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Over the years, my system has evolved into what I would call a "studio" system (see sig below). In other words, I am setup to play in a studio setting not "out in the real world".

Lately, I've been thinking about trying the nursing home or small party / benefit circuit.

While I can adapt most of what I have, speakers are the biggest unknown for me. My thoughts are that I would go with "powered" speakers and perhaps those that have built in mixers.

Right now, for lack of anything else, I'm looking at Yamaha's; their two speaker Stagepas 600BT or their soon to be released "stick" system, the Stagepas 1K.

But here's where I get confused. In a two speaker system, I could do a "hard" pan to the left and right and get a stereo image. With the "stick" system, it would be mono only.

All of my BIAB and RB songs use panning to one extent or another. How important is this in a live setting? Up close with my monitors having both channels helps to widen the field, but is this really necessary or preferred in a live setting where the "audience" is further back from the speakers?

While I understand that having a stereo setup with speakers too far apart would be a problem, does having a multi-speaker setup with left and right speaker channels enhance the overall sound in larger settings? Will mono, providing that you have a wide horizontal dispersion, sound just as good?

Maybe it doesn't make any difference....I just don't know.

Would appreciate your thoughts.

Jeff


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It would only matter to you, once the sound is 15-20 feet out front the stereo field is lost.

For me as a keyboard player focusing mostly on organ and electric pianos I really want stereo behind by so I use a Spacestation amp but that's probably not for you. If you want to use two separate powered speakers you can get stereo by making sure you're sound source outputs true L and R and split them to both speakers. Another thing, when I was researching this for myself some years ago I was surprised by how many systems would mention stereo and had L and R inputs but the speaker outs were actually not really split, they were still mono going out to two speakers. If you want stereo you have to watch out for that, the advertising can be confusing.

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I play instrumental guitar with BIAB backing tracks.
Everything from dinner jazz to Frank Zappa (a slightly different type of dinner jazz).
I throw in a little Merle Haggard here and there to keep everything honest. 3 chords and the truth.

Most of my backing tracks have drums,bass, and at least one chording instrument comping (B3,Rhodes,Guitar,etc)
I started with stereo mix but have evolved to mono mix only.

I've learned that quality of mix is very important.
Toward that end I make sure to use a limiter and loudness meter in my DAW.
I also use mp3 gain to assure consistent volume across tracks.
These two things (suggested by forum members) have significantly improved the quality of my tracks.

As far as the PA goes, I started with a standard 2 speaker PA with a stereo mix.
It was a bit too much and required 3-4 trips to the car for everything.
From there I went to Bose S1 pro with a guitar amp. That was better but not great.
The sound would get muddy especially the backing tracks.

Now I use a line array (Stick) PA. This is hands down the best so far.
The height of the rig really helps project the mids and highs. The 12" woofer moves some air.
I use the Electro Voice Evolve 50. Its a bit more $$ than the StagePas 1k.
I honestly cant tell you how it compares. The Stagepas does have a similar 12" woofer.
Looks like it may also have a little more capability at the mixer. That might be in the StagePas favor.

The line array setup is much cleaner at the gig. Its all right there where you are. This is important as some of my gigs I don't have a lot of space to spread out. Once or twice i used the Bose S1Pro as a monitor out of the line array. That worked pretty well.

I no longer carry a guitar amp. I use a Tech 21 FlyRig Guitar Processor direct into the EV.
The tracks are on an Ipad I direct to the EV. I use Anytune Pro for playing the tracks.
I also have a BlueBoard bluetooth pedal to the ipad for controlling (next song, previous song, start, stop)
Anytune. On occasion I'll use the bluetooth from the ipad to the EV for the tracks but mostly I use a cable.

I pack it all in/out with 2 trips to the car.

I'm 61 and while I love the sound, the 42lb bass unit is a bit to hump up and down stairs.
I'm considering a 8" or 10" powered speaker setup (QSC 10.2)for small gigs.
It would knock 10 lbs off the carry. It still puts out enough bass for dinner gigs.

Anyway, this forum helped me quite a bit to get where I'm at now. Its got me a quality sound the customers like so I'm getting some gigs (in spite of the Zappa stuff). Hoping to focus on putting together a CD over the winter for next season.


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Hi
It does rather depend on the venue and your sound source.
The problem with a real stereo image is that the customers dancing, or sitting to one side tend to only get half of the sound unless its panned to the centre or very near.
Especially if you are using a wide stereo source image and wide speaker placement.

Therefore central panned stereo or mono via two speakers / channels would be more suitable . and share the sound out better and make it perceptibly louder.
The Yamaha stage pass works this way as each speaker and channel is 300 watts hence the name 600 .
It has different input arrangement into the inbuilt mixer and at least two of them can take a stereo signal in and send a mono mix, of say a stereo keyboard to both speaker outs
I had a Stage pass 300
Here are some pics may help.

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I've been in a duo since 1985 and found it's best for me to mix in mono.

In a live setting, very few people are going to be in the sweet spot to hear balanced stereo, so some will hear one channel louder than the other and the mix will be all wrong. In worst case, you will be set up in a room to the short wall (it happened to us last weekend) with people past both the L and R speakers. If I were in stereo the would mostly hear one channel and not the other.

I've been in very many different room configurations. I even played a gig where one speaker was inside and another out by the pool. I've played rooms where one channel had to be turned down and the other up to fill the room. And many other weird setups.

Mono is just all-purpose easier.

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Thanks guys, I really appreciate these comments. It certainly helps steer my thinking.

It seems that the consensus is its best to use mono in a live setting. Must say this comes with some relief as hauling a multi-speaker setup isn't something I would look forward to.

Do appreciate everyone's comments and insights.

Jeff


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I tend to use stereo but I see the point of folks not hearing the “true stereo”. I just like the spread of instruments across the stage. I like a piano on the left (it can still be heard out the right just not as loud), then a strummed guitar near the centre. Bass and drums right up the middle and a picked guitar towards the right. This is pretty much how the band I was in would sit on a stage.

I had retired from all forms of music and got shy of most my gear, then folks asked me to perform. I needed something easy and cheap. I bought a Samson 800 PA. This PA clips together into one box for transport. When clipped together the mixer and leads all fit neatly into the speaker enclosures so I only have one “box” to shift (I do so on a trolley). At 70 years of age the last thing I need is something I can barely move.

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Having played in a live band with everything going into the mixer and then out through the PA (including my guitar processor) we had the facility to do stereo but sent the whole lot out in mono through the two speaker arrays of horns, mid range cabs and and bass bins.

you need a good solid sound that sounds good from anywhere and stereo is just a complication

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Another question is do you playback mono, stereo or multi-tracks song files even though the final output will be mono?

With multi-tracks you can adjust the volume level or equalization for each track as needed to match the room acoustics.

Band-in-a-Box and RealBand can play native BiaB song files but other programs can not.

Audacity can, and some DAWs can import and play multi-track files.

All the programs mentioned above plus Cakewalk by BandLab and some DAWs can playback from a playlist.


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Another point is that if you go mono then you should mix in mono. Mixing in stereo and playing back in mono can cause problems.


Why is it that the people who tell me to calm down are the ones who tick me off in the first place!

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You're in the area of sound board operation with this, Jeff. While there are good reasons to be able to A & B the tracks, such as lowering the vocal for a Karaoke use, the first priority is audio consistency, you know, no bad seats. Or, the music fills the room, as they say. This is not a living room or movie theatre. I use two power speakers aimed at 45 to each other.
I'm on the learning curve with this in much the same application you are considering. I have a pair of QVS 1000 Watt 8's. Wouldn't want to go much lower. Each speaker is fed by its own aux out. Each speaker has separate left and right XLR combinations in w/ volume control. The two can be linked. Each also has tape in. The tracks are split, but each side is the same. My volume is controlled by track faders.
I don't make an effort for stereophonic effect at this point, though down the learning curve a ways, that's a thought. Should I go there, I'd expect to use the pan features for starters.


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I mix into two channels, Bass and Drums hard left all the other instruments hard right. I pan them both center on my PA mixer.

That gives me the ability to nudge up the rhythm for dance sets and tweak it down a bit during dinner sets.

That works for me.

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That's exactly what I did the last time I used tracks as a duo which I haven't needed to do again lately. The biggest acoustical problem in a room is bass and drums. A little EQ, a little volume nudge and you're good.

Bob


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OK, I'm trying to wrap my head around all of this good advice. Mixing in mono...OK got that. But the "nudging" comment caught my attention and brings up another question.

Are you folks recommending a multi speaker setup or would a single "stick" (Bose L1, Yamaha 1K, JBL Eon One ) speaker work? And just for the record, I'm not talking about use in large venues, ballrooms or anything of that size...I would guess not more than 50 people in medium sized dining rooms, pool areas, cabanas and the like.

Seems these vertical array speakers have plenty of horizontal coverage for those situations and I hope enough low end. On the other hand, maybe I'm still missing something here.

Your thoughts and experience playing in a live situation would be most appreciated.

Jeff


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I have a friend who uses one of those Bose things (I think it was L1 model 1 but not sure). He needed 2 subwoofers to fill a medium sized dancing crowd room.

In a little over 2 years it broke, and was told Bose doesn't make the parts to fix it anymore. It's a doorstop.

He went conventional and bought our old Carvin powered speakers. (We bought new EV powered speakers about a year ago so the old ones where just sitting around.)

I have no idea if this it typical or not, but if you are using the Bose, I suggest you get a spare for a back up.

That advice actually goes for anything. I have a power amp and non-powered speakers that I use in my studio that were once in my PA system that can be called back into action.

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Jeff, I play nursing/retirement homes sometime 2 or 3 times a week and the stage pass in my opinion is all you would ever need. Most facilities have two or three different levels of residents, independent, nursing and memory. For the independent groups I use a Fender Passport (stereo) and it is more than enough to fill the room. In all the places I play the performance area is no larger than 40’ x 60’ and maybe 40 people.
Now for the memory and nursing performances I use a small PA combo amp it’s an Alesis TransActive 50, which is of course mono. Unfortunately no longer made but it is the best small amp I have ever heard. Maybe just 20+ lbs.
These performances are very intimate with maybe 12 people max. They are truly “parlor” venues.
All of my files played from BIAB running on a MacBook Air. They are mixed in stereo and on the Passport I have the option of stereo or mono, it is an older model which has that capability.
So to help answer your question I don’t think it makes that much difference whether you use mono or stereo.
But you might consider 2 amps, one smaller so you can get in and out of a smaller nursing home performance and a PA for a party environment.

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Thanks JazzSax, really appreciate your insight and experience. Your venues are right in the sweet spot about what I was considering.

I'm still having an issue in my mind about the mono / stereo thing but I also have to keep an eye on making a sound one time investment and keeping in mind the setup and lugging of equipment. I leaning towards the "stick" vertical array types ( Bose, Yamaha Stagepas 1K's ) but the old school audiophile in me derails me into the multi-speaker mindset.

Having "pros" like you and the other forum members has really given me insight on how best to proceed. The Christmas season is fast approaching and I need Santa to make the right choice soon!

Jeff


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HI

As I said I had a Yamaha Stage pass 300.
And very good it was, one or two members of the keyboard club had these also and they often used theirs in the nursing home situation with success.
However the 2 speaker and mixer set up weigh 18 kg that’s about 39.6 lbs
Plus any speaker stands you may want.
That’s almost ½ cwt needs some lugging. You can I believe get a bag with wheels
(more expense)
And that’s the 300 model.
Mike


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Unless you are Pink Floyd, or... going for the "PF we're gonna blow your mind" effect..... Mono works best. Especially in nursing homes and 99% of all other venues.

Back in the day we ran a system and mixer totally capable of handling stereo.

From the board to the amps and speakers, we had the capability. However.... We never ran anything in stereo. Main reason is, if you do, you risk having parts of your audience miss parts of the music due to their seating location. If they are sitting on one side or the other, and are directly in front of a speaker....and you're running a true stereo mix, they will miss the stuff from the other side.

Aside from Pink Floyd, most of the bands I've seen appeared to have mono mixes. At a Trisha Yearwood concert, we had seats up front and 3 rows back but directly in front of the stage speakers. I don't recall thinking that I couldn't hear the mix well. I heard everything nicely and for it's proximity to the speakers, at a very comfortable volume level.


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a while back we got up to play for an audience of old folks and almost all of them took their hearing aids out............

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Well!!! Before I get up to play I show everybody how I take my hearing aids out. I cannot play with them in. They distort. Even before I got the el cheapo (free) Government Issue Jobies I found playing with hearing aids in caused me to play with much more bass. Hearing aids boost the high end (for me).

Tony


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Jeff, another thing to consider is that. In many retirement/nursing home situations you will be “invading” meaning performing, in their living space. You’ll want to be quick in setting up and getting out.
This afternoon I have a 3:00 and 5:00 performances at 2 buildings within a retirement center. The first location they usually are doing an organized event such as bingo or P.T. You need to be invisible when setting up. The 2nd. they are gathered and waiting for me, again a need for a quick set up. Minimum equipment is a must.

Last edited by jazzsax; 10/26/19 03:39 PM.
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Makes sense JazzSax. I'm starting to have an appreciation for the setup and take down sides of performing. Like you, at least in my mind, where ever I play will be small, like your so called "parlor" venues. No time for elabrate setups.

You've even got me thinking about my current keyboard set up. I use 3 external hard synths, my actual keyboard, a midi interface, an audio interface, the computer, monitor plus these speakers I'm thinking about. Just the thought of dealing with all of that, the transporting, the wiring setup, the take-down. I may not be cut out for all of this!

I hate to go all MP3's but it would certainly simplify things but at what point do you cross over from being a "live" player to a "karaoke" player? At what point do you cross over from entertaining yourself to entertaining others?

Jeff


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Originally Posted By: MountainSide
<...snip...>
I hate to go all MP3's but it would certainly simplify things but at what point do you cross over from being a "live" player to a "karaoke" player? At what point do you cross over from entertaining yourself to entertaining others?

Jeff

IMO you become a karaoke player when you do not make your own backing tracks yourself.

I've been doing live over my own backing tracks since 1985, and nobody seems to care. I could probably buy karaoke tracks and they still wouldn't care, but I care so I make them all myself.

I play drums, bass, wind synth, guitar, flute, sax and keys so I can make them myself. And when I do, they are in my key, in my arrangement, and since I did them myself I know every chord and every substitution.

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If you're a keys player what's wrong with solo piano and you singing? Frankly, in a parlor setting with 10 people I think any kind of backing tracks is ridiculous. I don't even sing and I've done solo piano gigs like that. It's fine and old folks love cocktail piano standards.

Bob


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Bob, my screen name is “jazzsax” for a reason. How many sax players do you know doing solo gigs?
I do vocals and sax parts along with each of my backing tracks, which are all BIAB. You mention that old folks love cocktail piano standards, they also love the sounds of a dinner house quartet.

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Haha, sorry I forgot to quote Mountainside, he referred to his keyboard setup. Ive done many duo's with a sax player. I'll modify my reply with this: I would still keep it minimal like backing track keys (AP, EP or organ as appropriate) or guitar. There are some good RT's for those but I would not use drums or bass for these types of gigs.

Bob


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We play for the over 55 market a lot. It's a big, dependable market here in South Florida and has been so since I started playing pro.

A lot of changes have come down through the years, the music has migrated as we play the same market and the years pass (when we started it was pre-rock Big Band Jazz).

Also technology has changed. We now compete with people who buy karaoke tracks and sing along to them. If we went out with minimalist backing tracks, we would not be able to compete.

I do my own tracks, sometimes with the help of BiaB and sometimes from scratch. I could save a lot of work and buy karaoke tracks like many of my competitors, but by making my own using MIDI and synths I can (1) change the key to whatever works best for our vocals (2) extend the arrangement so a 2 minute song can last 4 minutes if it's a dance number (3) leave a place for me to improvise a sax, wind synth, guitar or flute solo (4) by making my own tracks I know the chords, substitutions and everything else about them.

More details about how I do it are here: http://www.nortonmusic.com/backing_tracks.html - Feel free to use what you like and ignore what you don't.

Cocktail piano is for all practical purposes dead around here. There are a couple who play sonic wallpaper in restaurants but that's about it. The minimalist folks go out with a flat-top guitar and start with Jimmy Buffet type songs. Of course your area might have different tastes.

Check out your competition before you make any final decisions. You have to aim to be better than the rest.


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A lot of posts back, MrGeeze mentioned considering buying the QSC 10 speaker. I converted several years ago from a power amp and non-powered speakers to several QSC powered speakers and a mixer. I bought two 8" and one 12". But even a single 8" puts out a great sound and adequate bass for a small room. The QSC line is light and extremely reliable with great undistorted sound.

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Originally Posted By: Notes Norton
We now compete with people who buy karaoke tracks and sing along to them. If we went out with minimalist backing tracks, we would not be able to compete.


I agree completely but my reply was specific to a small 10 person gig in a "parlor" in a nursing home. Also, it depends who the keyboard player is. I can play literally anything from Real Book standards to straight ahead jazz to strong, funky left hand bass so even playing solo my set list includes some Jeff Lorber, Herbie, Chick, Benoit. I just did a very uptempo funky version of Take Five last week. Still, I doubt I would be doing any of that with 10 old folks like 75+ taking their hearing aids out because I might get too loud. It's like any gig you and I have done for 40 years. Read the crowd. A retirement community still has a large percentage of 70-80 year olds so it just depends who's in front of you.

You're correct that the majority of retirees now are 55-65 and that's definitely 70's era classic rock territory. No Sinatra or 60's folk songs other than a little variety or to honor a request.

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Thanks for responding Matt, I've had such good luck with Yamaha equipment but I'll give the QSC's a look.

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Interesting and educational thread. Can I ask in relation to BIAB? Assuming I decide to move everything to mono, which seems to be the smart thing to do, is there any point in altering the panning in BIAB? Should it all be just panned to the middle. Also, if you have the bass and drums panned left and the rest right to enable you to easily control the mix, do you lose a lot of power by then panning them both to the middle? I have a Fender Passport system and for small gigs a Mackie Freeplay live.


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Originally Posted By: jazzmammal
<...snip...> It's like any gig you and I have done for 40 years. Read the crowd. <...>

Exactly! But it's remarkable that so many musicians don't know that.

Originally Posted By: lambada
Interesting and educational thread. Can I ask in relation to BIAB? Assuming I decide to move everything to mono, which seems to be the smart thing to do, is there any point in altering the panning in BIAB? <...snip...>

Run BiaB in mono for all the same reasons.

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Hi Notes

So, do I still pan tracks in BIAB? Also, how do I run BIAB in Mono? (Maybe I'm being super dumb here!) I've always just switched it on! laugh grin


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Originally Posted By: lambada
Hi Notes

So, do I still pan tracks in BIAB? Also, how do I run BIAB in Mono? (Maybe I'm being super dumb here!) I've always just switched it on! laugh grin


First Way:

Options > GM Settings, etc. > Set Panning To Mono.

Second Way:

Right click on "Master" radio button > Set Mix to Flat, Dry & Center

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Options > GM Settings, etc. > Set Panning To Mono
Clipboard02.jpg (145.02 KB, 90 downloads)
Right click on "Master" Select Set Mix to Flat, Dry & Center
Last edited by Jim Fogle; 10/30/19 03:32 PM. Reason: Added 2nd Way

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Thanks Jim. Never noticed that menu option.


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Glad to help out. Notice the two options differ slightly.

The first option just moves the mixer pan sliders. As you can see in the screen shot there is another selection that will restore the default panning positions should you change your mind.

The second option moves all the mixer reverb sliders to zero, sets each mixer tone control slider to flat or neutral position and centers all mixer pan sliders. This is useful when you want to export wave files of all the tracks; for instance for processing in a DAW.


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I would pan the bass and drums to one side and everything else to the other for reasons explained earlier. I doesn't hurt anything and you don't lose any power. It may sound great as it is but having that panning done at least gives you the option to EQ the bass (and kick drum) if you need it.

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I actually pan drums and bass hard left, everything else hard right, and then when I route both channels to my PA mixer, I pan both center.

This gives me the ability to pump up or tame down the bass and drums while still having a mono mix to the room.

When doing 'dinner sets' or 'sonic wallpaper' I tweak the left channel down a bit (bass/drums) and for dance sets I tweak it up a bit.

This works well for me.

I run 2 mics, 2 guitars (via amp sims), 4 computer sound modules, and my backing tracks into a mixer - everything is panned center.

If one speaker needs to be louder or softer than the other, I adjust this with the master L & R faders (post mix - in mono).

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Ok, got it. What a great resource you all are. My biggest drama is keeping all the backing tracks at a similar volume. I normalise everything, but it's still problematic. Especially switching from rock type BB backing tracks to jazz or folk. Add to that issues with mixing when I'm streaming and mixing when live and it can be frustrating and less than optimal. Panning drums and bass left and the rest right and then outputting in mono should ease up some of the inconsistencies at least. Thanks everyone.


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I think Notes and JazzMammal's advice on panning is a great idea.
No matter how good you get your studio mix, every room you play is different.
Their approach offers an quick and easy way to eq the mix in real time.
I wish I had done this with my tracks.

One day when I remix them (yet again) I will definitely incorporate this wisdom.


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I pan all of my tracks, bass hard left/drums center/guitar hard right. When I add strings, organ or solo instruments they are also center. I do it this way because when I use the Passport I have the stereo option. It doesen’t seem to matter when using mono sound reinforcement.
I will also add that I use the application “Boom 2” on iPad, computer and iPhone. It is an EQ program/app that allows you to store a custom EQ for each PA system or amp that you use.
I have 3 different amps or PA systems available to use on gigs and each has it’s set EQ in the Boom program.

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Normalizing won't make everything the same volume.

Normalizing is maximizing, but it only maximizes the highest peak.

If a song as a constant volume with no large peaks it will sound louder than a song that has a few large peaks of volume somewhere.

I don't know if there is an easier way to do it, but here is how I adjust volumes.

I turn the volume low, and compare the new song I'm working on with similar songs I'm already gigging with. I tweak the volume of the new song until it sounds close to my ears. Then I turn the volume up and see if it still sounds even.

Then on the gig I re-evaluate and tweak as needed.

I find the differences in volume are easier to detect when the music is played softly. YMMV.

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Originally Posted By: Notes Norton
Normalizing won't make everything the same volume.

Normalizing is maximizing, but it only maximizes the highest peak.

If a song as a constant volume with no large peaks it will sound louder than a song that has a few large peaks of volume somewhere.

I don't know if there is an easier way to do it, but here is how I adjust volumes.

I turn the volume low, and compare the new song I'm working on with similar songs I'm already gigging with. I tweak the volume of the new song until it sounds close to my ears. Then I turn the volume up and see if it still sounds even.

Then on the gig I re-evaluate and tweak as needed.

I find the differences in volume are easier to detect when the music is played softly. YMMV.

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For consistent volume across all my tracks I use a limiter and LUFS meter inside my DAW (logic) to set a limit (13-14 Lufs)on my output mix .
Then I analyze and tweak using MP3gain. I re-mix if clipping is present.

User Teunis on this forum helped me along with this approach.
Credit goes to him. Poor implementation of sound advice is on me.
I am very much a novice at mixing but with this approach I have created tracks with consistent volumes and no clipping.
I think my overall sound is improved as a result.


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Thanks guys. That explains why I wasn't getting the desired result just by normalising. Ignorance is not bliss! I can see me downloading all my set list again from BIAB with all the new settings and arrangements that need to be done (sigh).


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I use the approach as MrGeeze said. I then put the MP3 through MP3Gain which ensures the MP3s are the same level. (I truth limiting to a LUFS meter is close enough, I rarely have to adjust in MP3Gain if I set the LUFS Meter correctly between -14 to -15 LUFS)

Tony

Last edited by Teunis; 11/03/19 11:43 AM.

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MP3Gain sounds interesting. I've heard of it before, but never tried it.

I went to http://mp3gain.sourceforge.net/download.php

Looks like v1.2.5 is the latest stable version.

Couple of questions:

1) is there an undo or should I copy the files first?

2) if I add a few files later, and want them to be about the same as the existing ones, how do I do that?

Thanks,
Notes


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There is no undo that I have seen but I’ve never had an issue. Having said that I’ve always got ways to get the file back easily. I’ve been using MP3Gain for years (when I first got an MP3 Walkman I found I was constantly going for the volume but not after using MP3Gain).

Tony


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Thanks. I've got 10,000 songs on my digital walkman and I am always thankful I have a volume control rocker switch on my steering wheel.

Notes


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Actually it seems there is an undo see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP3Gain

Tony


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Thanks!


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