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Quadraphonic Dark Side of the Moon


TheGoodRev
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I'm sure there are many of you here who have similar feelings towards Dark Side of the Moon as I do. I first heard the record when I was probably about 14, loved it and listened to it regularly for probably a 2 or 3 years, but now that I know the record like the back of my hand I simply don't listen to it very often. Of course I still love it and appreciate its contribution, but I'd rather listen to something that is a little less ingrained into my psyche.

Until this week, that is, when my roomate came across a torrent of a rip of a quadraphonic pressing of Dark Side of the Moon. There is apparently some audiophile who, in the 60's and 70's, got his mitts of two copies of every pressing of just about every album he fancied. So for all the Beatles records, for example, that were released in mono and stereo [a few also in quad], this dude bought two of each; one to listen to, and one to keep in the plastic. So now that he's getting older, and we are capable of ripping these vinyl records in high quality, he's opening up all his quad releases, ripping them and torrenting them, and this is one of those albums.

I remember reading once that, when stereo-sound capability was first being developed, it was decided that music was best listened to using three speakers - left, centre and right - such that the lead vocal or instrument would come from the centre speaker, and the accompaniment would come from the left and right speakers, and mixed accordingly. To avoid high cost to the consumer, however, it was decided that if the lead vocal or instrument was to come at equal volume from both the left and right speakers, it would create the illusion of a third, centre speaker. Quadraphonic sound, of course, utilizes four speakers, one at each corner of the listening area. It is the grandaddy of surround sound, but doesn't utilize a centre speaker or separate subwoofer, simply four cone/horn combination cabinets (ideally). Anyway we discovered that if we burned the files to an audio CD, playing them in a standard player yeilded nothing but white noise. Popped it into the deck connected to the surround sound, though, and it worked like magic.

To use an old cliche for lack of a better term, hearing this mix was like hearing the record for the first time. There are guitar and piano/keyboard parts, not to mention tons and tons of voice samples, that must have been completely buried in the stereo mix, because I could swear I was hearing them for the first time. This mix was done separately from the stereo mix; that is, Alan Parsons twice sat down with the raw tracks and mixed them from scratch, once in stereo and once in quad. This mix is also completely unrelated to the surround mix that appears on the recently released DVD audio version of the album. The surround mix did not involve Alan Parsons and was done recently, expressly for the release of the audio DVD. Haven't heard it, but I hear it doesn't hold a candle to the original quad mix.

Anyway, it seems like they took a different approach to each song in this mix. In some cases, like Money, the drums, bass and vocal are all mixed evenly in the front two speakers, with the back left exclusively containing the rhythm guitar, and the back right containing the Rhoads. The sax solo seems to come from the front left, the beginning of the guitar solo from the back left, and so on. After the quieter break down in the middle of the guitar solo, as the solo becomes louder again, it travels clockwise each bar from speaker to speaker, thought that was cool. On The Run, on the other hand, has the simulated hi-hits and bass line in the front (if I remember correctly), with the airplane noises alternating back speakers, and the speech samples coming from all directions. Anyway you really have to hear the thing to appreciate it, so if anybody has a surround system and would like to hear this mix, I'll gladly send you a copy if you PM me your address.

Australian quad pressing in pink vinyl ->

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right on dude, like I said I haven't heard the DTS mix, but I know the purists just aren't into it. From the standpoint of somebody who has enjoyed this album as a collective unit for so long, this mix serves to break down the individual pieces a little better and allows me to enjoy every little element to appreciate how the sound ingrained in my head came together. Truly mind blowing. I was stone sober the first time I heard it, planned to just listen to Breathe to hear how it sounded, but of course sat for the whole record.

I've been informed by my nerdly roomate, however, that this Quad mix uses DTS technology to play. I guess DTS is mixed six ways: back right and left, front right and left, centre and sub. Anyway the way they translated this quad mix to CD is by using DTS technology but simply leaving the centre and sub tracks blank. So if you're PMing me, you'll only be able to listen if you have a player that supports DTS (assuming your CD player is separate from your receiver. If you have one of those all-in-one jobs, it should do the trick).

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