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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:28 pm 
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Hanginon wrote:
While I'm in complete agreement that this doesn't make a hoot of a difference given the intended audience - after all it is "just Karaoke" - I shall jump into the fray, just for clarification purposes only.


Perhaps you're right and maybe it doesn't make a hoot of a difference, but I never took that attitude that "it's only karaoke" when producing tracks, nor would I allow that kind of attitude to prevail with any of my engineers. I and my entire staff took a great deal of pride in what we produced whether or not our customers could appreciate the difference, and quite honestly, I believe for the most part they didn't. We always strived for the best possible recordings we could produce within the limitations of our budget of course. Obviously I couldn't afford to hire the Mormon Tabernacle Choir when gross sales were in the thousands or tens of thousands as opposed to millions. Also at one point we were producing either 27 or 36 songs per month (18 to 27 in our Massachusetts studios and 9 in our Nashville affiliate) so at times we had to take shortcuts to meet our monthly deadlines. Which usually found their way into the mono mixes which were on each and every MPX track.

The article that you posted by Barry Gardner (whose work I must admit I am not familiar with) was a very good one and worth a read for anyone interested in getting a basic understanding of phase, but there is far more to it than what was mentioned in the article. The article was mostly geared toward budding engineers and mainly focused on electronic phasing but didn't touch on other aspects such as acoustic phasing. He lightly touched on mix disparities (actually he only gave it an honorable mention) but is far more of a serious issue than phase cancellations. For the sake of anyone who may be interested I'll address both. With regard to acoustic phasing an example to which I can relate to is one involving one of our vocal booths and which drove me up a wall. For some reason and even to this day I have no explanation, there was one particular microphone that we used (AKG 414) that no matter how we set the polar pattern or placed the mic in the room, would display some awful phase problems in the way of comb filtering. It only happened in our smallest booth which seemingly was as dead as a doornail. At first I thought there was something wrong with the mic but after having it checked out, it turned out not to be the case, but to make a long story short, we only used this mic on one particular vocalist, so anytime we recorded that vocalist we had to record him in the large vocal booth. Nevertheless, this is a case where there was only one microphone but the phases distortions were obviously acoustic related and not electronic.

An example that was used was a 180 degree out of phase signal which would cause a complete cancellation of sound if a) they were of the same frequency and b) at the same volume. That is true of sine waves, but rarely do we encounter pure sound waves either in our recordings or in nature. The reality of it is that sounds are composed of not only the fundamental frequency (sine wave which determines pitch), but also 2nd and 3rd order harmonics, etc. which you might know as overtones. It is these overtones that distinguish one instrument from another. A crude example is to use the frequency of the pitch of a concert A. Let's say that we measured the fundamental at 440 hz. It's 2nd order harmonic would be 880 hz and its 3rd order harmonic at 1760 hz. So for this example let's say we played this concert A on the alto saxophone and we measured the output to be 0db at 440hz, -6db at 880 hz, and -12db at 1760 hz. Now we play that same concert A on a trumpet and we measure the fundamental to be 0db at 440 hz, the 2nd order harmonic to be at -3db and the 3rd order harmonic to be at -6db. As you can see there are major differences between the 2nd and 3rd harmonics between each instrument therefore giving each instrument its own timbre, allowing us to distinguish the saxophone from the trumpet. So what happens when these overtones get distorted for whatever reason, including phase distortions? You get harmonic distortion. Suddenly you can no longer say for sure that what you're hearing is a trumpet or a saxophone. This isn't always altogether undesirable. As for example in the case of the woodwind ensemble. When several saxophones are playing together, some of the overtones are phase cancelled or distorted so you can no longer pick out the individual saxophones. You can't tell which is the alto, which is the tenor or which is the baritone. You only hear the composite.

So as you can see, it isn't just the cancellation of the fundamental frequencies that is of concern. It's the overtones which are usually more affected by the summing of stereo signals which leads to disparities in the mix as Barry only mentioned, and harmonic distortions. Here again the degree to which this occurs largely depends on a number of variables such as the instrumentation, pan positions, stereo effects, etc., and the skill level of the engineers involved in the project. A standard procedure for any engineer is to always check the mix in mono. In fact, I always mixed everything in mono while tracking (not all of the engineers did) and before the final pan assignments and mixdown. I also used at the very least 3 reference monitors when checking the mix. The main monitors we used were a pair of Yamaha NS10Ms and a pair of JBL LSR32s and last but not least a pair of Auratone 5Cs (lovingly known as Awfultones). Are there discrepancies in some of our mixes? Of course, especially the mono mixes. At one point in time the Massachusetts studio was running 24/7 with 4 to 5 full time engineers so of course everybody does things a little differently, and after releasing around 7,000 tracks, there are bound to be a few duds in the process. I can think of a couple I'm too embarrassed to even mention.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:08 pm 
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earthling12357 ... I wasn't singling you out in my post, so I hope you didn't take it the wrong way. The source of my frustration with some of these posts is not whether or not people want to run their systems in mono, but to attempt to justify their need to do so by not acknowledging the tradeoffs. Everything is a tradeoff, from summing stereo mixes to mono, using a portable single column array system that may not provide the best fidelity but are back savers, to certain kinds of microphones that may not be the absolute best sounding but are more forgiving after having been swung by its cord, dropped or given a bath in Bud

Your point about the wide discrepancies in track quality from one brand to another and even within the same brand is quite valid. As they say you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear, but that's one of those things in which you just don't have any control over. As far as audiences are concerned I guess they are not a lot different from the audiences that I played for when I was younger.

In any event, your posts have always been respectful as has been most of the other posters and I do appreciate that. I still do produce music but mostly my own compositions for niche markets and are on other forums. I have to say that there's almost never any name calling or insults, etc. on these other sites. Not that there aren't disagreements, but they are almost never condescending or insulting. There are some heated arguments among podcasters as to which is the best microphone to use, etc. Yeah right, like there's such a thing as a best microphone that fits everyone's voice, but nevertheless people can get pretty opinionated, but they always seem to stop before it gets nasty.

As far as the book and the podcast, I've actually had to do some rethinking on the book as to what I'll include, and a lot of it as a result of things I've seen on this forum. Things that I took for granted as thinking was common knowledge turns out to be not so much. I am also trying to consolidate the information in the book with information on a book I'm writing for podcasting, but as separate books as while there are many similar issues, I'm sure people who want to know how to produce a podcast could care less about sound reinforcement issues for KJs and vice versa. Hopefully by late spring/early summer I'll have them both completed. As far as the podcast, I don't have enough episodes in the can to give myself enough of a buffer to keep it consistent. Also aside from the audio part, there's an awful lot about it that I don't know. Things such as distribution, web hosting, aggregation, pitfalls, do's and don'ts etc. A full plate even for you young studs let alone for someone who just turned 67.

Oh ... and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that I've also learned a lot from this forum. This seems to be a pretty resourceful bunch even if they are a bit cantankerous at times. :argue:


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:37 pm 
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I fully understand it would sound better in stereo - especially when in an area that everyone can fully benefit from it. I understand the tradeoff to run in mono - however running in stereo in a lot of clubs is simply not an option due to shape or the way we have to set up or whatever.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:52 pm 
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Lonman wrote:
I fully understand it would sound better in stereo - especially when in an area that everyone can fully benefit from it. I understand the tradeoff to run in mono - however running in stereo in a lot of clubs is simply not an option due to shape or the way we have to set up or whatever.


Well like I said earlier, I've played in some pretty bizarre environments myself . and never ran a mono setup. I've played in L shaped rooms, an odd shaped room on a ferry where the floors were polished concrete and the walls were made of metal. I played inside the bar with the bartender and my equipment which I had to pass over the bar to the bartender to set up (it was a solo gig). I even played in a club in downtown Boston called Zito's Restaurant & Lounge (I don't know if it's still in business) where we actually played on top of the coat room. I shyte you not. We had to literally bring the equipment up a side ladder that was permanently attached parallel to a wall and load the equipment on top of the coat room. There wasn't even enough room between the ceiling of the coat room and the ceiling of the restaurant to stand up straight. Fortunately we were doing mostly acoustic music (except for the end of the night) with minimal backing tracks so we could sit. Of course it's not like we had a choice. There's nothing more fun than carrying a 73 key Fender Rhodes straight up using a side ladder. The only saving grace there was that the club was opened till 2 or 3 and was last call for most clubbers in Boston. The "Southies" would come pouring in from the "T" for last call and usually turned the place into a bucket of blood. Sitting on top of the coat room was about the safest place to be in the house.

Anyway, I don't doubt that there could be a situation were setting up in stereo wouldn't make sense, but I've never been in one. I have played venues where the club owner wanted us to put the speakers in a particular place which made no sense sonically, but for other reasons such as blocking certain doorways, etc. so I can visualize a club owner insisting on having the entertainment place the speakers in a weird location. Maybe one on a roof and one on the main floor. That actually happened to us in Marlborough, MA where we were playing the rooftop and the club owner wanted us to put a speaker on the main floor for the main diners. Our solution was to run our regular stereo mix on the rooftop and we brought a third full range speaker (I think they were called Bullfrogs) for the main floor that we ran through the monitor channel and separate amp. However I can see how in a situation like that where the club owner might not allow you to bring another speaker or you may not have another speaker to bring in which case running mono would be a better choice.

So I'm sure there are situations where running mono is the easier option, but I can't see how those situation would be anything other than the exception and not the rule.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:52 pm 
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I SECOND WHAT EARTHLING SAID...
and the only thing I would add to this part of his response is:
earthling12357 wrote:
Our audiences and singers at these types of venues these days are composed largely of people who are binge drinking their way through the night, trying to find someone to go home with, begging for songs to be played from YouTube, constantly running outside for a smoke, and paying little attention to anyone other than themselves. For them, quality is not always as important as having the song they want to sing, therefore many will subject the audience to the crumbiest of MIDI versions without a second thought if it's the only version available.

Based on the number of heart-crushing sad love songs and ballads, I would also characterize it as "The largest lonely hearts club in America" where the singer is more interested in the story of the song far more than the technical aspects of the very recording they sing along with. (i.e. even if it's "Picture" off a crank up RCA Victor Gramophone, they'll still sing it.)


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:44 pm 
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the staples center is all mono! my friend dave was the sound engineer that designed the audio layout for them.

he also is the one that helped me with my karaoke setup and schooled me on why to run mono and why not to.

what works for you won't work for others. even though we appriciate your opinion, it's still just an opinion and everyone has their own!

myself i run a show in a very large venue and the building is in the shape of a cresent moon. i setup in the center and run mono because speakers are covering a large area and stereo would be a loss in it.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:13 am 
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mightywiz wrote:
the staples center is all mono! my friend dave was the sound engineer that designed the audio layout for them.

he also is the one that helped me with my karaoke setup and schooled me on why to run mono and why not to.

what works for you won't work for others. even though we appriciate your opinion, it's still just an opinion and everyone has their own!

myself i run a show in a very large venue and the building is in the shape of a cresent moon. i setup in the center and run mono because speakers are covering a large area and stereo would be a loss in it.
To reiterate what I said in a previous post, I'm not courting anyone's opinion, nor do I confuse facts with opinions and neither should you. For the umpteenth millionth time I'm not telling anyone what components to use or that they have to run stereo. What I am saying in a nutshell is that if you sum stereo program material into a mono mix you lose sound quality. That isn't my opinion, it's a fact. If there are circumstances that won't allow you to run your system in stereo or if you lack the knowledge of room acoustics necessary in understanding how and where to place your speakers in different situations, or if you feel that the extra effort isn't worth the benefit in doing so, then by all means run mono. I'm merely presenting you with the facts, do with them as you see fit.

As far as your friend "Dave" having designed the "audio layout" (whatever that means) at the Staples Center, unless there's another Staples Center other than the one in LA, I believe you may have misunderstood what you're friend was telling you. It just so happens that I have a long standing relationship with the folks at Harmon based in Connecticut, whose JBL VERTEC arrays were used in that venue. As a matter of fact there are nearly 700 speakers that were used in that system. When I read your post I emailed Harmon's New England rep and asked him who designed the "audio layout" at the Staples Center in LA and if there was anyone by the name of "Dave" who was involved in the project. The head engineer of JBL's tour systems department is Dave Sheirman who designed the arrays themselves but did not design the sound system. If Mr.Sheirman is your friend then I can understand how you would have assumed that he designed the "audio layout". The best we could surmise was that actual system design was done by a man named Patrick Baltzell of AKC acoustics for the DNC convention that was held in 2000. and was assisted by Scott Harmala who supervised the temporary installations. There was one other gentleman that went by the name of Dave but evidently he was with the rigging company that installed the arrays but had nothing to do with the system design.

Nevertheless, you can't compare a system designed to cover that much area with a small club venue. It's like comparing an 18 wheel tractor trailer with a Smart car. A system of that size is all about coverage and speaker placement in a cavernous environment. So to say that the system at the Staples Center is mono is meaningless. Although I have a good understanding of room acoustics, I wouldn't know where to begin with a project of that magnitude, except to say that stereo wouldn't even cross my mind. To design something that big takes a huge team of engineers and consultants, and people who do this for a living, day in and day out.

There seems to be this huge misconception that running a system in stereo will somehow compromise the coverage which is simply not the case. If you are not getting proper coverage in a room it's due to other factors such as the number of speakers used and speaker placement etc., but stereo vs mono is not a factor. Just think about it for a minute. If your system is in stereo and you plug a microphone into the system, how would the coverage be any less or sound any different than if your system had been set up in mono instead? So what would sound different? You guessed it ... the prerecorded material in which case will have maintained the integrity of the mix. Will you hear the same thing at the same volume from both speakers? Of course not, but you have to ask yourself if overall, is the prerecorded sound better in stereo? Are the few instances where I may not be able to hear that hard right or hard left panned instrument as intended worth sacrificing the rest of the quality of the rest of the mixes in my library? Even if you really want to hear that panned guitar in both speakers, would it be that difficult for you to place those tracks into mono mode for those few times that it happens?


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:07 pm 
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I get what you are saying and totally agree with you. I have always run my system in stereo and will continue to do so. And yes, it DOES sound so much better than mono. In all my years of hosting, I've never had anyone complain. Just compliments about the (stereo) sound.

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