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Thread: Stations should revive Quadraphonic to attract more listeners

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by dc2bluelight View Post
    Well, sort of, but that's not really the whole story. The reason the "benefit" of quad was not realized was outlined in my previous posts. It was a seriously flawed delivery system. Add to that the cost of entry and market confusion, and thats why you end up with disinterest in the consumer.
    I don't agree at all. Consumers at the time did not perceive a need for quad. Even though the first systems came out around the height of the home stereo evolution, I can't recall any audiophile friends or just music lovers who ever mentioned it to me. And at none of the stations I was with did we ever get a call about quad... even though during a part of that time a local station was promoting heavily their quad program.

    Again, not incorrect, but a very narrow view of the real situation. First of all, during the Quad era there were many large stereo systems sold. I know, because I sold them at the same time I worked in broadcast engineering. We demoed Quad with 4 matched speakers and discrete 4 channel reel to reel tape. Had next to no takers because of the cost of entry, the difficulty of 4 speakers in the corners of the space, there weren't many of those discrete tapes around, and quad records required one of many different decoders, likely several outboard boxes. And the results were often lack luster.
    That's a typical demand / content issue. The first flatscreen TVs were very expensive, but they were something nearly everyone wanted. So, as the early adopters with money got them, prices came down and at the same time product was adapted or created.

    During the 80's I saw several studies that showed that about 80% of radio listening was mono. Quad was a step to far.

    During the 1970s, thats the era pre-compact stereo systems, and pre portable "blasters". Heck, FM stereo in the car was still a fairly unusual thing. Most stereo systems were components as we came off of the large furniture console years, or at least they were receivers and separate speakers, then later in that decade the cheap pre-configured "rack systems" popped up, also with separate speakers. People did listen at home on their stereos. Yes, more radio was consumed in the car and on smaller radios, but every single component system sold received FM stereo, and a lot of music popular music was just finding its way to FM, triggering the FM music boom.
    FM had more than half the total audience by 1977, and more than half the music audience by around 1975. That was the era of component stereos, but, still, those were minimally used for radio and mostly for recorded music on disc or tape. Most in-home listening was to the clock radio, the kitchen radio, the bathroom or rec room radio.

    Stereo was a big deal.
    Conceptually, yes. But even by the early 80's, as I said, the majority of listening was in mono to mono radios.

    Music was not, and still is not, listened to much in the bedroom, and it's just background in the office.
    If you go back to the ratings data from the 70's, as well as at one's own proprietary research when we started doing perceptuals in the early 80's, the radio day began in the bedroom, and between bedroom and kitchen, there was more listening to music stations than in the car.

    "At work" never meant "in the office". At work is often the loading dock, the auto repair shop, the tile and carpet guy's portable, the delivery truck. And every manner of station was listened to.

    That puts serious music listening in the car, and yes, at home on the "big stereo".
    Most music listening was not "serious" but done in the background while working, getting up, cooking, barbecuing and all the other stuff that radio has traditionally accompanied people at. Very little radio listening like that was done on the stereo; when the stereo was on for radio, it was usually as a background for a party, a gathering, and whatever. Nobody sat around listening to music radio in the living room the way they did for Jack Benny.

    The concept of the dimensionality of stereo should have paved the way for Quad to take it to the next step. It didn't happen for reasons mentioned. But it wasn't because "nobody cared".
    It was, in fact, a proposition of "nobody perceived a benefit of value". They may have been curious. I am curious about a Rolls Royce, but I do not see a cost / benefit equation that satisfies me. Same with quad. No demand because there was not a groundswell of curiosity of the kind that drives early adopters.

    I paid just under $5000 for my first Apple computer in '80 (my first home computer was in '75). Most people did not see the benefit over-weighing the cost yet; I did and gradually so did others. But darned if I was going to spend a thou' or two on Quad. No benefit perception.

    I worked for a station then that broadcast live concerts in what we ended up calling "compatible 4 channel sound" because we modified the encoder to compromise between QS and SQ. We did real live Quad surround mixes, and got a fair amount of listener comment. We even built a studio monitor system capable of switching 4 discreet channels (which we never actually did).
    And despite all that, how long before the station quit wasting money? No ROI, just a wave that never crested.

    Um...well, if you define "broadcasters" as the NAB, then sure. But they blew it technically, they really blew it from a marketing standpoint.
    I define broadcasters as operators of stations that had to make money, cover expenses and return some cash to investors. Nobody saw the potential in quad save a few stations that ended up proving the rest of us to be totally right.

    Oh, I put the first stereo FM in South America on the air in the 60's. I believed in that and could see potential and a way to set us apart from competitors. We were FM and we were stereo. Nobody else in the market could say either of those things. We made money very quickly.

    I don't know any hard core FM engineers that though what we then called IBOC was a good idea. They came up with an expensive system that delivered the same exact programming as FM that remains so fragile a signal that it must "fall back" to analog FM when reception is poor.
    HD was a marketing concept, paid for by broadcast companies that were afraid of the word "digital" and aided in taking some Alcatel and other source research and making a digital fully compatible system. They did not see that HD would be totally opaqued by smartphones and streaming.

    It offers the consumer nothing more than FM, except for more lower quality signals. And those serve to erode the already shrinking market share. "They" rejected a cellular system which would have provided better reception because "broadcasters" couldn't get their heads around breaking open the coverage barriers, and the NAB was committed to staying in the existing broadcast bands.
    The DAB band was not allocated in the US, and nearly all of us saw DAB as the child of government dominated radio in certain nations in Europe. It was tried commercially in Canada and failed. It is not doing nearly as well as expected in Australia. In part, nobody wants to buy a new radio when they have "radio" on their smartphone.

    And, of course, hundreds of billions of dollars of radio assets were sold based significantly on the coverage value of their licenses. Broadcasters, the NAB and even our regulatory and legislative entities could not see the economic structure of radio destroyed in the worlds most developed radio economy.

    "They" never considered a system of broadcasting something that consumers couldn't get another way: 5.1 music. And before we go back to "nobody listens in the living room", I should point out that 5.1 solves several problems in the car, has a well controlled and defined method of intelligent down-mixing to a lower channel count, and with today's processing can realize 5.1 out of a flat, front-only speaker array...you know, like in a kitchen or bedroom. And 5.1 music on any of those would have offered something from radio to the consumer that they weren't getting.
    It was quite well studied "back then" that the effects of ambient vehicle and road noise effectively meant that most people listening to radio in the car were de facto listening to mono. The few that bought high-end audio gear for the car often wanted "loud" and not "good".

    Not sure what you mean here. 5.1 headphone processing is a plugin, an add-on, or built into an OS upgrade. It's just code.
    Code applied to what is often no better than 128 kbs MP3s. Again, no demand.

    Apathy doesn't "drive the market", good marketing addresses and attempts to mitigate apathy. If they're so apathetic, why don't we just ditch stereo completely and broadcast mono? Nobody cares, nobody knows, and analog FM gets a 20dB quieting advantage over stereo.
    I meant, again, that consumers did not care because they could not perceive any significant advantage worth spending money on.

    I just don't think that would fly, and I don't think consumer apathy has anything to do with it, at least in the FM and HD world. AM stereo, well, that's another discussion, and a pretty much dead one too.
    AM is pretty much dead because the early 1930's allocation system did not contemplate both urban sprawl and increasing noise levels. HD stereo was tagged on at the insistence of the FCC, which was not going to approve FM IBOC without an AM system incorporated in it. The FCC still thinks that AM can be "revitalized" but their only answer has been to give bad AM stations a bad FM translator signal.
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  2. #22
    You guys can debate ancient history if you like, but the hottest audio device being marketed right now is the mono personal speaker sold by either Google or Amazon. Did you see where I said mono? Phil Spector would be thrilled. We're going back to mono. I was at a New Year's party where the music was all provided by these home speakers, and everyone was commenting how great they sounded. No one suggested the quality was limited by the fact that it was mono. So any thought of reviving quad is completely misguided.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    You guys can debate ancient history if you like, but the hottest audio device being marketed right now is the mono personal speaker sold by either Google or Amazon. Did you see where I said mono? Phil Spector would be thrilled. We're going back to mono. I was at a New Year's party where the music was all provided by these home speakers, and everyone was commenting how great they sounded. No one suggested the quality was limited by the fact that it was mono. So any thought of reviving quad is completely misguided.

    Terrific point. I wonder how many quad systems were actually installed back then as compared to the the tens and tens of millions of smart speakers being put in homes and even workplaces now.
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  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by DavidEduardo View Post

    Terrific point. I wonder how many quad systems were actually installed back then as compared to the the tens and tens of millions of smart speakers being put in homes and even workplaces now.
    Different eras, but what drove multiple speaker home audio systems was the home theater boom about 20 years ago. That was being driven more by video than audio, and it obviously was a limited interest, high end thing. But statistically, there are still more smart speakers being sold now than home theaters then, primarily because they're so damned cheap. You can buy one for less than $30!

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    Different eras, but what drove multiple speaker home audio systems was the home theater boom about 20 years ago. That was being driven more by video than audio, and it obviously was a limited interest, high end thing. But statistically, there are still more smart speakers being sold now than home theaters then, primarily because they're so damned cheap. You can buy one for less than $30!
    Remember we also had a home stereo system boom from around the mid 70's into the 80's. The era of wondering if we could afford the "incredible " Nakamichi cassette decks and the huge speakers and heavier-than-you-could-carry power amplifiers. That era seemed fueled in part by Album Rock and favorable price points, and was before the video revolution that included such "hits" as the video disk.

    It seems that there had to be a convergence of technology and content for each of these two past consumer entertainment surges. I suppose we can say that the availability of unlimited song music services like Prime and Spotify combined with smart speakers is today's combined market driver, just as availability of video and audio content moved the initial smartphone market.
    Last edited by DavidEduardo; 01-05-2019 at 09:36 PM.
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  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by DavidEduardo View Post
    I suppose we can say that the availability of unlimited song music services like Prime and Spotify combined with smart speakers is today's combined market driver, just as availability of video and audio content moved the initial smartphone market.
    Except the cost is now next to nothing. A typical Quad stereo system was about $800.

    An Amazon Echo is $29, and the music you're playing on it is free.

  7. #27
    If they're so apathetic, why don't we just ditch stereo completely and broadcast mono? Nobody cares, nobody knows, and analog FM gets a 20dB quieting advantage over stereo.
    I agree with you. Half the time when I'm listening to music I am using earbuds and only put the left one in. The other half of the time, I'm in the car and can't discern stereo vs mono for the noise floor. But far be it from me to descend upon the FCC and demand they ban FM stereo. And stereo for talk shows or crowd noise from a stadium? Never understood why you'd waste the effort.

    Maybe somebody actually notices the stereo field. But I know that I worked at a music station that was mono for 2-3 weeks while our primary STL was being repaired, and we got exactly zero listener complaints about our mono operation.
    "Its music what makes a radio station, and at Live FM, we play the last music around."
    After receiving that copy, I quit the VO industry.

  8. #28
    And now you can buy your smoke/carbon dioxide detector that doubles as a smart speaker. It's all about convenience anymore, not audio quality.

  9. #29
    I have a couple of matrix quad albums. since it doesn't have 4 seperate channels, it can be played on any turntable or stereo. You can hear the rear channel just by playing on an old quad or surround system by using the matrix setting or dolby surround (not digital). I don't see any problem with playing these records on the radio. It should be work in surround or quad without any special equipment at the station. I also have some surround sound classical CDs which sound fantastic when played in the dolby surround mode.

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    An Amazon Echo is $29, and the music you're playing on it is free.
    And what consumers aren't recognizing, is that talking tube is listening and selling everything within earshot of the device. The new Google version has video recording capability too. One has to ask; what is the value of your personal privacy? More than $29.95?

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