Advice on adding CD-4 / Quadradisc capability to my system

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by Electronic M, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Electronic M

    Electronic M New Member

    I'm looking for advice on the least expensive 'good' way to add the CD-4 format to my existing quad system.

    A few months back I acquired a couple of albums in this format that appear to have intact sub-carriers. After reading enough to glean that I need a CD-4 decoder to get quad playback as well as a proper pickup cartridge and needle in order to avoid erasing the quad difference sub-carriers on playback, I've decided not to play the discs until I have at least the latter on hand.

    Seeing as I'm a college student I don't have much money(don't like to spend it either) so I'm basically limited to a 50$ max budget for a decent cartridge and styli combo.

    From what I understand(correct me if I'm wrong) the two key things that make a pickup suitable for CD-4 are a Shibata cut stylus and a cartridge with the ability to reproduce frequencies at least as high as 45kHz.

    So far the best place I could think of to look for one for sale was ebay, but with a complete cartridge and needle ALONE running north of 150$(holey cow! :jawdrop: IMHO it should come installed in a NICE TT for that kind of money) I'm rather apprehensive towards buying one.

    My next thought was to look at my post 1970 TTs and have my fingers crossed that one of them might be equipped with a suitable cart and styli, but I'm not sure how to go about identifying the ones in my TTs.

    Another thought that came to mind is that considering most opinions I've read regard the CD-4 carts and styli as being a major advancement from previous designs and that technology has had much time to advance since then, shouldn't there be a readily available current or recent production CD-4 spec cart/styli combo at a much cheaper market price than what I see on ebay out there?

    If anyone has any relevant ideas, advice, or knowledge to share or knows of a significantly cheaper dealer for these things than ebay please chime in.
    Also please correct me if I'm wrong in any way...I'm new here and trying my best to get the hang of things without stepping on peoples toes.
  2. Jpowell1

    Jpowell1 Active Member

    Dont worry so much about stepping on peoples toes
    Some people will be offended for various reasons like daring to ask a question that was answered in 2007 and why dont you use the search function you nOOb
    I have always thought of the CD-4 format as a dead end and never embraced it
    I found an interesting and informative tutorial on quad sound on wiki of all places and it seemed there were compatibility issues which reminded me of the beta vs VHS or HD-DVD vs Blueray but with quad nobody won
    When I was (much) younger there were even quad radio stations
    There is a bay seller named needledaddy1 who could probably help you
    he has helped me on more than one occasion
    I think your plan will work just keep digging and educate yourself as best you can
    Good luck
  3. Ohighway

    Ohighway AK Subscriber Subscriber

    CD-4 decoder

    Suitable cartridge

    Low capacitance interconnect cables from turntable to receiver.
  4. wualta

    wualta < Spike Milligan, 1961

    You'll probably want to join up at There are forums devoted to the CD-4 system and CD-4 recordings. Some of their members are also members here (Doug G. being a helpful example).

    One thing: You don't absolutely have to have a Shibata stylus. CD-4 recordings have been successfully played with humble little elliptical-stylus, light-tracking cartridges that predate CD-4. What you would like, ideally, is some sort of "line-contact" stylus, of which the Shibata design was one early and famous example. Hyperelliptical, Stereohedron, Paralinear, Fine Line, LAC, MicroLine and Micro-Ridge are all trade names of line-contact styli, and there are many more.

    The problem is, the more well-known line-contact styli are either going extinct or becoming very expensive (well above your $50 limit, at least), or both. There are a few ways around this, and here's where you'll want to ask about the cheapest combination of proper new or new-old-stock stylus and cartridge body-- not necessarily ones that were originally sold together-- that will give you reliable CD-4 without messing up your discs, which happily were made to be extra durable, but still.

    If you have a local full-service record shop, one with a service department, that would be a good place to hang around too.
  5. Electronic M

    Electronic M New Member

    I did search the forums but did not find anything other than a few discussions debating the best equipment and whether or not one could play a CD-4 record with a normal stylus without erasing the sub carriers, buried amongst a bunch of threads of folks bragging about their LP collections...And that was after trying a bunch of different search terms and getting zero results each time...

    I'm surprised folks here get bent out of shape over a re-asking of an old question. I've spent a heck of a lot of time on the Videokarma forums(as in read every new post for over a year) that were split off of here years back and I've never seen someone there be even the slightest bit bothered over that....Often times there will be half a dozen similar topics and the same folks that said something useful in one will be happy to try and summarize it better than the last time or give links to relevant threads.

    For me the formats that have been abandoned are the height of cool. I restore and use much of the older equipment I own(I collect tube era radios and TVs as well as obsolete recording formats and some audio gear), and in the process of using and maintaining this gear I gain a great appreciation of the skill and ingenuity that went in to their design and construction. It is surprising what quality was achievable before computers were used in engineering work and when most products were still made mostly by hand.
  6. Doug G.

    Doug G. Addicted Member

    I'm afraid your $50 limit will be the stumbling block for you to get CD-4 capability. When I got back into CD-4 a few years ago, I was lucky to find components very inexpensively but it was still over fifty bucks.

    You need both a demodulaor and cartridge with CD-4 specs to be successful. Sometimes, I have seen demodulators go for around that money on eBay but, these days, the cost is usually higher. Patience helps, however and you might be able to get one component now and the other later.

    Wualta's advice to join at quadraphonicquad is a good one. Post your plight over there and see what happens.

    What cartridge(s) do you have now? It's possible that just a stylus replacement will turn one into a CD-4 capable cartridge.

    Also, CD-4 records really are NOT harmed by playing them with a regular stereo cartridge. That is an old myth. RCA and JVC did tests back in the day and discovered that the carrier engravings were still there even after many playings with a regular cartridge tracking at 3 grams. It's kind of a psychological thing, however, and waiting until you have a CD-4 cartridge may be kinder to your psyche. :D

    EDIT: Oops, upon rereading your post, I see you say you are limited to $50 for the cartridge, not both pieces, so that helps a bit but that's still pretty low.

    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
  7. tcdriver

    tcdriver AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Electronic M,

    Welcome to AudioKarma. I have used CD-4 records in my quadraphonic system. Others on this forum have also had some success with that format. It is, in my experience, more difficult to set up and obtain good results than with the other quadraphonic record formats (Stereo-4, SQ and QS). At its best, it produces better results than the matrix style formats and is really wonderful to hear. Getting the best out of that system can be a challenge.

    What is needed:

    1. CD-4 record, (aka Quadradisc) in good condition
    2. CD-4 capable phono cartridge capable of 45kHz. reasonably flat frequency response.
    3. Turntable / tonearm with low capacitance (usually < 100pF)
    4. CD-4 demodulator, either a stand alone unit or built into a preamp, integrated amp or receiver.
    5. Four channels of amplification
    6. Four speakers.

    Careful setup of the cartridge / turntable is a must.

    The only way that I can imagine you will be able to get a suitable system for the $50 budget you have set will be to get real lucky. You might be able to find suitable equipment in thrift stores, garage sales, craigslist, or on that well know internet auction website.

    You may try reaching out to find someone close by that has such a setup to show you or demonstrate just what system can do.

    Good luck.
  8. Electronic M

    Electronic M New Member

    Here is as good of info on all 1970s+ vintage phonos in my possession as I can get. Some stuff is not labeled or is installed in such a way that dis-assembly to check for numbers risks causing damage.

    The order will be... (player installed in) [cartridge info] (styli info) NOTE:interchangeable cartridge/styli between models represented by **

    (Garrard synchro-lab, component type, good) [Pickering V-15/ATE-3] (styli unknown with clip-on brush)
    (Garrard synchro-lab,component type, untested) [Shure M71EMB] (styli missing)
    **(Akai FD-3,system,good) [cart unknown] (Akai RS-84)
    **(Fisher,component,being serviced) [cart unknown] (styli damaged)
    (Realistic,component,good) [Realistic R27E] (Shure RS E)
    (JVC L-FX22,component, good-) [stanton] (D71EE)
    (Technics SL-5) [Shure LT10] (Shure)
    (Zenith,console,good) [142-167] (unknown new)

    My plan is to go for the cartridge/styli combo first, and then either look for a decoder or dig up some decoder schematics and assess the feasibility of building one from scratch(as in making sure there are no NLA semiconductors or exotic transformers used).

    The two RCA CD-4 albums I presently have are not rare or all that desirable, and cost me less than a buck each, so I may toss one on my SL-5 for a listen and see if the unique reflections caused by the sub-carriers remain after the fact(I recall reading elsewhere that they vanish when erased). I'm curious enough now to risk a song or two to find out the truth for my self(no offense but "take everything with a grain of salt" is one of my life policies).

    The 50$ spec may have some headroom some time in the future depending on how some variables in some priorities play out.
  9. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

    You are also going to need a turntable who's tonearm is happy tracking at 1 1/2 grams without issues and has low capacitance wiring. Your Pickering V 15 or Stanton 500 is not CD-4 capable. In Pickering and Stanton you're looking at XSV or XUV territory or 981 territory and expensive. Your Zenith won't do CD-4. Your Technics SL-5 with the right cartridge can in good order. And in most cases, you are looking at $150 to $300 up for a Shibata stylus. There are line contact options for the Audio-Technica P mounts that your linear tracking arm uses.
  10. for_p1

    for_p1 Super Member

    I do not think you will be able to find suitable cartridge/stylus for $50. 45 kHz is reachable by some modern MC type cartridges, but they are on expensive side (usually over $500). As for decoder, look if someone made software for that. If you record output from your LP player on computer at 24/192 , you should have enough resolution for decoding CD-4 signal in software. I know that there are software decoders for SQ/QS, but it is possible there are for CD-4 too.
  11. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

    There are no software CD-4 decoders. None! All hardware. SQ/QS is an entirely different system.
  12. wualta

    wualta < Spike Milligan, 1961

    I'm looking at my big list of Shure cartridges and can't find an "LT10". Can you get a closeup photo of this cartridge?
  13. Electronic M

    Electronic M New Member

    Ask politely and ye shall usually receive.

    Snapped a few more but I'd prefer not to clutter things or go off topic so you can go here to see the rest of the pics if the one above has not sated your curiosity...
    Feel free to PM me with questions or comments about it. Since it seems to not be a quad cart I'd prefer not to discus it in this topic.
  14. wualta

    wualta < Spike Milligan, 1961

    Eh? Did you think I would've mentioned it if I didn't think it had a chance to be turned into a quad-capable cart with a stylus swap?
  15. marcmorin

    marcmorin AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Some things to note about what is needed in a cart. Any Grado from the Black and up will play quad. What is overlooked in cart specs is inductance. A high inductance cart body doesn't produce quad well, if at all. The AT quad bodies had inductance figures of around 330mH, where their "normal" bodies were 2-3 times higher than that. Grado carts, like MC carts are very low in inductance.
  16. Electronic M

    Electronic M New Member

    Wasn't sure...I gotta stop making assumptions about folks I'm unacquainted with...My bad, sorry bout that! :stupid:

    [EDIT] I'm really dumb.:sigh: I just realized that you made a really good post before that one. I have an terrible memory for names and remember folks on the forum by their avatars long before I get their names. When you asked about the cart I didn't recognize you, and mistakenly assumed you were someone who had just joined the thread to ask about that. Sorry.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2012
  17. sKiZo

    sKiZo Hates received: 8641 Subscriber

    Page two and I've yet to see exactly what your current quad system consists of ... maybe an oversight on my part?

    It's been mentioned ... CD4 is hardware only and external adapters are rare at best. You might want to consider upgrading to a receiver that already has it built in. Maybe not as expensive as you'd think ... I just recently scroe ... er ... scored a Sansui QRX-6001 which was their TOTL decoder design that includes QS, SQ, CD4, and assorted synth selections. $60 shipped in excellent condition both cosmetically and electronically.

    You're also doing yourself a favor getting hold of a "tuner" disk which performs specific tests required to properly match and align the output. Difficult at best to do by ear. Those also unfortunately are getting kinda hard to find in vinyl. Not impossible, just difficult. And ya can't have mine. <G>


    Also, CD4 does have some specific requirements re:turntables. Many will list CD4 capability in the owners manual, but you can figure that most any decent TT produced in and shortly after the quad era (1970 - early 1980s) should do the job for ya.
  18. Electronic M

    Electronic M New Member

    Was planning on taking picks of my main cluster and some honorable mentions in my secondary clusters and making a topic in the post your system section, but since your curious about my quad gear....
    Superscope TD-48 quad 8-track player(OLD garage sale find, it has been giving me random periods of loud clicks and pops lately) with two Q8 tapes, Realistic/Electro-Voice ARS-4 decoder(forgot what I paid but under 15$ in the anti-q shop I found it in) with no recordings, Kenwood KSQ-400 QS/SQ decoder/control system/2-channel amp(15$ radio swap meet find, and all it needed was a new cord) 2 QS and three SQ albums for it, Sony STR-K850P modern home theater amp feed by the rest through it's direct input(I used to use a pair of vintage HK 330Bs but swapped to save rack space...I'm thinking about going back to them or getting two more heath A-7E mono blocks), and four fisher XP55B speakers(half thrift half estate-half luck half good memory) that cost me between 5-20 bucks total.
    Ooh and the decoders are driven by line level output from my stereo cluster so that any matrixed 4-2-4 quad recording in any format my stereo cluster supports can be feed to the decoder.
    My Sony amp is part of my AV cluster as well so the Sony and the Kenwood link three and two sections of my main cluster together respectively.

    Phew, that was a lot of typing.

    I may have passed up a CD-4 demo (and possibly set up) album in the wild once...I should really go back there and look for it.

    Had to pass on a few quad albums and one cartridge once...just can't afford to buy all the good vinyl I find in the wild some times.

    I'll keep an eye out for a CD-4 test record in the future.

    I don't really care if I get a CD-4 decoder that is part of a receiver or on it's own, I'll consider either one if it is a good deal.
  19. Electronic M

    Electronic M New Member

    Researching the CD-4 capable carts of the brands Audio Technica, Grado, Pickering, and Stanton on followed by searching for those carts in the online market place has presented me with some potential options. However I'm kind of hung up on tradeoffs involved with my options.

    From what I've gleaned lately with CD-4 it is better to use a direct drive or quartz TT than a Belt or idler drive unit, and also a line contact stylus is better than an eliptical.

    My only Direct drive TTs(my JVC and Technics) use P-mount cartridges so if I limit my self to using those TTs as they are, then the only affordable P-mount I've found is the Grado Prestige Black with an eliptical stylus(I haven't found a reasonably priced Grado line contact stylus option).

    However it seems there are CD-4 capable carts with line contact styli acceptably close to my budget IF I go with a 1/2" mount type cartridge. However the only TTs I can mount them in are idler types(with AC synchronous motors) unless I(can?) modify one of my Driect Drive types(or use a mounting adapter if such a thing exists). If I was to modify one it would be the JVC cause it was practically free and it already has a dead channel issue I need to fix. I also could get a 1/2" cart and search for suitable Direct drive TT to put it in.

    I could also widen my search to other brands if anyone wants to suggest other makers that offered CD-4 capable carts.

    All of your advice so far has been helpful and is much appreciated...I'm starting to feel a bit more optimistic about achieving my goal.

    What are your opinions as to how I should proceed from here?
  20. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

    Your idlers likely have too high capacitance wiring to be CD-4 friendly though. No adapter for P mount tonearms to use 1/2" mount cartridges.

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