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Is stereo useless when FRFR speakers are too close?

This thread got me thinking: https://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/2x12-cab-stereo-or-mono.128641/

I found this article from Matrix saying that running FRFR in stereo is useless unless speakers are a few meters away, because tweeters would cancel each other, and there would be phasing issues. Also says that it will sound even worse than in mono.

First time I've heard about this, strange as I know lots of guitarists using modelers are happy with their stereo FRFR rigs, and I doubt many people have them too separated, as rehearsing spaces and venues are not usually huge. Everybody knows the more separated they are, the better it will sound, but did I misunderstood this? It's not worth having a couple of FRFR speakers if they're too close?

http://uk.matrixamplification.com/faq/stereo-and-frfr.html

A few excerpts:

The basic stereo concept is that for optimum stereo effect, you need to be about as far away from the speakers as the speaker are apart. As you have probably noticed, if you move the speakers closer together, narrowing the triangle, the stereo effect is reduced. If you take this concept into the guitar world and a typical 2x12" cabinet, assuming it was stereo, then the optimum listening distance would be around 18" away. Certainly, 30 feet away in the audience, any stereo effect would be negligble.

If you look at the stereo content of a typical guitar signal, most of it is in the upper registers, in other words its the HF unit that will be carrying a lot of the stereo information. If we provide 2 HF units, one each side of the cab, firstly the audience wont really get much in the way of stereo effect. Both signals will arrive in both ears, with equal loudness, similar timing.

What you will get is massive phasing issues, particularly when the cab is used in mono. Dispersion figures become meaningless as the constructive and destructive interference creates dead spots all over the soundscape.

To our minds, there is little point in providing the flatest possible response, the most carefully controlled dispersion and then pretty much destroying it by providing two HF drivers. The correct way to do stereo is to buy two cabs, and try and get some spacing between them on the stage. The more distance you can get, the better the effect will be to your audience. If you are restricted in space, use a mono FRFRcab and at least all you audience will get the same carefully crafted, evenly dispered, high quality sound.


Also posted on TGP but didn't get many answers.
 

romanianreaper

Power User
I don't think so because the speakers, your ears, the direction, etc. would all have to be at the same location. I used to have two 4x12s that were pretty close together and didn't notice any issues.
 

kruzty

Inspired
It seems like there are several factors that could determine the usefulness:
- If it just helps you play better, then as long as you can hear the stereo imaging, great.
- Are you also running through the PA in stereo? Then maybe the audience will also get the benefit.
- What if you angled two cabs a bit so the stereo image widens the farther away you are, kind of like /\ (not that severe, but you get the idea)?
 

Sixstring

Axe-Master
I monitor in stereo with my monitors no more than a meter apart and it sounds fine!

If the speakers are so close you can't tell the differance then there to close, that's the measurement you need to use.
 

lqdsnddist

Axe-Master
I monitor in stereo with my monitors no more than a meter apart and it sounds fine!

If the speakers are so close you can't tell the differance then there to close, that's the measurement you need to use.
All depends on how far apart you are from the speakers though.

My desktop monitors are about a meter apart, and I sit about a meter back from them, a nice equilateral triangle setup is ideal

My CLR's though I like about 6-8 feet apart, at least when I'm playing at home, because I'm usually further back from them, and just like my home stereo speakers, the distance apart should be in relation to distance from them. I listen to my stereo while sitting on the couch, so given I'm 6-10 feet away, depending on the seat location, it wouldn't make sense to put them both side by side.

I think a stereo 2x12 can still sound nice, and its less to carry, but I think having two 1x12's give a bit more flexibility in where you position them.

All really comes down to how noticeable do you want the stereo effect to be as well. When I'm doing something like a ping-pong delay, I really enjoy hearing the sound literally bouncing back and forth across the room. That doesn't work for live playing, through what are typically mono pa's, but at home its a treat.

Think of it like with headphones, which give an amazing stereo image, because each ear is getting a unique and isolate signal. I like to think of my CLR monitors sort of like my right and left headphone.

Hell, if I had the money for all the gear, I'd love to buy two more CLR's and set up a quad sound system for my home listening enjoyment
 

Sixstring

Axe-Master
All depends on how far apart you are from the speakers though.

My desktop monitors are about a meter apart, and I sit about a meter back from them, a nice equilateral triangle setup is ideal

My CLR's though I like about 6-8 feet apart, at least when I'm playing at home, because I'm usually further back from them, and just like my home stereo speakers, the distance apart should be in relation to distance from them. I listen to my stereo while sitting on the couch, so given I'm 6-10 feet away, depending on the seat location, it wouldn't make sense to put them both side by side.

I think a stereo 2x12 can still sound nice, and its less to carry, but I think having two 1x12's give a bit more flexibility in where you position them.

All really comes down to how noticeable do you want the stereo effect to be as well. When I'm doing something like a ping-pong delay, I really enjoy hearing the sound literally bouncing back and forth across the room. That doesn't work for live playing, through what are typically mono pa's, but at home its a treat.

Think of it like with headphones, which give an amazing stereo image, because each ear is getting a unique and isolate signal. I like to think of my CLR monitors sort of like my right and left headphone.

Hell, if I had the money for all the gear, I'd love to buy two more CLR's and set up a quad sound system for my home listening enjoyment
Yup totally agree!
 
Thanks for the answers! Note that Matrix talks about phasing issues when using FRFR speakers, not guitar cabs. I've played many times with two amplifiers in stereo on stage and, even though the stereo spread wasn't very noticeable because they were very close, I had no problem with phasing or others issues.

I also agree, if stereo makes you play better, go for it. PAs in stereo are a different can of worms. I've been playing live for 25 years, most of them professionally, and I've never heard a PA in stereo. Some noises, some voices, etc, going from one side to the PA to the opposite make sense and cause a great effect, especially in the theatre, but music is usually mono, at least that's my experience.

I LOVE stereo, not just for very noticeable effects like ping-pong delay and tremolo, but just to spread the sound and make everything sound better and bigger.

The thing is now I'm playing mostly on small stages, so I don't know if it's really worth it buying two FRFR speakers, knowing they will never be more than 1 meter apart.
 
Sent an email to Matrix yesterday and this morning had their answer, very informative:

For a single speaker yes I'd recommend the FR12.

Ideally for stereo you should have that distance really but it will still work at shorter distances. Basically the further you can get the speakers apart will make for better stereo separation so on stage even 30-60cm would do. A trick I used to do was to run stereo and use one cab behind me and one to the side as a side fill. That worked well but obviously a lot will depend on the stage sizes.

For the FR10s I've found that a small Ultimate Amp150 tilt stand has worked great for them, angling the speaker a bit more towards me rather than on the floor. Even behind tilting them works well and for stereo also.
 

maxdown

Fractal Fanatic
Thanks for the answers! Note that Matrix talks about phasing issues when using FRFR speakers, not guitar cabs. I've played many times with two amplifiers in stereo on stage and, even though the stereo spread wasn't very noticeable because they were very close, I had no problem with phasing or others issues.
Well .... I think the wording was quite ambiguous in that Matrix statement ...... the risk of 'massive phasing when run in mono' could mean the normal phasing issues you can get when summing the L + R signals to mono before they even reach the cab. If your stereo signal is not set up to collapse to mono without any phasing then you're going to have issues with any type of 2x12 or 4x12 stereo speaker cab (or even 2 separate cabs) not just FRFR ones.

I agree with Matrix - 2 separate cabs. You have all options covered ...... however 2 FR212 cabs would be a hefty load to carry (and quite a cost to buy) ..... 2 FR12's or FR10's sounds the better Matrix option to me.
The thing is now I'm playing mostly on small stages, so I don't know if it's really worth it buying two FRFR speakers, knowing they will never be more than 1 meter apart.
As long as your stereo signal can be summed to mono on the FOH console without phasing issues you can have your stereo sound on stage just for your own benefit - the other benefit is 2 cabs will push more air and give you more volume on tap to use on stage if it's a gig where higher backline levels are required (like vocal PA only gigs). In some cases you might be better just sending one side to FOH if it's a mono PA .... otherwise the summed L + R signal could become too FX heavy/muddy and you'd maybe need a load of global blocks in order to reduce levels quickly across delays, mix levels on modulation FX etc etc. All is possible - but sometimes tweaking on stage just before a gig is not the ideal scenario.

Much as I love the stereo effects on presets I think it's now a bit more practical to leave them for recording, headphone use or using studio monitors and my live presets will be set up for mono. Just one less thing to worry about while a bunch of punters are waiting for noise from stage.

I'll still bring my 2 1x12 cabs though to give me stage volume when required (I have FRFR cabs and conventional cabs - with presets set up for either)
 
Common sense and everybody's opinion (including Matrix) says to me I should better forget about stereo on stage. To be sincere, I've never needed it in 25 years and a few thousand gigs of playing. But it makes me feel really good and when I've tried (usually with headphones or in-ears), it has been a sublime experience.
 

Sixstring

Axe-Master
I'm of the opposite mind set on this... small stages are where it works the best for monitoring, even if you are monitoring in a back line fashion!

I may not have thousands of pro gigs under my belt nor am I a pro player by any stretch of the means. I have however played enough small gigs (10-200 people) to know that it does work and it sounds really good!

With FRFR if the size of the monitor shrinks with size of the venue and the stage volume and mix are done right it shouldn't be a problem!

Let me qualify that statement be saying that the type of music will have an impact on the listing experience. Pink Floyd type of sounds and tones or any type of music where there is enough space in the music for the stereo image to be heard, recognized and processed.
 
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