Bose PAS vs. Yamaha -- a tie?

I want to cut through the bs and all of the long discussions of "phase leakage" and other such stuff. The bottom line question is that I (like many others) have one or more Yamaha P keyboards (in my case, a P-250 and a P-80). I've read all of this technical stuff about phasing and other such sh__, but I want to know: How will my Yamaha P keyboards (with stereo) sound with the Bose PAS system? I want a true piano sound and I recognize that recreating that grand piano sound is difficult, but whether I "sum" the sounds or do something else (simply), will I get a good piano sound? Will I get a great piano sound? Will I get as good or better sound with PAS as with a great traditional speaker system? I guess, to cut to the chase, is I want to know if you all think I should spend the extra money to get the Bose PAS system or put together another system. I've got a system now, but am ready to upgrade, so (at least from Bose's perspective) my timing is good. I'd love to hear from you all. There has been all kinds of dancing around this, but not much direct answers to Bose PAS vs. Yamaha P series.
Thanks.
Joel

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Are the Yamaha employees and advocates trying to claim that there is no degradation of tone quality when playing the P120, P90 and P250 in mono? I am not alone in having discovered that the P120 and P90's "Grand Piano 1" tone is degraded when played in mono. Shall I post the links to the many other posts by poeple who have observed it?

Playing the P120 Grand Piano 1 from its "L/R Mono" jack the tone becomes thin and edgy with a hint of phasing. Played from the "Left" out jack (with the "Right" jack defeated by plugging an unconnected jack into it) the tone is also thin and edgy. Played from the "Right" out jack it's dull and muffled sounding. Numerous other P series owners on various Internet forums have reported the same results with their P120s and P90s.

The degradation of tone is most noticeable in quiet sustained playing of the darker "Grand Piano 1."
Mike Martin posted some P250 factory demos on "The Band" forum:
http://www.musicplayer.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=23;t=000631#000023
Those P250 demos use the very bright and percussive (mostly loud attack) "Rock Piano." The Rock Piano demo is played hard and busy with big percussive chords. You don't get to really hear any sustained exposed individual notes, mostly just loud percussive playing, although at the end of the passage during the fade out you can hear some individual notes and they sound thin with little almost an absence of sustained tone after the attack.
I play the P120 and P90 in a much smoother and quieter style, similar to the solo piano style of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, where the individual notes are far more exposed and sustained. When playing in such a style the sound and tone of the piano is far more apparent than flashy playing of the bright "Rock Piano" that basically hides the tone.
The keyboard player in my progressive rock band uses a Fatar 900 (I think) controller with a Roland XV-5050. He sounds absolutely incredible through the PAS. We can actually hear him when we play now, whether he's playing a piano patch or a synth patch or organ or strings or anything.

I won't say that it sounds like he's got a grand piano right there in the room. That is an awfully small target to hit. However if you close your eyes and listen to him, he sounds great. And I dare say that to an audience member sitting 60' away and to stage left, he's going to be sounding a LOT better than if we were using anything else under the sun, including an actual grand piano.

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Hourglass http://www.hourglassband.com
I'm with you Jeremiahwine......Bottom line....what does it sound like..... I read all the technical "phase cancellation" articles and posts and I am a player who wants the best sound. Period. Now if that means spending for more than one system, then I think we all agree for the common man that I gotta moonlight and hide that extra stash from my wife!!!! so I can buy that extra system to sound great. At some point it becomes anti-productive hauling around 2 or more PAS's around than setting up a couple of small self powered Barbetta amps and a 1202 mixer.....
Jeremiah et al

The issue here is "how does the xxx stereo digital piano sound when summed to mono?", not "how does the xxx piano sound over the Bose PAS?". This is a question for the manufacturers of these instruments and has nothing to do with the sound of the Bose system. Any piano in mono in the studio, over cans, in your stage wedge (ewwwww) or over the Personalized Amplification System is another issue entirely. If stereo is the only mode of operation for any given stereo digital piano, you need 2 separate systems to make it work right, independent of the system you want to use. And if this is the case, you're back to stereo ("the intended 'good sound' ") for the player only and funny sound for everyone else, like guitar players in the "sweet spot" of their 4x12.

My recommendation for the serious piano player (especially the ensemble player) that wants everyone to hear what they hear: get a piano that sums to or plays in mono and sounds great. Then use the PAS. With this system, put fabulous in and fabulous comes out, everywhere and at whatever level you need.

[This message was edited by Cliff-at-Bose on Mon March 08 2004 at 11:46 AM.]
Cliff, buddy, you missed it. You say the issue is not what a Yamaha P-250 has to do with the sound it will have with this Bose PAS system. I beg to differ. That is exactly what the issue is. I could care less what XXXX digital piano sounds like (stereo, mono or anything in between). My question relates to this keyboard and, for that matter, to another Yamaha keyboard (P-80) that I also own. I could care less what the answer would be with another keyboard. I see, the deal here is that I should pay $2000 for the Bose setup and then pay another $2000 for the right keyboard. Too late for that! Sorry to jump on you, but give me a break! I wandered in here pretty much committed to get a Bose PAS system. I don't need someone like you (or anyone else) trying to say "you got it wrong, this isn't the issue." It is for me and that's why I am posting the question. I'm about to go for a Bose system here. Don't screw it up.

Jeremiah
Jeremiah

One problem is I'm speaking out of ignorance here, don't really know what this all sounds like. So, here's what I'll do (seeing as this is not just your problem; others have written in about this): I'll get a P250 and a P80 in here, borrow it from the (nearby) Natick GC store or maybe one of the musicians here (probably half the Bose population, it seems). Best I can do is next week (this week is crammed). Then, I'll report back. We have a bunch of good listeners here and I've been playing digital pianos onstage (in mono always) since my first mono Korg SG1 (probably 1984 or so).

Ah? Stay tuned. Don't touch that dial.
Jeremiahwine - It is YOU, in the end, that needs to be satisfied here, and anyone else's opinions are simply that - opinions.

Take your Yamaha boards to a Guitar Center near you, and judge for yourself. If there are none nearby (I drove 2 hours one way to do my own demos - your milage may vary) - order a PAS through Bose online, and try it out for the 45 day guarantee period.

What have you got to lose here? If you find it meets your needs, tell us. If you find it does not - tell us why.

We are lucky to have wonderful men like Cliff available to us in such a fashion. This open forum is a gift to musicians around the country - and I'm extremely grateful for any and all information that is posted here.

Ken

kbausano@bak.rr.com
trumpet, flugelhorn, wind controllers

[This message was edited by Ken-at-Bose on Wed March 10 2004 at 03:02 PM.]
Jeremiah,
I agree with jazzhorn1, the best way for you to be sold on the PAS is to try it yourself at a GC. Luckily, I was able to do just that at my GC, as I use a MOTIF ES, the sales guy just set up their MOTIF ES floor model with the PAS.

Best of luck, whichever way you decide.

BTW - Cliff, way to go the extra mile for a prospective customer.

Tom
Jeremiah, Tom, Ken et al

As advertised, I went to the Natick GC store this morning. Sean Riggs, the store manager, helped me and listened in. They have a P250 on the floor and I dragged a PAS and one B1 out from the PA room, set it up and, with L and R outputs hooked up, started to see (actually, hear) what's what.

By itself, the instrument is a pleasure to play and sounds excellent and juicy using its own speaker system. But I was there to see how it sounded in Mono, over our system in particular.

First, I inserted a 1/4" phone jack into the headphone output to cut the speakers out. I tried the output jacks one at a time, mono only (the left jack as I remember), L and R mixed, even the output from the headphone jack. Every method was all phasey, unfamiliar and weird. Now, I tried a whole bunch of other pianos and thought the same thing bout them. Even some of the fancy presets on our GEM Pro mega 3 sound this way in mono, and we are using the "Pro 2 Piano" for our shows, which everyone including me loves and which sounds great in mono. I'll have to admit the fancy ones sounded fab over a good set of stereo cans. So, up to this point, my conclusion is that the digital pianos I tried so far are primarily meant for stereo and not mono, period. Based on stereo samples, they simply sound weird and phasey when combined to mono. This is not my favorite feature. Am I missing something here? Who plays in stereo? And why would you, given that stereo from any PA only works in a small part of any room? Do many keyboard players use a stereo rig?

And so, part 2 of this science project is to bring the Yamaha into our theater and play it in stereo, and have a listen to the GEM in stereo also. This will happen later this week. Stay tuned.
Thanks for working on this one. Alot of folks have these fine keyboards and it would help a lot to figure this one out. The older Alesis QS series works well in mono and my GEM RP7 is pretty good...Eventually a list of which pianos work well with one PAS will be posted. ...Maybe we will luck out and a few of the keyboard companies will pick up on this, and want to make the list.. I never played a real piano that is stereo that I know of.
Cliff, I really appreciate you taking the time and your candor as well. Did you try the GPiano2 as well as the GPiano1 and the Mellow Piano1 and 2 on the P-250? One part of the manual seems to indicate the GPiano 2 is mono (although another part says its stereo and it certainly sounds like stereo). When you go to the theatre, could you also possibly try something like the IBP phase alignment tool? I don't want to get rid of my P-250 and I would like to get the PAS system, so I'd like to find an answer here to use both.

Keep working and testing -- I (along with many others I am sure) appreciate it very much. I think these are some answers that you need to know at Bose as well.

Jeremiah
Greetings, stereo piano fans

So I went over to the Natick GC today and borrowed the Yamaha P250, not as heavy as it looks, and hooked it up in stereo over a pair of our systems in our Live Music theater, about 10' apart.

I also had our own GEM Pro Mega3 onstage. I listened to this in stereo also, for the first time ever. We always use this in mono for our shows. Tony Sarno and Marty Richards were on hand to witness me playing the GEM. And so, the piano sounds fabulous in the center and when you walk off axis it falls apart, gets dull and all the "stereo magic" goes away. It's not like I didn't expect this. THIS IS WHAT STEREO DOES, plain and simple. You have to sit in the sweet spot. And so I switched to the "Pro 2 Real Piano" patch (the one we use for our shows), put it in mono and we all agreed (Marty and Tony were in violent agreement) that the sound was clearer, more defined and totally consistant all across the listening area. This is not a subtle difference.

Later on, when I had the P250, Tony and Kyle Sullivan were there to listen and both agreed that the same thing happened going from stereo to mono. I played some with the P250 and made the following observations:

First of all, with just the speakers on, the instrument is a juice and a half to play. Part of it is that the keys are vibrated by the built-in speakers, like a real piano. It sounds great and invites you to sit all afternoon and leave the launch pad way behind. Inserting a jack into the headphone outlet, the speakers mute and you can hear what comes out of the instrument's two output jacks.

GPno1 and 2 are just different, especially the upper 2 octaves. they sound great in stereo. In mono, they don't. In mono, they both sound best out of the "L/mono" jack with a dummy jack (any guitar cord) inserted into the right output. If you hit a big full sustained chord and pull the dummy jack in and out of the right output, you can hear the sound change from dull (jack out) to better (jack in). But, on GP2, with the R jack in, there is that familiar phasey hollow annoyance about C thru G starting an octave above middle C. Pull the jack out and this annoyance shifts about a half octave up. Either way, you don't want to play it. Same on GP1 , only different notes.

Interestingly, there is a button labelled "XG", the last button on the second row of presets. There are a bunch of pianos in this area that sound very mono and in fact sound much better than the stereo GP1 and GP2 in mono. I liked "BritePnoKSP", whatever that stands for. Pulling the dummy R jack in and out produced no effect as it did on some of the other presets. I have no idea what "XG" is for, but it was a good find for me.

My conclusions:

1. The "R" jack does some kind of switching, which changes the tone of the "L/mono" jack
2. Everything sounds simply fabulous in center-image stereo, except everywhere else.
3. The P250 is a fine instrument. If you want to use it with our system in mono, I'd recommend using one of the "XG" patches and you might experiment with putting the internal speakers on, as it does vibrate your fingers and a very friendly way. Be careful to make the system output dominate, so that what you hear is what your audience hears.
4. If you want to use two of our systems and play the P250 in stereo, use the first two grand piano settings and place the systems way far apart so that you get more of the audience in the sweet spot. I found that tweaking the eq was unnecessary in any of the patches, by the way (for my taste, anyway). I thought our GEM needed a bit of brightening up with its own equalizer section.
5. Be careful and beware of "stereo". It is a trap. In stereo, you will naturally put yourself in the sweet spot and think you sound simply the baddest In fact, only you and a few others up the middle will be getting the Fine Tone and the rest of your audience and, worse, your bandmates will be getting the funny tone.
Actually, I'm happy that I went thru this excercise. It's always wiser to speak from A True Knowledge, rather than extrapolating from what you (think you) know.

Frankly, I think it's weird that these digital pianos are not fully capable of providing a mono signal that works as well as stereo (sounds as good and detailed and balanced), like without the funny phasy sound. This appears to be an artifact of combining stereo samples into mono. The stereo pianos sound great in stereo. I almost fell off the bench when I first heard the GEM over a good set of cans. But my guess is that most gigging piano players who use these things don't bring a stereo sound system. And maybe they put it up in stereo on the house system and so you have a stereo piano that is as big as the whole band, up the middle at least. If you're closer to one or the other speaker (assuming stereo), you hear basically what's closer to you. It's not great. Honestly, I've never seen players bring anything but a mono system (typically a "combo amp") to the gig. I've been playing for almost 40 years and never even considered bringing a stereo rig, even when stereo Leslie simulators got good. If I was making a digital piano for the gigging player, I would make sure it worked really good in mono, with the thought that most players will at least be listening to the instrument in mono through a floor wedge, and hopefully along with everyone else thru a Personalized Amplification System. I think the "stereo piano thing" is a big problem for us all.

I'd like to hear from others about this little experiment. Do you (out there) understand what I mean about the limitation of stereo for a large listening group (like, bandmates and audience not up the middle)? Before you comment, make sure you do this same experiment yourself. Set it up in stereo, have someone play the piano (or put the internal demo on, if the piano has it) and walk off to the side. I can tell you with total confidence that if you get a good piano sound in mono over a Personalized Amplification System, it will hold up everywhere, clean and clear.

It's possible I'm missing something here about how to operate the piano (didn't take the owner's manual). Maybe I'll try to get some piano manufacturers to comment on this. Maybe some are reading this.
Yes, thank you for trying the mono vs. stereo test with a Yamaha piano and for your efforts. BTW: XG is Yamaha's version of GM, or "General Midi", which is a specific soundset for use with standard midi files used on the web. Often the samples used in XG/GM are of much less quality that the signature samples on an instrument, so the XG sounds likely would be mono samples but of inferior quality to the primary sounds in most instruments.

The whole point to stereo samples on a piano is to reproduce the realism of a real piano, which has a natural stereo field that is beyond debate. A pianist knows this sound well whereas a sound engineer might think we're just being picky. The projection of that sound and the resulting reflectivity will vary from room to room, and from listener to listener in that room depending on where that sounds reflects from. The more sources of sound, the more reflectivity. But aside from trying to present the best sound for the audience, the pianist also wants to recreate the experience of playing a real piano whenever they must use a digital emulation.

So the issue for a keyboardist is not whether to go mono - some of us simply won't - but whether we want to invest in an extremely expensive set of Bose PAS systems to accomplish stereo or use something that can be just as effective that costs much less, including other PA options and new breeds of stereo amplifiers designed for keyboards. You only tried a couple of keyboard models but this stereo vs. mono issue pretty much affects every keyboard on the market today. And besides pianists, there are number of one-man-band keyboardists out there that rely on stereo to seperate the many different instruments in their field so they can more faithfully emulate a real band. Summing such a keyboard into mono would be like summing your home stereo into mono, and few of us do that even we intend to listen to the sound in an area other than the "sweet spot".
I've been fairly quiet on this forum. I'm another keyboard player in this group. I tend to agree with "The Pro" on the solo gig. You may want to run two seperate sound sources to run stereo to:

1) Create an image (albeit imitation)
2) Distribute different instruments in space.

This to me is both fake and entertaining at the same time. Keyboard players have always been looking for the authentic sound of real acoustic instruments. Someday the technology will be so good that someone in the audience with their eyes closed will not be able to tell if it's a real instrument or an electronic one. Someday. Right now, it's all fake. Like watching movies, nothing you hear is real, that includes the dialog.

I have to disagree however with the statement

"whether we want to invest in an extremely expensive set of Bose PAS systems to accomplish stereo or use something that can be just as effective that costs much less, including other PA options and new breeds of stereo amplifiers designed for keyboards.".

Don't dismiss the magic in this system. The L1 Cylindrical Radiator loudspeaker projects a very accurate and clear sound field. I'm going to make a personal statement here. I've tried all sorts of keyboard amps. This new Bose system is AWESOME. There is nothing like it. Considering that the industry has completely underestimated the need for accurate sound from a highly sophisticated electronic instrument, this product should be a home-run for keyboard players. Mono OR stereo. You pay all this money for a decent keyboard and then skimp on the amplification system? It's like portable sound these days. You purchase one of these portable MP3 or CD players that have outstanding playback quality only to plug in the cruddy set of headphones that comes packaged with most of these units? It just doesn't make sense...
Hey I like this thread! I have been playing a Technics SX-P50 for a couple of years, gigging in a band. I play it through a Behringer mixer into a Mackie SRM-450 powered speaker. The way I handle the stereo issue is to use both L and R outs from the keyboard into two separate mono channels in the mixer. Both of these have preamps so they each get a little boost from the preamp gain. How do I get both signals into the mono Mackie amp? I use a two-into-one 1/4 inch adapter to go from the stereo signals to a summed signal to the amp. Maybe this gets around the issue that Cliff-at-Bose raised about things sounding different when you have only one of the output jacks plugged in. Do you think this is an improvement or is that what happens anyway when you plug into only the 'mono' output jack? Anyway it sounds pretty good to me in mono... of course not as good as through the phones.
I'll add a few things to Kyle's, including one I forgot

First, playing a real piano is sort-of stereo if the lid is up. I mean, you do hear high notes on your right and low notes on your left and the keys do vibrate. Close the lid and this mostly goes away. But a piano listener (audience) just hears "piano" in mono. So a stereo keyboard, flawed as the concept is, is an attempt to create the illusion of listening to the piano like the player hears it. Writing this out, I think this is a bogus concept. What you want for your listeners, if you truly want an amplified version of an authentic acoustical piano event, is the illusion of hearing a piano as if you were a listener, not sitting on the bench playing. On the other hand, I agree with Kyle in that, albeit unnatural, it is (or could be) entertaining for the audience. For those up the center anyway.

Second, "amplifiers designed for keyboards"? Ever see one of these things? You put them on the floor and they are 2' high at best. They are acoustically hot and bright in front of them and dull off to the side. Many of them suffer from the dysfunction of guitar amplifiers, only they have more high end. I think the Personalized Amplification System, tho not designed specifically for keyboards alone, is the first one since amplification was invented to faithfully serve the instrument it is amplifying. Its soundfield is consistant and even, throughout the performance area and the audience area. Probably the best (and to my knowledge the only) real keyboard amplification system that really ever worked is the Leslie. Although it suffers from the inverse square law and gets quiet rapidly as you move from it, it really does a magnificent job of amplifying, modifying and distributing the tone of a Hammond Organ.
quote:
Originally posted by The Pro:
The whole point to stereo samples on a piano is to reproduce the realism of a real piano, which has a natural stereo field that is beyond debate. A pianist knows this sound well whereas a sound engineer might think we're just being picky. The projection of that sound and the resulting reflectivity will vary from room to room, and from listener to listener in that room depending on where that sounds reflects from. The more sources of sound, the more reflectivity. But aside from trying to present the best sound for the audience, the pianist also wants to recreate the experience of playing a real piano whenever they must use a digital emulation.


Well... I understand the purpose of stereo keyboards, but I would offer the following alternative points of view:

1) Stereo samples re-create the experience of playing a real piano for the musician. Not necessarily for the audience. An audience isn't typically situated in the middle of the piano bench. Smile

2) A lot of conventional PA systems are dual mono, not stereo, so even if the keyboardist has a personal monitoring system that's stereo (for his own enjoyment), the audience may well still be hearing it wrong/out of phase/whatever.

3) Even if the audience can be situated in the sweet spot (which would nearly always be the case if you had 2 PAS's in stereo), stereo patches can be a little overwhelming because rather than feeling like they're seated at a piano, the audience may well have the feeling that they're seated at a giant piano the size of the entire stage. Big Grin This might be a cool effect for some, especially a solo keyboardist, but in a band setting it might overwhelm the ensemble sound and not make much sense.

I think it's silly that keyboard manufacturers don't make darn sure their patches sound good in mono as well as stereo, as well as offer dual outputs (mono + stereo) in case you want to have say a stereo monitoring system onstage and a mono output for the audience, on the same patch.

quote:

So the issue for a keyboardist is not whether to go mono - some of us simply won't - but whether we want to invest in an extremely expensive set of Bose PAS systems to accomplish stereo or use something that can be just as effective that costs much less, including other PA options and new breeds of stereo amplifiers designed for keyboards. You only tried a couple of keyboard models but this stereo vs. mono issue pretty much affects every keyboard on the market today. And besides pianists, there are number of one-man-band keyboardists out there that rely on stereo to seperate the many different instruments in their field so they can more faithfully emulate a real band.


Yes, if the keyboardist is a one-man-band type then a stereo setup can be really effective. And in that case I'll bet two PAS's would be fantastic. Smile

If you're in a band that uses PAS's and you simply must go stereo, you always have the option of running one side into a bandmate's PAS.

However I've now heard several keyboardists through the PAS in mono (including Cliff), and that sounds fantastic in its own right. I guess not all keyboards are so affected by the stereo vs. mono issue. In any case the keyboardists I've heard and talked to say the difference between their sound with a PAS vs. a conventional amp or PA is greater than the difference between stereo vs. mono, and I would have to agree. The incredible level of detail you can now hear in your patches, and the ability to which audiences can now really hear a keyboard in an ensemble with the PAS, makes it worth considering even if you end up having to go mono some of the time. Hearing a keyboard amp off axis (which most of the audience will) compared to a PAS there's absolutely no comparison.

quote:
Summing such a keyboard into mono would be like summing your home stereo into mono, and few of us do that even we intend to listen to the sound in an area other than the "sweet spot".


True, but as a recording engineer I can tell you that any good engineer makes sure they DO sum their mixes to mono before the recording leaves the studio, and verifies that it sounds good in mono. That way there won't be phase problems, even if you end up hearing a recording somewhere other than the sweet spot, or on a mono radio or AM. That keyboard manufacturers don't do this is kind of astonishing to me, and not being a keyboardist I wasn't aware of this until recently. There is no reason patches can't be made which sound equally phase coherent in stereo and mono, if the manufactureres could be bothered about it.
hi cliff. I was probably one of the initial folks in on the piano stereo issue. i think the tests you did were good to see what those of us out here were somewhat talking about. not so much as the stero imaging thing, but in how different all these differnt piano modules and samples seem to react. Not only through the mono pas, but through any mono system. I had experimented with phase reversing and all, and i have found that the dummy plug gives a definite difference than the strict mono out...but as we seem to notice, all keyboards differ in how the left and right sum or dont sum things.
In my opinion, from all my experiments, its like trying to get a good sound from any instrument. One must really experiment. I was not compltely happy with my piano sound through the pas at first, but now i have got a mono sound i do like (albeit i still wasnt really happy with the p80..but i'm sure some folks would have no problem liking it ). from running a keyboard through conventional systems, and amps. I believe anyone whom has a pas and does some experimenting will be able to attain the sound they want that will equal to any conventional appraoch and system.
And once found, the sound will cover a much broader area than any conventional system.
stereo or mono, will still and always be a choice the individual will have to make for different venues accoustics etc, and what they deem to sound best for their needs.
even if the stereo image is not perfect, if a person is running stereo now through a conventional system and likes it, i dont see how if they bought 2 pas systems and ran stereo that they would be disappointed.
I certainly believe it would cover better than nay conventional stereo system, and although still have a sweet spot problem....it would be less of a problem using 2 pas systems.
I have found that being extremely picky can come with a price. but the ratio of money, equipment, and enjoyment is also personal decisions on where to draw the line.
I will be soon getting a second system for my own experiments, but regardless of whther i can justify keeping it, or if i simply decide i dont need stereo for anything. I will certainly with out a doubt keep the one system i have. i love it
OK, Cliff, I have posted a whole bunch of threads on a whole bunch of forums thanking you. To be sure, I am thanking you not only for your science and not only for your expertise (both of which are important). I am thanking you for your candor, your truthfullness, your integrity. Well, there aren't many things more valuable than that -- and I mean it.

However, there are some questions, here. I think you recognize I am going to keep my P-250. I think you realize also that it is an incredible machine! For starters, I would like to know how I should move this forward with the PAS. I mentioned this to you in an e-mail about testing the UBP phase alignment tool. (By the way, have you tested it yet?) What can I do (and many others also, as you know) to make this transition from having a great sound at home in the living room in stereo Monday through Thursday to magnifying that sound (in mono) on speakers on Friday and Saturday into an incredible performance? You see, many of us around the country sit down and want to have a great experience with just the two of us (us and the keyboard) shedding stress, learning some songs, and, perhaps most importantly, just simply relaxing. OK, on Friday and Saturday it is different. But I'm talking Monday through Thursday. Anyway, Fridays and Saturdays are different as well. I have been doing this for 40 years, so (good, bad or indifferent) I have some experience (and I also recognize the incredible expertise you all at Bose have got). If there is something I can do, feel feel to send me something private or certainly another post on this thread.

I really believe that we (well, most of us) are trying to find the best possible sound here for a number of possible audiences. It really is a win! win! deal if we approach it right.

I look forward to hearing from you, Cliff, either on this site or in private. The question, simply, is where do we go from here!

Thanks again.

Jeremiah
This device might be worth checking out -
Little Labs Analog Phase Alignment Tool:
The IBP Junior is the new, economical, basic version of the Little Labs IBP Analog Phase Alignment Tool. The Little Labs family of IBPs (In-between Phase) easily eliminate the undesirable hollow sound when combining out-of-phase and partially out-of-phase audio signals. Designed as a phase problem solving device, the IBP Analog Phase Alignment Tool has quickly become popular among audio engineers as not only a "fix it" tool but as a controlling audio phase creative, tonal color tool. Whether combining direct and miked signals, acoustic guitar and vocal mics, drum kit tom-tom mics, or multiple split-guitar amps, audio signals phase can be quickly and easily controlled with the Little Labs IBP Junior Analog Phase Alignment Tool.

The IBP Junior analog phase alignment tool is available direct from Little Labs for $375, $350 at Mercenary Audio.

http://www.littlelabs.com/ibpjr.html
Gentlemen of Bose: thank you for an informed and topical discussion. You might like to know that the mono vs. stereo debate, with the Bose PAS system at the heart of the discussion, is a hot topic on many keyboard forums currently. As you might expect there are faithful PAS converts and as many who are the opposite even after a full trial run. Noone debates that the PAS system in stereo as a keyboard sound system is anything but wonderful, and perhaps even ideal; but realistically many keyboardists simply cannot afford two PAS units. Nor can we expect all keyboard manufacturers to suddenly decide to include mono samples and outputs on their stereo keyboards (if the market demanded it then it would have happened already considering the number of mono keyboard amps on the market). So that brings me to a question - considering that the PAS units have two inputs, would it be possible to also provide, even as an outboard accessory, some kind of L/R phase offset control? In other words, something that can allow the user to delay either the L or R signal from their keyboard or mixer fractionally to adjust for or even eliminate phase cancellation? This is just a thought and feel free to totally discredit the idea if you have good cause.

BTW: I wouldn't lean too heavy on those stereo keyboard amps... some have garnished impressive reviews and established a reputation with pro keyboardists world-wide that can't be completely dimissed. You won't win any points by not giving the devil his due, but you will by tackling the phase cancellation problem head-on and finding ways to help us eliminate it rather than tossing the problem back on keyboards themselves, many of which are irreplaceable to us. If my phase offset idea won't work, what will?
Well you know, I'm just a knob twiddlin' guitarist, and maybe we ain't all that bright, but I just have to ask...what have all you guys been doing with conventional sound systems all these years? Even if you have your nice little stereo amp on stage as a personal reference, it's still got to be piped into the house system somehow, the vast majority of which are run in mono. I don't know how you could possibly feel that the responisibility lies anywhere but squarely on the shoulders of the keyboard manufacturers, to not assume that their keyboards were going to be played through a professional MONO sound system at some point. I definitely agree that if you position yourself on the bench (I lied, I play keys as a secondary) in the stereo field it sounds great, and it does affect how you play...much the same as the "tube vs modeling" debates going on in the guitar realm...but I will tell you honestly, when the keyboard player in my band is on the opposite side of the stage as me, the sound just comes from "over there". It's not a beautiful stereo field. And to everyone else in the room except the guy on the bench, the sound just comes from "over there" too. There are some very good discussions on this forum about the PAS being the source of ego release, letting go of the "ME" for the better of the whole. I don't think any electric guitarist will argue the fact that a Marshall stack or a vintage Fender Bassman has the best tone in the world, when it's just you, your guitar and your amp. But when it comes to playing as an ensemble, everyone makes whatever compromises they have to, to make the band sound better as a whole. That would include giving up your beloved Marshall stack in favor of a POD, or your beloved stereo keyboard for a mono one, to be able to have the ENTIRE BAND sound incredible using the PAS.
Cliff and others -- I asked about this phase alignment tool when this thread got started. Any comments from Bose on the IBP? Will this do the job? I agree with The Pro that we like our keyboards (and I like my P-250). I also would like to jump into this new system, but recognize some problems. I will repeat his question -- would it be possible for Bose to have some kind of phase cancellation offset control?
Jeremiah et al

I will check out phase alignment unit.

What's curious about all this is that you can take a pair of microphones, put them in the right place high and low on a grand and get a really good mono signal. this must have been how they derived the "stereo samples" in the P250 and others. So, I wonder (aloud) why this funny stuff happens on the digital pianos. I also know that there is a lot of hybrid technology going on too, like physical modelling, sample loops, outright synthesis and everything else. So, anyway, I'm going to see where the IBP leads me, assuming they don't throw me out of the GC store (it's HIM again). Stay tuned from me (not today).

What about the "XG" pianos in the P250. What are these? They sound pretty mono to me. I love how the keys vibrate, by the way. They ought to put some kind of "driver" on the keyboards that don't have speakers, like with a volume control. It's a really cool effect, sucks you into the instrument more.

Anyone out there (right now) have an experience with the IBP used on a digital piano to solve this problem?
jeremiah,

I understand your dilema. I am also seeking the best live sound system I can find for my Yamaha digital pianos. One thing I know is that you must have stereo to maintain the tone of the Yamaha pianos. I play small chamber jazz gigs with Yamaha digital pianos: solo, duo and trio.

To me, playing live in stereo as a solo pianist or in a jazz duo or a jazz trio sounds far better in stereo, due to the fact that my Yamaha P250, P120 and P90 piano samples are by their nature stereo. I do not agree that one has to be in the "sweet spot" to hear a good sound with the Yamaha P series stereo digital pianos. I like the sound very much of axis, it doesn't disappear, degrade or become weird sounding. I will never play my stereo Yamaha pianos in mono, it's not their nature. And I don't care about cutting through the mix in a rock band or cover band situations becuase I don't play that stuff anymore.

By the way, the P250 does not have a "good" mono piano sample. Yes, there is a mono piano sample in the General Midi set called "GrandPianoKSP" but it sounds metallic... it's a a bright "rock piano". I don't think I am going to use that for solo jazz piano gigs.

The P120 and P90 have no mono pianos. And they are marketed as stage pianos. And since most large venue players need to play in a mono PA. The P120 and P90 are what most people gig with since the P250 is too darn heavy (72 lbs without case).

With the P120:
R/L Mono: weird, thin, phasey,edgy, bright
L only: weird, muffled, phasey
R only: weird, thin, edgy, bright
L and R into mono: weird and slightly phasey
True Stereo: open and clear, no phasing weirdness

Note: The phasing that some folks don't seem to notice can also be described as a "muddy" or a sort of "weird" sound quality.
Well the Little Lab may help, a lot of folks have good luck with it in the studio fixing tracks that are out of phase with each other.

I have a question: I'm a guitar player so I don't know these things, but I presume a lot of these digital keyboards have digital SPDIF outputs? If so is it possible to go into the PAS digitally? I know there's a digital input but no trim pot, and no clue what the sample rate/bit depth is, etc. So maybe this is not possible now... but I'm wondering whether there is latency between channels when you go through the extra D/A --> A/D conversions, and a direct digital in would help. This happens a lot with digital recording, I can tell you that much, and it can wreak havoc with phase coherency. That's why the Little Lab IBP was invented in fact.

[This message was edited by Lee Flier on Fri March 19 2004 at 01:46 PM.]
Greetings,

I am a keyboardist, using a Kurzweil PC2X. I have been following this thread with great interest and am humbled by the amount of information and knowledge I find here. One thing that seems to be missing in this discussion of stereo vs. mono for a keyboardist is not about the stereo spread (separating your speakers by X amount) rather the sound that comes out of two speakers regardless of how far apart they are. Many of the sounds on my keyboard as well as my Emu Protues 2500 sound module have very specific sound qualities when run in stereo. These qualities tend to disappear in mono. Chorusing and panning tremolos for instance. Even some of the delays and stereo reverbs lose their "sound" when run through only one speaker. I have been reading a lot about "the sweet spot" that the keyboardist gets to sit in when we play in our home studio. I have this as well. However, when I put my two speakers front and center facing me, I still get an enormous benefit from a stereo feed that goes away when I switch to a mono feed. Add to this any signal processing that involves a stereo image. Again, this sounds better in stereo even with the speakers next to each other than in mono. I suppose that this is what stereo keyboard amplifiers do, two amplifiers and speakers in the same cabinet, each getting hard left or hard right.

At the same time, I realize that the playing field is potentially being turned upside down by the PAS approach. It's one thing to get the thrill of a beautiful stereo spread in the comfort of my home studio and another thing altogether when I take it out in front of an audience. I am willing to scrap the whole stereo idea if in fact it turns out that I'm barking up the wrong tree in my search for a high quality sound for both myself, the audience, and my bandmates. One of the most difficult things to let go of is the decrease in quality of so many of the stereo piano samples found on so many pianos. The Kurzweil is no exception. They do have a mono piano patch on each of their keyboards, though as one who is used to listening to the luxuriousness of their stereo patches, this is a hard thing to let go of. The mono patches just sound so dull relative to the stereo. Perhaps this is not the case from the audience perspective. I have never listened to myself play from out in the audience (now that would be a trick!), so I can't really speak objectively. It seems like there is a lot of "road testing" to be done using a stereo PAS setup with a keyboard, both set far apart from each other as well as close in. I wonder what two PAS about 2' apart would sound like? Perhaps the stereo image would be retained for the keyboardist while the "sound" of the stereo piano samples would retain high integrety from anywhere else on stage and from the audience? In a similar way that the sound of an acoustic piano radiates from several different locations as far away from each other as 6 or 7 feet.

Is this making any sense?

TIA for further thoughts on this fine subject.

Stephen in Seattle
I get my neighbor to come over and play my keys and guitar when I am comparing instruments and such. I also can record some of my keyboard playing (Most keys can do this or have a demo in them) and check out the sound around a room. Stereo is darn nice, but trying to be practical and a simple set up and geting a great sound to the audiance is my and some other's goals. My main keyboard sound is piano and if I get to play a real one, no one ever says that the right or left channel is loud, soft, out of phase.......That's all I need and a good mono sound out of the Bose is as full and rich as it gets over a wide area.
I think too much emphasis is being put on the necessity of being in the "sweet spot." My Yamaha digital pianos sound very good off axis from the "sweet spot." My home stereo sounds good from all angles in my large living room. In mono, my home stereo loses the magic of the "space."
My stereo digital Yamaha pianos don't sound weird from the side. Yet, in mono they do sound weird and hollow, their spatial stereo sampling having problems when played in mono.
Stephen

Thanks for writing in. Yeah, this is a big issue. Because of the 1/r-ish (actually even more gradual sound level when you're up close) change in sound level, the stereo sweet spot is bigger than any other system, typically HF horn and cone bass.

I'll invite you to try the following, if you can, with the Personalized Amplification System or with any rig for that matter: Have someone other than you play your instrument, some kind of very simple repetive pattern, like even a "demo" sequence like the ones found on most digital pianos. Set it up in stereo and walk the room and then walk around on the bandstand and get a feel for what the mates and the audience members are hearing. Then find a comparitive sound that sounds good in mono and do the same thing. I'm talking about walking everywhere. In mono, our Personalized Amplification System is totally consistant and, if you can see it (line-of-sight), you can hear it very well. It's almost freaky and probably out of your experience to date. Make sure your really do this before making a comment, I mean do the whole walk onstage and in the audience.

Now, I totally agree that stereo pianos and effects really sound great in the sweet zone of a stereo system or over a good pair of stereo cans. If you really want stereo and if your ensemble is fully equipped with our gear, you can try sending your effects to the far outside units. This will allow your audience and ensemble to hear more of the stereo effect. Of course, then you have another wiring project in the making and more confusion on setup.

Yeah, stereo instruments are really juicy and rich when played as intended, sitting in the zone. My only complaint about all this is that stereo as a medium for live play, to be heard onstage as well as in the audience, does not work for me. Most of the band and at least half the audience does not get the sound you intend to give them, the stereo sound you hear. Belive me, I'd love to sell twice as many of these systems; this is our living and how we pay our own bills. All I'm saying here is try this test out and see (hear) for yourself.
so cliff if one was going to do this test with 2 pas systems running in stereo. What if the two pas systems were placed as close together as possible. How would that affect how and what the audiemce hears? As in an earlier post i would figure this would be just like having this humungous stereo amplifier for a keyboard.
i wont be able to do my experiments til i order another system, but with the ps1 stands im guessing the closest the 2 towers would be would be about 3 to 4 ft. I also am just guessing that if one wanted the audience to hear as equal as they could the signal from both pas systems, the closer they are together the better correct? Without experimenting yet, i do believe i would agree what you have said from your own experiments. but i also believe, even if a stereo sound is possible, alot will be affected by the room itself (reflections etc) on how good any particular stereo scenario would work....either bose or a conventional system....although i believe bose stereo would definetly sound tons better anywhere than conventional stereo.
I've been trying out the PAS for 2 weeks now and I have 2 weeks left. My Triton Studio sounds fantastic with it but I also use a Yamaha P60 and have noticed the phasing/mono problems. I was hoping to upgrade my piano soon to the P90 and now I'm totally confused about what to do.
What digital pianos are keyboard players using with the PAS that arent affected seriously by this issue? I don't like the thought of every time I think about buying keyboard in the near future I have to audition the sound on a PAS to see if it loses quality when run mono.

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