Stereo amplifiers apply the concept with two sound sources that reach the ears at different times, giving the illusion of fullness. Although people hear everything in stereo, guitar amplifiers use two internal amplifiers, with a slight delay between the left and right speakers, to enhance the stereo effect.
Mono guitar amplifiers are still the industry standard in music and can be made to sound like they are in stereo in live and recorded music situations. By directing the mono sound source via microphone to a stereo signal array, stereo effects can be reproduced.
Stereo in Practice
Stereo guitar amplifiers sound good in close listening and recording situations but lose their intended effect in larger rooms because the speakers are too close together. Most live sound amplification systems are mono due to the logistical problems of the audience’s seats compared to optimal speaker placement, which results in the stereo amplifier sound becoming mono.
Some electric guitars are connected in stereo but can be used with either mono or stereo equipment. The problem with stereo guitars is the same with stereo amplifiers, as the effect is only useful in small live performances and recording situations.
Because stereo amplifiers use split internal power and preamplifiers, the cost is usually higher than a comparable mono amplifier. For musicians who mainly perform in small rooms without sound systems or spend much of their time recording, stereo is a choice to consider. Given the limits of stereo amplifiers and the ability to simulate stereo with a mono amplifier in many situations, they are best suited for specific, specialized applications. Stereo guitar amps have always seemed like a good idea, but the instances and locations where they are used are really the deciding factors in whether they are successful or unsuitable for doing their job.