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Stereo vs. Mono revisited


AnotherScott

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Yup, an old topic, but in talking about the Kurzweil piano sounds (which are designed to sum well to mono), Dave Weiser just made a good point in the "Newbie: Kurzweil PC3 vs PC88 - Stereo vs Mono" thread that I thought was worth bringing to wider attention...

 

The only "incorrect" way to hook up a PA is as I described (and kind of unlikely) - having both L and R jacks connected to the mixer, but then on the mixer, not having those signals panned hard Left and hard Right. THAT would cause a very unpleasant sound/playing experience.

I think that's worth taking note of in light of the "mono vs. stereo" commentary that surfaces here every now and then.

 

One of the knocks on sending stereo keyboards to the mains is that, with L/R speakers off to the side of the stage, and much of the audience far closer to one than the other, many listeners essentially hear only "half" the stereo sound, which is generally worse than mono. I remember reading a counter argument somewhere that, just because you're running stereo into the mains, that doesn't mean you have to pan hard left and right, you can just separate them by a little to add a little depth and spread in a way that doesn't create a wild discrepancy between what is being heard by people sitting at one extreme vs. the other. I don't remember reading anyone counter that with what Dave put forth here, that that can create a poor sound everywhere. Yes, there has been plenty of discussion about how some stereo sounds don't sum well to mono, and the importance of making sure your piano sound works well in mono when you're sending out to a mono system, but I don't remember anyone making the point that the summing problem can remain even in a stereo house system, to the extent that avoiding hard-pan to solve one problem can easily create another... i.e. that a "small" amount of summing can be detrimental just as full summing can be.

 

But the part I find most interesting there is that Dave says this can be a problem with stereo piano sounds even if you use piano sounds that are designed to internally sum well to mono. That is, the Kurz pianos sound fine using their mono out, and they sound fine in stereo going out hard left/right (assuming you don't have to deal with off-axis listeners), but they are still problematic if you go out in stereo and let the channels "overlap." So even confirming that your piano sound sums well to mono is not sufficient to assure that it will sound good in all circumstances, you *still* need to be aware of what's happening in FOH. You can't send a stereo signal to the board, even with a sound that sums fine to mono, and assume that it will sound good regardless of whether the PA is mono or stereo, or whether the soundperson hard-pans, combines, or partially combines the channels.

 

I think this just reinforces yet again that regardless of whether you're connecting to a mono or stereo PA, you're best off sending mono out of your keyboards if you're going into any kind of house system at all. At least for piano. I'm not sure about other instruments... most other sounds are mono most of the time anyway (though sometimes processed through stereo effects). One possible exception... I wonder if an organ's stereo rotary effect might benefit from staying stereo through the mains, even without a hard pan. I think any benefit would be kind of subtle in a live situation anyway, but I'm curious to know what people's experiences there have been. (That's just curiosity, though. Personally, for simplicity and consistency's sake, with a variety of sounds and boards, I would just keep it all mono, as I always have... it's less wiring, and it always works and always sounds good--assuming, again, that you make sure you have a piano sound that works fine in mono to begin with.) I do understand the appeal for those people who say they want to do their stage monitoring in stereo, that it makes their experience more enjoyable... and I don't see any problem with that, as long as you're still sending mono to the house and have confirmed that your stereo sound indeed collapses to mono with no issues.

 

This could also have ramifications for recording. A stereo piano sound may only sound good panned hard left and right... and to me, it sounds like that means that the piano will always be "big" and centered in the mix. If you want to position that piano anywhere else in the soundfield, it sounds like then, too, you need to use a mono piano sound, rather than trying to "position" the stereo piano or make it more "narrow."

 

I'd be curious to hear about people's experiences, i.e. whether some stereo piano sounds are more amenable to this kind of tinkering (narrowing the stereo spread, placing it off-center) than others are, or if indeed, regardless of model, you are best off in all situations to either go mono or full split stereo, and nothing in-between.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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First, I disagree with your blanket statement that hearing only one side "is generally worse than mono." With a *good* stereo effect or stereo image, both sides sound as good as mono. In general, if the stereo images/effects that you're using don't sound as good (or at least, nearly as good) as mono in each side, you shouldn't use them.

 

For this reason, I want my stereo sends hard-panned. However, I also disagree with Dave's blanket statement that stereo signals should always be hard-panned. This may be true for the stereo images and effects used in Kurz gear, but it's certainly not true of all.

 

For example, the stereo effect on my Rhodes stereo sample set is encoded mid-side, so you can collapse to mono to get the mono tone. The stereo effect cancels out completely. You can adjust pan width to any extent to control the width of the stereo image. And you can pan left and right (e.g., hard pan left side left, put right in center) to pan the whole instrument a bit, while leaving some stereo width for the people in center and towards that side. NOTE: each side sounds *different* than the mono signal, but whether it's better or worse depends on artistic judgements. It's harder to do this trick well on a natural sound like a piano, where any coloration is usually bad; on a Rhodes, adding a bit of color is often a good thing.

 

One's location in any room colors sound as well, but does it based on the geometry and surface properties of the room, which our brains are used to interpreting. This turns out to be an argument against both mono coming from main PA speakers AND against stereo coming out from main PA speakers, because the location signals will never match the reality of the room.

 

In any case, I detest going to a great concert only to hear the same imageless mono mix coming from all the speakers in the venue. Admittedly, in many larger venues there's little choice to do otherwise.

Dave says this can be a problem with stereo piano sounds even if you use piano sounds that are designed to internally sum well to mono
Can you point to where he says this, and why? I'd love to hear a scientific explanation.

 

In the end, learn to trust your ears. If it sounds good, do it. If it doesn't, don't. Screw the theory. Just be aware that what's true for one sound isn't necessarily true for another.

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This could also have ramifications for recording. A stereo piano sound may only sound good panned hard left and right... and to me, it sounds like that means that the piano will always be "big" and centered in the mix. If you want to position that piano anywhere else in the soundfield, it sounds like then, too, you need to use a mono piano sound, rather than trying to "position" the stereo piano or make it more "narrow."
To pan a stereo pair without mixing, you just do what the "balance" (also mistakenly called "pan") knob does on a stereo channel: you reduce the volume on the "far" side. This shifts the tone center to one side without mixing the two. I have a piano that mixes poorly to mono, and this is how I pan it in mixes.
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Unless you don't mind ungodly long sound checks, mono. As you said its the easiest way to go and produces good results. The audience doesn't care if they perceive the keyboard on the right side of the stage and the guitar on the left. It really is too easy to screw up a stereo image. You can get situations where a large group of people can only hear the instrument that is loudest!

Boards: Kurzweil SP-6, Roland FA-08, VR-09, DeepMind 12

Modules: Korg Radias, Roland D-05, Bk7-m & Sonic Cell

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First, I disagree with your blanket statement that hearing only one side "is generally worse than mono."

On most (all?) of the stereo piano patches I have heard, there is a bias toward the high notes on one side, and toward the low notes on the other. If you run mono, everyone hears all notes balanced. If you run stereo, listeners off to one side will get an unbalanced sound weighted toward the low notes, listeners to the other side get an unbalanced sound weighted toward the high notes... hence people at either side are getting something worse than mono.

 

I may have created confusion in the particular sentence you are referring to by saying "keyboards" instead of "piano" -- I was more specific in the rest of that message, that I was talking mostly about piano sounds in particular, so I apologize for the ambiguity.

 

Dave says this can be a problem with stereo piano sounds even if you use piano sounds that are designed to internally sum well to mono
Can you point to where he says this, and why?

In the thread I referred to, "Newbie: Kurzweil PC3 vs PC88 - Stereo vs Mono " msgs #2336823 and #2336874. He says "all of our stereo pianos sum to mono quite seamlessly" yet also that "having both L and R jacks connected to the mixer, but then on the mixer, not having those signals panned hard Left and hard Right...would cause a very unpleasant sound/playing experience." I don't know the reason.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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To pan a stereo pair without mixing, you just do what the "balance" (also mistakenly called "pan") knob does on a stereo channel: you reduce the volume on the "far" side. This shifts the tone center to one side without mixing the two. I have a piano that mixes poorly to mono, and this is how I pan it in mixes.

Again, I was talking about piano, and the problem is that if you reduce the volume on the side that is biased toward, for example, the high keys, you're not merely "moving" the piano off center, you're also diminishing the relative volume of the high notes (or the low notes, if you "move" the piano the other direction).

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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If you're running stereo keyboards into your own onstage mixer, the fact that your mixer outputs should be hard-panned left and right to FOH has nothing whatsoever to do with how your stereo signals are set - it's simply a prerequisite for being able to set your "stereo" - or "mono" for that matter - however you like. I use a wide variety of stereo approaches with my sounds and no-one has ever complained that half my sound is missing.

 

It's a ridiculous argument that just doesn't stand up to real life. People are designed to hear in stereo - the "two ears per person" bit is a clue here - and are well able to cope with wide soundstages. Does anyone ever complain that live orchestras are scattered all over the stage?

 

The issue that people may have regarding problems collapsing stereo piano sounds to mono is an entirely separate issue and really should not be used as an excuse to justify an argument that therefore "mono should be used all the time."

Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. - W. C. Fields

 

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I use a wide variety of stereo approaches with my sounds and no-one has ever complained that half my sound is missing.

 

It's a ridiculous argument that just doesn't stand up to real life. People are designed to hear in stereo - the "two ears per person" bit is a clue here - and are well able to cope with wide soundstages. Does anyone ever complain that live orchestras are scattered all over the stage?

 

There are a couple of issues here. One is, you're right, there's no requirement that everyone in the audience hear a perfectly balanced sound, or the same sound. If you're close and way off to one side of an orchestra, you may hear a relatively cello heavy or violin heavy "mix" but that's not to say that you can't enjoy it regardless, and of course, there's no way to "correct" for it except to buy a better seat.

 

On the other hand, a stereo sampled piano is an artificial beast to begin with. A stage may be 30 feet wide, but there's no piano where the top strings are 30 feet away from the bottom strings. It's not the same experience as an orchestra. That would be more analogous to hearing the low cello notes close to you but the high cello notes farther away. I don't think that's a natural condition for us to listen to.

 

Also, an orchestra consists of a myriad of point sources spread across space, which your brain interprets differently from all the sound coming form two point sources at the edges, which again, adds an unnatural element. Two side speakers that can properly simulate a left-to-right spread of sound only works well when the audience is centered between the speakers.

 

But regardless, is it a disaster that people off to one side are hearing more bottom notes or top notes from your piano? Probably not. But wouldn't it be better if they all heard all the notes properly balanced, if you could easily allow them to? And you can allow them to, without forcing them to buy better seats, by sending a mono signal.

 

Also, the fact that no one complains about your sound is not proof that the sound could not be better. ;-)

 

The issue that people may have regarding problems collapsing stereo piano sounds to mono is an entirely separate issue and really should not be used as an excuse to justify an argument that therefore "mono should be used all the time."

The fact that some stereo pianos sound poor in mono is not used as a reason to run mono; it's used as a reason to be sure that you select a piano that sounds good in mono if there's any chance that it will end up mono in the PA (regardless of what you're doing on stage).

 

But assume you're in a scenario where you're playing through a pair of speakers that are 30 feet apart, and much of the audience is likely to be largely off axis, even outside the far side of one of the speakers. In that scenario, is there any advantage to employing a stereo piano sound? If you think not, that is the part of the argument used to justify running mono. That doesn't mean you need to run mono all the time, but if you are set up with sounds that work in mono, sticking with mono means you don't have to think about it... it will simply work all the time, for the entire audience, no matter what situation you end up playing in.

 

But if you want to take the time to decide mono or stereo on a gig-by-gig basis and set up accordingly, that's fine too. The "mono always" crowd is just saying that it's simple and it always works, which you can't say about "stereo always" where you have to take into account the venue layout, the PA placement, and what the sound man may be doing.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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I don't know about a lot of this stuff. All I do know is the EPs and many of the pianos on that Kawai slab of mine sounds like **** if I use the mono jack on the Kawai.

 

But if I run R and L cables to my Yamaha board I use for mixing my keys and sum it on the Yamaha and mono DI it to the snake it it does not sound that bad.

 

I am not sure why. Well at least I really like the board's action.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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On the other hand, a stereo sampled piano is an artificial beast to begin with. A stage may be 30 feet wide, but there's no piano where the top strings are 30 feet away from the bottom strings. It's not the same experience as an orchestra. That would be more analogous to hearing the low cello notes close to you but the high cello notes farther away. I don't think that's a natural condition for us to listen to.

 

There is no "natural condition" here. The performer at the piano, for example, is listening to an entirely different soundscape than an audience member. Why not let the audience hear the music from something akin to the performer's perspective?

 

But wouldn't it be better if they all heard all the notes properly balanced, if you could easily allow them to? And you can allow them to, without forcing them to buy better seats, by sending a mono signal.

 

That doesn't mean you need to run mono all the time, but if you are set up with sounds that work in mono, sticking with mono means you don't have to think about it... it will simply work all the time, for the entire audience, no matter what situation you end up playing in.

 

The "mono always" crowd is just saying that it's simple and it always works, which you can't say about "stereo always" where you have to take into account the venue layout, the PA placement, and what the sound man may be doing.

 

Easier, yes, but better? A good stereo image is, in my opinion, a far richer listening experience than mono. I don't wish to be too contentious in what is, I presume, a light-hearted exchange, but I believe that it is part of what we do to strive to give people the best possible experience, not just the most convenient. To me, dishing up mono is like giving everyone plain bread and butter on the grounds that everyone will at least eat it.

 

Also, the fact that no one complains about your sound is not proof that the sound could not be better. ;-)

 

I shall treat this with the disdain it deserves and ignore it. Youngsters today got no respect...I don't know what the world's coming to... :taz:

 

 

 

 

 

Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. - W. C. Fields

 

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On the other hand, a stereo sampled piano is an artificial beast to begin with. A stage may be 30 feet wide, but there's no piano where the top strings are 30 feet away from the bottom strings. It's not the same experience as an orchestra. That would be more analogous to hearing the low cello notes close to you but the high cello notes farther away. I don't think that's a natural condition for us to listen to.

 

There is no "natural condition" here. The performer at the piano, for example, is listening to an entirely different soundscape than an audience member. Why not let the audience hear the music from something akin to the performer's perspective?

I'm not saying that we need to strive for "natural." My point was that you were saying that our ears/brains are well-equipped to compensate for things like being off-center at an orchestral performance; I was suggesting that our ears/brains may be better equipped for compensating for "natural" phenomenon like that than they are for compensating for all the sonic phenomenon we can create that are not at all like what occurs naturally. i.e. you can be way off center at the orchestral performance and still identify where the piccolos are coming from and register it as an accurate sound of a piccolo at a point in space, but if you're way off center of a 2-speaker stereo reproduction of the image of a 30 foot piano, all bets are off. ;-)

 

But you bring up another good point... I actually am not a fan of the whole idea of creating stereo pianos from the players perspective (low notes on left, high notes no right)... I think that approach serves no purpose except to make it seem more natural to the player when wearing headphones. As you point out, almost no real world listener hears actual pianos like that.

 

Easier, yes, but better? ... I believe that it is part of what we do to strive to give people the best possible experience, not just the most convenient.

I have no problem with that. I said that that was part of the rationale for the mono-only crowd, I didn't say that I think everyone needs to agree with it. If people are willing to take the time and care to go mono when the venue calls for it and go stereo when it can work, fine. I think the downside there is that there is simply more that can go wrong, so in your attempt to give everyone the best experience, you're also increasing the odds that you are inadvertently giving at least some part of the audience a lesser experience. But, hey, no matter what, things can always go awry. ;-) If you think stereo will work well in a room, and you have a good handle on the system and what the soundman is going to do with your keys through it, great.

 

Personally, I'm lazy. ;-) Yes, I want to give the audience a great experience, but I also want to thoroughly enjoy myself. So I do tend to move toward the side of simpler, faster, more easily repeatable setups, lighter gear, etc., within limits that I think will still provide a high quality experience for myself and the audience.

 

To me, dishing up mono is like giving everyone plain bread and butter on the grounds that everyone will at least eat it.

In some venues, it would be more like choosing between giving filet mignon to people in the best seats and cheerios to the people in the worst, as opposed to choosing to only serve hamburger, but at least everyone gets the hamburger.

 

Also, the fact that no one complains about your sound is not proof that the sound could not be better. ;-)

 

I shall treat this with the disdain it deserves and ignore it. Youngsters today got no respect...I don't know what the world's coming to...

It was just a simple statement of logic. I might be older than you are. ;-)

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Generally around here I work with 5 sound contractors. 3 on a somewhat regular basis. Only 1 of those 3 run stereo FOH and 2 of the 5 can run stereo. I carry a stereo DI just in case.

 

If my stage levels are being heard by listeners I am too loud so from where I sit the stereo mono debate is moot. I just wish the Kawai had a good mono piano because the way they implemented the effects suck in mono. (But I really like the action.) Maybe an Aircraft Carrier would do a better mono piano.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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I was suggesting that our ears/brains may be better equipped for compensating for "natural" phenomenon like that than they are for compensating for all the sonic phenomenon we can create that are not at all like what occurs naturally.

 

Ummm...who says so? But seriously, give the human mind some credit here, what we ultimately "hear" is a very complex synthesis of sensory inputs, including vision, mixed in with perceptions and memories of previous experiences. I'm pretty sure it can cope just fine.

 

I actually am not a fan of the whole idea of creating stereo pianos from the players perspective

 

Fair enough, but sitting at a real piano, I always feel I've got the best seat in the house.

 

It was just a simple statement of logic. I might be older than you are.

 

As a gentlemen, I will not indulge myself in the inevitable cheap shots available to me. But think ye not that I am above temptation...

 

To go somewhat OT here, am I correct in gathering - from what I have read on this forum - that mono PA systems are, to a certain extent, commonplace in the USA? This does genuinely surprise me.

 

Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. - W. C. Fields

 

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First, I disagree with your blanket statement that hearing only one side "is generally worse than mono."

On most (all?) of the stereo piano patches I have heard, there is a bias toward the high notes on one side, and toward the low notes on the other. If you run mono, everyone hears all notes balanced. If you run stereo, listeners off to one side will get an unbalanced sound weighted toward the low notes, listeners to the other side get an unbalanced sound weighted toward the high notes... hence people at either side are getting something worse than mono.

This is true of player-perspective, close-miked stereo images. I find I don't like stereo pianos where the panning is so significant that those hearing only one side are getting a poor representation of the whole part. With a reasonablye imaged piano, do different parts of an audience hear different things? Yes, just as sitting in a different place in the audience of a acoustic concert will produce different results. Worse? Nope, or at least, not too significantly.

 

This also addresses your issue about panning stereo pianos. The piano I cited above has higher notes to the right, lower to the left (but not too much). For this reason, when I use it mono, I use the right channel only, which works fine. (I don't need thundering bass, and the low notes come through quite well enough in the right channel -- maybe 3dB down.) I usually swap left and right sides if I'll be panning this piano to the left. (I prefer pianos on the left, since grand pianos tend to be on the left side of a stage for obvious reasons.)

A stage may be 30 feet wide, but there's no piano where the top strings are 30 feet away from the bottom strings. It's not the same experience as an orchestra. That would be more analogous to hearing the low cello notes close to you but the high cello notes farther away. I don't think that's a natural condition for us to listen to.
Any stereo piano that sounds like that belongs in the dustbin.

 

On the other hand, on stages like UM's Hill Auditorium, the stereo spread of a real piano is substantial. No, the low strings aren't 30 feet from the high strings. But the image the piano and room produce together is rich and deep, just as I'd like a stereo piano to sound. No, I don't want my piano to sound like it's in Hill for a blues jam. But I want the ambience of a real piano in a real room. Reverb alone does not do the trick (and tends to overdo it as well).

I don't know about a lot of this stuff. All I do know is the EPs and many of the pianos on that Kawai slab of mine sounds like **** if I use the mono jack on the Kawai.

 

But if I run R and L cables to my Yamaha board I use for mixing my keys and sum it on the Yamaha and mono DI it to the snake it it does not sound that bad.

That makes no sense at all. I'm not disputing it, I'm just saying it makes no sense.

 

Two side speakers that can properly simulate a left-to-right spread of sound only works well when the audience is centered between the speakers.
They don't have to be centered; they just have to have nearly the same distance to both speakers, by say +/- 30%.

 

But wouldn't it be better if they all heard all the notes properly balanced, if you could easily allow them to?
Not if the only way is to give them a boring flat unnatural mono image.

 

But assume you're in a scenario where you're playing through a pair of speakers that are 30 feet apart, and much of the audience is likely to be largely off axis, even outside the far side of one of the speakers. In that scenario, is there any advantage to employing a stereo piano sound?
Yes. None of them are being short-changed: as I said, either side needs to sound nearly as good as mono. Meanwhile, everyone who can hear both sides well gets the benefit. Best of all, Rhodes stereo vibrato or Leslie sounds killer to everyone. (Been there, done that.) Sure, that's not your acoustic piano -- but I'm setting up for stereo, and that's why. PS: I won't be buying any piano where either side doesn't work well enough by itself.

 

Most venues set up that way run in mono, for the obvious reason that mere panning fails for the obvious reasons. I understand their thinking, but find it disappointing to those of us who have stereo effects/images that don't suffer from the problems that mono panning does.

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Fortunately, the only time I heard Kevin play, he was seated at a lovely grand piano, and I was close enough I could hear both the mains and the piano itself. A lovely stereo experience, at a Kanker gig! :laugh:

 

Of course, his playing would have sounded great through a tin can with strings. All this stere/mono stuff is in the weeds compared to artistry.

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learjeff is too kind. He also has the sense to use M/S when he does stereo sampling. That really should be the industry standard for sampled pianos. It may not be a cure all, but it offers the best of both worlds in one sample set.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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Since I use stereo with my keyboards, (and after reading this thread), I had to find out just what differences I could hear, or not hear, between playing stereo and mono.

 

I have my keys hooked up to a Yamaha MIG mixer, a pair of Event studio monitors, and Audio-Technica headphones (coming off the mixer). I listened to the Kurz piano's, electric pianos, and a few other sounds in: 1)stereo with each channel's pan hard left and hard right; 2)both channel's pan centered; 3)using just one cable from the mono out of the Kurz to one channel with the pan centered.

 

What I found is that most programs sound good in mono, either with the pans centered or with just one channel. To my ears, I could not tell much difference at all between pans centered or a mono signal. The effects were not as pronounced in either, but in the context of live sound, would probably not be that big a deal. In full stereo (pans hard L & R), yes, a much fuller sound on most programs (the Wurly programs sounded about the same regardless on how I had them). The Kurz pianos do go slightly from left to right but is really heard mostly at the extreme ends of the keyboard. Another difference was the overall level. Using stereo panned hard L & R as a reference (0 db), I measured +2db gain in panning the stereo channels to center (making the sound less full but louder) and -3db when running just one mono signal from the Kurz.

 

The biggest difference I heard was when I tested my NE2's Leslie sim this way. The sim sounded less full and narrow with either stereo panned center or mono signal. When done full stereo (with pans set hard L & R), the difference was quite noticeable. More air in the top end and much more 'wump' on the low roter, especially as it speed up or slowed down. I can only imangine how good this would sound using some of the improved sim's out there.

 

This is just my take on this. YMMV. For now, I will continue to use stereo, but would be ok if I had to go mono.

 

BTW, at all the music venue sites I played at, I ask the sound engineer's if they can run a stereo mix that will come out the FOH. All have told me yes.

Kurzweil PC3, Hammond SK-1 + Ventilator, Korg Triton. 2 JBL Eon 510's.

 

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On most (all?) of the stereo piano patches I have heard, there is a bias toward the high notes on one side, and toward the low notes on the other. If you run mono, everyone hears all notes balanced. If you run stereo, listeners off to one side will get an unbalanced sound weighted toward the low notes, listeners to the other side get an unbalanced sound weighted toward the high notes... hence people at either side are getting something worse than mono.

This is true of player-perspective, close-miked stereo images. I find I don't like stereo pianos where the panning is so significant that those hearing only one side are getting a poor representation of the whole part.

I see. So really, in addition to the old rule of "make sure you have a piano patch that sums well to mono" to allow for the times you will be playing in mono (whether out of choice or necessity), we may need to consider the opposite, i.e. "if you want to run a stereo piano through a PA, make sure you have a piano patch where the high-note-vs.-low-note balance of the left and right sides are not too far different from each other." I can certainly see where this would make a difference, if some pianos are noticeably more "extreme" in this respect than others. Some pianos could easily be more suitable than others for stereo PA use.

 

Two side speakers that can properly simulate a left-to-right spread of sound only works well when the audience is centered between the speakers.
They don't have to be centered; they just have to have nearly the same distance to both speakers, by say +/- 30%.

Okay, roughly centered. ;-) The point is really that, in many venues, many listeners will be outside that sweet spot. But as your previous point illustrates, just how "damaging" it is to be outside the sweet spot depends on how acceptable each "side" of the sound is if heard largely on its own.

 

Best of all, Rhodes stereo vibrato or Leslie sounds killer to everyone. (Been there, done that.)

When you send stereo leslie effects to the house, they are panned hard left and right?

 

 

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When you send stereo leslie effects to the house, they are panned hard left and right?

Yup! if it doesn't split their heads open, I'm doing something wrong! :laugh:

 

My general rules for stereo pianos are simple. They should sum to mono well, and either side should sound good by itself. Admittedly, the piano I use the most fails the summation test, and gets a "barely passed" for the either side test. In cases where stereo wouldn't work, I use the right side alone.

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He also has the sense to use M/S when he does stereo sampling. That really should be the industry standard for sampled pianos. It may not be a cure all, but it offers the best of both worlds in one sample set.
I'm interested to see how well it would work for piano. EP's get away with it because some coloration is fine.

 

Here's the rub. If there's enough phase cancellation, when using Mid Side encoding, either side by itself would sound bad in the same way a stereo piano can sound bad when summed to mono. In other words, mid-side doesn't dodge the bullet, it just moves it from "when summed to mono" to "when listening to either side". You still have to mic carefully to avoid the problem, and you have to compromise mic position. The simplest way is to get the two capsules as close together as possible, and then to orient the two so that both get a well-balanced sound (so that the result is nicely balanced left-to-right).

 

I hope to put my theories to the test. I plan to get an acoustic grand before long. There was a C3 in the area that had Pianodisc, but I let it slip away. That would have been perfect for sampling.

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I don't know about a lot of this stuff. All I do know is the EPs and many of the pianos on that Kawai slab of mine sounds like **** if I use the mono jack on the Kawai.

 

But if I run R and L cables to my Yamaha board I use for mixing my keys and sum it on the Yamaha and mono DI it to the snake it it does not sound that bad.

 

That makes no sense at all. I'm not disputing it, I'm just saying it makes no sense.

 

I know it. I have never seen anything like it. It makes no sense to me either.

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So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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