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Discussion Starter #1
I just got five Quadraphonic "twofer" SACDs on the Dutton/Vocalion label in the mail today.

Hugo Montenegro: Others By Brothers / Scenes and Themes
Floyd Cramer: Super Country Hits / The Young and the Restless
Floyd Cramer: Class of 73 / Class of 74 and 75
Henry Mancini: Six Hours Past Sunset / A Warm Shade of Ivory
Henry Mancini & Doc Severinson: Brass Ivory & Strings / Brass on Ivory

https://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk

I'm going to start working my way through them and I'll report back. Has anyone else picked these up? Any suggestions for where to start?
 

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I put on the Mancini/Severinson disc and at first I was thrilled. Severinson's trumpet was so clean and clear and perfectly focused in the center front, I had to get up from my chair and see if the center channel was used, but it wasn't. It just had a very, very clear phantom center. The mix was spectacular, with a crystal clear soundstage up front that had depth, extending into the room. The rhythm section was in the rears. VERY nice.

I sat back and listened through the first song and into the next. That's when the trouble started. I kept waiting for the bass to cut in, but it never did. I got up and verified that my sub was turned on, but almost nothing was coming out of it. I could hear the plucked bass, but everything seemed to roll off below around 200Hz, making the whole mix sound very thin. On top of that, the high end seemed to roll off by 10kHz, making the cymbals in the drum kit sound less present. Song after song had great midrange and no lower bass at all. I have several of these tracks on a CD compilation of Mancini and they sound fantastic with an even response all the way down to the sub-bass. RCA in this period had some of the best recording quality of all time. Why did it sound so thin? That's when it hit me...

They must have used the cutting master that had the RIAA curve applied and ultra high frequency rolloffs to suit release on LP.

In the LP era, the RIAA curve would attenuate the low frequencies and boost the highs. On playback, the inverse would be applied, boosting the bass and attenuating the highs. It was common to roll off all frequencies in the top octave (above 10kHz) to prevent premature record wear. It sounded to me like Vocation/Dutton got ahold of a master that was set up for use to cut a lacquer master, and they corrected the top end, but not the bottom. When they corrected the top end, they created a nasty frequency spike around 2.5 to 3kHz, making it so whenever Mancini went to the top notes of the piano, it pounds on your eardrums. Very hard to listen to for a long period of time.

I tried everything I could think of to fix it. The tone controls on my AVR are bypassed when I play multichannel, so I couldn't just turn up the bass. I tried all the DSPs in the menu and the only one that helped at all was one called "Science Fiction". Who knows what the hell that is? But it helped the bass a little. I tried turning up the volume, but the frequency range above the 200Hz rolloff was so loud in comparison it made the walls buzz. Nothing I tried really helped.

I hope the rest of the discs I bought from Vocation/Dutton aren't like this, but I suspect they are. I got these because of the glowing reports on the sound quality of these discs at QuadraphonicQuad. I can't believe that people would listen to a disc with such an obvious technical problem and not notice it. But I'm beginning to think that multichannel audio fans will forgive just about anything since the choices are so limited. Very disappointing.
 

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I've determined what the problem is. Apparently when they mastered the Mancini/Severinson disc, they included a LFE channel that didn't belong there. It's a quad recording and shouldn't have a separate LFE channel. A user at Quadraphonicquad pulled a waveform that showed that the LFE track on the disc had a very low volume level compared to the mains. Unfortunately, if you have a subwoofer, there is no way to get bass management to ignore that incorrect LFE track. It effectively removes all frequencies below 80Hz. No one at Quadraphonicquad noticed it, because apparently most of them have 4.0 systems, not 5.1 so they don't hear the LFE channel. But it makes the disc sound terrible on a 5.1 system.

I've written an email to the label. Thankfully, the four other SACDs I ordered for them don't have this mastering error. They sound fine. It's just the one title.
 

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There is no reason to include LFE on any music recording or mix it as such, and frankly it wasn't designed for that. Top that with the wild wild west landscape of the music mixing and mastering scene and one just asking for trouble there. The movie mixers have a very stable and followed rules of how to use it, hence it's never an issue there. [There were some encoding issues, but that's a different matter]. Sound like the people who did this release needs a few pointers of how to do MCH correctly 4.0 or 5.0[1].
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It's a shame because above 100Hz or so, it sounds fantastic. There's an bit of an EQ bump around 2kHz, but I could have lived with that. But no bass is a deal breaker.
 
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