Analogue desks have their nominal level labeled "0VU" (on pro kit this represents +4dBu) but they usually have between 20 and 24dBs "headroom"
I'm totally in the same boat. In a live environment you're facing enough issues with dead-spots (phase cancellation) etc without adding stereo imaging
Interestingly, a Wiki search explains that everyone was right. Having only worked in American and English theatre, I had made the false assumption that
Most of the European theaters use the French "cour" for stage left and "jardin" for stage right.
If you are in the audience
As a FOH engineer, I cannot think of a single situation where I could create a stereo image for every person in the audience, unless, of course, everyone
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