Quadrophonic Flames

Adventures with the Dynaco QD-1 Quadaptor

The Flame's final album, released on Brother Records in the USA was recorded with extra ambient sound intended to be decoded by the Dynaco QD-1 Quadaptor shown below. To audition the Quadaptor we decided not to use the original LP pressing, but instead rely on the best possible transfer to CD. A UK pressing of the album, issued on the Stateside label, was earlier transferred to CD using a Technics SP10mkII turntable fitted with an SME 3009 MkII arm, including fluid damper, and an Ortofon moving coil cartridge. This was fed through an Audio Technica moving coil stepup transformer to a self-made high-grade RIAA preamplifier (>0.1dB accuracy). Manual and automated declicking was performed using Adobe Audition version 1.5. All signal manipulation was done in the 96 kHz 24 bit domain after which the files were downsampled to 44 kHz 16 bit for burning to CD. Great care was taken to maintain the inherent phase relationship between left and right channels, required for correct ambient decoding.

The CD thus made was played on the simple audio system shown below. The Quadaptor was a low cost ambient sound decoder and therefore it was justified using a relatively simple setup for the ambient sound audition. After connecting the entire system together and doing a short test, the Flame's self-titled album (produced by Carl Wilson and engineer by Steve Desper) was played. What immediately became apparent was a marked increase in low frequeny reproduction (predicted in the explaining booklet) and of course also superb ambient sound. Although there is no clear channel separation, and indeed this was never claimed, the sound is very pleasing and clear. Previously buried details like wood-block-type synth notes are suddenly far more apparent. It's easier to distinguish when three guitar parts are all played concurrently. The voices of all the singers separate out nicely.

All-in-all a wonderful listening experience.


Here is a picture of the Dynaco QD-1 Quadaptor graciously donated to the Flames collection by John Woodard.

This is the set used to audition the Quadaptor. It consists of a Sony CD-player, a National Panasonic stereo amplifier and four loudspeakers made by Kef and Wharfedale. In the future we will build this setup once more using four identical loudspeakers. First we have to find them!

This is how the Quadaptor is inserted into the system. The amplifier's loudspeaker outputs are connected to the lower contacts on the Quadaptor. Then four loudspeakers are connected to the upper contacts as shown. The soldering lugs on the cables prevent accidental shorting by stray wire strands.

Here is a picture of the original album with its insert explaining the quadraphonic setup. In principle a DIY enthusiast should be able to manufacture his own Quadaptor by studying the schematic! It's not that complicated. In the Quadaptor the real channel level is adjustable, a feature not present on the insert.

Here is the insert from the album next to a copy of the Quadaptor manual downloaded off the internet. The Dynaco QD-1 Quadaptor is exactly the right decoder for use with The Flame's album on Brother records.

Here is the insert in more detail