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Speakers for monitoring / front of house - stereo/mono question !

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Hi Jim !

I read your review from August, on the Yamaha powered speakers and have a question about your set-up.

You said you use two of these speakers and set up your Sk1 (or Sk2), into the Ventilator. Then you send each stereo jack output into each of your left&right Yamaha monitors.

The bit that confused me is that i think you say you then send a MONO signal of that (from the Yamaha speaker) to the PA system.

So, questions :

1(a) surely you are sending a degraded sound to the PA / front of house ?

1(b) is it the L&R signals from the vent summed together to "make" MONO, or is it just, say the L side only (as some keyboards etc have a L/mono output) ?

1© maybe you don't think the front of house sound will hear the difference, as long as YOU can have lush stereo in your wee cocoon between your keyboards and L&R monitors ?

My gig set-up is a Hammond SK2 and a Roland RD700GX, plus a Roland mono keyboard amp for monitoring.

The Roland e.piano has L&R XLR outputs - which go to the front of house PA, then I take the L/mono jack socket to my keyboard amp for monitoring (nice and simple).

For my SK2, I take both L&R jack outputs into a stereo DI box, then send the XLR L&R outputs to the front of house PA. I then take a "line-out" from the Left channel of my stereo DI box, and feed that into my keyboard amp for monitoring. Not sure if when I do this I'm getting Left side only to my Keyboard amp or a summed mono. It doesn't sound weird, it sounds good in fact, so probably a full-fat summed mono ?!!

Sorry, I hope that isn't too confusing !!!

I figured I'm doing the best for the audience to give them the full stereo sound, and i'll just put up with a mono on-stage sound.

I also play piano and guitar in a blues duo - and we use one Bose L1(mk2) tower sound system for both of us, on our gigs. It's not until I started gigging with the Bose L1 and e.pianos (in mono) that i realised how terrible stereo digital pianos sound, when only connected with the L/Mono output.

So, I'm getting a bit obsessed these days to try and insist on stereo when I can.

Want to upgrade my monitor keyboard amp situation I think - but I'm not keen on larger stereo keyboard amps. The keyboard player I replaced in the 5-piece blues band i'm in had a Roland RD700 and a Hammond XK1 plus the top-of-the range big/heavy Roland stereo keyboard amp - and he left that band with a bad back !!!

Many thanks for any advice.

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Hi thanks for getting in touch. To answer your questions:

1a) No, I don't think the sound is all that degraded. On the contrary, the XLR output of the DXR10 is line level, usually requiring a pad be engaged on the FOH mixer. It's a very healthy signal, albeit one that is mono. This is not a problem since all my patches on the Privia PX5s are mono and the Ventilator sums to mono perfectly.

1b) Yes, I'm certainly in my cocoon of sound but like I mentioned above, only the Ventilator is in stereo. We do not travel with our own FOH rig or even our own FOH engineer and I am at the mercy of whatever the club / stage has in place and whomever is there to run it. And those systems are usually mono anyway. I have found over the years that the more simple I keep things, the better it is for all concerned. Providing the soundperson a single XLR with both keys in it is about as simple as you can get.

You are correct that most stereo digital piano samples sound bad when summed to mono. That's why I have my Privia programmed to just be in mono. It features a true mono piano sample, not a stereo sample that's been summed to mono, so it sounds great. The reason most stereo sampled pianos sound bad in mono is due to phasing between whatever microphones they used to sample the original acoustic piano. In other words, it is due to carelessness on behalf of the original sampling engineers. Almost every manufacturer (Yamaha, Roland, Korg, etc.) suffers from this. The only solution is if they also have a true mono piano sample. I know that Yamaha does and the Casio Privia does. I don't know about Roland.

If you want to upgrade your monitoring, I highly recommend the DXR series. I've never cared for the Roland keyboard amps. I played through one just a few weeks ago as backline and I did not like how my Hammond SK1 and Vent sounded through it. The Privia sounded pretty good through it but the Hammond was wimpy.

Hope that helps!

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Hi again !

There are mono samples/patches on the Roland RD700GX - but they tend to sound like "older" Roland electric piano generations - where the piano sound is nowhere is near as authentic/convincing as more recent e.pianos

Thus, I don't tend to use them. I wouldn't have wanted to pay big sums of money for an expensive up-to-date keyboard to then use older generation sounding pianos - just to get mono.

I should revisit them though, and have a good listen again.

Keyboard manufacturers just don't seem to get that many gigging musicians are going to be plugging in Mono.

I was interested in the Roland V-Piano when it came out (despite the hefty price) - as knowing it was not based on digital sample/recordings of a real piano, there may not be phasing issues if played in mono.

However, even more an expensive item to purchase then only play in mono !!!

Will have a look at the Casio Privia keyboards though.

Thanks for you help again.

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Hi again !

I recently had a play on the new Roland RD-800 in a music shop - and it sounded good, weighs about 5kg less than the RD-700 models and has more MONO pianos on it - including a MONO version of their latest/best piano.

So, I'm considering going for the RD800.

My Roland Keyboard amp was really struggling at my last gig too - so a new combo might be in order - so, I'll certainly look at the Yamaha DXR combo series.

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Hi again !

I really need to go and check out these Yamaha DXR powered speakers.

I figured I could buy one for now - as a keyboard amp combo (as it sounds like they are better than your average "keyboard amp"), then when I have the cash, buy a second one to use both alternatively as a stereo PA system.

I have been thinking of going for either a DXR12 or DXR15 - but figured the DXR15 might be better for more bottom-end for my Roland e.piano AND a fat bottom-end for my Hammond SK2.

However, I noticed Jim, that you went with two DXR10's.

If I'm only buying one DXR speaker for now, do you think I'd be better buying a DXR15 - or do you think the DXR12 should give me all I should need ?

I'm never using a PA system for a whole band - maximum is 3 musicians, up to 3 mics, 2 electro-acoustic guitars, or 1 electro-acoustic guitar and my piano ?

Don't play with drums and bass.

I suppose, get the best for whatever you can spend BUT, might the DXR15's be overkill for essentially an acoustic duo/trio ?

DXR12's sound a bit more ideal to me in terms of size and weight though (and cost !)

I'll go and test them out - but someone's input (like yours) would be most helpful.

They certainly seemed to get a good write-up in "Sound on Sound" magazine :
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may12/articles/yamaha-dxr.htm

All the best.

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Hi again !

I'm answering my own questions here !!

I went to my local good music shop and they had some Yamaha DXR speakers.

First tried out two DXR10's, set-up as monitors, either side of me, on the floor, in wedge angled formation.

Wow ! I wasn't expecting these speakers to be so good. And that was just plugged into a cheaper Roland FP80 (or something).

They also had a single DXR12 speaker that I tried, directly into a new Roland RD800, just in mono.

That sounded good too.

I then compared the RD800 plugged into a single DXR10, with a DXR12.

A single DXR10 just sounded a bit too thin, compared to a single DXR12.

For home practice, a DXR10 would suit me down to the ground, but I'm going to go for a single DX12.

Two speakers, I'm sure, are better than one. I'll buy a second one in a while.

Many thanks for your original review of the DXR speakers - it helped a lot.

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Hi again !

Update - many thanks again for the recommendation of the Yamaha DXR speaker range.

I bought one DXR12 powered speaker late last year amd have been using it for gigs, as a keyboard amp combo, with my Roland RD700GX and Hammond SK2, with great success.

I've now upgraded to the Roland RD800 as this has lots of very good mono pianos on it.

I've also added a Ventilator with the SK2, as of my most recent gig.

For play at home, using the SK2 without the Ventilator was great anyway and curiously I didn't really hear anything better with the Vent, just a different tone.

However, it was immediately obvious at my last gig that the Ventilator with the SK2 cut through a hand mix much more than the SK2 alone (which is very goodthough). The Vent made my SK2 sound sexier, especially when toggling between slow & fast.

For this gig, my keyboards were not going through the PA, just the vocals and harmonica.

I think I'll go ahead and purchase another Yamaha DXR12 powered speaker, so that I can have stereo for both speakers.

The only thing holding me back is that it might just not be necessary for about half my gigs, that are at larger venues, with in-house PA systems, monitor wedges etc

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