Stereo vs. Mono Sound when gigging

Discussion in 'General Keyboard Discussion' started by kanthos, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. kanthos

    kanthos

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    Is there a notable difference in a gig between playing keyboards with stereo sound and with mono sound? I'm asking because the current setup I use is to plug the stereo outputs of my keyboard into two channels into my amp and send the amp's mono output to a mono DI and into the main mixer that way (my amp lets me adjust the overall volume without affecting the volume of the mono line out, so there's no need to go to the DI first and then to my amp in mono).

    I'm in the process of getting a second keyboard and am considering switching to a stereo setup with a stereo DI and using a small mixer. I'd be running several stereo pairs into the mixer, the mixer's stereo pair of 1/4" outputs into the pair of 1/4" inputs on the DI, the DI's pair of 1/4" outputs into two channels of my amp, and the DI's pair of XLR outputs into two channels in the main mixer. This adds a number of extra pieces to my rig, which will cost more and make it easier for something to break or fail, so I want to know whether it's really worth it or not. There's also the consideration of using a soundboard that doesn't have dedicated stereo channels, so I'd be using two adjacent mono channels, which means the sound guy has to think about panning and about keeping equal volume, eq, and such, on both, which makes his job harder.

    I'd imagine that stereo effects (autopan on a Rhodes in particular is one I use a lot) or keyboards that pan the notes on a piano to fill the stereo space would lose quality being reduced to mono. Would signal volume also be affected by the stereo -> mono conversion? I mean, if I start playing and adjusting the pan knob on my keyboard as I play, moving the sound from hard left to hard right, does the output sound at the same level all the way through? If so, does that mean that autopan is completely lost on a mono signal? Or does it honestly not matter because when added to guitars, drums, bass, and vocals and pumped out over the house speakers, it won't really be noticeable anyway, so I might as well just save the trouble and play in mono?

    Are there any other considerations I should be aware of? Any other arguments for or against stereo sound?
     
    kanthos, Nov 6, 2008
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  2. kanthos

    Nillerbabs

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    If it would persuade anoyone to let others know of their experience with mono/stereo live, I'll gladly admit that I also very much wants to hear more about this.
     
    Nillerbabs, Nov 11, 2008
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  3. kanthos

    GigMan

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    Yes and no... keys sound great in stereo - but YOU may be the only one hearing the "greatness" over the rest of the band, as you've guessed... :eek: :p

    Some will say stereo is a waste of time coming out of the house PA because the audience on one side of the room will hear only half of the stereo signal and the audience on the other side will only hear that half of the stereo signal - ie, the "sweet spot" in the middle may only be taken up by a few folks on the dance floor.

    I happen to think my keys do sound great in stereo and I bought a Motion Sound KP200S stereo amp for that reason (to hear myself in stereo on stage) - however for the Front of House PA (FOH) I usually just run one mono send to the band's mixer, it's just easier. :D
     
    GigMan, Nov 14, 2008
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  4. kanthos

    kanthos

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    Thanks for the feedback. Makes sense; I was considering the mixer mainly to have easier control over multiple channels on stage, but if it's not going to make a difference to most listeners, there's no real point in connecting to the main mixer in stereo. Too bad; I also think keys sound better in stereo (I usually practice at home with headphones), but then again, not spending much is a good thing too.

    Thanks :)
     
    kanthos, Nov 14, 2008
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  5. kanthos

    PianoMan

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    Gigman how do you run out of mono from the Motion Sound? Do you just run out of the right side XLR output?
     
    PianoMan, Nov 15, 2008
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  6. kanthos

    b3maniac

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    For my live rig I used the instrument stereo outs and then summed the stereo signal to mono for the front. In my case, I could tell that certain sounds I used suffered badly if I took them from a momo output, but if I summed the stereo outputs to mono, those particular patches sounded noticably better.
     
    b3maniac, Nov 16, 2008
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  7. kanthos

    GigMan

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    I thought that'd be it too but I called Motion Sound and they said that even though it says, "Mono" on the right channels of the KP200S and if you're just running in mono you run the mono signal from your keys into the Right channel of the KP200S (unlike every other amp, ever, in the world :rolleyes: - where you rn into the Left channel of the amp)... that when running in stereo to the KP200S but mono out to the house, you actually should run it from the Left XLR Out (on the back of the KP200S) when sending it to the FOH/main system, since the Left out is the Mono out from all keyboards - you're just passing the Mono signal thru the amp out the mains... if that make any sense. :confused: :p

    I have found it works much better when using a little mixer than trying to run from the XLR outs on the back of the KP200S - I run stereo into the mixer, run the Main Outs of the mixer to the KP200S and then send a mono Aux. send to the main PA. Works great and gives me complete control - only difference is I have to bring the mixer, just one more thing to bring... :( :cool:
     
    GigMan, Nov 16, 2008
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  8. kanthos

    keyplayer

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    something to consider gents.....


    If the PA system is not a "true" stereo pa system, then all of the stereo signals in the world wont be projected in stereo.....if your sound system only uses 1 amp and you use 1 side for the house and the othere side for monitors, then your not running in stereo anyway.....


    just a thought:cool:
     
    keyplayer, Nov 17, 2008
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  9. kanthos

    GigMan

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    This is true.

    This "stereo vs. mono" issue is one of the most confusing, most contested, most controversial issues in sound/audio, I think... everyone has their own take on it - it's hard to really get concrete info! :eek: :D
     
    GigMan, Nov 19, 2008
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  10. kanthos

    PianoMan

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    Hey gigman when using a mixer, would it be possible to send stereo outs to both your motion sound AND to the pa system? (I know very little of mixers).
     
    PianoMan, Nov 28, 2008
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  11. kanthos

    kanthos

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    It would depend on the mixer. I've never seen a mixer that uses mono outputs (the only point to that would be if the entire circuitry of the mixer was mono). As long as the mixer has two pairs of outputs (main and control room/monitor), or with one pair of outputs and a stereo direct box (so you could run two channels into the house mixer), you could get stereo sound to both your amp and the mixer.
     
    kanthos, Nov 28, 2008
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  12. kanthos

    GigMan

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    Ha - very good question... I pondered that the other night on a gig, it was a bar gig I was filling in w/friend's band - kybd. player sliced his index finger on a table saw in a home improvement project - d'oh! :eek: :(

    The answer is no - I can run stereo to the mixer from my two keyboards (Roland FP2 and Korg Triton Le), then stereo from the Main Outs of the mixer (Mackie DFX6) to the KP200S (stereo kybd. amp) but the mixer's AUX send to the band PA is Mono, as they all are. Or I could run stereo to the mixer, run stereo to the house/band PA but use the Mono Aux. send to get signal to the KP200S.

    The KP200S actually does have L/R XLR Outs on the back of it, which you're supposed to be able to use for sending a stereo signal to the house PA (after sending your stereo signals from your keys - skipping a mixer altogether) - but I've tried that in the past and foud that the signal level isn't hot enough or one of the channels wasn't coming thru or something (maybe my amp's XLR Outs are just bad? I dunno)... but when I tried using a mixer and just sending a Mono signal to the house (while running my KP200S in stereo), it has a nice hot signal that they can hear out front in the main PA, w/no problem.

    Plus the mixer is right nxt. to me, easily accesible at arm's legth, sitting on a milk crate - if I need to adjust anything... whereas w/out a mixer, I'd have to fumble w/turning around to twiddle the knobs on the amp instead, which isn't the end of the world, of course... if the XLR Outs worked better, I'd live w/that (fumbling w/the amp knobs). :D
     
    GigMan, Nov 28, 2008
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  13. kanthos

    GigMan

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    I guess that would work - but only if they are independently controlled - ie, if the Control Room signal level (volume)is not the same as the Main Outs signal.

    The Main Outs & Aux. Send method I described in last post allows for completely independent volume mixes - ie, you can send a white hot signal to the FOH/main PA but stil keep the level down for your own keyboard amp (which is usually right near you) so you don't blast yourself out of the water. :D

    I'm not sure how you're figuring the Direct Box into the scenario - I think with a mixer, you eliminate the need for a DI...
     
    GigMan, Nov 28, 2008
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  14. kanthos

    PianoMan

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    Wow, that's surprising the signal wasn't hot. I used the XLR outs on the KP-200s one time into a PA (found out after that night that I didn't need to go through the PA, the amp is loud enough). Anyway I found that the signal was really hot, to the point where I turn it up a little bit on the PA mixer and it'd be SUPER loud. Interesting...
     
    PianoMan, Nov 28, 2008
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  15. kanthos

    GigMan

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    Good to know (that your XLR Outs work well) - maybe my XLR Outs are defective, I should get it checked it out... :confused:

    Having the mixer right at my fingertips is convenient - moreso than turning around to adjust the amp's knobs :rolleyes: - but if the XLR Outs worked nicely w/a hot signal I'd just as soon leave the mixer home and deal w/the minor inconvenience of having to turn around once in a while.

    :cool:
     
    GigMan, Nov 28, 2008
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  16. kanthos

    meisenhower

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    The mono vs. stereo issue an be tricky for several reasons.

    1. Some of the great keyboard patches really shine in stereo, but fall sort of flat when summed to mono (a true stereo tremolo rhodes sounds is an example of this, as it only "beats" when summed to mono).

    2. If your signal chain remains stereo all the way to the FOH and it's in stereo (and you know this to be true), I see no reason NOT to run full stereo.

    3. If you're playing a venue with a mono FOH, or you simply don't know, then it's safer to run mono versions (or just use the mono out) of your patches.
     
    meisenhower, Jan 26, 2009
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  17. kanthos

    GigMan

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    Aye, but "running Mono versions [of your patches]" and "just using the Mono out [jack]" are two different things. Many patches don't have a Mono version...
     
    GigMan, Jan 26, 2009
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  18. kanthos

    GigMan

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    I tried it again recently & it seems to work fine now - running XLR Outs straight out of the back of my KP200S amp, to the FOH, w/out using a mixer at all... I think maybe they just didn't have me turned up enough those other times. :rolleyes:
     
    GigMan, Jan 26, 2009
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  19. kanthos

    meisenhower

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    That is very true, but then again you have no other choice, unless you alter the settings and save the patch to be mono. That doesn't always yield a good result, so then you're back to a simple mono out and take your chances.
     
    meisenhower, Jan 26, 2009
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  20. kanthos

    GigMan

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    Right - which was kind of my point... :eek: :D
     
    GigMan, Jan 27, 2009
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