly to begin with! People talk about conspiracies and such, 
but one of the reasons quad failed first time around was not just the 
multitude of technologies - it was because a lot of them never worked 
properly. Give me quad 8's and open reels any time - no decoding, no 
demodulating - just 4 separate tracks. Boy, just imagine what a quad CD 
could have been like!

Comments are closed.