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Title: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Robert Lunceford on July 11, 2019, 03:21:19 pm
I have never understood keys players wanting stereo output in a live performance, especially outdoors where the people on the far left have no chance of hearing what is coming from the speaker on the right. It seems there is a very small “sweet spot” for stereo yet I continually get keyboard players wanting their instrument panned hard left and right.

Is it just me, am I wrong about this?
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Milt Hathaway on July 11, 2019, 03:53:31 pm

Is it just me, am I wrong about this?

No, and no. IMHO stereo sources from on-stage instruments are a form of public masturbation. Stereo tracks and stereo reverbs are okay, as I can generally move the two track channels closer together in the stereo field, and running reverbs in stereo doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the audience unfortunate enough to be on the far sides of the auditorium.

(Yes, I mic Leslie cabs in mono also. I believe that the effect of the horn(s) close-miced with two mics is completely artificial and unnecessary 99% of the time.)
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Douglas R. Allen on July 11, 2019, 03:55:02 pm
I have never understood keys players wanting stereo output in a live performance, especially outdoors where the people on the far left have no chance of hearing what is coming from the speaker on the right. It seems there is a very small “sweet spot” for stereo yet I continually get keyboard players wanting their instrument panned hard left and right.

Is it just me, am I wrong about this?


Depends on what the keyboard is used for. I know some players "split" the keyboard for bass lines on the left and the right out has the "normal" keyboard notes. This requires 2 channels and to mix them as 2 different sources.  Take that out of a Left/Mono out and you'll could have quite a mix.


Douglas R. Allen
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Bill Hornibrook on July 11, 2019, 04:04:53 pm
This is endlessly discussed in keyboard forums, but to boil it down...

Primary concerns with keyboard players about summing to mono are pianos. The flagship pianos in most boards are sampled in stereo, and summing to mono *can* introduce phasing issues - depending on the particular board.

There are other sounds that can work better in stereo in some situations like houses of worship (which often have theater-like sound systems). These include leslie sims, chorusing effects for pads, and such.

Having said all that, most keyboard players are prepared to give the house a mono out when needed - because it still comes up at times. But (since we're in the lounge) most guys run their MI level systems in stereo because that's the way they're set up out of the box.

It would be interesting to poll the big guys and see how many are still running in mono - which used to be the standard but I'm detecting a tilt towards stereo even with them.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Steve Litscher on July 11, 2019, 05:14:39 pm
I was running a festival stage a few years ago, and a keyboard player for one of the bands arrived with five keyboards, all of which he insisted be run in stereo... he didn't have any DIs, nor instrument cables with him. 45 minute set...

That was not a fun day.

And, after we finally got him all patched and programmed in, he ended-up playing one of the keyboards about 99% of the time, and I'm fairly certain he didn't play two of the keyboards at all.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: John L Nobile on July 11, 2019, 05:31:26 pm
I was running a festival stage a few years ago, and a keyboard player for one of the bands arrived with five keyboards, all of which he insisted be run in stereo... he didn't have any DIs, nor instrument cables with him. 45 minute set...

That was not a fun day.

And, after we finally got him all patched and programmed in, he ended-up playing one of the keyboards about 99% of the time, and I'm fairly certain he didn't play two of the keyboards at all.

When you have that many keys, you should be bringing your own submixer, do your own monitor mix and just send a stereo feed to FOH. That's what I used to do.

But that was the 80's. If you have 5 keys on stage, it's for show. I'd think 2 are all you need. 3 if you have a real Hammond.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Jeffrey Knorr - CobraSound.com on July 11, 2019, 05:44:30 pm
I have never understood keys players wanting stereo output in a live performance, especially outdoors where the people on the far left have no chance of hearing what is coming from the speaker on the right. It seems there is a very small “sweet spot” for stereo yet I continually get keyboard players wanting their instrument panned hard left and right.

Is it just me, am I wrong about this?

If your system and audience layout is conducive to it, run it in stereo.  Most modern keyboards/synths sound far better this way.  If not, pan to center or run with one channel (noting that you could not receive the full sound that way depending upon how the patch is setup).

Jeff
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Dave Pluke on July 11, 2019, 08:30:38 pm
When you have that many keys, you should be bringing your own submixer, do your own monitor mix and just send a stereo feed to FOH. That's what I used to do.

That's all well and good if those keyboards are set to the same levels.  I just went through this and set levels for one keyboard (piano-ish).  When the player switched to his "horns" keyboard, it nearly melted the joint.  What I don't get is, he had the same mix in his monitor, but never bothered to even them out.  I had to ride that fader all set long.

Dave
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Tim McCulloch on July 11, 2019, 10:29:12 pm
I have never understood keys players wanting stereo output in a live performance, especially outdoors where the people on the far left have no chance of hearing what is coming from the speaker on the right. It seems there is a very small “sweet spot” for stereo yet I continually get keyboard players wanting their instrument panned hard left and right.

Is it just me, am I wrong about this?

Who said you have to pan them hard left AND right?  You can give them limited width and still use their "stereo".  A grand piano is not the width of the stage, after all...

On the show I'm doing this Saturday the keyboard player will be on SL, and I'll pan his Left just right of center and his right I'll pan way shy of hard right.  He's still in the left side of the PA but will have "more space" to the right.  If there is only 1 guitar I'll patch the input to a second channel and delay it 20-30ms and pan that to the left.  Then I'll push both instruments -6dB under the singers.

Great band, one time the warmup tunes were Herbie Hancock, George Benson, and a little Jaco Pastorius.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Geoff Doane on July 12, 2019, 12:06:29 pm
I'll have to respectfully disagree with the mono fans here, and state that I will take keyboards in stereo if time and the input count permit it.

I think a Hammond/Leslie sounds great in stereo if you're in the sweet spot, and even if you aren't, the worst you get is mono.  The effect is generated by phasing, so both outputs are essentially the same, just not at exactly the same time.

Even with piano patches, they are not two discreet mono signals, although perhaps full width panning is not desirable.

The other advantage of taking them in stereo is that if one cable/DI/mic pre happens to fail during the performance, you still have a backup.

GTD
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Barry Reynolds on July 12, 2019, 01:46:31 pm
I’m a keyboardist, IEM engineer, and frequent concert attendee.

As a keyboardist, I always provide FOH a two channel output from my Radial DI, regardless of how many keyboards I have.  I do ask for stereo FOH if possible, to preserve the quality of my tone and effects.  It is the FOH guy who decides the width of panning.

As an IEM engineer, I provide an analog split to share with FOH.  Like many IEM users, I think stereo IEM mixes are vastly superior in helping singers and players concentrate on their parts while getting enough of the other singers and players to help blend.  My unspoken assumption for FOH guys is “band provides all the IEM stuff and takes care of preamp changes during soundcheck and level changes during gig.  We will be monitoring in stereo, so please give us stereo in FOH if possible.”  Why do I care? ...

As a concert attendee, I have sat at all kinds of locations relative to LR and front/back.  Other than times when I’m up very close to one of the LR stacks, I can throughly enjoy the ear candy of panned ping-pong vocal delays or gloriously panned Rhodes tremolo or the stereo Leslie speed changes.  I am convinced that the stereo sweet spot for recognition and enjoyment is much larger than the sweet spot for equal volume in one’s ears of the LR sides.  YMMV.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Milt Hathaway on July 12, 2019, 02:09:28 pm
As an IEM engineer, I provide an analog split to share with FOH.  Like many IEM users, I think stereo IEM mixes are vastly superior in helping singers and players concentrate on their parts while getting enough of the other singers and players to help blend.

Excellent point, and I forgot the monitors aspect in my original comment. A bad gig I played once drilled home the importance of separating audio sources in the sound field, as it helps the brain pick out the things it wants to hear. But mono sources can still be placed appropriately within that sound field.

But if hearing the full stereo spread of their instrument helps an artist be comfortable on stage, I'm happy to give it to them. That's what I'm there for. And if they want the aural perspective of having their nose pressed against the side of their Leslie cabinet, I'll give 'em that too.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Craig Hauber on July 12, 2019, 02:24:09 pm
Who said you have to pan them hard left AND right?
This exactly.  If something different occurs on the left then there's still enough of it in the right so that it isn't lost to those who can't hear the left. 
Really important for wide amphitheater-type seating arrangements outdoors.  For indoors, hard-panned items are rarely lost to those on the opposite side due to room reflections and reverb.  Consider too if you have front-fills or separate side-fill PA's, you may start getting into weirdness in those if you deviate too far from mono.

Another overall aspect is that I don't set-and-forget.  If there's a different patch that really sounds cool hard-panned (leslie etc..) I'll open it up.  Same with a patch that may exhibit some kind of phasing distortion if left mono. 
No rule that you have to maintain the same arrangement you had during sound check -especially when the most critical observer to their amplified output is usually onstage with monitors plugging their ears!
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Patrick Tracy on July 12, 2019, 02:46:18 pm
I once mixed a band on their system with the keyboard connected in mono, as per their request (channel limitations on the console). At some point in the show he had a ping-pong delay going. It pinged but it didn't pong.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Jamin Lynch on July 12, 2019, 03:14:37 pm
The band I'm working with tonight has 3 sets of keyboards going into his own mixer where I take a stereo XLR line out. Fortunately, he does a very good job of mixing the levels. Plus I also have 2 guitarist with stereo XLR outs on their amps.

There's a noticeable, but slight, difference/improvement when I pan them L/R. And not just in the middle.

Best part...it eliminates a few mics on stage.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on July 12, 2019, 03:35:04 pm
It seems a keyboard could be engineered to sound good with a mono feed, but most keyboard efx are delay based and designed to work in stereo so don't sum to mono well.

Live PA is mostly mono, keyboards are mostly stereo and twain shall meet with some difficulty.

The live market is smaller than recording thus the lack of a dedicated mono output, but I have been out of the trenches for a couple decades.

JR
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Greg Harwood on July 12, 2019, 04:17:30 pm
I was running a festival stage a few years ago, and a keyboard player for one of the bands arrived with five keyboards, all of which he insisted be run in stereo... he didn't have any DIs, nor instrument cables with him. 45 minute set...

That was not a fun day.

And, after we finally got him all patched and programmed in, he ended-up playing one of the keyboards about 99% of the time, and I'm fairly certain he didn't play two of the keyboards at all.

Now that's funny right there.  Sounds like some guitar players I know....bring 5 guitars and play one.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Barry Reynolds on July 12, 2019, 07:47:40 pm

Live PA is mostly mono, keyboards are mostly stereo and twain shall meet with some difficulty

JR

In the last two years, I’ve run into an increasing number of live sound operators who are genuinely enthusiastic about running stereo.  I’m ready to have the standard conversation, but find I don’t need to. 
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Bill Hornibrook on July 12, 2019, 09:15:33 pm
^ Tend to agree, although I don't play out as much as I used to on systems other than mine. As a keyboard player I used to prep for the possibility of having to interface with a mono FOH, but honestly I haven't run across one in years.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Lee Douglas on July 12, 2019, 09:21:42 pm
Who said you have to pan them hard left AND right?  You can give them limited width and still use their "stereo".  A grand piano is not the width of the stage, after all...

Thank you!  And those after you as well.  They're pan knobs, not switches.  Why do so many sounds guys do that?  Well, technically they're virtual these days, but the idea still stands. 
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: dave briar on July 12, 2019, 09:31:34 pm
Our indoor venue is acoustically complex and there’s really no way we can run stereo effectively. Keyboard players commonly ask which I prefer they give me and after I explain our reality I can’t remember a single time it was a problem running mono. Now whether in a few of those instances they actually gave me left or right rather than a true summed mono I can’t say. We always make it work.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Scott Holtzman on July 12, 2019, 11:28:24 pm
I have never understood keys players wanting stereo output in a live performance, especially outdoors where the people on the far left have no chance of hearing what is coming from the speaker on the right. It seems there is a very small “sweet spot” for stereo yet I continually get keyboard players wanting their instrument panned hard left and right.

Is it just me, am I wrong about this?

I would much rather open up the sound field than deal with a keyboard player with a Roland amp facing the audience cranked up to 11. 

"gotta get my tone man" I have heard that way too many times.

Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: duane massey on July 13, 2019, 12:57:56 am
As a keyboardist I have to chime in. I always give FOH a mono send. Period. In most gigs I provide a mix with both keyboards and trumpet mic. I don't use any exotic patches with stereo effects, I don't expect the FOH to balance my levels UNLESS he wants to. I recently played a show using 4 keyboards, and I played all four extensively. This is unusual, as I normally use just 2. I don't want a big monitor on stage, and I definitely do not want stereo wedges. I don't use IEM's, unless I can set my own mix. Studio, totally different animal. Stereo keys, exotic effects, even surround stuff. Sometimes I think we just do stuff because we can.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Tim Weaver on July 13, 2019, 03:03:10 am
Now that's funny right there.  Sounds like some guitar players I know....bring 5 guitars and play one.


Y'all must be in some wierd timeslip area of PA. For the last decade of on and off touring I rarely see mono pa. Usually only when the venue is wierdly shaped and covered in multiple zones. Stereo is the standard down here. Maybe one in 15 or 20 rigs is run in mono "cuz that's better".

Nah, give me stereo any day. I decide if I want to pan stuff or not.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Dave Pluke on July 13, 2019, 01:13:59 pm
Nah, give me stereo any day. I decide if I want to pan stuff or not.

My rigs are all stereo, but more to accommodate asymmetrical rooms than to pan stuff.

Dave
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Tim Halligan on July 13, 2019, 01:16:38 pm
The other advantage of taking them in stereo is that if one cable/DI/mic pre happens to fail during the performance, you still have a backup.

Damn right.

I've had this happen to me on a job, so I'll always take stereo if the input count allows for it.

Cheers,
Tim
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Dave Garoutte on July 13, 2019, 03:04:26 pm
Small gig last night with mic'ed keys amp (stage right) and guitar amp (stage left).
I panned each mostly to the opposite side in the PA to balance the mix for both sides of the audience.
Stereo has it's uses.  Also, just because it's there, you don't have to use it.  It's another tool.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on July 13, 2019, 03:36:27 pm
This may not be completely on topic but it makes an interesting object lesson about mono compatibility.

Several months ago I received a frantic phone call out of the blue from an old friend I worked with decades ago at Peavey (I bet JR knows  ;D ).

He was at an impasse trying to get decent sound out of a convention center's mega sound system. They had a big dog console, and plenty of watts and cabinets, but the union staff threatened him with physical violence if he went anywhere near the "console". They only gave him a mini cable to plug into. (No I do not have specific details beyond that.)

His dilemma was that his fancy prerecorded audio-visual presentation, recorded in glorious stereo, got completely squashed/trashed when fed into the big dog convention center sound system.   

I am sure it sounded absolutely glorious over his production studio monitors, and further suspect almost anybody here reading this post could have got it sorted in minutes given access to the system (probably including him). The advice I gave him that got him through his presentation was to send either left only or right only to the big system and live with that.

I advised him about mono compatibility for future mixes, but probably didn't even need to tell him that. Life already gave him that lesson, after giving him the test.

JR
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Jamin Lynch on July 13, 2019, 03:59:44 pm
Left-Right-Sub=More options/more control

Front fills in needed
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Xiang Cao on July 13, 2019, 04:09:54 pm
for IEM and recording purpose
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Steve Garris on July 13, 2019, 06:41:23 pm
Thank you!  And those after you as well.  They're pan knobs, not switches.  Why do so many sounds guys do that?  Well, technically they're virtual these days, but the idea still stands.

Possibly because a lot of small digital mixers have an option to combine 2 channels to one, and when used, it hard pans left & right.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: William Schnake on July 13, 2019, 06:46:05 pm
Possibly because a lot of small digital mixers have an option to combine 2 channels to one, and when used, it hard pans left & right.

I know this to be true by by default on the X32/M32 series, however it is easy to pan them to whatever you want in stereo channel mode.  I use the Midas Pro Series most of the time and pan 10:00 and 2:00 on most stereo keys.  It gives me a little space in the mix, but you can still hear everything regardless of listening position.

Bill
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Scott Olewiler on July 14, 2019, 10:29:45 am
Possibly because a lot of small digital mixers have an option to combine 2 channels to one, and when used, it hard pans left & right.

The dl1608 comes to mind. Once linked, no pan control is available, always hard L/R
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Matthias McCready on July 14, 2019, 01:04:19 pm
With keyboards it comes down to more than just the keyboard but the patch that is being used, some sound great in mono and some do not. A lot of keyboardist I know design their own patches in Omnisphere (pick your favorite program). Like others have said sometimes things do not sum well to mono. As far as things go with mixing in stereo, the majority of systems I have worked on in the last year have been stereo. Wider venues have been repeated left right stacks.

To the point as long as one knows the disadvantages of using stereo, I think one can go about things prudently. Something I do for lead electric often is to run it in stereo (one mic for each side of the PA), and I delay one side a few milliseconds. For those in the middle this opens up the stereo space (granted localization changes some). For those hard to one side or another they still hear electric guitar, as there is no level change.




His dilemma was that his fancy prerecorded audio-visual presentation, recorded in glorious stereo, got completely squashed/trashed when fed into the big dog convention center sound system.   

I advised him about mono compatibility for future mixes, but probably didn't even need to tell him that. Life already gave him that lesson, after giving him the test.

JR

More than just mono capability things need to be mixed for a larger system. Even with professionally made videos they do not usually translate well to a large sound system. For example I was mixing a large political event, and one of the candidates video had some impactful bass hits, however that same video also had a narrator where the mixer had really gone for the friendly radio low end rumble vibe. With this you can't simply EQ or multi band it. You can manually change the EQ during the video; or console and time permitting automate the process, but some things needs to be mixed at the source.

More often than not I find that even with a well tuned system videos can sound harsh, or become boomy, and end up needing a lot of EQ work. While I am happy to make it sound as best I can with the tools I have, it would be nicer to have greater control for some videos.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on July 14, 2019, 01:20:32 pm


More than just mono capability things need to be mixed for a larger system. Even with professionally made videos they do not usually translate well to a large sound system. For example I was mixing a large political event, and one of the candidates video had some impactful bass hits, however that same video also had a narrator where the mixer had really gone for the friendly radio low end rumble vibe. With this you can't simply EQ or multi band it. You can manually change the EQ during the video; or console and time permitting automate the process, but some things needs to be mixed at the source.

More often than not I find that even with a well tuned system videos can sound harsh, or become boomy, and end up needing a lot of EQ work. While I am happy to make it sound as best I can with the tools I have, it would be nicer to have greater control for some videos.
When that incident first happened I contacted a sound man I knew from my decades in the industry who lived in the same state/region. He shared that he had also heard anecdotes about really bad A/V support in that exact venue.

I trust my friend's mix, and he wouldn't have contacted me in a panic if it was a minor sound quality issue. Likewise feeding the PA one legged wouldn't have fixed that.

Sorry about the veer

JR
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Steve Garris on July 14, 2019, 03:00:50 pm
The dl1608 comes to mind. Once linked, no pan control is available, always hard L/R

And the solution is to simply put the 2 channels on a VCA, but my comment was just trying to answer the "why".
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Roland Clarke on July 14, 2019, 04:57:16 pm
I’ve read through the thread and find it interesting all the varying point of view.  Personally I will always take a stereo feed.  In large scale systems we end up having to mono almost everything.  If you listen to a system run in stereo there is something in it for a large percentage of the audience and less for those either close to one stack or the other or to one side or another, though even this lessens as you get further back.  Obviously hard panning guitar parts is likely a problem, but the sense of space from panning kit overheads to L & R and even very slight panning of guitars.  Things like stereo keys often contain samples and as has been pointed out the image can collapse/phase/loose depth if they are purely mono.  Reverb returns, though artificially stereo, give a sense of size on a large system.

The only potential benefit is if we really think mixing purely in mono is a good/the best idea, we could potentially use a single centre cluster and rid ourselves of all the issues of power alley and the comb from mono signals arriving at differing times from a left right rig.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: duane massey on July 14, 2019, 08:45:21 pm
I always "assume" that the FOH person knows their rig and/or the venue, but the majority of "shows" I play at involve less-than-the-best systems and engineers. IF an engineer had enough open channels (min 4-6 for keys if stereo, plus 1 for trumpet and 1 for vocals), had stereo DI's available, and asked for it I'd do it, but that has not happened more than twice in the past 30 years. Sadly most of the situations I am in seem to be more about not enough mics/inputs for the horn(s), not enough mixes for the keyboards to be separate, etc. As a side note, none of my patches have any stereo-heavy effects.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Michael Lascuola on July 15, 2019, 08:53:33 pm
Agreed, Xiang
I was mono only for many years.  Nowadays, I record almost all shows, and having the stereo keys keeps the keyboardist happy when they pay for recordings as well.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Sean Chen on July 16, 2019, 12:23:37 am
... and some keyboards that have L/mono and R outputs, the L/mono port actually does not sum the L and R channel, and you only get the L channel, resulting in incomplete signal if only the L port is connected to the system. Yamaha S90-XS has this issue.
Title: Re: Stereo Keys, is it just me?
Post by: Nathan Riddle on July 17, 2019, 08:20:22 am
My rigs are all stereo, but more to accommodate asymmetrical rooms than to pan stuff.

Dave

So its dual-mono, not stereo?

I'm surprised at the amount of definition bending in this thread.

Stereo is when everyone can hear BOTH the L/R at roughly the same volume & time (I do not have an answer for how many ms is considered same time, is it related to haas, something else, etc)

Mono is when everyone only hears ONE source

Dual mono, exploded mono, whathaveyou - is probably what most are doing. It's what I'm doing. I 'can' send (pan) a different mix to each main speaker. Most things are mixed mono because each main is only covering its own area. I still run stereo sources into the system and typically hard-pan the sends because of they typically aren't very wide stereo sources (meaning even hard-panned there is plenty of 'mono' content so no one is missing the other main/side).

But on the off-chance, the room is narrow and long and both speakers can adequately cover the entire crowd then that opens up the potential for nice stereo mixes/setups.