Playing live without a PA

I got this one in 2012, but looks like it’s been upgraded since then:

i’ve been sitting with these words for a days as theyve been stuck in my head!
i was at a house show last night and the artist said a lot of spatialization elements were missing because the available pa was in mono. thats the definition of a bummer to me!
please help give me some mono inspirational ideas?


Every recording by Phil Spector, almost every recording by the Beatles. And then the other argument, which is - if you want to stereo fx to be essential to your live show then only 10 or 15% of the audience will be in the sweet spot to hear them properly.


I’ll be working with a pianist soon and it occurred to me that a piano is a monophonic instrument. No one complains about that!

You can make a piano, or a guitar stereo if you like, but I almost never like the effect.

I’ve played several small shows in gallery type places using a pair of Roland Bass Cubes. They are portable, can be battery powered and sound surprisingly good.


My feeling is that artists should be prepared to perform or present work in mono if necessary, since 90% of the time that’s what will be available. If something needs more than one channel to ‘work’, I would rather hear something else. I’d also second others in the thread that mono isn’t a bummer, it can be great!


To provide a counter-point, Suzanne Ciani mentioned in an interview I attended that quad is in her rider–she doesn’t perform if the venue can’t accommodate it.

I think you could consider a performance similar to an installation, and as such being deliberate about venues and sound setups would be a valid artistic consideration, IMO

Random aside, I saw an absolutely incredible set Gavin Rayna Russom performed using two giant Ampeg full-stacks (I think? They were on the stage, I may have imagined that’s where the sound was coming from).

I’m playing a show with the shoegaze-y band I play guitar in this weekend (and for the first time with this project, the modular as well). I’ll be running the guitar and a few voices from the modular (that I will be attempting to mix on the fly) all through my AC-30 inspired by that performance. This one’s at a club, so it will be mic’d and ran through their actual system too. To be determined how that turns out. It’s reverbed way out so probably not that discernible of a difference, hah.


Welllll, it’s definitely one thing for Suzanne Ciani to demand quad and it’s quite another for, say, me to. (Granted, I also make a different kind of music from her.) If I were doing installation-type work, I’d probably feel entitled to be really invested in the minutiae of the sound, but if I’m playing a club, or a house or a record store, I just want the mix to be decent, whether it’s mono or stereo.


totally understand what you mean, hah

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I am also reminded that a stereo or quad sound system would have been wasted or otherwise irrelevant at a lot of shows I have gone to, or played at.

I suspect that we’re to a large extent conditioned by our home or headphone listening environments to expect to hear stereo.

Lloyd Cole has been clear in his comments that mono is alright. I was enjoying his 1D album during my lunch today, via Apple Music and my earphones. And there is definitely some nice stereo mixing and fx going on there.

All of which is leading me to feeling ok about mono for live situations…

Thanks everyone for the insights!

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mackie powered speaker.

but is this for yourself to here? everyone to here? or to mic?

For whatever audience is there.

Presumably a small one, I’m not likely to play at a large venue!

a powered speaker that is normally part of a bigger pa is prob your best bet. its cheeper and more powerful then a comparable price keyboard amp.

^^ This. I’ve been using a JBL Eon G2 to monitor my modular (in mono) for the last year. Cost 215$ shipped. It sounds GOOD and gets LOUD.

This past weekend, I ordered a second one so I can run my Ciat-Lonbarde gear other synth bois in stereo.

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