Dealing with stereo piano libraries to mono in live situations

Interested in your opinion / expertise on how you deal with the usual stereo output of a piano vst that gets channeled to mono somewhere along the audio path, I’m specifically referring to live performance.


  1. 99.9999% of all live sound is going to be mono keyboard channel. I never met a FOH guy who will do either stereo or dual mono. If you run your own sound you don’t count.

  2. Ivory II sounds like old gym socks when mono’ed. Technically old gym socks don’t sound like anything but you get it.

  3. I’m assuming that Keyscape and other VST’s will have the same results. Yes, the Nord has a mono button.

Thanks for input.


Hi John,

Tough one for live work … the most effective approach ( short of mono sampled) would a mid side capable plug used to tame down the sides by a few db.


Hey Dave

Hadn’t thought about MS, that could help. I played around with a IBP junior to see if I could phase sweep one channel and find a comfort zone but it was never satisfactory.



I still have some old gym socks that make a decent squeaking and creaking, somewhat crunchy sound. I’ll sample them for you. You shouldn’t have to use an entire Ivory II piano sample library and all that RAM it takes up just to get a good gym sock sound, for goodness sake!



Oh man, this is a huge issue for me! Some piano libraries sound better than others when mixed to mono. I had been using NI’s The Maverick and The Giant because I was able to tweak them to get a satisfactory mono mix. These are both unusual (quirky) pianos but worked for me for a long time. TruePianos was another that I used for a long time and seemed to work ok when mixed to mono.

Enter the Cadillac of pianos: Keyscape! After enjoying the acoustic piano patches in the studio for a couple of weeks, I decided to try it live. Sounded like an out-of-tune harpsichord with a wet rug thrown over it. There are a couple of older threads with interesting suggestions over on KVR if you want search over there. I haven’t had time to try any of those suggestions yet.

Keep us updated if you have any progress. Thanks!

I suggest to only use one channel of the piano at all.
Also with hardware pianos i made the experience that pianos sound better when using only the right (!) channel instead of the monoed one.

In our situation this could be a solution to accomplish the same:
Create an extra mono output port of a plugin, assign that to stereo out of the rack (or to whatever)

In my A/B Test this sounds better than shrinking stereo image to zero in my piano.
Of course this way you wouldn’t be flexible to react at the gig on a lousy mixer…

I happen to have a … wait a minute! I really have to stop skimming the content of these threads!

A thread at KVR suggested this piano, which is free:

(I have to contribute SOMETHING to make up for my skimming error…)


Doesn’t it depend on the piano?
Just throwing away one side of a stereo piano …?
Why can’t FOH set to 9/3 o’clock? I’ve never had an issue with that. 10/2 at worst.

Mid-Side is a good solution. Firms up the center without sacrificing the tone overly.

It does depend on the piano - but don’t you want to drive your Corvette instead of the Impala except the roadway isn’t configured for your vett.

One side of a stereo pair doesn’t usually work. Most libs - Ivory II for instance spreads the keyboard across the stereo image, Low keys to the left and high octaves over there in the right channel.

9/3 oclock. Agreed, but your assuming that “panning” is in play when it isn’t. Ask a FOH guy to split his precious amp stack in two and feed each side of the stage as L/R. He will politely tell you to consider engaging in an intimate relationship with yourself, or that running stereo in a bar is either senseless and/or fraught with phase/balance problems. (This translates into "The hot ((gender of your choice)) sitting on the left side of the bar won’t be able to hear the incredible guitar solos of the hot lead ((guitar player/singer gender of your choice)) who is positioned on the right side of the stage. Far better to settle for mono and save me (FOH guy) the hassle.

@JornsB - Agreed! Cadillac of pianos - that custom C7 is just drop dead stunning! TOO BAD you can’t really play it in a live gig, at least not like it’s meant to be heard. I love the Spectrasonics launch party video on YouTube. I’m sure that Ellis is wondering how his mono’ed LA Custom Rhodes sounds to the crowd.

There’s one in every crowd and your it.


I’m holding you to that sock sample lib. I want both LEFT AND RIGHT socks, I want them to cleanly (sorry wrong choice of words) smoothly move to mono without cancellation and full velocity/discrete samples for each key. 96K resolution so that the audience is moved to bring their own box of Tide to each show.


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Tks Jeff, I’ll mess with this.



only a quick idea: could haas effect panning probably solve the problem? You’d still have to convince the FOH operator to drive the keys true stereo but with the advantage of hearing both signals at any place in the audience.

Regards, humphrey

That’s the core question. :slight_smile:

After the trial of many pianos for live use, I settled with the Acoustic Samples Academic. It sounds great in mono and cuts through where the others couldn’t. This is the version made for Kontakt a few years ago before they went to ILok.

Right, the best option would be a solution that never involved FOH.

Tks @Corky, I’ll have a listen… Sigh… Park the Vette.

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Haas effect!!! Dang, this is a serious group. Note to self: Do not screw with Cantabile community.


The larger libraries didn’t seem to have any depth in mono; kinda like the many leslie simulators that depend on stereo to sound great. To my taste, the smaller libraries sounded much better in most live situations. When I happened upon Acoustic Samples, it had a superior sound live, and it became my go to piano. There are many more I have not tried due to limited cash flow, but this so far has been my experience. I also have rarely experienced a FOH system running true stereo.

@JHarris YEAH…don’t mess with this bunch of musicians and geeks. Liable to get slapped with loose semiquaver !!

Just did a little bit of testing with my favorite piano: Addictive Keys (XLN Audio)

Inserted a simple panner plugin (Sleepy Time Dual Panner) after it; state 1 full stereo, state 2 all mono (pan law -6 dB)

Made it easy to switch back and forth between mono and stereo, and TBH it held up pretty well. Yes, it does lose a little bit of depth, but for live use, it is still a pretty powerful vehicle to drive on a gig. No gym socks on my stage :wink:

The bit that gets lost from mono’ing, I would compensate with a bit of EQ (enhance the high frequency brilliance somewhat), plus some room reverb, if I had to go all mono. But fortunately, I get to provide the mixing setup for my band, so I can run my keyboards stereo (but I do narrow the stereo width to about 50%, depending on the size of the gig)



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