Mono, Stereo and panning live

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OK, so lots of internet searches and discussions with fellow musicians and I’m no closer to an answer. Well…not the one I wanted 🤣

In short, with two stereo keyboards, do you run them mono or stereo when playing live? If stereo, do you hard pan each keyboard or more 10 and 2?

My thoughts so far:

Stereo pros:
- Fuller sound
- Full advantage of stereo patches like rotary etc

Stereo cons:
- Stage monitoring is mono, if hard panned this causes issues!
- inconsistent sound depending on where audience member is standing
- both these issues somewhat negated if not hard panning?

Mono Pros:
- Less cables!
- Less DI boxes
- Consistant sound for all audience members
- Monitoring consistancy

Mono cons:
- restricts some stereo patches
- weaker sound overall, what’s the point of expensive keyboards with rich sounds if I just ruin it running mono. I really notice this on piano sounds


What are your thoughts? Is there an agreed industry standard or is this ongoing open debate?
 

happyrat1

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I run all my keyboards stereo thru a 12 channel mixer and let God and engineering decide on the end product.

I'll adjust balances individually in the mixer.
 
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OK, so lots of internet searches and discussions with fellow musicians and I’m no closer to an answer. Well…not the one I wanted 🤣

In short, with two stereo keyboards, do you run them mono or stereo when playing live? If stereo, do you hard pan each keyboard or more 10 and 2?

My thoughts so far:

Stereo pros:
- Fuller sound
- Full advantage of stereo patches like rotary etc

Stereo cons:
- Stage monitoring is mono, if hard panned this causes issues!
- inconsistent sound depending on where audience member is standing
- both these issues somewhat negated if not hard panning?

Mono Pros:
- Less cables!
- Less DI boxes
- Consistant sound for all audience members
- Monitoring consistancy

Mono cons:
- restricts some stereo patches
- weaker sound overall, what’s the point of expensive keyboards with rich sounds if I just ruin it running mono. I really notice this on piano sounds


What are your thoughts? Is there an agreed industry standard or is this ongoing open debate?
I go stereo whenever possible, but the house sound in a lot of venues is mono. In that case sum your L & R send out mono to the house through your mixer.
 

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I go stereo whenever possible, but the house sound in a lot of venues is mono. In that case sum your L & R send out mono to the house through your mixer.
How are you doing this this? Just sending from the Aux out of your mixer rather than main L & R? Do you still get the benefit of stereo sound quality this way?

I appreciate FoH is mono, but if using a mixer I’d be sending out L & R to be used in separate channels, so stereo.
 
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I run all my keyboards stereo thru a 12 channel mixer and let God and engineering decide on the end product.

I'll adjust balances individually in the mixer.
So sending a an overall L & R feed to FoH from your mixer? Are you panning L&R on each channel of your mixer or leaving panning central for all and leaving that for FoH too?
 

happyrat1

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So sending a an overall L & R feed to FoH from your mixer? Are you panning L&R on each channel of your mixer or leaving panning central for all and leaving that for FoH too?

My precious babies never leave the studio.

I'm my own artist, engineer, producer and publisher :)
 
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I became aware of how bad most mono keyboard amps sound very early on when I started playing keyboard. I was very disappointed when I would go from playing my s90 piano sounds thru headphones then thru my amplifier. I invested in a nice set of powered monitors and used them in my home set up for audio. I’ve always used at least two keyboards, so a mixer has always been a part of my set up. Early in my days of playing in a band it was mostly for church worship. Sending a left and a right to the sound engineer was never a problem for me in that setting, not always the case when playing out. You can always ask them to give you two channels for that purpose. My left and right would be panned all the way to each side L channel 1, R channel 2 and each main out went to their own DI box and I would just use two channels from the snake to the sound engineer. They may or may not pan the signal to FOH, but at least it was stereo regardless. When playing with the worship group everything was done professionally, and we even went to in ear monitors to get rid of all the stage noise that can sometimes be problematic in getting a nice front of house sound. I’ve been playing in a rock band for the last ten years now, and I’ve since learned how unnecessary a full PA and sound engineer is for a lot of situations. I’m not saying the way we do it is the “right” or best way, but we always do our own sound and we simply send vocals to a set of PA speakers and the rest of the sound is from the stage via our amplifiers. This is only possible if you are good at listening carefully to the whole band and controlling your volume accordingly to fit in the mix nicely. Fighting with an over zealous guitar player who just keeps bumping there volume up would create a real problem, that can usually be worked out with communication. I like so many on here have ditched the keyboard amp route for a nice set of powered pa speakers. Now the sound is always stereo and it works fine for any small to medium size venue. We even play the same way for a couple of outdoor gigs and it sounds fine. The people far far from stage aren’t getting huge volume, but under a pavilion or close up it’s plenty loud for a crowd of 30-60 people, or however many want to be close to the band. Sorry for the long post, just trying to convey some information that speaks to your post and give you some ideas as you pursue your goals in music. Have fun!! Brian
 
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I became aware of how bad most mono keyboard amps sound very early on when I started playing keyboard. I was very disappointed when I would go from playing my s90 piano sounds thru headphones then thru my amplifier. I invested in a nice set of powered monitors and used them in my home set up for audio. I’ve always used at least two keyboards, so a mixer has always been a part of my set up. Early in my days of playing in a band it was mostly for church worship. Sending a left and a right to the sound engineer was never a problem for me in that setting, not always the case when playing out. You can always ask them to give you two channels for that purpose. My left and right would be panned all the way to each side L channel 1, R channel 2 and each main out went to their own DI box and I would just use two channels from the snake to the sound engineer. They may or may not pan the signal to FOH, but at least it was stereo regardless. When playing with the worship group everything was done professionally, and we even went to in ear monitors to get rid of all the stage noise that can sometimes be problematic in getting a nice front of house sound. I’ve been playing in a rock band for the last ten years now, and I’ve since learned how unnecessary a full PA and sound engineer is for a lot of situations. I’m not saying the way we do it is the “right” or best way, but we always do our own sound and we simply send vocals to a set of PA speakers and the rest of the sound is from the stage via our amplifiers. This is only possible if you are good at listening carefully to the whole band and controlling your volume accordingly to fit in the mix nicely. Fighting with an over zealous guitar player who just keeps bumping there volume up would create a real problem, that can usually be worked out with communication. I like so many on here have ditched the keyboard amp route for a nice set of powered pa speakers. Now the sound is always stereo and it works fine for any small to medium size venue. We even play the same way for a couple of outdoor gigs and it sounds fine. The people far far from stage aren’t getting huge volume, but under a pavilion or close up it’s plenty loud for a crowd of 30-60 people, or however many want to be close to the band. Sorry for the long post, just trying to convey some information that speaks to your post and give you some ideas as you pursue your goals in music. Have fun!! Brian
Great insight, thank you. Overall my aim is to be as lightweight as possible with the quickest setup/backdown possible whilst maintaining a quality sound - so an amp or separate speaker isn't an option for me but a great solution for many!

I guess panning is my biggest question here now as I think stereo is the only way to maintain quality sound. I have been trying mono at home and I just hate it. The sound just feels dead and empty.

Would you all recommend sending the left of each keyboard to one channel FoH and the right to another?
 

happyrat1

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Yes!

What you provide the venue is your artistic choice.

What the venue does with it is beyond your control regardless.
 
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Yep I think that’s the way to go, it is how I did it anytime I was sending my sound to the FOH. My experience tells me to make sure you tell the sound engineer that is what you are doing. With two keyboards I’ve had them assume they were getting one line for each keyboard. I am not a pro and I do not play for large crowds in a professional band, so I am just responding with my real world experience. I totally understand your frustration with a poor sounding set up. Something I try to remind myself of too, as musicians we tend to listen and isolate the instruments that make up a band, especially the one we happen to play. Most people are hearing the overall mix and don’t break it all down to who’s playing what and where each sound is coming from. We are usually far bigger critics of our sound than most in any crowd. 😉
 

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