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what are the advantages of going stereo than mono?

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i assume most guitarists go mono since you just need one amp. but some guitarists like steve vai are in stereo. what's the point of going stereo with two amps? more volume?

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Not more volume. A wider sound field. More depth to the tone. Very similar to the differences between mono and stereo recordings. You can have certain tones on the left side and others on the right. Or have one side on a bit of delay. Or use stereo effects.

 

 

 

Personally, I feel virtually all of this is lost more than a few feet away on a live stage. Unless you send you send your same stereo signal to the mains and run those in stereo as well. And even then the results are questionable. But many players still like it for their own tastes and enjoyment.

 

 

 

the only real answer is to try it yourself and see if the difference in sound is worth the trouble for you.

Edited by Vito Corleone

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I mix my PA in mono. Why? So few people sit in 'the sweet spot' and everybody else hears unbalanced sound.

 

I run everything, our guitars (through amp sims), wind synth, backing tracks, sax, flute, and vocals through the PA.

 

I've been in restaurants where I sat under the left or right channel ceiling speaker and can only hear half the music. I want the audience to hear every mistake I make ;)

 

Insights and incites by Notes.

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Years ago, I needed a small amp for an upcoming gig and found a Crate chorus amp with true stereo 20 X 2 watts into separate speakers. At some point, the reverb tank went open and it killed the chorus, too. I haven't messed with it for years, but ran across it while rearranging my basement storage. I think I might try to find a replacement tank through the supplier that Craig found just recently. Yeah, it's solid state, yeah it's Crate, but that stereo chorus was pretty sweet.

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I understand why a show will often be mixed in mono... and that aside, I still like to run my guitar rig in stereo when I play live. I usually use an AC15 and a Princeton Reverb II along with stereo effects. It isn't so much for the audience as it is for me. I like the sound of stereo effects, and I find it inspiring. I also like the way the two amps sound running together. I don't normally spread my amp cabinets overly wide apart though.

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One of my customers was a pedal steel player, who was retiring because of a number of physical ailments that caused him to take some pretty strong painkillers. He had a blackface Twin and a silverface on on either side of his guitar, with a delay pedal between the two. He played a few licks for me and it sounded great. He said his wife was nagging him to get rid of some of his musical equipment in a garage sale. I told him to get some offers on the Twins before he had his sale.

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i assume most guitarists go mono since you just need one amp. but some guitarists like steve vai are in stereo. what's the point of going stereo with two amps? more volume?

 

Because with certain effects in particular, it's effin' glorious and utterly inspiring. I love running mine through my Pigtronix Echolution Analog Delay pedal, which has this three-dimensional quality that I've not heard in any other pedal. It makes me grin from ear to ear.

 

In certain club situations, you can ask the guy to mic up each speaker and it'll be heard by the audience; in other places, it's just not gonna make a difference. You can decide what works for you and whether it's worth it. I love it, but I don't always set up that way.

 

 

 

 

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Unless you have a hexiphonic or split pickups where you can pan the signals left and right, the signal coming from the guitar will be mono only. Any effects you use will be pseudo stereophonic, not true stereo.

 

I do use dual amps myself but mostly for recording. I've got a fairly extensive pedal board and have tried running the pedals in many different ways, In some cases I'd split the signal after my volume/wah pedal and run dual effects all the way to the amp. This can make for some fancy tap dancing on pedals trying to switch tones. I got around the issue by building a dual effects loop pedal and could switch effects on and off in each loop.

 

Right now I'm running a mono chain up to my chorus which has a dual out and I run that into an Alesis Midiverb rack unit which is stereo. I like it over other stereo echo's/reverbs because I can select ping pong and other reverbs that are truly independent.

 

Last session I did I had a cab on the left and right sides of the room and stood between them. Normally I's put them both on the same wall and stand in front of both.

 

The tracks I get do sound pretty good and there is some variance between the two when you pan them left and right, I do use different heads like a Marshall and a Fender and different cabs, one with 4X10's and one with 4X12's but to be quite honest, there's nothing there you couldn't do by just copying the track and applying varying amounts of EQ, chorus and echo on the two tracks or in a stereo buss.

 

I get better results tracking direct using a stereo multi effects unit in many cases too. I've gotten so used to using dual tracks and using a cross feed mix between guitars, it is difficult going back to mono and attempting to get the sound stage I'm used too.

 

Live I like having dual guitar and bass cabs on each side of the stage if I'm not micing the amps and have the space. I'm able to hear the bassist and the bassist is able to hear me. I often use open backed cabs too and the drummer is able to hear the sound from the back of the amp allot easier then closed backed.

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When I was using stage monitors for my keyboard setup (before we switched to IEMs) I used to carry a pair of them and run them in stereo because I liked having that stereo sound behind me. Like others have said, it can be more inspiring. Sometimes I sent the stereo signal to the FOH, sometimes I gave them a mono feed. Either way, I'm virtually 100% certain that no one in the audience could detect the difference, but I liked the sound onstage for myself.

 

Ironically, now that we use IEMs I now run my keys in mono (through IEMs the stereo effect would be even that much better) due to changes I've made in my rack setup, but I'm thinking about returning to a stereo signal. It will mean one more line to run to the FOH which will likely do little except to annoy the sound guy, but oh well.... :)

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I think it all boils down to your expectations. True stereo doesn't scale up and is over when distances in the listening area can have a difference of 20 feet. Of course if it inspires the musician to perform better then that probably offsets the loss of sound that the audience will experience. But I believe a great performance on a crappy system trumps a crappy performance on a great system.

 

 

 

It does present a nightmare for the sound engineer to have to deal with. How do you close mic up a 5 speaker stereo amp?

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<...snip...> I believe a great performance on a crappy system trumps a crappy performance on a great system.<...>

 

Amen to that.

 

I know I'm straying a bit here, but sometimes I think that if we spent as much time practicing our chops, honing our craft, and learning how to express ourselves as we do about what kind of wood the guitar is made out of, are metal resonator sax pads better than plastic ones, does nitro make the guitar sound better than poly lacquer, does this Russian tube sound better than the others, is that orange capacitor going to make my guitar sound better, and hundreds of other somewhat important things, we would all be better musicians.

 

Then we get into things like, Is Jimi Hendrix tone better than Stevie Ray or is Santana tone better? What about Slash, Rhodes, Page, Clapton, or Jeff Beck? The audience doesn't care as long as your tone is in the ballpark for the kind of music you play. Countless hours spent pursuing perfect tone would be better spent in the woodshed practicing your chops.

 

And an important note: I've been very guilty of all of the above, and am trying to break that habit.

 

So to be back on topic, if the stereo guitar makes you play more expressively and inspires you to make better music, do it for that reason and that reason only.

 

Insights, incites and a minor rant by Notes ;)

 

 

 

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It does present a nightmare for the sound engineer to have to deal with. How do you close mic up a 5 speaker stereo amp?

 

That's true, but it really depends on the individual rig. I only use two single 1x12 combo amps - it's an extra channel at the board, but not that big a deal really.

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Amen to that.

 

I know I'm straying a bit here, but sometimes I think that if we spent as much time practicing our chops, honing our craft, and learning how to express ourselves as we do about what kind of wood the guitar is made out of, are metal resonator sax pads better than plastic ones, does nitro make the guitar sound better than poly lacquer, does this Russian tube sound better than the others, is that orange capacitor going to make my guitar sound better, and hundreds of other somewhat important things, we would all be better musicians.

 

 

Without a doubt. Those things are of interest to musicians, and they're not unimportant, but sometimes we as musicians get our priorities out of order...

 

Then we get into things like, Is Jimi Hendrix tone better than Stevie Ray or is Santana tone better? What about Slash, Rhodes, Page, Clapton, or Jeff Beck? The audience doesn't care as long as your tone is in the ballpark for the kind of music you play. Countless hours spent pursuing perfect tone would be better spent in the woodshed practicing your chops.

 

Nailed it again. In audio engineering, there's an old saying - no one ever hummed the console. IOW, the average listener doesn't care if you mixed the record on a Neve, an API or a Mackie... they care about the song first and foremost, then the performances, the arrangement, the groove... not so much the technical minutia that musicians and engineers get caught up in.

 

I won't even get into the "music as competition" aspects of your point, although those might make a good topic for another thread... ie: Stevie's tone (or playing for that matter) vs. Jimi's tone vs. Santana's or whomever.

 

 

And an important note: I've been very guilty of all of the above, and am trying to break that habit.

 

I think if we're being honest, most musicians have to one degree or another at one time or another. smile.png

 

So to be back on topic, if the stereo guitar makes you play more expressively and inspires you to make better music, do it for that reason and that reason only.

 

That's exactly why I do it... smile.png No one else is likely to get much in the way of benefits from it, and few besides me will hear it in stereo, but I like it, and as I said earlier, I find it inspiring.

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Years ago, I had this idea for live sound. Remember the music stands that the big bands used? They often had the band's name on the front and served as advertising, a music stand, maybe a modesty shield for the ladies, or a place to hide their flasks or whatever. My idea was to combine that type of stand with a small PA setup and maybe a socket for a light pole. Flask hiding or whatever would be optional. This would not be stereo, really, it would be what live sound used to be, with the horns on one side, strings on the other, etc. Up to a certain distance, you would be able to look at where the sound was coming from, and be able to pick out the player(s) who were making it. You still would probably want someone mixing the output of each musician-module.

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I remember seeing Yes in Madison in the '70s. They had a quadriphonic PA (left & right mains. plus 2 omni speaker stacks about 2/3 of the way to the back of the coliseum. It's the only time I've ever seen 'non-mono' work in a live setting. And it was fricking GLORIOUS! When Rick Wakeman played a solo, they did a circular pan that slowly sped up. So cool...

 

But in general, I'd have to agree with the consensus - - mono is generally right for live venues using instruments in the PA.

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Stereo just sounds massively better, whether it's your guitar rig or a PA. I went stereo with live sound many years ago despite everyone saying mono is enough; it's not!

 

The argument that people hear something different depending on where they stand (if you're mixing shows where people SIT, kill yourself!) is an argument FOR stereo. One example of many: if there are two guitarists and they're both pretty loud (think David Grissom and David Holt of Storyville) you can bet no matter how big the show is, people standing facing stage left (Mr Holt's side) are going to hear a lot more of his smooth goodness coming off the stage than Mr Grissom's intoxicating banjo-roll-esque licks so why not help that out a bit in the front fills by adding some of each guitarist's feed to the opposite side?

 

The list of things you can do with stereo mains is endless! You can widen the tom rack to make the fills deliciously wide, you can separate and distinguish guitars that have similar tone coming off the stage, not to mention all the "pseudo stereo" lushness you can get from your 'verbs and delays.

 

Sometimes stereo isn't even enough. Sometimes I've used quad when the hall or outdoor venue is large, once even in a small club with divided rooms. The idea is to use precisely time delayed speakers to generate a clean, non-diffused tone for people further away that matches the more diffuse mess they hear coming from the stage stacks, the other room, the back wall, or whatever. It can be a way to make it loud enough in the back or 200 ft from the stage outdoors without frying the people standing 50 ft from the stage.

 

Music is about EMOTION. Emotions are evoked in the listener by excitement, beauty, sweetness, intensity, finesse, dynamics, surprise, control and dozens of other things. The FOH sound is an instrument every bit as important as the musician's skill whether it be used to make their sound an accurate, neutral recreation of the musicians' actual sound (impossible in a large venue, and probably undesirable in most cases) or some a greatly exaggerated and nuanced performance in and of itself. Stereo can be a tremendous part of the soundman's contribution to the performance.

 

Yeah, I know, preaching to the choir. :idk:

 

Terry D.

Edited by MrKnobs
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I think part of the problem with stereo live (PA systems) is that people tend to get lazy and just pan things hard L/R; IMHO you have to give more consideration to it than that if you're mixing in stereo live.

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Back when I was like 12 years old I stuck a car speaker in a small wood box, mounted it on a turntable with sliding electrical contacts, and connected a guitar amp to it. I was hooked on stereophonic sound from that point on. Stereo chorus and Leslie pedals only get about half way there. When you got sound rotating like that bounding off of walls its like night and day when it comes to dynamics and Doppler effects.

 

I'd also hang a small cab from the ceiling with a chain and set up two mics. I had a string attached to the speaker and used a hinged fulcrum as a pedal to make it swing side to side while I recorded it using a pair of mics. You can get similar effect with a pan knob but again you don't get the same tonal changes along with the volume panning. The mics have a proximity effect where the bass and treble get stronger up close and becomes more midrange sounding as they move away. I could achieve what sounding like a guitarist walking around on stage with an amp strapped to his back

 

I do have several multi effects pedals that have mono/stereo outputs. When you connect them to a mono amp, the stereo effects sound very lackluster in comparison to running them stereo. Two echoes running at different rates can sound clustered in mono. In stereo it adds that third dimension you cant get any other way. Movement between two speakers gives the sound depth. A single speaker its single point in space that beams in a straight line, at least till it reflects off something else in the room.

 

The echo off a back wall is all you normally need to get a similar stereo effect in most cases. Nothing like it either because your ears detect the difference as being real, not synthetic.

 

The difference on stage is Mono is allot like a single spot light on you and everything else around you is black. Stereo is like having multiple lights and colors lighting the entire stage. It may only mean something to the player but having both can really liven things up.

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