Stereo panning in live sound

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by BobRogers, Apr 24, 2009.

  1. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    In another thread someone asked, "Why would you pan things in a live mix? It seems to me all this would accomplish is different parts of the audience hearing differenct mixes...and this doesn't seem like a good idea..." I thought it would be good to start a new thread on this subject.

    My take on this is that there are lots of times that you should run live sound in mono for precisely the reason stated. However, in live acoustic performances everyone does get a different mix - which is why front row seats at the orchestra are cheaper than those in the "sweet spot." If you mix amplified sound in mono you are increasing the size of the sweet spot, but making it less sweet than a good stereo mix. I've run stereo (panned narrower than I would a recording) when most of the audience is going to be in a good position to get a good mix. (Particularly when those close to the front of the stage will be..uhhh...not in condition to listen critically.)
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    When I ran a PA I would run mono in small venues-clubs and such-because there was no good way to get a stereo sonic image and no one was really listening anyway.

    Most of my gigs though were huge "lawn" type affairs with a big band or reinforcing (not truly amplifying) a wind ensemble. The audience was usually far enough back from the front of the stage and extended far enough back that I would run FOH in stereo. I never hard panned anything live but psycho-acoustically I really wanted to hear our horn section coming more from the proper side. I don't really know if the audience cared or not but I like it.
  3. tr3eman9

    tr3eman9 Guest

    Thanks Bob. Can you explain, or point me to a good page that does explain, what you mean exactly by "sweet spot", why a good stereo mix creates a "sweet spot", how to use this information in mixing live sound etc...

    Basically could you explain your post in a way that I will understand with limited knowledge but lots of will to learn about stereo/mono mixes, sweet spots, how distance effects live sound, etc.
  4. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    The "sweet spot" is almost mythical thing, not quite like the unicorn but... If you imagine a small stage where you have a five piece band bass, drums, guitar, piano, flute. All five musicians spread out across the stage and playing their instruments at appropriate volumes where they can all hear each other, now if you were to stand 10' away to the extreme right you would hear the instruments closest to you at a higher volume. Same for extreme left, and even the same for centered if you are very close. Stepping back in the room until the rooms reflections and the sound generated by each instrument blend together perfectly would be that sweet spot. By amplifying (more correctly reinforcing) the sound of that spot through two speakers one on each side of the stage you are widening that effect. However the nasty is that any rooms acoustics come into play, reflections, absorption, equips inability to accurately reproduce tone, effects added etc. all change that sound so it never really equals the sweet spot aurally.

    In order to try to defeat this we EQ, crossover, place mics and speakers strategically but at best it is always a compromise where we try and get the best efffect to the most audience members. Or in rock and roll just try and deafen as many of them as we can in ten minutes or less LOL!
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    I run stereo at our Church. Why?

    Because the powered mixer has dual neutrik outputs that connect to the L and R speaker cables :lol:.

    One advantage is that when an amp is on the right of the stage (not set overly loud), pushing the amp signal the opposite way in the stereo field a little can help (1) clear up the right side and (2) bring it to the left side.
  6. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Back again (*^^%$ doorbell, Jehovah this (no offense intended!)

    So lets take a slightly different scenario. We have stage left lead guitarist playing his tube amp at a volume needed to create good tone , a rhythm guitar through a smaller amp, drums center, bass, and stage right keyboardist playing through an amp. Therefore the amplification coming off the stage is also going to increase the areas of the room where the sweet spot does not exist. If we mono everything into a good mix and project it equally from both sides those audience members facing stage right are going to hear the piano and bass much louder due to the mix and the stage volume. So if we pan bass and keyboards slightly to the other side and vice versa the stage left instuments we can overcome this to a degree depending on how large the room is. If the rhythm guitar is not as loud as the lead we can center that a liitle more in the mix etc. We use stereo even small clubs when musicians like the keyboard player are using stereo effects, or the lead player is usinga stereo set-up (mine does and does not but never tells us ahead of time what he's bringing.)

    The higher the volume levels of the PA the less this effect exists and the more deaf children we create.
  7. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Heh, jg49 - I just posted about that same effect.

    Note that it doesn't work so great with instruments 20 feet back from the FoH cabs.
  8. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Great minds think alike Mr. Monkey!!!!
  9. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    And hacks seldom differ. :p

    (edit Not that I imply you're a hack)
  10. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Ahhhh but I am.
  11. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    Here is the deal. There is no stereo PA. There is only dual mono with panning. Really, there is hardly stereo in the home. To get stereo you must have a stereo source. There are few stereo only recordings. Listen to my words before you correct. Most recordings and live production contain mono sources, not stereo, panned out.

    I do pan for localization when mixing pops orchestras, etc. I do pan live in smaller venues where the band produces the bulk of the acoustic power from the stage, and PA is reinforcement, not foreground. It all comes down to the venue and the source.

    There is no way that all people in a venue can hear the psychoacoustic stuff like the phantom center image, deep soundstage, etc. You only get that if you are listening in an equalateral triangle (more or less) within 12', listening to stereo material. Most CDs are not stereo. They are dual mono with panned mono sources. VERY different.
  12. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    The sweet spot as you call it has nothing to do with need for EQ, crossover, place mics and speakers. But I get what you are saying, I think. We need forground PA, not reinforcement as it is inaccurately called in the context of live rock/pop, etc to blast the material everywhere. Sad but true.

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