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Author Topic: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?  (Read 1593 times)

Stuart Branson

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How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« on: March 28, 2019, 04:52:51 am »

Hello
I have been looking around the internet for some information about how club sound systems put the music out to the speakers. I know about crossovers and how they split the signals into bandwidths for the various speakers but I have not found any information about how they sum a stereo signal into Mono or even if this is done by the crossovers, since most seem to have a L + R input
I am wondering because I am making my music very mono compatible but the music I hear on Radio these days - edm/house etc. - seems to be extremely stereo and some of them sound bad if I play them in mono in my studio, so I also wonder if how a Club System sums stereo to mono is different to how my studio does it ????
Any clues, help appreciated....
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Taylor Hall

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2019, 08:25:18 am »

The short answer, it depends on each club's FOH and stage input setup.

The long answer is that it can either be summed properly via their mixer, DI box, or other piece of gear designed for that purpose, or summed incorrectly and actually cancelling out some of the signal.

While it's not difficult to maintain a stereo mix from your decks to the speakers, it can be logistically challenging for whoever is running the board if the club only has a small format mixer with a handful of channels and several set changes through the night. If that's not the case, they could be downmixing at the board and simply outputting a mono signal from there. They could also make use of a DI box on stage that takes a stereo input and sums it before going to the mixer. It can also depend on what kind of outboard gear (crossovers, limiters, other DSP) is between the mixer and amps/speakers. Most crossovers are capable of running in either stereo or mono mode, but the tradeoff is that running them in the mono mode gives you more crossover points to better utilize a 3 or 4 way speaker system. Likewise, other outboard gear like limiters or EQs might only have a single channel of input, so summing prior to that is beneficial to cut costs on more expensive stereo gear, or buying multiples of single channel equipment.

So basically if the club has the budget and wherewithal to properly build a system they should be able to run stereo end to end. But again, this will vary from venue to venue so be prepared for either scenario.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2019, 10:51:28 am »

It's bad forum etiquette to post a redundant topic when the original is locked.

Just sayin'
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Stuart Branson

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2019, 11:01:22 am »

It's bad forum etiquette to post a redundant topic when the original is locked. Just sayin'
Not sure why you think my topic is redundant.
Do you know the answer already ? If so please share.
I did a re post because the previous one is locked which prevents people from answering - which kind of defeats the purpose of joining a forum and writing a question.
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Stuart Branson

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2019, 11:16:01 am »

The short answer, it depends on each club's FOH and stage input setup.
Thanks for your answers.
Interesting that each venue probably has their own unique setup.
What you said about sound cancellation is the main concern.
So as with most things music related, nothing is straight forward.
But do some venues really run Stereo around the place ?
I never thought that would be possible.
Every speaker stack would have to have L+R speakers right ? and there would be no apparent width, kind of pointless ?
Any club/festival sound engineers on here have any insight ?
Thanks
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Jeremy Young

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2019, 11:47:45 am »

The other thread was locked because you didn't heed the instructions when signing up for this forum. That is, to use your real full name in your display name.  Once corrected it gets unlocked again (as it is now as I write this).  It's redundant because now there are two identical threads for the same topic, not because the question shouldn't be asked but because there are now two places for answers. 

You've said that summing recordings popular enough to be on radio to mono in your studio doesn't sound right, so the first question I have is, what is your process for summing?  If you're not doing it properly, it could be what is leading you down this inquiry rabbit hole in the first place.

As for your question about L&R at every stack... no.  The left signal would go to the left side of the stage (assuming a stage, from the perspective of the audience) and the right signal would go to the right side of the stage.  The stereo field is then much wider (the audience area in a perfect world).

There are several reasons not to run stereo when the scale of the show gets larger.  Take for example a large stadium where an audience member might be located off-center from teh stage, perhaps in the balcony.  If important musical content is panned hard to one side of the stadium they have a 50/50 chance that they're on the wrong side of the room to hear it at all.  In a small room where everyone will be able to hear both sides of the system, and the content has stereo content important to the artists goal, then stereo is the way to go.  Sometimes it's a combination of both (with fills etc being mono but stereo for the mains).


I'll leave it there for now, tell us more about your summing methods.
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Stuart Branson

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2019, 12:16:01 pm »

Thanks for the reply

My summing methods are:
When I am producing I use a plugin called BX solo and when I am listening to other peoples music I just hit the Mono button on my Total Mix which comes with my RME sound card or sometimes I hit the mono option in VLC player. They all seem to produce the same result

So the crux of my question is - is the way I am listening in mono an accurate representation of a club/concert signal ?
eg. If I have some hats panned full left and some shakers panned full right when I hit mono I will hear them both at about half the volume and of course it sounds incorrect. I was wondering if crossovers or whatever does summing in a club set up do this in the same way or in a different way so that you would hear both at a reasonable level, some special way of taking a mono signal from stereo tracks ?

I do feel like I have fallen down a rabbit hole for sure, especially when I realised that some radio stations I was listening to, add width to their signal making the tracks even less mono compatible.

Thanks

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Jeremy Young

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2019, 01:34:49 pm »

Hi Stuart, admittedly I'm not familiar with those pieces of software, but I would tend to believe that they should be summing to mono "correctly". 

There are a variety of cables for this type of thing that are available to purchase but do it incorrectly.  I was "hoping" you were using something like that so that I had a fix, but no such "luck" this time.

I'm going to have to defer to others who may be more experienced in explaining the level variances when summing to mono.  If there is some kind of software in use to expand the stereo field, it may be introducing artifacts that cause cancellations when summed again to mono, but here's where I'll have to tap out.
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Stuart Branson

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2019, 02:57:26 pm »

here's where I'll have to tap out.
NP. Thanks for your time  8)
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2019, 03:23:05 pm »

I don't think going mono should by nature reduce your volume.
Your software may be doing something, or you have a polarity or phase issue.
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Dave Scarlett

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2019, 09:35:18 pm »

I don't think going mono should by nature reduce your volume.
Your software may be doing something, or you have a polarity or phase issue.

Quite right. Two identical signals at the same volume, 180 degrees out of phase, and summed mono effectively cancel each other.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2019, 10:27:22 pm »

I don't think going mono should by nature reduce your volume.
Your software may be doing something, or you have a polarity or phase issue.

This is where I was headed, Dave and Dave.

Stuart, this test requires you to be exactly centered, acoustically, between your monitors.  Pick any Sting album and play a track in stereo, then sum it to mono.  If the level drops in the center of the image, and especially if the LF now is missing in the center but is present if you move on axis to only one monitor at a time, you have a polarity flip either in software; your DA conversion, or the wiring between your computer/DAW and monitor amp, or in the wiring between the amp output and monitor speaker.
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Art Welter

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2019, 12:53:55 am »


So the crux of my question is - is the way I am listening in mono an accurate representation of a club/concert signal ?
eg. If I have some hats panned full left and some shakers panned full right when I hit mono I will hear them both at about half the volume and of course it sounds incorrect. I was wondering if crossovers or whatever does summing in a club set up do this in the same way or in a different way so that you would hear both at a reasonable level, some special way of taking a mono signal from stereo tracks ?
Stuart,

The way you are hearing pans is dependent on the architecture law the mixer or DAW was designed to provide,  a +6, +4.5 or +3 dB hard pan function, and where in the "panorama" you happen to be seated. Each "law" will result in a different mono summation.

"Half the volume" would imply a -10 dB loss, as + or -10 dB at 1kHz sounds half as loud to most peoples hearing. That don't fit the laws, you busted ;^).

Panned signals phase coherency will affect their level when summed, a "small room stereo reverb" on a hard panned channel might cause it to drop in overall level when summed mono, while sounding brilliant in stereo.

A fun experiment in exposing mono non-compatible mixes is to center the L/R, then reverse polarity on either- what got lost when summed may now be loudest!

Only L/R difference information will be heard through the summed reversed polarity pair, exposing poor stereo mic positions and effects, or anything panned. 

I can remember playing a James Brown track that had the polarity of his vocal track inverted L/R- it completely disappeared when summed mono, when polarity was reversed on one channel, the vocal appeared and most everything else was gone. OOPS- somebody let that get by- probably when it was "re-mixed" from mono for stereo.

Art

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Stuart Branson

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2019, 11:52:12 am »

I don't think going mono should by nature reduce your volume.
Your software may be doing something, or you have a polarity or phase issue.
In modern music Mono will 99% of the time reduce the volume or perceived volume in a stereo mix simply because anything that is located at the Sides of the mix is lost, it is not moved to the centre.
I tested many tracks looking at the db output in Stereo and mono and found only 1 piece of (classical) music that kept the exact same db level when put into mono but still had a stereo feel.  Most lost 1 to 2 db. I am aiming  for .5db
If you listen for example to ibizaliveradio.com they have made their signal very wide and although most of their content still sounds good in Mono if you flick back and forth the difference is very noticeable


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Stuart Branson

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2019, 12:01:53 pm »

Thanks all
I do understand about phase issues , I dont have those
I have a Pan pot option on my daw and placing L and R to the centre produces the same result as my Mono plugins, so they are doing what one would expect.
I have it set to -6db pan law to get approx the same volume when in Mono, otherwise it actually gets louder
I am simply interested in how a large club or festival set up puts out the LR signals and when / how the signal gets summed to Mono which it undoubtedly does.
Many thanks
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 12:22:11 pm by Stuart Branson »
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Art Welter

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2019, 04:41:20 pm »

I am simply interested in how a large club or festival set up puts out the LR signals and when / how the signal gets summed to Mono which it undoubtedly does.
L/R are routed L/R, typically zones desired to be a mono sum of those are sent from a matrix which can be derived either in the console or DSP processor, or a combination of both.
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Craig Hauber

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2019, 11:17:08 pm »


I am simply interested in how a large club or festival set up puts out the LR signals and when / how the signal gets summed to Mono which it undoubtedly does.
Many thanks
In my designs the L & R outputs from the DJ are sent directly to a DSP.  (Ashly for budget jobs or Q-Sys for big ones) Main dance speakers are usually kept stereo, but for 4-corner dance areas they are L&R front then opposite for the rear, so if you are sideways you still get "stereo".  Same with giant spaces with many stacks, it's L, R, L, R, L, R all around the dance/audience space. 

Auxiliary spaces with fill speakers are summed in the DSP matrix (hallways, vip lounges, lobby, bars, bathrooms etc..

There's usually such a blend of sound bouncing from so many different locations in a large club that most patrons are experiencing it in mono anyways. 

Try sliding your studio monitor speakers adjacent to each other then go stand and listen as far back from them as your room allows, this is what your mixes will sound like in 90% of the available space in a large club.  Only the people dead-center between stacks will experience the most stereo-ish mix -and even that's tainted by the sound blasting from behind them as well as the booth monitors if they are on and cranked.

And don't waste your time panning sub frequencies, in any indoor space they are summed mono acoustically and you are just wasting power trying to do it.  (After experiencing DJ's trying to do such things I usually mono-sum the subbass now in the facility DSP anyways)
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Stuart Branson

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2019, 12:10:16 pm »

"Half the volume" would imply a -10 dB loss, as + or -10 dB at 1kHz sounds half as loud to most peoples hearing. That don't fit the laws, you busted ;^).

My main issue is with the strings I use but I have determined that its down to the way they are recorded, they are made to sound wide and Lush for sale purposes but are not really practical for my dance music productions
I uploaded a small sample here - if you listen then hit mono you should here about 50% of them disappear - https://www.filehosting.org/file/details/790930/Strings%20Demo.wav

I can remember playing a James Brown track that had the polarity of his vocal track inverted L/R- it completely disappeared when summed mono, when polarity was reversed on one channel, the vocal appeared and most everything else was gone. OOPS- somebody let that get by- probably when it was "re-mixed" from mono for stereo.
I think some people use this method to extract acapella vocals from songs to make their own mixes, sometimes it works well , sometimes not depends on the fx on the vocals.
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Stuart Branson

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2019, 12:25:04 pm »

In my designs ....
Thanks for your answer it makes sense that venues try to use a mix of stereo and mono throughout.
It would explain why modern music doesn't seem to be afraid to go wide !
I expect that if the speakers are pumping out stereo, even the people who are not centered, which as you said is most people, will still hear most of what the producer intended much better than if the whole track was summed to mono everywhere.
I may try the opposite of what you said and put my 2 speakers on opposite sides of my room to see how they sound lol .

Don't worry all my sounds under 80/90 hz are mono in all my tracks.
With modern mid side eq plugins you can basically choose what frequencies go where in your mix - front / back, left / right.
Thanks again
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DAN PROSSEDA

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2019, 03:23:59 pm »

Thanks for your answer it makes sense that venues try to use a mix of stereo and mono throughout.
It would explain why modern music doesn't seem to be afraid to go wide !
I expect that if the speakers are pumping out stereo, even the people who are not centered, which as you said is most people, will still hear most of what the producer intended much better than if the whole track was summed to mono everywhere.
I may try the opposite of what you said and put my 2 speakers on opposite sides of my room to see how they sound lol .

Don't worry all my sounds under 80/90 hz are mono in all my tracks.
With modern mid side eq plugins you can basically choose what frequencies go where in your mix - front / back, left / right.
Thanks again



 Craig. +1 regarding dance club systems. The main stacks are alternate L R L R (etc) so everyone on the dance floor is immersed in stereo. Any zone systems should be in mono.
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Stuart Branson

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2019, 04:56:51 pm »

Craig. +1 regarding dance club systems. The main stacks are alternate L R L R (etc) so everyone on the dance floor is immersed in stereo. Any zone systems should be in mono.
Great. Thanks
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Randy Pence

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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2019, 07:16:41 am »



 Craig. +1 regarding dance club systems. The main stacks are alternate L R L R (etc) so everyone on the dance floor is immersed in stereo. Any zone systems should be in mono.

This approach has always sounded like a mess to me, overall, especially in the middle of the dancefloor.  Anyone close enough to a particular stack/hang is not going to hear much of any speaker, anyway, so the area of optimum stereo listening when alternating is going to limited.
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Re: How do club systems dicipher my stereo music productions ?
« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2019, 07:16:41 am »


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