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johoffry

Stereo Vs Mono to FOH

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Hi guys, I was wondering if anyone has looked into the optimum way to feed the helix into FOH sound system.

 

Should I send two channels or one?

XLR vs 1/4.

Pan left/right completely/partially? 

 

I'd be interested to hear thoughts and concerns!

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Assuming you have a stereo PA (wouldn't do any good to send 2 feeds to a mono system). If you set them up with headphones or stereo monitoring, you will have come to the stereo sound field that you want to hear. It will be up to your sound guy to make it sound like you want it - HE (or she) will need to pan the PA channels' left and right all the way to their sides for your feed -- if he doesn't you be left with a centered mono mix going out front. Definitely run to the FOH PA with XLR cables.

 

Dave

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Most big rig systems are mono so it's best to make sure your patches sound good in with a mono feed to FOH. If you use any stereo FX like Chorus, etc. when you engage these stereo FX running into a mono PA you will get a loss in volume and the sound will just seem to dissappear.

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I haven't played a mono rig in a decade or two.
But I know that US and UK have a lot of crap FOH's, so maybe it depends om where you are in the world :-)

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Stereo is excellent for recording and for listening in small rooms, cars, computers, and headphones. But while the FOH may have left and right channels, it is impossible to achieve stereo imaging in a large room.

 

"But it is futile and self-destructive to fight against the laws of physics and psychoacoustics and to pretend that we are experiencing stereo, when we are not."

http://bobmccarthy.com/the-emperors-new-stereo/

 

I give the FOH mixer my XLR LEFT/MONO signal and ask to have it panned centre. I connect my 1/4" LEFT/MONO signal to my own (one) powered monitor speaker, a Mackie Thump12. I build my patches assuming that I am only using the LEFT/MONO outputs. It is important to me that the tone I hear through my monitor is very close to the tone that the audience hears.

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I would echo that stereo mixes provide much more interesting mixes for recordings and are pretty much the standard there. However we generally run a mono mix live. The problem we have found with stereo mixes to FOH in live situations is that we can't depend on having a scenario where everyone in the room is roughly in the center of the stereo image. This means that audience members on the right or left predominantly would hear the half of the stereo signal from the FOH speaker(s) on their side. They lose part or all of the other half of the signal, in the case of many effects that means they may only hear the dry or wet part of the signal, or one singer too loud and the other barely at all, or worse yet with rotary or delay effects they can end up hearing almost nothing when the harmony, rotary, or delay switches or is mixed to the speaker on the other side. Phasing issues can also become more pronounced in a stereo mix.

 

But..., if you find yourself in a scenario where you can use a stereo FOH mix they offer way more flexibility and some incredible potential for Brian May, Leslie type moving delays and harmonies and speaker rotation, more sophisticated and often pleasing blends of sound, and all sorts of cool musical mayhem and guitar sounds.  We just rarely play gigs where we find ourselves able to run a stereo mix, so we have focused on our mono mix.

 

Maybe it comes down to which is more important to getting your particular band's sound across as well as the size of the venue. You may prefer a stereo image that may capture the band's sound better but not always be perfect for listeners not in the center of the stereo image, or, a mono image that provides a more consistent but perhaps also a less interesting mix.  If you use a lot of guitar harmony, rotary, etc. or just plain prefer stereo no matter what, I suppose that may end up dictating your choice.

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lots of great info here, and it really is all "correct" depending on the situation and what the PA can do and what you are playing. I also think the style of music makes a difference, if you have lots of clean/shimmery sounds stereo is great if you can get it (this is how Eric Johnson used to run his clean sound), but if you are playing metal I haven't heard it make it sound better. I tend to play on the heavier side and run mono out via XLR to FOH for many of the reasons already stated. happy huning!

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You will always find some audio-purists that will tell you that "true" stereo seldom exists/works live, or that if you 100% pan Left and Right that somehow the audience only gets one signal and loses the other, but I'm here to tell ya, that is Incorrect/crap. I use stereo effects live and use two simultaneous amplifiers set in stereo on my Fractal and it sounds astonishing!

Maybe these audiophiles definition of stereo is so refined that they are right but if you have stereo cabs hooked up I promise you it can sound amazingly broad and interesting. This CAN be attained live. I do it twice a week for over ten years with a rudimentary setup and it sounds killer! Ping pong delays, chorus applications, other modulating effects and really be effective in a live setting and is simple to attain. Keep in mind that some of these nuances aren't nearly as effective on a live crowd as it is to you and shouldn't trump your efforts to achieve an overall great sound mix..

 

Always be prepared to give a left and right signal to a soundman but also always have a killer mono signal prepared, because some people just don't want to be bothered with panning effects on a show night, or their system isn't panned properly. I Have seen dozens of sound men raise their eyebrows when they hear the stereo mix I sent them from my AxefxII ! It's also a good idea to bring xlr-1/4" adapters as some sound boards don't have a mic/line in button on their desk.

 

The Helix rig I'm about to build will definitely be a stereo rig and it will also sound as amazing as my AxefxII rig. Do it!

 

Good luck!!

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It did used to be that everyone ran PAs in mono, but anymore, I'm not so sure. Virtually every modern PA is setup for stereo, and I think most operators actually do hook them up in stereo even though most of them tend to keep everything panned in the center. As far as stereo effects and whatnot, the question is whether or not they'll be noticed at all.

 

I can only remember one time when I noticed a stereo guitar effect while in the audience at a larger show. It was an outdoor festival and the one guitarist used a panning effect for the intro of one song, and I could very plainly hear it traveling across the front of the stage. It was cool, but that was a really dramatic stereo effect. Most aren't like that. Most people in the audience aren't going to be in the right place to notice a stereo effect, though. That's the typical reasoning for the suggestion of always going mono. Of course if you're Alex Lifeson or The Edge and you send 16 channels of guitar to the board, and the whole PA is built around you, you live by a different set of rules than the typical guitarist.

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If I design my patches in stereo but then will only use the left xlr at venue - does it sum the stereo signal to that output like the Axe Fx or not?

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If I design my patches in stereo but then will only use the left xlr at venue - does it sum the stereo signal to that output like the Axe Fx or not?

 

Yep. If you use only one of the XLR or 1/4" outs, they will to mono.

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So if it does sum stereo signal to mono, why would you use any effect in mono?  I guess I just don't get the difference or intended difference of how it's supposed to be used.

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So if it does sum stereo signal to mono, why would you use any effect in mono?  I guess I just don't get the difference or intended difference of how it's supposed to be used.

 

Mono effects use half the DSP of stereo ones. If you have an effect before an amp model, it will be summed to mono even if it is stereo, so you might as well use the mono version. There are some times when you want to preserve stereo separation, and there are some times when it doesn't matter.

 

Not to muddle things more, but I will say this. With the advent of home recording, electric guitar is probably recorded in stereo way more than it ever was in studio in the past.

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I've heard that some artists play live in stereo where they have a left channel going into one amp and a right channel going into another amp of different type so that each stereo channel has it's own characteristics. If I can do this with the Helix then that would justify using a stereo patch to FOH alone. I'm confused how I'm supposed to do that with the Helix. I don't see any patches that do that sort of thing. Ideas?

 

Also, it would be great to add post stereo effects like delay, reverb and Mod. I'm confusing myself thinking of the possibilities. Before Amp(L), Before Amp®, after, etc.

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I've heard that some artists play live in stereo where they have a left channel going into one amp and a right channel going into another amp of different type so that each stereo channel has it's own characteristics. If I can do this with the Helix then that would justify using a stereo patch to FOH alone. I'm confused how I'm supposed to do that with the Helix. I don't see any patches that do that sort of thing. Ideas?

 

Also, it would be great to add post stereo effects like delay, reverb and Mod. I'm confusing myself thinking of the possibilities. Before Amp(L), Before Amp®, after, etc.

I do, however, see a lot of patches that break the amp signal into two cabs. Does this somehow affect the stereo signal?

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I've heard that some artists play live in stereo where they have a left channel going into one amp and a right channel going into another amp of different type so that each stereo channel has it's own characteristics. If I can do this with the Helix then that would justify using a stereo patch to FOH alone. I'm confused how I'm supposed to do that with the Helix. I don't see any patches that do that sort of thing. Ideas?

A few ways to do this:

  • With a typical parallel path (one split and merge), path paths A and B hard left and hard right in the Merge > Mixer block. Make sure none of the post-Mixer blocks are mono
  • Move the Mixer block down to create a duplicate output block. Pan these hard left and hard right
  • Use both Paths 1 and 2 and pan their respective output blocks hard left and hard right

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You will always find some audio-purists that will tell you that "true" stereo seldom exists/works live, or that if you 100% pan Left and Right that somehow the audience only gets one signal and loses the other, but I'm here to tell ya, that is Incorrect/crap. I use stereo effects live and use two simultaneous amplifiers set in stereo on my Fractal and it sounds astonishing!

Maybe these audiophiles definition of stereo is so refined that they are right but if you have stereo cabs hooked up I promise you it can sound amazingly broad and interesting. This CAN be attained live. I do it twice a week for over ten years with a rudimentary setup and it sounds killer! Ping pong delays, chorus applications, other modulating effects and really be effective in a live setting and is simple to attain. Keep in mind that some of these nuances aren't nearly as effective on a live crowd as it is to you and shouldn't trump your efforts to achieve an overall great sound mix..

 

Always be prepared to give a left and right signal to a soundman but also always have a killer mono signal prepared, because some people just don't want to be bothered with panning effects on a show night, or their system isn't panned properly. I Have seen dozens of sound men raise their eyebrows when they hear the stereo mix I sent them from my AxefxII ! It's also a good idea to bring xlr-1/4" adapters as some sound boards don't have a mic/line in button on their desk.

 

The Helix rig I'm about to build will definitely be a stereo rig and it will also sound as amazing as my AxefxII rig. Do it!

 

Good luck!!

When you get your Helix stereo patch setup I'd be interested to see it. Let me know!

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