CRB/GBH quad

E. Brad Meyer
Sat Mar 6 07:26:14 EST 2004


Sorry if this is just a bother but I stumbled into an old conversation 
through a Google search for WCRB.  Someone had mentioned the quad 
broadcasts mutually undertaken by WGBH and WCRB of the Boston Symphony. 
  Skepticism was expressed over whether these could have sounded good, 
because of "the phase issues of broadcasting".

FM stereo encoding and decoding was quite good in that department -- far 
better above 5 kHz, for example, than any phono cartridge, which pretty 
well scrambles the phase of the highest frequencies.  (This includes the 
high-frequency reverb, which is one reason fans of LP sound think it 
conveys room sound better.  It doesn't; a digital recording is far more 
accurate, while the LP system creates false but attractive effects.)

But I digress.  While the two stations did turn off their compressors, 
so the sound had a fighting chance of matching between the two separate 
FM tuners and playback systems you had to set up to hear them, they 
split the channels in a slightly odd way.  Neither station wanted to 
take, if you'll excuse the expression, sloppy seconds, so (at least at 
first) one of them sent out left rear and left front, and the other 
right front and right rear!  That list is in the correct order; the 
instructions were to set up one system with its left channel in the left 
rear of the room and its right channel in the left front, then turn 180 
and set up the other L and R as RF and RR.

It actually sounded OK, except that the miking didn't really convey a 
good picture of the hall; two pairs of omnis, one over row C and the 
other over row G, is interesting but not that accurate.  And of course 
we could never get four identical speakers, so our attempts weren't 
doing it justice in the first place.

Later the channels were divided more rationally and GBH took the row G 
mikes, which had LOTS of Symphony Hall reverb and sounded quite nice by 
themselves. -- E. Brad Meyer

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