The Audionics of Oregon Space & Image Composer was the world's first commercially available SQ/Surround processor utilizing the Tate Directional Enhancement System (DES).
Released in 1979 after a protracted 3-year development, it was hailed as the breakthrough that could have made the CBS SQ system the winner of the "Quad Wars", but it was too late to market and in too few numbers.
Audionics of Oregon was started in 1969 to import high-end audio equipment from the UK. Over the next 15 years it progressed to designing its' own equipment and become a notable supplier of high-end audio electronics and speakers.
Audionics went out of business in the mid-80's and the assets (and some personnel) were absorbed by Fosgate Electronics.
The later products were ahead of their time & shared these attributes:
A Surround Processor ahead of it's time!
Although today we have Dolby Digital and Pro Logic II surround sound decoding built into almost every common receiver to support home theater systems, the Audionics of Oregon Space & Image Composer was considered magically futuristic when it was announced in 1976. While the Composer is entirely analog (no digital circuitry at all), it heralded a new standard in smoothness and separation that simply wasn't previously available. No other decoder generated more excitement or was anticipated as much as the Composer. The majority of the Composers were pre-sold, with many people placing deposits on theirs years in advance of production to lock in a low price. These people got a GREAT deal for their patience!
Because SQ records were slowly being phased out by most LP manufacturers, special attention was paid to providing a Stereo Enhance mode. In this mode of operation, the awesome capabilities of the Composer were re-directed towards creating a surround soundfield and ambience from the naturally-occuring phase difference signals found in all Stereo and Binaural recordings.
Limited Production & Distribution
The Composer was built from early 1979 to mid 1980. The total production is believed to be less than 250 units because the required Tate DES chips could not be procured. This was somewhat compounded by the fact that a number of units (approaching 1/2 the production run) were returned to the factory and upgraded to the "Tate II" standard utilizing the improved chipset manufactured by Exar (the original chipset was manufactured by National Semiconductor).
Key Composer Features
In addition to being an excellent SQ Quadraphonic surround decoder, the Composer has an interesting collection of features that make it an extremely unique and useful instrument: