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Gigging with a stereo digital piano

Posted: 13 Apr 2009, 14:28
by snakehips
Hi there !

I'm new to this forum. I hope this is in the appropriate section (apologies if not).
My question is really about the problems (or not ?) of gigging in stereo.

1. How many of you connect up your digital piano for Stereo, for a gig ? (or do you just go mono eg. plug only into the L/Mono output jack socket ?)
2. What do you plug into ? (PA system, dedicated keyboard amp(s), something else ?)
3. Do you have sound problems with this ? (or more-over, does the audience ?)

Background to my questions ?
It's this :

I've just recently invested in a Bose L1 Model II sound system with Tonematch (4 channel digital mixer) :
( ... /index.jsp )
- and they are about £ 2000 a go, and are MONO. The idea is that instead of a whole band playing through one whole traditional PA system, one or two musicians has one of these Bose systems EACH !!!
If you want to play in stereo, you are gonna need two of these set-ups. On the Bose L1 forum, they have discussed at length the problems of gigging in stereo. They maintain that playing in stereo has disadvantages - there will be loud spots and quiet spots in the audience. Listen to a band play through a tradional PA system with a set of speakers at either side of the stage, walking around the room/hall as you do - notice how it gets indistinct and quiet in areas.

Anyway, most of the Bose L1 users on the forum are really happy about their Bose sound systems EXCEPT many keyboard players. Many are playing via the single L/Mono output into the Bose system and say their keyboard sound rubbish compared to when in stereo. I must say, I noticed this about my two e.pianos when using the single L/Mono output plugging straight into my older trad PA system (which was mono anyway - I never had a stero system) - I just didn't think it had anything to do with using only the L/Mono output.

So, do you people get a rubbish sound if playing with the "Mono" sound option ?
It was explained in the Bose forum by the "experts" that for the L/Mono single output option, many keyboards just simply sum the L+R outputs together - BUT this will cancel various frequencies, some affected more than others - hence the complaints of inferior sound.
Something to do with how real pianos are "sampled" for digital pianos - with microphones over the bass strings and treble strings - the bass string mic picks up the treble strings' sound travelling from way over across the piano, a very short split second after the treble strings mic picks up the treble strings (and vice versa for the mic over the treble strings picking up the bass strings' sound). That is all fine in stereo, but squish it together in mono, then some frequencies suffer phase cancellation.
That was roughly the theory/explanation given in this forum. Here are some threads about this : ... 033565/p/1 ... 038075/p/1

To avoid confusion reading these Bose forums, let me explain that the Bose L1 is a 7 foot column of 24 small speakers, on a floor stand (with built-in twin 250 watt amplifiers). There are also bass-bin small cabinets to plug in, to handle the "low end". One of the tower base's 250W amp powers the 7 foot speaker column, the other powers the bass cabs. The speaker column is either L1 Mark 1 or L1 Mark II (newer version with better sound dispersion) - thus L1MkI and L1MkII. The bass cabs are called B1 and thus two connected would be 2xB1's. The optional Tonematch 4-channel mixer is called a T1). I think reading these links should make more sense now !!!!!!

Really, what the Bose experts are saying is that digital pianos should offer really good MONO samples of great real grand pianos - so they sound great when the digital keyboards are played IN mono (all this on top of giving great stero samples). Often, any mono sounds offered are usually older piano patches.

Really interested in you guys views on the stereo debate.

Thanks !

Re: Gigging with a stereo digital piano

Posted: 14 Apr 2009, 15:18
by markymark
I have just recently (two weeeks ago?) come across the same problem with my CP300 coming through our small PA system. I spent a long time trying various instruments and finally found something that sounded great through its own speakers. Our current church band is small enough for me to use the onboard speakers without needing a monitor.

I have never been all that happy with the sound quality coming from the speakers; the signal coming out made my expensive stage piano sound like a budget line instrument which kind of defeated the purpose of looking, reasearching and, not to mention, spending all that money. It dawned on me that the signal was MONO and as a temporary measure, I used two jack leads to carry a signal from the keyboard into the mixing desk: I took a lead from the LEFT(MONO) socket and another from the RIGHT and sent each one to a separate channel. It helped improve the quality of the signal output to the speakers but it was only going to be a temporary measure pending looking into stero jacks. Now based on what you are saying, stereo jacks may not the answer either!

I remembered the guy in the store doing a demo from a digital piano and the signal was great but there was no way he was using MONO - absolutely none! It sounded stereo and out mixing desk and amplifier was ten times better than what he was using to send the signal to the speakers we were buying from the store. The current sound quality we are getting is harsh, distorting easily and basically sounds like you are listening to the sound coming through a baked beans can. Not good!

Re: Gigging with a stereo digital piano

Posted: 11 Feb 2010, 22:04
by snakehips
Hi again !

Its been a while since I posted this thread - and not much interest in it either !

However, I've just had a PM from a forumite, siggebirken.
He asked me :

"Hi there.
I saw your post from april 09 about mono stereo issues and bad sound with
Bose L1 and stereo kb.
I also have L1 II and Roland FP 7. Great sound at home, butm when
connecting L1. hmmm.
How have you succeded?
Please tell me whats happening.
Best Regards"

Well I might as well include anyone else possibly interested, on where I am now with this problem.

I'm still disappointed with the Roland FP-7.
I don't see the point in changing my sound system for a stereo one - BECAUSE it is not just piano that will be going through the PA - and none of the rest is stereo. I'm not forking out lots more money to change a system that is great OR buy a second one (at £2000 plus !).
The FP-7 doesn't have any decent MONO piano sounds either.

I went to my local good music store and looked at the current new models - I was hoping the new Korg SV-1 would have a great piano sound (as well as authentic vintage Rhodes and Wurlitzers) but alas, no !

I tried out the newish Roland RD700-GX (GX is the latest version) and I was impressed with the piano sound, the range of acoustic piano sounds (including 3 good mono pianos) and importantly, I tried it through a Bose L1mkII they had in the shop. Plugged it into the base Aux input to test the basic sound.
First I tried the mono pianos - all good. Then I tried the stereo pianos (still just plugged via the keyboard's Left/Mono jack socket). Much to my surprise, it also sounded great.

So, I'm gonna sell my Roland FP-7 (with flight case) and my older Yamaha P200 stage piano(with flight case) to get most of the money together to buy this Roland RD700-GX.
Its a lot of keyboard (sounds+functions) when all I want it for is a great piano sound live.
The keyboard itself has a great real-piano feel to the weight of the keys AND the "feel" on the keys - similar to the Roland V-Piano keys.

PS. What are these lever things to the left of the keys ??? :shock: :?

PPS. Anyone interested in my FP-7 or P200 ?
Email me at :

Re: Gigging with a stereo digital piano

Posted: 08 Mar 2010, 22:01
by chris_connelly

For smaller gigs I play my Yamaha P120 through either a single Roland KC 500 amp or the smaller (much lighter!) KC150. In either case I use a single lead going from the L/R output on the P120 into the amp. I then set the speakers on the piano to about half volume which provides a good monitor with the amp directed away from me. If there is a large p.a on site I'll go through that and that can give a great sound but I'm not sure what advantage stereo would bring (with my objective of getting as near to the sound of a good acoustic piano as possible)... I'm not so aware of the sound distinctly panning left>right when sat at a grand with the lid up, for example.

Re: Gigging with a stereo digital piano

Posted: 25 May 2010, 15:35
by phil
I've had the same mono problem on my old yamaha pf150.
My workaround is to insert a dummy plug into right output and connect the left output to the mono stage amp/PA.
This gets rid of the phase cancellations mentioned earlier.
A fair bit of EQ tweaking is required but at least I can get a usable mono sound.
The PF150 sounds great in stereo but like a kids toy in mono.
Users with other keyboards might find the right output is the best one to use in which case the dummy plug
would probably not be required.


Re: Gigging with a stereo digital piano

Posted: 03 Jun 2010, 03:57
by chrisg
The most basic thing I did was straight from the headphone socket into a PA. Bear in mind that the piano wasn't the principal instrument in the ensemble at the time so it didn't particularly matter with it not having its own channels.

Re: Gigging with a stereo digital piano

Posted: 17 Aug 2011, 11:12
by woodclose
This isn't an answer, but it is something to think about.

When you are playing your digital piano without PA, you are sitting between the piano's speakers and getting a stereo sound similar to the one that an acoustic piano gives. However at a gig, no matter whether you have electronic or acoustic, Mrs Miggins, 20 feet away, never ever gets a stereo effect, she hears mono. So when gigging, surely you ought to be listening to the same sort of sound as her and should plump for mono, even though you don't get the same pleasure?

Re: Gigging with a stereo digital piano

Posted: 24 Aug 2011, 16:25
by markymark
Have you tried taking your Left (MONO) and Right outputs and putting them through separate channels on your desk?

Re: Gigging with a stereo digital piano

Posted: 26 Dec 2011, 13:25
by boogieman
I've been using the Roland FP4 for some years now - I found them so good, I bought three of them. One for home, one for gigging and one for spare or to leave at a regular gig. I like them very much!
I'm a pianist of some 45 years playing at a professional level, so here's what I have found for solo piano, or piano with a small group at low level:
1. You must always take an output from both the right and left hand channels of a stereo piano and put them both into a mixing desk - even if the speaker system is mono.
2. If running the speaker system in stereo, as long as the speakers are pointing in roughly the same direction, that's the best sound you're going to get. You might like to run a couple of monitors for yourself to hear the sound in stereo too.
3. I use RCF 310A speakers and find them warm and comfortable - they're not heavy either.
4. When you're playing with a band, make sure the band can hear what you're playing by allowing your monitor sound across the stage, and always put a little bit of piano in the PA speakers too, just enough so that the audience can hear the piano cut through the mix.
I hope this has been of use.

Re: Gigging with a stereo digital piano

Posted: 27 Dec 2014, 12:47
by woodbass
interested in this, Iv'e just written my own post about live piano sound . Mono and stereo phase issues are facinationg
and I have done quite a bit of research into phase cancallation having had live sound problems of my own . As you mention in most live situations the piano is summed to mono . Mono samples are not the best in most DP's so the answer is to sum the stereo parts not left and right speaker but up and down in the speaker range.
I will explain. Right hand output goes to the upper speaker range in the pa and left to the lower. In my own set up I monitor on stage with the right output from the piano going to a ten inch cab and the left goint to a fifteen and horn combination. ( both powered).
These speakers are stacked on top of each other just hehind me but also facing the band. The phase issues of both left and right going to one speaker are simplified and one is hearing both left and right from one source. This means monitoring in mono but using the stereo signal path which is the best output from the piano.
Playing solo one can have a narrow stereo spread but within a band mix this is lost totally so the above set up works for me.

Gigging with a stereo digital piano

Posted: 23 Mar 2016, 09:16
by Richardkn
For the fun I have tried Stereo Tool on my Macbook Pro i7 2,2 gHz in combination with VMWare Fusion 5 and Windows7 32 bit. Yes, ST works and I get the sound to a transmitter. Pilot tone 19 kHz works, but I think 38 kHz for stereo separation doesnt work, its mono with the stereo indication at my tuner. RDS is also not working. Asio4All isnt a success, so I use the normal soundcard. Seems like the soundcard doesnt get 192 kHz. Thought that this will be 192 kHz. Anyone tried this before? A test file played by MPX Tool got the same result stereo indication on and mono sound