The vinyl that we buy today hasn’t changed much since Columbia Records introduced the long-playing 12-inch album in 1948. The only real innovation was the introduction of stereo recordings, which began to hit stores in 1958. Pretty much everything after that was just a gimmick: picture discs, coloured vinyl, half-speed mastering, direct-to-disc. Nothing really moved the needle, so to speak.
One of the biggest attempts to make the vinyl experience better was the introduction of quadrophonic sound. The thinking was that if two channels–stereo–was better than one, then surely four channels–quad–was better than two. Yes, quad required a new amp and two more speakers, but that was a small price to pay for superior sound. Or so the industry thought.
But consumers balked, especially since the industry couldn’t agree on which quad standard to use for making albums and decoding circuit. Within a few years, quad was dead.
Today, 5.1 sound, the technological and spiritual successor to quad, is alive and well, thanks to global standards–and to the fact it’s easy to encode additional channels as bytes as opposed to analogue grooves on a vinyl record.
Could quad make a comeback in the era of Vinyl 2.0? Maybe, but certainly not as, you know, vinyl. Best use Blu-ray technology to replicate it as best as one can.
Rhino Records is doing just that with Chicago Quadio, a box set featuring eight Chicago albums that include both stereo and quadraphonic. Rhino says they’ve remixed everything in such a way that listeners will get the quad experience from just two speakers.
How much? $159.98 USD. Release date is June 17.