Attack of the Floyd

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Attack of the Floyd
It was a warm, German, summer's evening in May 1972. Terri and I were in reserved seating, perched above a sea of thousands of stoned, excited, and anxious concert goers. We were all waiting for a once in a lifetime event. Pink Floyd was about to debut an unfinished version of a new album they had yet to release. It would be called The Dark Side of the Moon and would go on to be the single best selling album of all time. Ever the nerd, I was surprised to see the band's PA system was not just on the stage, but oddly enough there were speakers atop tall towers to the rear of us. As the music started to play, all 100,000 concertgoers were surrounded by sound. It was swirling to the sides, to the rear, in front; panning from left to right and then all around us as if we were in a sonic cyclone. What I didn't realize at the time—what none of us realized back then—is we were witness to something brand new called Quadraphonic Sound, the first attempt at what would be later known as Surround Sound (and for obvious reasons). The Floyd were always ahead of the curve. Their first use of Quadraphonic sound went back to 1969, three years before the concert I attended. Take a look at the device they used, called an Azimuth Coordinator, to create that live mix. Note the joystick pots the engineer used to sweep and pan sound in 360˚. Tomorrow we'll take a look at how this wild new technology played out in our homes.
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Paul McGowan

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