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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.