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"Why does my audio need four speakers when I only have two ears?"

By Tom Vernon on Mar 29, 2013 12:43:00 PM

All of us at the Telos ATelos' Clark Novak shows off a Quad B.B. King LP from 1974.lliance share with our customers a fatal attraction to radio, as well as a passion for making great audio. But many of us have other hobbies and interests that might surprise you. From time to time, we'll profile members of the Telos Alliance and what they do when they're not inventing the next generation of broadcast audio gear.

Mention surround sound and most people think of 5.1, the digital standard for multi-channel audio in HDTV and HD radio. But for Clark Novak, the marketing guy in charge of the Telos and Axia brands (and a band of other retro techno geeks), surround sound also means Quad.

From the mid 1960s through the 1970s, four channel sound was the rave in high fidelity circles. There were FM quad broadcasts, quad vinyl, and four channel open reel and 8-track tapes. The pages of High Fidelity, Stereo Review and Popular Electronics were filled with reviews of four channel hi-fi equipment. By the late 1970s however, the quad movement had pretty well died off. What happened? Industry analysts blamed a lack of technical standards and poor marketing strategies.

"It was 1973 when I got my first quad 8-track tape of Simon & Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'," recalls Novak. "Before that I was listening to a 1957 Magnavox system, so I went from mono to multitrack overnight, and bypassed stereo altogether." Today, he's got a collection of about 350 Quad Lps. For reproduction, there's a modest collection of gear, including some coveted Sansui QRX-series four channel receivers.

But one of the most rewarding parts of the hobby for Novak is bringing 1970s quad albums back to life on digital media, and he hangs out with a band of like-minded enthusiasts at, an Internet forum for multi-channel fiends. "Two of the three Quad LP formats were matrices that involved phase shifting," explains Novak. "Today, that technology is public domain, so you can take the matrix theory and translate it into scripts for Adobe Audition and create quad DVDs. There's nothing like hearing vintage Carole King or Herbie Hancock 4-channel mixes through a modern home theater system."

If you're interested in finding out more about Quad, or modern 5.1 music technology, check out "And if you happen to have an old Fosgate Tate II SQ decoder laying around," says Novak, "it's worthless. Send it to me immediately."

Topics: Audio Technology


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