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sozeg

Best way to set up stereo?

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I’ve been going out stereo with xlr’s for a good while but never felt I had the sound and spread I wanted. Im now using two amps with two separate outs with one amp panned 24 left and the other 24 right, using stereo reverbs and delays. It now sounds great through headphones and my daw. What’s the best way to treat this in rehearsals and a gig in terms of the pa mixer? 

 

Should i pan an each channel hard left and right at the mixer or both in the centre and the helix panning will sort it?

 

Any help or tips with stereo out to pa with two different amps would be great, thanks.

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On 4/10/2018 at 6:20 PM, sozeg said:

What’s the best way to treat this in rehearsals and a gig in terms of the pa mixer? 

 

 

The best way to run stereo live is to NOT run stereo live. In headphones, or through studio monitors, stereo can be magnificent. Live, it's a $h*tstorm. With the set-up you describe, half the room will hear one amp tone,  and the other half, the second amp. Weird phase things can happen, depending on the room. Same for effects...with stereo delays getting especially strange depending on where you're standing. The only pair of ears that's gonna hear everything the way you'd want it, belong to the one guy who happens to be standing dead center between the mains. 

 

Dont try and run stereo live...it is SO not worth the hassle. Just my 2 cents...

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In the OP's situation, (s)he is only panning 24% any direction, so it's still mostly mono. If you are going to run stereo live, then the outputs you are giving them are left and right, meaning one has to be panned 100% left and the other 100% right. The Helix will take care of where each sound actually is in the spectrum. If you pan both center, you will not get any stereo spread.

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35 minutes ago, njglover said:

In the OP's situation, (s)he is only panning 24% any direction, so it's still mostly mono.

 

Yes, but he also said that he's "not getting the spread" that he wants, which would seem to indicate that he's leaning towards panning everything further out than the aforementioned 24%. Imho, that's unwise. There's really only one way to get a true stereo spread, and that's panning everything hard left and right... which imho, is unwise in live situations for all the reasons I mentioned. The farther out he pushes everything, the weirder (and more difficult to control) things will get. 

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Hmmm....thanks for the responses. A lot of folks online etc say to avoid stereo but that dames such a shame. Surely with the power of the helix it could be controlled? I had thought that by only panning 24 each side but then panning the output channels hard left and right would be cool? Tried it in rehearsal tonight and it sounded pretty good, maybe it’s better mono though as I never tried that. 

 

Alex Lifeson rig is stereo without sounding totally separated and certainly no phasing. I’ll persevere but appreciate the comments.

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Can I ask then is there any point in using stereo reverbs, chorus and delay if you are running mono? Should all the effects not all be mono?

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14 hours ago, sozeg said:

Hmmm....thanks for the responses. A lot of folks online etc say to avoid stereo but that dames such a shame. Surely with the power of the helix it could be controlled? 

 

 

 

It's not about Helix...it's about physics, and the way sound bounces around a room. The device(s) making the noise are irrelevant. 

 

And no, there's no point in using stereo FX blocks if you're feeding a summed mono signal to FOH, you'd just be chewing up extra DSP. Especially the delays...dual or pingpong delays summed to mono are a useless mess. 

 

No idea what's in Alex Lifeson's rig, but I seriously doubt his sound guy is sending a hard L/R, true stereo guitar feed out to a stadium crowd... and if he is, it's because he's running a sound system that costs more $ than most of us will make in a lifetime, and everything is positioned "just right".

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On 4/11/2018 at 5:38 PM, cruisinon2 said:

 

The best way to run stereo live is to NOT run stereo live. In headphones, or through studio monitors, stereo can be magnificent. Live, it's a $h*tstorm. With the set-up you describe, half the room will hear one amp tone,  and the other half, the second amp. Weird phase things can happen, depending on the room. Same for effects...with stereo delays getting especially strange depending on where you're standing. The only pair of ears that's gonna hear everything the way you'd want it, belong to the one guy who happens to be standing dead center between the mains. 

 

Dont try and run stereo live...it is SO not worth the hassle. Just my 2 cents...

I concur 100%. 
I DID use to run a stereo Mesa Stereo Simulclass tube power amp to two Marshall cabs...but it was a complete "wet/dry" set up. With one side being dry (no effects) and the other side being wet (nothing but effects).

That sounded awesome live. But it was still a mono P.A.  out front.  Just had both cabs mic'ed up for the soundman to mix the dry and wet signal to taste out front.
But real stereo? Cruisinon2 just gave you your answer on that.

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11 hours ago, sozeg said:

Hmmm....thanks for the responses. A lot of folks online etc say to avoid stereo but that dames such a shame. Surely with the power of the helix it could be controlled? I had thought that by only panning 24 each side but then panning the output channels hard left and right would be cool? Tried it in rehearsal tonight and it sounded pretty good, maybe it’s better mono though as I never tried that. 

 

Alex Lifeson rig is stereo without sounding totally separated and certainly no phasing. I’ll persevere but appreciate the comments.

 

Most of the problems with live stereo have nothing to do with the Helix and far more to do with the placement of FOH speakers, the arrangement of the room, the ambience in the room, the "liveness" of the room, the location of people in the audience, etc.  There are simply just too many variables for stereo to be effective in most common environments with standard FOH setups except for maybe a select few in the audience.  Most often it just adds to the noise level and obscures the clarity of what's being played.  If you want to, however, you can invest in 3 or 4 flown stacks of line arrays perfectly positioned for every venue to get the same results as Alex...  ;)

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I use the stereo stuff in Helix for recording only. Live, I just go mono. The live audience won't be able to experience the stereo effects unless they are sitting it the "sweet spot" in the room, so I don't bother. 

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The one exception I would say for going stereo is dual amp setups, but even then the uses are limited. For example, in one song, the other guitarist and I are playing the same thing, then we switch to him taking a lead while I continue the rhythm. What I would like to do there (and what I have set up in Helix) is I split my guitar to two different amps, panned hard left and right, to give the impression that there are still two rhythm guitars playing so no fullness is lost. However, in practice it's generally too much hassle to get sound guys to agree to that and I don't have enough inputs on my splitter I use so I can run my own IEM to make it happen anyway, so I've pretty much just given up on that idea. I'm sure no one notices anyway.

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Wow - its an overwhelming no for stereo then! Well my set up is a clean amp left and dirty amp right panned 24 each side, into two separate channels of the PA and those are panned hard left and right. As people on here have said though, Im probably almost mono anyway with that little panning. I think I might post a photo of my patch to give a better idea but am wondering now is there any benefit of running two separate paths on helix to separate outs at end of path (hope that makes sense) i.e the two lines don't combine they go separate to the outputs at the edge of the screen. If running mono is that still okay to do. Sorry if that's a daft question...Also if I'm just using the left xlr (as that sums to mono) will there be  adrop in volume as Im no longer going through two channels on PA?

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6 hours ago, DunedinDragon said:

 

Most of the problems with live stereo have nothing to do with the Helix and far more to do with the placement of FOH speakers, the arrangement of the room, the ambience in the room, the "liveness" of the room, the location of people in the audience, etc.  There are simply just too many variables for stereo to be effective in most common environments with standard FOH setups except for maybe a select few in the audience.  Most often it just adds to the noise level and obscures the clarity of what's being played.  If you want to, however, you can invest in 3 or 4 flown stacks of line arrays perfectly positioned for every venue to get the same results as Alex...  ;)

This is Alex Lifesons rig that I was trying to simulate on Helix as best I can...

 

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17 hours ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

It's not about Helix...it's about physics, and the way sound bounces around a room. The device(s) making the noise are irrelevant. 

 

And no, there's no point in using stereo FX blocks if you're feeding a summed mono signal to FOH, you'd just be chewing up extra DSP. Especially the delays...dual or pingpong delays summed to mono are a useless mess. 

 

No idea what's in Alex Lifeson's rig, but I seriously doubt his sound guy is sending a hard L/R, true stereo guitar feed out to a stadium crowd... and if he is, it's because he's running a sound system that costs more $ than most of us will make in a lifetime, and everything is positioned "just right".

 

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Right , there's allot of less than ideal listening spots with many P.A.'s  too close to the stage you may not hear the full p.a. mix or get too much subs, 

too much to one side you get the things panned to that side, but does any mixer mix in mono ?

Stick your head in a real piano and it's stereo , move 100 ft out and the piano is mono and the room sound is stereo, 

I run a stereo 4x12 cab  just to get a fuller texture,   try two amps one with tremelo and the other without it feels like stereo even though nothing is panning between the two

Nothing wrong with stereo you just may need to tweak , make sure FOH has a strong stable gtr, and you have something satisfying 

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FWIW, I build my presets for stereo, because in many of my applications the performance space is an actual concert hall, with a stage and an acoustically designed room. I run two PA speakers that are set at far ends of the stage, or run into a house installed stereo PA. Since my audience is usually seated, and the room designed to be acoustically sound, stereo effects can work rather well in my situation. Even for people on sides of the hall.

 

Stereo Flanger and Pan effects can be really cool. Chorus can be super thick sounding. Delays can have a subtle thickness by making one just 3ms longer than the other.

 

But I'm not doing this in bars and restaurants or clubs.

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On 4/19/2018 at 3:08 PM, cruisinon2 said:

 

It's not about Helix...it's about physics, and the way sound bounces around a room. The device(s) making the noise are irrelevant. 

 

And no, there's no point in using stereo FX blocks if you're feeding a summed mono signal to FOH, you'd just be chewing up extra DSP. Especially the delays...dual or pingpong delays summed to mono are a useless mess. 

 

No idea what's in Alex Lifeson's rig, but I seriously doubt his sound guy is sending a hard L/R, true stereo guitar feed out to a stadium crowd... and if he is, it's because he's running a sound system that costs more $ than most of us will make in a lifetime, and everything is positioned "just right".

 

I think this speaks to the subject and speaks to Rush. I saw Rush on the Presto tour in a sports arena and they had four speaker arrays hanging over each quadrant of the floor. Where the four faceoff spots would be on a hockey rink. I don't know how it was all mixed; quad or stereo. I had heard it was a quad mix which would have been great if you were in the middle of the floor, but we were on the 200 level (middle) of the stands in a corner of the arena. It sounded terrible. Worst sounding concert I've ever been to. I mean it, the worst. You could not even make out many of the songs. The next Rush concert I saw didn't have that anymore. Any kind of spatial audio requires sitting in the right areas to get the full effect of it. Sadly, the Rush concert days are gone.

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1 hour ago, brue58ski said:

 

I think this speaks to the subject and speaks to Rush. I saw Rush on the Presto tour in a sports arena and they had four speaker arrays hanging over each quadrant of the floor. Where the four faceoff spots would be on a hockey rink. I don't know how it was all mixed; quad or stereo. I had heard it was a quad mix which would have been great if you were in the middle of the floor, but we were on the 200 level (middle) of the stands in a corner of the arena. It sounded terrible. Worst sounding concert I've ever been to. I mean it, the worst. You could not even make out many of the songs. The next Rush concert I saw didn't have that anymore. Any kind of spatial audio requires sitting in the right areas to get the full effect of it. Sadly, the Rush concert days are gone.

 

Yeah... sadly, I've been to my share of miserable sounding shows too. That's what happens when you try and play music, invariably at absurd volumes, in a facility that was designed for basketball and hockey, lol... don't think the architects pay much attention to acoustics. 

 

One of the best sounding shows I ever saw was Dream Theater @ Irving Plaza in NYC about 20 years ago. They called it "An intimate evening with DT" or something... stripped down set-up, smaller drum kit, amps, etc., everybody up front, using only about half the stage. What really stood out was the volume... more than sufficient, but not the "scream to be heard by the guy standing next to you" levels typical of most shows. Sounded great no matter where you were standing...the "louder is better" philosophy really needs to go away. 

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44 minutes ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

Yeah... sadly, I've been to my share of miserable sounding shows too. That's what happens when you try and play music, invariably at absurd volumes, in a facility that was designed for basketball and hockey, lol... don't think the architects pay much attention to acoustics. 

 

One of the best sounding shows I ever saw was Dream Theater @ Irving Plaza in NYC about 20 years ago. They called it "An intimate evening with DT" or something... stripped down set-up, smaller drum kit, amps, etc., everybody up front, using only about half the stage. What really stood out was the volume... more than sufficient, but not the "scream to be heard by the guy standing next to you" levels typical of most shows. Sounded great no matter where you were standing...the "louder is better" philosophy really needs to go away. 

 

One of the, if not the, best sounding concerts I saw was Pink Floyd. The Momentary Lapse Of Reason tour. It was in Seattle at the now replaced Kingdome stadium. This place was notorious for absolutely hideous sound. Basically a huge concrete upside down bowl. Insanely reflective. I knew Pink Floyd had a reputation for being anal about their sound but to make one of the worst places for a concert sound the best I've ever heard was an amazing feat to me. Spent the first 1/2 on the 200 level in the stands. The second 1/2 after intermission on the floor (there were 8 doors and only one guy trying to check tickets at one floor entrance after the intermission. Of course we were going to try and get on the floor and we did. Was that wrong? Yeah, I guess it was. I feel terrible. The poor guy). It was perfect (and I mean perfect) sound in each location. It proved to me, any place can sound good with the right equipment ($$$$$) and spending enough time to set it up right. They had to have all of the state of the art, phase adjusting, speaker timing and whatever other sophisticated sound reinforcement equipment there was available at the time as well as draggin' along the people that knew how to use it and letting them take the time, to get that place to sound that good.

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1 hour ago, brue58ski said:

 

One of the, if not the, best sounding concerts I saw was Pink Floyd. The Momentary Lapse Of Reason tour. It was in Seattle at the now replaced Kingdome stadium. This place was notorious for absolutely hideous sound. Basically a huge concrete upside down bowl. Insanely reflective. I knew Pink Floyd had a reputation for being anal about their sound but to make one of the worst places for a concert sound the best I've ever heard was an amazing feat to me. Spent the first 1/2 on the 200 level in the stands. The second 1/2 after intermission on the floor (there were 8 doors and only one guy trying to check tickets at one floor entrance after the intermission. Of course we were going to try and get on the floor and we did. Was that wrong? Yeah, I guess it was. I feel terrible. The poor guy). It was perfect (and I mean perfect) sound in each location. It proved to me, any place can sound good with the right equipment ($$$$$) and spending enough time to set it up right. They had to have all of the state of the art, phase adjusting, speaker timing and whatever other sophisticated sound reinforcement equipment there was available at the time as well as draggin' along the people that knew how to use it and letting them take the time, to get that place to sound that good.

 

Yup... Pink Floyd was another great show... only saw them once, "The Division Bell" tour I think, mid 90's. That was an outdoor show at Giants Stadium in NJ. When it's done right, it's done right...

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I’m working on a stereo live patch, and I want to bounce this approach off of the folks who avoid stereo patches in live settings. My current patch has a dry path (amp/cabs/eq) being sent via 1/4 to my mixer (not panned L/R). The second path has the stereo effects and splits at the end. This path is sent via two xlr to the mixer (one panned L/one panned R).

 

So it’s a wet/dry setup. And yes, it requires 3 channels on our mixer ( I run the board, so no angry sound guy; well sometimes I get angry at myself ). As long as I mix the dry amp so it’s louder/more prominent and treat the stereo paths as “icing on the cake,” mixed a bit lower, no essential sounds would get lost if audience members weren’t in a perfect spot. Right? It just sounds so much fuller than my mono patch. 

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My issue with running mono live is the phase cancellation that invariably happens to all the stereo effects.  They all thin out and sound a little weird.

As for running in stereo, I really don't think it's necessary to separate the speakers much.  You'll still get a bigger sound than in mono. The Roland JC-120 is proof of this - it's just too damned big and heavy. This, however might be the solution. https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Spacestation3--aspen-pittman-designs-center-point-stereo-spacestation-v3-280w-3d-stereo-monitor

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9 hours ago, hideout said:

My issue with running mono live is the phase cancellation that invariably happens to all the stereo effects.  They all thin out and sound a little weird.

 

Well it's easy enough to avoid that... just don't use stereo FX blocks if you're running mono. There's no reason to...I don't, and I've never had a phase problem. 

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Strictly talking about a live setup: I'm not interested in hearing a glorious stereo tone that the audience will never enjoy unless they stand at the optimal listening position. My live tones are mono & If I'm in the mix the audience hears my tone the way I hear it, regardless of where they are sitting/standing! 

 

That's just my 2 cents.... If others want to hear themselves in stereo on a stage I would never try to stop them. 

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45 minutes ago, codamedia said:

a glorious stereo tone that the audience will never enjoy unless they stand at the optimal listening position

One thing that I’m trying to figure out is this: does a wet/dry approach help at all with this issue? If my core tone/path is mono and is right down the middle, then it seems like the stereo effects (on a different path and panned  L and R) that I mix a bit lower should still sound good out front. My setup is straight to PA from the Helix with no back line/amps on stage. We also use IEM.

 

I find this discussion really interesting, btw. I appreciate the different approaches and opinions. 

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Stereo is a choice.  How well it works will be based on your application.  If you only play small bars or there is another guitar player in the band, I would probably rule out going stereo unless you use IEMs. That's only because you get to hear the stereo.

 

The wet/dry is more about having control of the wet signal and is really not stereo, per se.  This also depends on what the wet signal is.  EVH uses wet/dry/wet but really the only thing that is wet is a delay that he barely uses.  He wants to keep the dry signal in the middle completely unprocessed.  Every once in a while he kicks in the delay and it's 398ms on one side and about 800ms on the other side.  

 

I think that even in a small bar stereo can be a benefit if done correctly.  I mostly play small bars with an audience of less than 100 people and every patch I use is stereo.  I am careful to make the patches so that if someone is only able to hear one side they are not going to "miss" any part of the signal.  I am hearing the stereo in my IEMs (which I use to save my hearing and because less stage volume means a better overall sound) and the crowd more hears a thicker guitar sound rather than "stereo."  Some patches I use two amps (like for Alice in Chains) but I am always using a TC Mimiq pedal in a loop after the amp but before the reverb.  I just really like that sound.  

 

Using things like harmony, delay and reverb where you hear a different effect in each side won't make as much sense in a live setting as it will through headphones or a home stereo.  So for example you don't want a 5th harmony on the left, your dry guitar in the middle and an octave up on the right.  The full effect of that won't be heard all throughout the bar.

 

I think you need to experiment but also be prepared to make changes on the fly, if needed.  Think like somebody in the audience.  

 

Most importantly, make it sound how you want to hear it.  What's going to make you play better?  Just remember if the audience can't tell the difference it doesn't matter.

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4 hours ago, steelstringer said:

One thing that I’m trying to figure out is this: does a wet/dry approach help at all with this issue? If my core tone/path is mono and is right down the middle, then it seems like the stereo effects (on a different path and panned  L and R) that I mix a bit lower should still sound good out front. My setup is straight to PA from the Helix with no back line/amps on stage. We also use IEM.

 

I find this discussion really interesting, btw. I appreciate the different approaches and opinions. 

 

IMO... separate feeds for wet dry can help the sound man... maybe a mono dry feed and a stereo wet feed. Then he can do what he wants  with the effect portion. But... if you are just sending a stereo feed with a dry signal up the middle and stereo effects, IMO - you are still in the position that the audience may hear different things based on where they are sitting. 

 

I will say...the  @DarthHollis post above is solid! That is someone that understand the pitfalls, and knows how to work with them and around them. 

 

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IME stereo works best if you're using two separate mono signal chains with slightly different FX on each side. Sounds more like two guitarists than one big stereo guitar, and the sound guy can run both channels only partially panned (like he probably would for two guitarists) without worrying too much about phase issues. Makes it even easier if you can spread your speakers apart on stage so its more like two separate cabinets than one stereo cabinet. If you're going strictly direct from the Helix the PA, the sound guy can adjust the panning to fit the room if need be. If you're monitoring on-stage with a single speaker source like a guitar cabinet, I'd probably just stick to mono even if the cab supports stereo. You can always blend your amps together in mono, then add a stereo reverb at the end of a little space. For me, I just go mono live. We don't usually do our own sound and I'm still having a hard time convincing sound guys to take my DI feed half the time. They'd probably have a small stroke if I started asking for TWO lines for guitar.

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On 10/31/2018 at 10:41 PM, gboboski said:

Stick your head in a real piano and it's stereo , move 100 ft out and the piano is mono and the room sound is stereo, 

That was a mindblowingly good conceptualization!

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It's what I know from recording Orchestral stuff with acoustic instruments where mic's too close sound " un-natural " , to that crowd

it's a different world listening to mics 10-15 ft away from things, like listening to room mics in a pop context, [ it is ensemble after all ]

and part of what I meant to say was that a stereo pair on something may not be panned hard L/R  [ depending on perspective ] gives some

weight to the idea of L/C/R/ or stereo fx & a dry cab [ for Gtr ]

I agree with above poster , two cabs beside each other in stereo still sound bigger & more fun than one, now

I'm building some FRFR cabs [ or just plain monitors ! ] with a friend and look forward to trying them in stereo Front - back

as in one by the front of stage with the other monitors and one behind where the amps are [ usually facing the back of your head ! ]

should make for a bigger " sonic " sweet spot!

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