Doobie Brothers – Quadio

For fans it has been a long time waiting, and finally Rhino Records has released a 4-disc Blu-ray Audio box set that spotlight four of the Doobie Brothers classic albums featuring both quadrophonic and high-res stereo mixes. It should come as no surprise either, since this year the band celebrates two major milestones, the first marks their 50th anniversary and the second is their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in November of 2020. All of this is a perfect time to celebrate classic quad mixes from their beloved 1970’s albums.

Remastered from the original four-track Quad and Stereo analog masters, the box contains the following four albums in their entirety: Toulouse Street (1972), The Captain & Me (1973), What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits (1974) and Stampede (1975). These seminal early albums all achieved either gold or platinum status and replicas of the original vinyl record sleeves have been packaged in a clamshell box. Hits and classic rock radio staples are strewn across each of the albums and include “Listen to The Music,” “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” “China Grove,” “Black Water” and many more.

The Blu-rays are authored similarly to the Chicago Quadio release from Rhino a few years earlier, featuring 192kHz / 24-bit stereo audio and the quad mix presented as DTS HD Master Audio in the same high-resolution. There is no question in collectors’ minds that Rhino puts a lot of care into these releases, and the box is meticulously crafted to replicate the vibe of the vinyl editions. The set also includes a booklet that offers insights into the production process and the history of these albums.

Undoubtably it is the quadraphonic mix which is the centerpiece of this release, and the core focus of this review. An aspect of quad that continues to bring me back for repeat listens is the discrete nature of the mix wherein each instrument is given ample space to breathe, allowing for a nuanced appreciation of the band's tight musicianship. Even more, the separation of instruments and vocals across the four channels creates an immersive sound experience that is not just about distinctly hearing discrete parts but being enveloped by it.

I felt the bass lines sound punchy and more pronounced, which serves the rhythm-heavy tracks well. Additionally, the clarity in the vocals is another highlight, with the harmonies of Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons achieving a new level of resonance. The guitars, whether delivering crunchy riffs or smooth, melodic leads, sound crisp and vivid. In classic quad style, the mixes vary widely from track to track, finding the bass in the back channels on a few tracks, guitars and vocals taking up different positions around the room, and an overall creative use of the four channels.

Of course, the inclusion of both the original stereo mixes and the quadraphonic mixes allows listeners to compare and appreciate the differences between these versions. For stereophiles this set is also a dream come true with its exquisite mastering that provides excellent dynamics and very good channel separation. In fact, the Doobie Brothers Quadio is an exemplary reissue that respects the original material while delivering a distinctly modern and immersive audio experience.

It is worthy to note that earlier editions of the Captain & Me were released on both DVD and SACD featuring a new 5.1 surround mix. These mixes hold some similarity to the quad mixes yet have improved balance while presenting a thinner sound overall. Die hard fans will want to seek out both versions, but I found I prefer the newly released Blu-ray versions of the quad mixes.

For fans of the Doobie Brothers and collectors of classic rock, "Quadio" is a must-have addition to one’s collection. It is simply a treasure trove of classic rock that audiophiles can groove to and a delightful rediscovery of the band. It not only revives the band's early work with superior sound quality but also brings back a legacy audio format back into the limelight, offering a truly engaging listening experience.

This edition released September 4, 2020.

 Format Info

4 Blu-ray Audio region-free box set with 192kHz / 24-bit Quad DTS HD Master Audio and LPCM stereo.  Also available via streaming with different mastering.



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 About the Author

Wesley Derbyshire Profile Image

Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.


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