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Stereo to Mono Question


Fusker

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Look out! This should be harmless enough. Thought I'd take a flyer to see if someone could answer this.

 

Band I'm in runs the PA in mono, and we are moving to more consistently running every show completely through the PA. In the past, we would use our stage amps (for up to medium sized gigs) and only run vocals and maybe the kick through the PA. We're starting this method at our next show on Saturday, and I don't have a rehearsal time to fully test this out.

 

Anyhow, I'm still on my K4 and to date have run it in stereo. My question, what happens if I still plug into the K4 in stereo, but only use the mono XLR direct-out to the PA? Should I adapt up front and start using mono only samples and go mono into my amp? Does it matter?

Steinway L, Yamaha Motif XS-8, NE3 73, Casio PX-5S, iPad, EV ZLX 12-P ZZ(x2), bunch of PA stuff.
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Another question, should I just keep my setup the same and mic my amp? Seems like another wire to trip over...but might be the simple answer.
Steinway L, Yamaha Motif XS-8, NE3 73, Casio PX-5S, iPad, EV ZLX 12-P ZZ(x2), bunch of PA stuff.
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It depends on the samples, but a good rule of thumb is Mono In -> Mono out is always the safe bet.

 

Just use mono samples and a mono output from your keyboard to the mono input on the K4 to the MONO XLR direct out to your MONO PA, and you should be just fine.

 

That is exactly what I did when I had a K4 and never had an issue. It was predictable and I never had to worry about having the FOH hearing something different than I did.

Yamaha C7 Grand, My Hammonds: '57 B3, '54 C2, '42 BC, '40 D, '05 XK3 Pro System, Kawai MP9000, Fender Rhodes Mk I 73, Yamaha CP33, Motif ES6, Nord Electro 2, Minimoog Voyager & Model D, Korg MS10
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If the K4 sums its stereo signal to a mono out, you should be fine, as long as you confirm that all the sounds you're using sound fine when summed to mono. You do need to test this, since some stereo sounds can sound terrible when collapsed to mono (some piano sounds are apparently notorious for this). Of course, as you mention, you can just use mono sounds to begin with, which eliminates this variable, and would be the simplest/safest way to go. I would not mic up the amp, it will typically be your worst sounding option.

 

Guitarists do that because they like the coloration and distortion they get out of the amp, it can be as crucial to their instrument sound as their guitar itself, or more. They also use a more limited frequency range so can typically get the sound they want out a single speaker. Keyboardists usually aim to get the most neutral sound, so the amp/speaker just adds a point of sonic deterioration, plus the greater frequency range means that we usually have low and high frequency drivers, so that would result in two points to be mic'd up instead of one. It's basically a bad idea all around, unless maybe you actually are trying to make use of the colorations introduced by the amp.

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I think that's one of the key points I'm unsure of, does the K4 sum it's stereo signal on the channel 4 out, and does it do it well.

 

Good advise!

 

 

If the K4 sums its stereo signal to a mono out, you should be fine, as long as you confirm that all the sounds you're using sound fine when summed to mono. You do need to test this, since some stereo sounds can sound terrible when collapsed to mono (some piano sounds are apparently notorious for this). Of course, as you mention, you can just use mono sounds to begin with, which eliminates this variable, and would be the simplest/safest way to go. I would not mic up the amp, it will typically be your worst sounding option.

 

Guitarists do that because they like the coloration and distortion they get out of the amp, it can be as crucial to their instrument sound as their guitar itself, or more. They also use a more limited frequency range so can typically get the sound they want out a single speaker. Keyboardists usually aim to get the most neutral sound, so the amp/speaker just adds a point of sonic deterioration, plus the greater frequency range means that we usually have low and high frequency drivers, so that would result in two points to be mic'd up instead of one. It's basically a bad idea all around, unless maybe you actually are trying to make use of the colorations introduced by the amp.

Steinway L, Yamaha Motif XS-8, NE3 73, Casio PX-5S, iPad, EV ZLX 12-P ZZ(x2), bunch of PA stuff.
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Indications are that it does mono sum out...anyone done this with stereo in and stereo samples? I guess I'll try at sound check ;-)
Steinway L, Yamaha Motif XS-8, NE3 73, Casio PX-5S, iPad, EV ZLX 12-P ZZ(x2), bunch of PA stuff.
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I am pretty sure it will depend per sound and per manufacturer/software maker, some sounds are normal and then of course you'll lose some chorus or inverted delay effects and get some phasing issues, in other cases (in my experience) you'd probably be good of when you check what amount of mess the stereo to mono creates, and that might not even resolve easily.

 

Theo

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If your patches sound bad summed to mono, try using just one side for the feed to FOH. In many cases this sounds better than mono anyway, since some stereo FX sound fine when taking either side but bad when summed to mono. (Some stereo FX sound bad when listening to just one side, too.)

 

For example, for NE2's hammond/leslie sim, I prefer either side to both sides summed together. Imagine miking a Leslie with two mikes: which would you prefer, summed or ignore one mike? I choose the latter.

 

Just try it and choose whatever sounds best.

 

I monitor in stereo and often send a mono feed to FOH. I use the right channel because it sounds best for the gear I use.

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Whatever you choose to do, micing would probably be the last resort. Trying to mic a combo amp or powered monitor properly would be problematic at best compared to the quality you'd get from a direct signal.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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I dont know what keyboards you are playing, but I would imagine that the keyboards themselves would be better at summing their respective patches to mono than the K4 would be.

 

I'm pretty sure the best place to sum to mono is in the keyboards, using the L output.

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I dont know what keyboards you are playing, but I would imagine that the keyboards themselves would be better at summing their respective patches to mono than the K4 would be.

 

I'm pretty sure the best place to sum to mono is in the keyboards, using the L output.

 

+1

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I was going to figure this out when my Kronos arrived, but since we're talking about it, I may as well ask....

 

On my CX3, the Leslie is stereo and you HAVE to use both outputs and sum. I prefer running L/mono out. So on the Kronos, using CX3 engine with Leslie, do you get the full summed signal using L/mono out? I would assume you do since the Leslie is not part of the CX3 engine but instead part of the global (or at least insert) effects. Can someone confirm?

 

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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On my CX3, the Leslie is stereo and you HAVE to use both outputs and sum.

According to the CX3 manual, the Left output alone can be used for Mono out. That's how I've almost always used mine, and I've been happy with the sound.

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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Are we all converting to mono or what? Kanker will be pleased.

Been running mono for about 12 years. I guess that's when I went pro, even though I was getting paid to play out for the 10 years prior. I guess they pay amateurs, too.

 

On my CX3, the Leslie is stereo and you HAVE to use both outputs and sum.

According to the CX3 manual, the Left output alone can be used for Mono out. That's how I've almost always used mine, and I've been happy with the sound.

 

Hmm, maybe I haven't dug deep enough or have an older revision - mine doesn't work that way.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I dont know what keyboards you are playing, but I would imagine that the keyboards themselves would be better at summing their respective patches to mono than the K4 would be.

 

I'm pretty sure the best place to sum to mono is in the keyboards, using the L output.

I'm skeptical. I'd bet that the keyboard does the exact same thing a mixer would do, which is SUM the two. Addition is addition is addition, and 2+2=4 no matter where you do it (assuming the components involved are decent).

 

Note that I'm talking about summing to mono, rather than choosing a mono patch to begin with.

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So on the Kronos, using CX3 engine with Leslie, do you get the full summed signal using L/mono out? I would assume you do since the Leslie is not part of the CX3 engine but instead part of the global (or at least insert) effects. Can someone confirm?
For any Leslie sim, WHY would you WANT to sum the two? If it's a good sim, it's simulating putting two mics on a real Leslie upper rotor (ignoring bottom for now). Under what circumstances would you want to use 2 mics at say 90 degrees and then sum them to mono? Wouldn't it usually be better to just use one mic per rotor? If the effect is too strong, isn't it better to back the mic away rather than adding a 2nd (on sims that give you this control)?
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Fusker - I know I'm late to the party but I thought you might find this useful: The K4 sends a summed full-range mono signal to its sub-woofer output. So you can monitor in stereo and send a mono feed wherever you need to. I used it many times when I had a K4 and it works like a dream.
Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
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So on the Kronos, using CX3 engine with Leslie, do you get the full summed signal using L/mono out? I would assume you do since the Leslie is not part of the CX3 engine but instead part of the global (or at least insert) effects. Can someone confirm?
For any Leslie sim, WHY would you WANT to sum the two? If it's a good sim, it's simulating putting two mics on a real Leslie upper rotor (ignoring bottom for now). Under what circumstances would you want to use 2 mics at say 90 degrees and then sum them to mono? Wouldn't it usually be better to just use one mic per rotor? If the effect is too strong, isn't it better to back the mic away rather than adding a 2nd (on sims that give you this control)?

 

Because the volume drops every time it passes the channel not heard, creating a tremelo effect that is not realistic, or desirable. There's some pretty significant panning going on. As you suggest, maybe there's some tweaking I could do to alleviate thi, but it was every patch, and it sounded great in stereo. It's been in storage for over a year now and I only gigged with it once..I mainly got it for home to try to get more acquainted with "real" organ playing (as close as is practical for me).

 

But I asked the question since the Kronos WILL be my gigging keyboard.

 

 

Also, regarding your comment about summing mono. Most keyboards DO just sum left and right internally. I think a lot of the artifacts people complain about come from the mixers. Inconsistencies in signal path, channel to channel phase shift, etc cause problems.

 

Try this sometime: use a Y cable to send the exact same signal to 2 mixer channels and mix them to the same level. Depending on the mixer quality, you may get phasing and other artifacts. NOW, run each signal through a DI to 2 mixer channels. You'll get more differences in the signals due to tolerances in the transformers, resulting in more artifacts.

 

The best place to mix is in the keyboard.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I dont know what keyboards you are playing, but I would imagine that the keyboards themselves would be better at summing their respective patches to mono than the K4 would be.

 

I'm pretty sure the best place to sum to mono is in the keyboards, using the L output.

I'm skeptical. I'd bet that the keyboard does the exact same thing a mixer would do, which is SUM the two. Addition is addition is addition, and 2+2=4 no matter where you do it (assuming the components involved are decent).

 

Note that I'm talking about summing to mono, rather than choosing a mono patch to begin with.

 

This might depend on the keyboard. I know that Nord's mono function does NOT simply sum L+R (I emailed tech support about this...they would not give the game away as to what it actually does though)

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Also, regarding your comment about summing mono. Most keyboards DO just sum left and right internally. I think a lot of the artifacts people complain about come from the mixers. Inconsistencies in signal path, channel to channel phase shift, etc cause problems.
or cockpit error?

 

Try this sometime: use a Y cable to send the exact same signal to 2 mixer channels and mix them to the same level. Depending on the mixer quality, you may get phasing and other artifacts.
Not unless something is terribly wrong. Any difference in delay should be in the electrical range, not the audio range, even if a lot of EQ is used and used differently on the two channels. (Of course, if the EQ is different, it will sound different.)

 

NOW, run each signal through a DI to 2 mixer channels. You'll get more differences in the signals due to tolerances in the transformers, resulting in more artifacts.
Again, I would expect marginal differences even for low cost components.

 

The best place to mix is in the keyboard.
And yet so many people report the opposite. However, I suspect that's just because they're getting a 3 to 6 dB boost and don't realize it.
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This might depend on the keyboard. I know that Nord's mono function does NOT simply sum L+R (I emailed tech support about this...they would not give the game away as to what it actually does though)
Nord has a button for mono, right? They also label one of the outputs R/Mono. I haven't checked it out, but I suspect R/Mono is just summed.

 

I also wonder what that Mono button does.

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