Old 03-15-2016, 02:40 PM   #1
The Telenator
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Default A Whole World (Still) Stuck in MONO

Many club and PA systems are only set up for mono playback.
A huge number of TV sets are still mono. There might be little
stereo speakers on that annoying wake-up clock radio on the
nightstand and on the average cheapo portable MP3 player,
but only millimeters separation comes off as practically mono.
There are still plenty of those little, portable (what were once
called) transistor radios for sale; they are almost all one-
speaker, mono devices. The point? Your music is probably
being heard in mono a lot more than you may be aware.

The human ear can't even distinguish the direction (panning)
and much about the thickness (stereo spread) of anything
below 80Hz, so why even bother? And remember that,
depending on where it is and on what equipment your listener
is hearing your music played back, that 80Hz cutoff point will
likely be significantly higher up the frequency range.

I mention all of this, in part, because it is quite common in
these 'DAW forums' that we read posts by the 'new person'
who is having a really fun time with his or her bass synth.
Now, I love a good bass synth as much or more than the next
person. But what we usually read is much about how he/she
wants to thicken the sounds further by making use of all
manner of FX, such as phasers and wild flanging, and just as
likely wanting to make those groovy sounds into wide-panned
bass synth stereo.

The the short answer is DON'T, even though it sure sounds
great on good home monitors played as a solo instrument.
Unfortunately, after our new person has added tracks and
other instruments later on, the whole project sounds like dog
poo. What happened? they return to ask.

What transpired before this stage, as I was just explaining,
was the original, run-on thread about creating those, groovy
wide bass synth sounds with FX. But for the most part, the
discussion might do better to be cut short by emphasizing
bass sounds need to be more or less (just 'more' really) MONO
with almost no widening FX and no 'stereo-izing' at all.

Whether you grab the free and tiny ToneProjects Basslane, or
favour approaching this with Mid / Side editing and
Vectorscopes from more expensive tools like iZotope's line,
save yourself a world of trouble by keeping at least the
fundamentals and lower overtones of those bass instruments
mono. FX can often be added to an instrument's higher
harmonics and still get the point across without doing harm.

So, why bother to post? I'm too often hearing home
projects that have washed out bottom ends, ones that you just
know won't transfer successfully to other formats and
playback systems -- issues that could have been easily avoided
up front, without requiring major surgery later on.
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Old 03-16-2016, 12:29 AM   #2
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Dunno man, synth basslines ran through stereo chorus sound kinda cool IMO. Granted, if you're after really deep bass then yeah, that isn't happening. But that classic, electro-EDM whatnot style arpeggiated synth bass sounds nice with chorus.

Ozrics do good processed spacey synth bass



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Old 03-16-2016, 05:00 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeekat View Post
Dunno man, synth basslines ran through stereo chorus sound kinda cool IMO. Granted, if you're after really deep bass then yeah, that isn't happening. But that classic, electro-EDM whatnot style arpeggiated synth bass sounds nice with chorus.

Ozrics do good processed spacey synth bass



Kudos for posting anything Ozrics related Ed Wynne is practically a god to me.

On the subject - I say stand up for stereo and be counted. If you want stereo bass just mono-ize below about 250 Hz and you're good to go.
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Old 03-16-2016, 08:43 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeekat View Post
Dunno man, synth basslines ran through stereo chorus sound kinda cool IMO. Granted, if you're after really deep bass then yeah, that isn't happening. But that classic, electro-EDM whatnot style arpeggiated synth bass sounds nice with chorus.

Ozrics do good processed spacey synth bass
So much for youtube killing music. Never heard of the band, listened to the two tracks, ordered two of their CDs

Thanks Zeekat!
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Old 03-16-2016, 08:49 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Telenator View Post
Many club and PA systems are only set up for mono playback.
A huge number of TV sets are still mono. There might be little
stereo speakers on that annoying wake-up clock radio on the
nightstand and on the average cheapo portable MP3 player,
but only millimeters separation comes off as practically mono.
There are still plenty of those little, portable (what were once
called) transistor radios for sale; they are almost all one-
speaker, mono devices. The point? Your music is probably
being heard in mono a lot more than you may be aware.
I think it is important do distinguish between what you want to achieve with your music. If it is to gain maximum exposure on crappy systems, then correct, you should probably mix to mono (at least bottom-wise) and also EQ the rest accordingly. U2 were very successfull with this approach in the late eighties, their records sounded great on bad equipment, not so much on high end hifi stuff
But if your target audience is people who actually enjoy music and the sonic possibilities there are, this might not be the best approach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Telenator View Post
So, why bother to post? I'm too often hearing home
projects that have washed out bottom ends, ones that you just
know won't transfer successfully to other formats and
playback systems -- issues that could have been easily avoided
up front, without requiring major surgery later on.
And here we fully agree, but I fear that is actually a completely different topic - the curse of the soggy bottom, as it were
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Last edited by NowoTone; 03-16-2016 at 09:16 AM. Reason: Making a bad pun worse
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Old 03-16-2016, 10:40 AM   #6
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Good advice!


For modern synth bass that's modulated I make a separate sub. Usually just a pure sine does the trick. But still, my top layers usually don't get spaced out A whole lot. An aggressive chorus is the most I've done to the top layer in terms of stereo. I like the sub to stay constant with maybe some subtle vibrato at brief points.
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Old 03-16-2016, 11:19 AM   #7
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OT, why do you always use the enter key to make new lines? Your post is 4x the length it needs to be on my screen.


Anyway, you seem to be coming off as if the world is behind in some way by being stuck with so many mono playback systems.

The simple fact is that it is necessary most of the time. Those clubs you mention are using multiple speakers facing different directions and in different locations around a large room. That's already an issue due to phase shifts as you move around, now add stereo mixes and what are you supposed to do? The point between two speakers being close enough that stereo is moot, and far enough that stereo makes for unbalanced playback is very small, and does not make for good club placement when 10 or more speakers are being used

As for radios, they have to occupy a small space. Logical. They often are in stereo anyway but as you say it comes off as mono and bad mixes will suffer. There's a local engineer that loves to multi track vocals and hard pan then both ways. They sound great in his studio but sound like phasey garbage played back in mono or close stereo. He won't listen... alas.

Mono is here to stay.
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Old 03-16-2016, 11:30 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Fergler View Post
OT, why do you always use the enter key to make new lines? Your post is 4x the length it needs to be on my screen....

....Mono is here to stay.
I'm thinkin' the draft was worked-out in a simple .txt doc, then pasted-in.

I agree that mono is here to stay, and the world is a safer place for it. Ever been in a place with small, low-volume "stereo" speakers spaced 100' apart? - not good.
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Old 03-16-2016, 01:20 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ReaperMadness View Post
I agree that mono is here to stay, and the world is a safer place for it. Ever been in a place with small, low-volume "stereo" speakers spaced 100' apart? - not good.
LOL
I heard this at a sports store a couple of months ago where they were using stereo. "Bicycle Race" by queen came on and unless you ran from one side of the store to the other you only got to hear half the guitar solo and half the multi track vocals as the other half were coming out of the other speaker about 80 feet away and were not audible. The only way to actually hear the correct stereo image on that set up would have been to stand about 75 feet away from the inside front wall of the store dead center between the speakers. Which would have put you in the alley behind the store

Mono makes sense in almost all non perfect listening conditions. Most real world sources are mono and unless you are in the stereo sweet spot even most stereo recordings on stereo systems are going to arrive at your ears as a kind of half assed phasey mono.
If you listen to about 95% of cell phones without headphones you'll get mono. And even the few that do have stereo speakers, with the speakers only a couple of inches apart it's impossible to get into the correct sweet spot for stereo. all of the sounds wil appear to coming straight at you from the phone.

Pretty much everything is going to continue to be mono until we get either: some series genetic modifications to human hearing; or a set of speakers that float around with you and connect to every music source every where you go making a perfect triangle with the sound focussed just behind each individuals head.
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Old 03-16-2016, 01:46 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by bladerunner View Post
Kudos for posting anything Ozrics related Ed Wynne is practically a god to me.

On the subject - I say stand up for stereo and be counted. If you want stereo bass just mono-ize below about 250 Hz and you're good to go.
bladerunner -- beyond the technical details in the intro, THAT was the whole point! I start at your 250Hz as my reference point.

BTW, aren't those the coolest album covers in modern times?
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Old 03-16-2016, 01:50 PM   #11
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Fergler: "OT, why do you always use the enter key to make new lines? Your post is 4x the length it needs to be on my screen."

OT answer: It was .txt -- my internet was dodgy; we were having a big electrical storm so I had to write it offline. I sure hope I didn't break your computer. Gee ...
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Old 03-16-2016, 03:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Telenator View Post
bladerunner -- beyond the technical details in the intro, THAT was the whole point! I start at your 250Hz as my reference point.
Yep I saw what you were saying - in total agreeance - just condensed and re-submitted

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Telenator View Post
BTW, aren't those the coolest album covers in modern times?
ALL Ozric's covers are the coolest I've been a huge fan since around 1990 - criminally underrated band.. although there are plenty that do know about Ed and co. Coolest track titles as well.
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Old 03-16-2016, 04:56 PM   #13
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That's why I try to make my mixes sound good in mono (+ to check phase issues).

I dig my DAB+ radio. Mono all the way.

Last edited by Refillable; 03-16-2016 at 04:56 PM. Reason: Damn spelling..
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Old 03-16-2016, 05:28 PM   #14
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Remember also, that in large concert speaker setups, in almost every case, all sub woofers are in MONO.
It has to do with many things in large scale audio reproduction (not solely for the laziness or trying to simplify) like controlling the bass coverage etc, so never do phase effects with anything lower than 85hz, better if you stop doing that stuff around 120hz even.

After 500hz, anything's a fair game. IMHO
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Old 03-16-2016, 06:04 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bristol Posse View Post
LOL
I heard this at a sports store a couple of months ago where they were using stereo. "Bicycle Race" by queen came on and unless you ran from one side of the store to the other you only got to hear half the guitar solo and half the multi track vocals as the other half were coming out of the other speaker about 80 feet away and were not audible. The only way to actually hear the correct stereo image on that set up would have been to stand about 75 feet away from the inside front wall of the store dead center between the speakers. Which would have put you in the alley behind the store
In my old college bar they had one stereo channel in the pool room speakers and the other in the main bar. Our favourite tune to put on the jukebox was California Dreamin', because you could choose if you wanted to do karaoke with the backing vocals or the lead

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ALL Ozric's covers are the coolest I've been a huge fan since around 1990 - criminally underrated band.. although there are plenty that do know about Ed and co. Coolest track titles as well.
I like them live, but they have been described to me as "porn music for hippies", and that does kinda fit...
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Old 03-17-2016, 12:45 AM   #16
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I do a lot of live sound and I just hate it when the keyboard player can't understand why I'm not running a stereo system - apparently his/their out of phase stereo keyboards are to die for.

They just don't get that the only one in the audience getting the stereo experience is the guy in the middle doing the mix and most times I can't set up there. Stereo is best appreciated by the crowd on the left (or right) who only hear one side of the stereo mix

Sigh........
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Old 03-17-2016, 12:56 AM   #17
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There's more to mono-compatibility than 0% width under 250-500hz.
Some killer stereo-tracks can sound really bad when played back in mono.
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Old 03-17-2016, 01:50 AM   #18
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To me, mono is not a compromise but actually kind of a mixing assistance.
The quality of my mixes has improved significantly since i do most of my mixing in mono and then adjust the stereo image afterwards.
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Old 03-17-2016, 02:45 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeekat View Post
Dunno man, synth basslines ran through stereo chorus sound kinda cool IMO. Granted, if you're after really deep bass then yeah, that isn't happening. But that classic, electro-EDM whatnot style arpeggiated synth bass sounds nice with chorus.

Ozrics do good processed spacey synth bass



Heh, one of my favourite bands to do live sound for
(providing you can stop their crew putting half a dozen Solar-250s on the FOH FX dist! )

You've not earned your stripes unless you've done one of their gigs...

Sorry for OT.



>
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Old 03-17-2016, 04:12 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planetnine View Post
Heh, one of my favourite bands to do live sound for
(providing you can stop their crew putting half a dozen Solar-250s on the FOH FX dist! )

You've not earned your stripes unless you've done one of their gigs...

Sorry for OT.>
Last show of theirs I've attended was attached to some psytrance party, so everything looked properly psychedelic





Yup, pretty well lit band it seems . Brandi Wynne seems super nice too, aside of her mad bass skillz.
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Old 03-17-2016, 04:56 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fergler View Post
OT, why do you always use the enter key to make new lines? Your post is 4x the length it needs to be on my screen.
I honestly thought it was a stylistic device to imitate
the sound coming from only one speaker.

Just shows we can sometimes read
too much into things
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Old 03-17-2016, 06:44 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by NowoTone View Post
So much for youtube killing music. Never heard of the band, listened to the two tracks, ordered two of their CDs

Thanks Zeekat!
Ditto. Really cool stuff
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Old 03-17-2016, 08:17 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by planetnine View Post
Heh, one of my favourite bands to do live sound for
(providing you can stop their crew putting half a dozen Solar-250s on the FOH FX dist! )

You've not earned your stripes unless you've done one of their gigs...

Sorry for OT.



>
Whoa! Major kudos to you, planetnine! I don't do live sound anymore, unless someone is too sick, but THAT would be a complete gass, to my mind. "Porn music for hippies"? We all must have our vices in such an upside down modern age.
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Old 03-18-2016, 05:55 AM   #24
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Skrillex keeps everything in mono up to around 7k! Then he goes super wide.

I don't do club music, but I do keep everything in mono up to around 80hz. But that can be easily done with mastering plugins.
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Old 03-19-2016, 03:28 AM   #25
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I like them live, but they have been described to me as "porn music for hippies", and that does kinda fit...
That has to rank as dumbest description of the Ozric's ever.
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Old 03-19-2016, 04:11 AM   #26
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That has to rank as dumbest description of the Ozric's ever.
Hey, you like Ozrics, I get it, I like them too. I'm a sucker for Shakespeare-referencing imaginary cereal names

I've been listening to them since the 80's/90's homemade cassette tape days, and have seen them live several times. They are great, but their recorded output does have an undeniable muzak quality to it.

Like Ceefax on acid.

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Old 03-19-2016, 04:16 AM   #27
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Hahaha I love that someone has recorded over an hour of Ceefax and put it on Youtube.

Even more so that one of the headlines is "Rangers beat Celtic in thriller"
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Old 03-19-2016, 04:24 AM   #28
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Hahaha I love that someone has recorded over an hour of Ceefax and put it on Youtube.
There are whole channels dedicated to it!

I used to love listening to Ceefax, it was a great blow when they pulled it from the air! I liked to imagine that all the songs were being played live in some basement studio in London somewhere.

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Even more so that one of the headlines is "Rangers beat Celtic in thriller"
Yeah, I know nothing about football, and even I get why that is funny!
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Old 03-19-2016, 05:00 AM   #29
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Hey, you like Ozrics, I get it, I like them too. I'm a sucker for Shakespeare-referencing imaginary cereal names
It wasn't a dig at you - more the person who said it to you. I remember a friend of mine who said that all REM songs sound the same because 2 of their songs happened to have a similar chord sequence.. Point being that when a bands back catalogue is that vast and covers so much ground I find it a bit mind boggling to generalise to that degree. Ozrics cover everything from ambient electronica through to heavy prog through to digidub through to drum 'n bass.. you get the picture
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Old 03-20-2016, 04:54 PM   #30
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".....since i do most of my mixing in mono and then adjust the stereo image afterwards. "

^^This.....

And DDMF has a plugin that is right up the "bass mono" alley called StereooeretS.

I bought thier stuff when it was $5 a plugin ages ago, and still use this & thier EQ's to this day....
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Old 03-21-2016, 02:22 AM   #31
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OT, why do you always use the enter key to make new lines? Your post is 4x the length it needs to be on my screen.
It is actually easier to read that way. Long lines aren't good for readability.
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Old 03-21-2016, 11:07 AM   #32
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Another reason to sum the bass is that most playback systems need all the woofer they can get.... If you've got two 8-inch woofers, or even two 12 or 15-inch woofers you want them both (and both amp-channels) pumping-out bass together.

And if you have one subwoofer, it's calibrated for two (or more) mixed channels so you're only going to get maximum power from it when you're driving it with two signals (or more).
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Old 03-22-2016, 03:29 PM   #33
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TS you forgot, a home stereo set or just a speakerpair where the distance between speakers are disproportional or just set up strangely. Or, if you listen to music from a sideways angle to the speakers - while in the kitchen cooking for example. All these conditions makes the music more mono than stereo too :P

Actually, there is no stereo. There's only two mono channels. Stereo exists only as a phantom center in our head, and only long as we have the speakers propotionally to the ears and the room doesn't mess it up.

Surround sound only works as intended when you're in a certain sweet spot between the speakers. Stereo works the same, only to a slightly lesser degree. Be outside the center area and it's close to mono.

We don't want the sound of the two channels counteracting each other, you want them to reinforce each other, not f*ck each others' sound up. If they reinforce each other (in phase) you get by far the most clarity, with, depth, snap, even volume proportions makes sense .. just everything you want really. Get the phase correct, and it can be like opening a window to the mix. Without mono compatibility, you don't get enough of that. Your mixes will always sound dull next to those who paid attention to phase.

It's elementary physics. If it works in mono, it always sounds better in stereo. The opposite is not true. Best is if it sounds the same when you hit the mono button. That's what you want.

And since phase have a direct three-way interdependancy with amplitude speed and frequency, it's one of the basic elements of sound, that needs to be done right. Phase relations change depending what key your song is in, how dynamic it is, the number of parts, how much DC offset you got etc. That's what mono compatibility is. Without that effort, it's jive (to me anyway).

There is no stereo, only 2 mono channels, which can either collaborate and enforce each other, or counteract each other. Have them work together, or else it will only sound like you intend on playback systems like yours.

EDIT: About the bass in center, making low freqs wide stereo is a sure way to mess up the phase, because of the slow phase rotation (lo freq) and high amplitude. It's also because of history: when LP was the thing, the needle could derail if the bass was wide (derail as in skip 1 rotation back- or ahead in playtime).
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Old 03-23-2016, 01:04 AM   #34
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Let's not forget how cool stereo is.
Even when played on our portable player,
with 30cm (foot) between the speakers,
there's an immense enhancement from mono to stereo.
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