Sometimes You Do, And Sometimes…
Assuming that you’ve been successful in setting up and tuning stereo wedges so that the spectral shift is not an issue, the approach can actually present good results in some applications.
Many keyboard players gain advantage in being able to hear what their rigs are doing in stereo.
Even a guitar player with a true stereo set-up may like to hear exactly what he is sending to front of house. Good players will use the stereo mix as a tool to make them even better.
But these examples are different - they’re for monitoring a stereo instrument with an appropriate playback system, not trying to place mono instruments in a stereo field.
Yes, it’s possible to get a great stereo sound and a great mix going with the right console and some good loudspeakers.
Guys do it at front of house all the time, right?
But as noted above, we’re trying to create an environment on the stage where it’s easy for the band to hear what they want to hear.
So should we really want to create phantom images of instruments and voices in an area between two loudspeakers? In most cases, I don’t think so.
All this said, I’d like to add that with the right musicians, under the right circumstances, good results are certainly possible.
But it will require a musician who understands what he is listening to, and a willingness to experiment to achieve the desired results. (It won’t be something you just stumble on and it’s “right”.)
As for a one-off with a band…. I won’t be trying it.
In Your Space… Or In Your Face
When all of the experimenting was done, I made one simple observation that decided it all for me.
Yes, stereo instruments sounded better and effects were wonderful, but you know that sound when you’re listening to stereo program on your headphones and then you hit the mono switch?
All of the sudden, the image is right in the middle of your head, and oh so balanced between your ears.
I experienced this same phenomena with two wedges in mono. With the loudspeakers placed properly in front of the musician, a mono mix puts the sound (particularly his own vocal) right in his face!
And if the object is for the musician to easily hear what he wants in his mix, especially in a difficult environment… then I’m going to mix audio the old fashioned way.
Dan Laveglia is a long-time system engineer who has worked with Showco and Clair Brothers, working with top concert artists.