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Placement of stereo speakers on gig


hookie

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Kind of silly question, but it bugs me now and then, and I'll admit, I don't know what to think...

 

When I play a gig, I use two speakers for stereo sound. It's important to me to get the best sound possible - good sound inspires me to play better, more rewarding, etc.

 

Now, the question. Since the speakers are BEHIND me, which side should the right channel be on, which one for left? In other words, for the audience (which I'm not concerned about, really), it would be obvious to have the right channel go to the speaker on THEIR right as they FACE the speakers, etc...

 

But, I'M facing the other way, i.e., facing the audience should the right channel go to the LEFT speaker as it faces the audience, since I have my back to the speakers, should they be reversed?

 

My first thought is that the right channel should go to the right speaker as I FACE the speakers. That the right is always the right. Just like the right side of a car is always the passenger side, etc...but then what happens to the stereo field if I have my back to them? My left ear is hearing the right channel, right ear hears the left channel??

 

Sorry for such a silly question....but it bugs me. What do you think?

Yamaha C2, Yamaha MODX7, Hammond SK1, Hammond XK-5 Heritage Pro System, Korg Kronos 2 61, Yamaha CP4, Kurzweil PC4-7, Nord Stage 3 73, Nord Wave 2, QSC 8.2, Motion Sound KP 210S,  Key Largo, etc…yeah I have too much…

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It's important to me to get the best sound possible - good sound inspires me to play better, more rewarding, etc.

 

If it sounds good to you, you will sound even better to the crowd. Put the right on your right and the left on your left.

 

A stage mix should be opposite the crowd mix if they can even tell. A drummer facing the crowd would hear the ride cymbal on the right and the hat on the left. If you were standing in front of the drummer while facing her (why not?), you would hear the opposite.

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For gigs with full PA, if I don't use my IEM system I use my L/R cabs under my v-stand. The legs point the speakers at just the correct angle to provide me an immersive, personal stereo mix. I never really thought about "left" vs. "right". I suppose if you're using a piano patch that is stereo and panned, you'd want the upper register to appropriately pan in the speakers behind you - running up to the top of the keyboard and having the sound cross-pan to your right ear would be a little odd for me.
..
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As I further think on this one..... and go OT a bit....

I've had a decade old argument with a good friend (a piano player) about how music is recorded. He hates recordings of piano to be right/low and left/high, which many are. He wants to hear recordings from the player position (Left/Low & Right/High)

 

Recordings that hard pan piano patches drives me up a wall.

It tells me the engineer just plugged left to left and so on panning the channels hard without any thought. When they are reversed for "Audience Perspective", at least the engineer had a little thought. But not enough thought if it is hard panned.

 

IMHO, recordings should give the audience an auditory experience that includes instrument placement within the stereo field, or 5.1. Not needing to completely fill it with a single instrument.

I would argue that the direct sound from the piano sound should not be wider than 6-8 feet (the size of the piano) from an appropriate distance and the stereo field should be filled with ambience. Live, a piano is often 90 degrees from stage front too. So, left/right should not be perceived by the audience.

 

So, I still stand by going with what sounds right to you on stage.

 

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Live? The audience will never hear it in stereo, they will hear whatever comes out of whatever cabinet is closest to them or if you have them reasonable close together on stage behind you, you'll hear a pretty much mono blend.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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As I further think on this one..... and go OT a bit....

I've had a decade old argument with a good friend (a piano player) about how music is recorded. He hates recordings of piano to be right/low and left/high, which many are. He wants to hear recordings from the player position (Left/Low & Right/High)

 

Recordings that hard pan piano patches drives me up a wall.

It tells me the engineer just plugged left to left and so on panning the channels hard without any thought. When they are reversed for "Audience Perspective", at least the engineer had a little thought. But not enough thought if it is hard panned.

 

I personally can't stand sampled pianos that pan the bass far left and treble far right. Yeah, that's what the player is hearing, but in no other acoustic setting is that what the audience is hearing, nor is it natural for what a microphone would pick up. When I hear records with the piano across the full stereo spectrum, it drives me nuts. When I'm using a sampled piano in a mix, I picture where I want the piano placed on the soundstage in my head, and pan the L/R channels about 10% on either side of that. Same for Hammond/Leslie sim.

 

Live, I generally run in mono, but if I could run stereo, I'd place the speakers so it was immersive for me, but give the audience a realistic perspective.

 

 

 

Turn up the speaker

Hop, flop, squawk

It's a keeper

-Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream for Crow

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I personally can't stand sampled pianos that pan the bass far left and treble far right. Yeah, that's what the player is hearing, but in no other acoustic setting is that what the audience is hearing, nor is it natural for what a microphone would pick up. When I hear records with the piano across the full stereo spectrum, it drives me nuts. When I'm using a sampled piano in a mix, I picture where I want the piano placed on the soundstage in my head, and pan the L/R channels about 10% on either side of that. Same for Hammond/Leslie sim.
That's why libraries such as Ivory have controls for Audience/Player Perspective, and Stereo Width. :thu:

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Yep....the audience never hears it in "stereo". Being that we're keyboard players, we're lucky if the audience even HEARS it at all. :deadhorse:

 

That said, I put them wherever I can FIT them! :D

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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I find that I cannot perform well if I know that the audience hears my left-panned tremolo'ed Rhodes(TM, sorry Mr. Brandstetter, the cheque's in the mail) patch out of the right cabinet from their perspective. Totally ruins the entire night for me, at which point I grab a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue from behind the bar and get blotto'ed. :evil:

 

I'm sorry, what were we talking about? ;)

 

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I find that I cannot perform well if I know that the audience hears my left-panned tremolo'ed Rhodes(TM, sorry Mr. Brandstetter, the cheque's in the mail) patch out of the right cabinet from their perspective. Totally ruins the entire night for me, at which point I grab a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue from behind the bar and get blotto'ed. :evil:

 

I'm sorry, what were we talking about? ;)

 

Well that's just silly! What working musician can afford Johnnie Walker Blue? Jeez!

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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My DP doesn't HARD pan the bass and treble, but there is some motion to it, with the bass more prevelant on one side and the treble on the other. So, I set the stereo the same, when the treble comes out closer to my right hand, and the bass to my left. Puts the stereo image in the correct perspective for both myself and the audience.

 

Lately, though, I've been having to stack my cabs due to footprint considerations. So I lay my cabs on their sides with the horns on opposite sides. Then I'll put the bass through the bottom speaker, and the treble through the top. Not much better than mono, but I can tell the difference.

 

 

Johnnie Walker Blue, huh?

 

Other night after the gig the bass player, clubowner and I finished out a very rare (can only get it in Canada) bottle of Crown Royale Special Reserve. NICE!!

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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The audience hears my rig stereo. I know because I often sit in the audience and hear other people play it. It's not ideal stereo, but it does sound different than it would mono, even to my old ears. I can tell, from the audience, when one of my spearkers is out. I had a loose connection at a jack, and it happened. I noticed. Of course, nobody else did! I can also tell when the FOH at a reasonably set-up stereo venu is running my two channels in mono. (It's happened, I noticed it right away.) Also, it's fine if only *some* of the audience gets the stereo -- better than if none do. As long as those hearing a mono mix also get a good mix.

 

I detest "stereo" piano patches where they took mono samples and spread panned them. Mono sounds WAY better.

 

My main piano is a stereo one recorded from player's perspective, so higher notes are louder on the right; lower ones on left. Not too dramatically, but it's still a nice lushly spread image. I like the right side on my right, left on my left. The audience could care less which way it is.

 

When I send to FOH and house is mono, I feed the right side, and set up my monitors so that the front of the house gets the left side whereas the right side doesn't spill out so much. (Either, bounce it off a stage wall, or place it in front of me faciing me.) Yeah, the stereo image is then out of balance, but it's still stereo and to me sounds better than mono. Also, this would be of no use in a big venue.

 

When running stereo keys live, you need to make sure that if someone hears only one side it still sounds good, because like Bill says, many in the crowd only hear the closest speaker. It's hard to set up a venue well for stereo, but thank goodness some do. (The mains have to be far enough away from the crowd that most people hear both sides roughly equally -- that is, well under 6 dB difference.) Surprisingly, the angle between them is far less important. We can pull an image out even when the angle between speakers is less than 20 degrees, as long as the levels are close enough.

 

How wide should the image of a piano be?

 

When I hear a real piano in a concert hall, the image is the width of the hall, not the width of the piano! So, while I agree with Redkey that you don't need (or usually, want) the image to be wall-to-wall, that's for esthetic reasons, not "realism". Seriously, there's a rational balance between what he said and what I just said. While the image of a piano in a concert hall is wide, we *can* locate the piano -- so it's not "wall to wall" as I implied. But the image of the piano is far bigger than the size of the piano.

 

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True dat. When I heard Keith Jarrett at the San Francisco Opera House (solo piano, no amplification), the width of the piano seemed to be from heaven to earth.

 

Any instrument ensemble needs to have a 'place' in the mix if the mix is other than mono. When I close my eyes and hear an instrument that seems unbelievably wide, it is a very odd sense. That was one of the problems with the beautiful sounding Ohm A and Ohm F down-firing speakers... sounded amazing on group pieces, but as soon as an instrument took a solo, it went as wide as the soundfield, and thats just not right. When you look at a symphony, your eyes cause a little mental mixing for you, and (as well as knocking out the room reflections)places the instruments in space for you.

 

It is a lot harder with bands in clubs. The mixture of insufficiently planned PA, not enough mics, stage sound, all combine to make a mishmash of sound that is spotty all over most venues and only really comes together near the FOH position, if there is one. It is my opinion that most club bands benefit from a clean, well-thought out mono system and minimal on-stage amplification.

 

Anybody else besides me bothered that drum machines present the mix as if you were sitting behind the drums instead of in the audience?

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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True dat. When I heard Keith Jarrett at the San

Anybody else besides me bothered that drum machines present the mix as if you were sitting behind the drums instead of in the audience?

 

Slightly OT...

 

My drummer has an electric drum pad that he uses to trigger various sounds during songs (i.e. hand claps, gated drums etc...)

 

It always bugs me that this drum pad is sent to the PA. I think it's off-putting when the audience is used to hearing drum sounds from the direction of the drummer and then he all of a sudden drum sounds start coming from somewhere else.

 

I've raised this issue multiple times and nobody else in the band seems to think it's a problem.

 

 

 

 

 

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True dat. When I heard Keith Jarrett at the San

Anybody else besides me bothered that drum machines present the mix as if you were sitting behind the drums instead of in the audience?

 

Slightly OT...

 

My drummer has an electric drum pad that he uses to trigger various sounds during songs (i.e. hand claps, gated drums etc...)

 

It always bugs me that this drum pad is sent to the PA. I think it's off-putting when the audience is used to hearing drum sounds from the direction of the drummer and then he all of a sudden drum sounds start coming from somewhere else.

 

I've raised this issue multiple times and nobody else in the band seems to think it's a problem.

 

 

 

 

 

That's been my problem with electronic drums all along. Because they seem to be coming from somewhere other than their physical location, there's a lack of realism. Even if there's a monitor in place behind the drummer, because the sound has poor spacial relationship, they don't sound real. After all, the best electronic drums only pan left-right, where acoustic drums have a front-back component.

 

Sure, that difference can be very subtle, but like a piano through stereo amplification, those subtleties are noticable.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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It always bugs me that this drum pad is sent to the PA. ...

 

A whole lot about modern club bands and PA is pretty messed up. I agree, this is one of them. Once you reach the point that everything needs to be sent to the PA, the sound image starts to make sense again. But in a small room with minimal micing and loud stage volumes, the image often sucks. Fortunately, most of the audience has been drinking. But this is another 'can't see the forest for the trees' situation, wherein players are worried about minutiae concerning their rigs yet there are much more serious aspects of how and what sound reaches the audience which go ignored.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Any instrument ensemble needs to have a 'place' in the mix if the mix is other than mono.
I say it's an artistic choice. Yours is a good one, but it's not the only one. For example, I really like the mixes from The Fixx from the 80's, where you could not locate any of the instruments in a realistic soundstage, but you could very clearly identify them in the mix, despite a very lush soundstage.

 

However, for aspiring audio engineers, I'd argue that they'd be best served by first learning to do just what you prefer, creating a realistic soundstage. Sort of like learning the rules in grammar school, before learning when to break them in college.

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Anybody else besides me bothered that drum machines present the mix as if you were sitting behind the drums instead of in the audience?
Not so much. It bothers me more that I'm hearing the drums from the PA rather than the drum kit. Drums have such a great image. Sure, kick and snare benefit from a bit of boost, in most pop music. But I want to hear real cymbals.

 

I remember going to hear Bela Fleck and the Flecktones the first time. I loved their recordings, but the sound of the drum kit coming entirely through the PA was disappointing, in the familiar, relatively small venue with good acoustics. Bela even unplugged and played his solo piece sitting at the very front of the stage -- we were all holding our breath to keep quiet, but damn it sure sounded great.

 

That was the 90's -- gear has gotten better and my ears have gotten worse. Maybe I wouldn't notice so much now. But I think I can still tell a cymbal from a speaker versus one from the stage!

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It always bugs me that this drum pad is sent to the PA. ...

 

A whole lot about modern club bands and PA is pretty messed up. I agree, this is one of them. Once you reach the point that everything needs to be sent to the PA, the sound image starts to make sense again. But in a small room with minimal micing and loud stage volumes, the image often sucks. Fortunately, most of the audience has been drinking. But this is another 'can't see the forest for the trees' situation, wherein players are worried about minutiae concerning their rigs yet there are much more serious aspects of how and what sound reaches the audience which go ignored.

Eh! PA's are for vocals!

 

(jk)

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