When a music fan thinks of the "Quadraphonic Sound" of the 1970's, and even today's modern 5.1 sound options, one of the first music titles that come to mind is Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album. Released in 1973, this album combined thematic music with a myriad of sound effects and spoken passages that has entertained listeners for the past 30+ years. Many have spent hours listening with headphones, while others listened as stereos and boom boxes played their LPs, cassettes, and 8 tracks. When the CD format arrived, this was one of the first titles to get released, earning the first catalog number used in the US by Capitol: CDP 40001.
A special few, however, got to hear this work with more than two channels, as it was originally conceived. When the album was recorded, engineer Alan Parsons created a discrete 4 Channel mix that was to be used for commercial LP and tape release in the new "Quadraphonic" systems. Pink Floyd had been using surround in their stage presentations of this music, so it seemed quite logical that the fans be able to hear it as it was meant to be heard.
EMI owned the rights to all Pink Floyd material throughout the world, with the exception of the United States. In the USA, Pink Floyd titles were released on the Capitol label, originally controlled by EMI. In the early 1970's, there were competing formats for quadraphonic records. Early matrix systems competed with discrete tape, and soon JVC came up with a discrete format for the LP, the CD-4 system. With 3 major systems to choose from, many labels vacillated between choices, waiting to see which one would be the "victor". Columbia championed its' own SQ system, while RCA pushed the discrete CD-4 system. Some labels, like A&M, used both SQ and CD-4, as well as the third system from Sansui, the QS system. EMI decided to use the CBS SQ system throughout the world, and "Dark Side of the Moon" became available in the UK, Europe, and Australia as an SQ LP. Interestingly enough, in Japan, it was released using the RM matrix system, which was the system that Sansui based their QS system on. In the USA, however, Capitol did not release "Dark Side of the Moon" as a quad LP**. They did, however, release it as a quad 8-track tape. This, however, is where the story gets interesting.
Alan Parsons had created a vibrant, discrete mix of "Dark Side of the Moon". Those that have heard it will attest to the fact that it is quite remarkable, and surely a masterpiece when we consider the equipment available to him during 1973. (There is an interesting article called "Four Sides of the Moon" that details the creation of the mix.) When this discrete mix was finished, EMI created the master for the worldwide SQ LP release by encoding the discrete master tape using an SQ encoder. This device mixed the front and rear channels together, combining them into a compatible stereo track that could be pressed onto LPs and be subsequently decoded by a proper decoder, resulting in the playback of the original mix. In theory this sounded good, but the encoding and decoding equipment was far from perfect. Once the tracks were mixed together, they could never be decoded to the point where they were totally discrete as was the master tape. Even the modern "Full Logic" decoders that emerged in the 1980's could not reproduce the exact mix that existed on the master tape.
In the UK, EMI created their Quad 8 Track from the master discrete tape, thus creating the only commercially released version of this classic. Since quad tapes were sold in very small numbers in the UK, an instant collectible was created. The UK DSOTM Q8 usually sells for over $500 when it changes hands. In the USA, Capitol, for some reason, received the SQ master tape to "Dark Side of the Moon". Why they received this tape is unknown, as there was never an intended SQ release for the USA (Capitol never decided on a format to release quad LPs, and although they released a few sampler LPs using the CBS SQ system, no commercial titles were ever released) In an incredibly stupid move, Capitol took the SQ Master Tape and used it to master their domestic Quad 8 Track! They simply decoded the SQ reel using an SQ decoder, then mastered the US Q8 from the decoded source. This resulted in a "less than discrete" tape Consequently, in the USA, the only quadraphonic release of DSOTM was the compromised Capitol Q8. Although it actually sounds pretty good to the unknowing, the UK Q8 blows it out of the water. The Alan Parsons mix used to create both tapes was not used to create the current 5.1 Super Audio CD, as the group preferred to have their current engineer James Guthrie create a new 5.1 mix to match the capabilities of the SACD format. While the SACD is astonishing in it's own right, the original Alan Parsons mix remains a favorite of fans, as it is known to be more "aggressive" in its' use of the surround channels.
Post uk 1st class £ 3.00 recorded
Rest of the world $ 20 signed for.