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Glorious Stereo!

Glorious Stereo!
Glorious Stereo: The BEST Way to Experience Yamaha Synthesizers and Stage Pianos!

Several years ago I wrote a blog post called “Stereo: What a Concept.” Connecting your keyboard in stereo is so important that I thought it was time to revisit the concept of STEREO.

Stereophonic sound is the minimum standard for audio playback and recording. Stereo monitoring ensures a great playing and listening experience. The only way you can really experience stereo imaging is with some sort of stereo speaker monitoring. Over the past 20+ years, Yamaha synthesizers have all had at least a pair of stereo outputs. Our instruments require stereo outputs because we sample in stereo and use sophisticated stereo DSP to deliver a pleasing, realistic sense of space. This article covers some basic concepts about studio and stage monitoring and why it is important to monitor Yamaha synthesizers in stereo.

I covered the history of modern stereophonic technology in the previous blog post, but it’s worth mentioning again: In the 1930s, EMI engineer Alan Blumlein invented - and later patented - stereo recording and stereo audio reproduction for films. By 1960, stereo became the status quo for commercial recordings and it is how we listen to music today. No one would accept a stereo system with just one speaker or a headphone without a second earcup. Stereo is how we listen.

Studio

Because we listen in stereo, monitoring in stereo is important. It fact, most recording studios have several sets of stereo monitors to compare mixes for the best overall result. Good headphones are equally important so that the performers can hear themselves in stereo. The key components of studio monitoring are now common in home studios today. More and more people invest in high quality stereo monitoring solutions (and Yamaha makes great monitors and headphones). This certainly makes sense, but what about live sound? Sometimes, compromises are made for portability, budget or space. Should a live keyboard set up be connected in stereo, too? The answer is YES!

Stage

When someone connects an instrument like MONTAGE, MOXF, MX, reface or CP4 using only the “L” (left only) out of the stereo output pair into some soft of a keyboard amplifier sitting on the floor, the audio quality greatly suffers. Stereo imaging, details and depth of the sound are all lost because only half of the signal is connected and heard. The physical placement of a keyboard amplifier on the floor is additionally problematic. Just think of where your ears are in relation to where the sound is focused. Ears do not exist at the knees, but when you place an amplifier on the floor, that is where the sound is being projected. Since Yamaha also manufacturers all manner of professional and consumer audio products, we understand that a monophonic cabinet-style keyboard amp is NOT an ideal solution. As a result, we do not make a product like this. Instead, Yamaha makes a line of powered monitors like DSR, DXR, DBR and portable PA systems like STAGEPAS.

My personal set up for the types of gigs I play are 2 DXR10s and they sound great! Here is a my setup for a jazz trio gig I played recently with my CP4 and DXR10s:
CP4 DXR10

Sometimes keyboard players forget about stereo when it comes to keyboard amplification. Don’t just connect the left output to a keyboard amp, direct box or mixing console. Insist on stereo! On small gigs where I run my own system I ALWAYS set up in stereo. If I’m running through a large PA, I send a stereo mix to front of house. If need be, I will set up my own monitors to achieve a stereo mix. Great instruments with great sound reinforcements makes great performances easier to achieve.

It's good to know some basics concepts when it comes to live sound. There is some great information located here that covers many topics.

Speaker Placement and Imaging

Speaker placement is important in both live set ups and in the studio. When I set up my own PA, I always put the speakers up on a set of tripod speaker stands so they are raised essentially at ear level (Note the placement in the above photo). The idea is to direct the sound in the best possible manner. Incidentally, in my home studio, my speakers are set up so I am sitting level to the speakers at a point on an equilateral triangle:
speaker graphic
The main concept here is placement in the stereo field. Every time I go to a movie theater I try to choose a seat right in the middle where the stereo surround placement will be the best because that makes the most sense. It’s all about speaker placement. When setting up speakers in a studio or on a stage it’s important to think about the best place to set up speakers to get the best sound.

There are many great articles about this subject online that cover both studio and stage set ups. 

Glorious stereo is exactly that: Glorious!

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