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Keyboard Amplifier Buying Guide



With so many keyboard amplifiers on the market today, how do you make a choice? To my mind it all depends on factors such as budget, what you're using your amp for, where you'll be using it, the kind of power you require, and the number of instruments you intend to plug into it.




keyboard amplifier buying guide



You need to choose the right keyboard amplifier for the job. An inexpensive, small amp may sound great in a small room such as a bookstore, or a small coffee house. It may be great for personal rehearsal at home as well. But that very same amp will not have much use in a bigger, noisier venue. On stage, in a large place, or open air venue, they're great as stage monitors. Some of them come with a low-impedance line out, so you can easily connect them to a powerful sound system.


Here's a good place to buy a keyboard amplifier. If you're looking for a good low frequency response and a full spectrum frequency range, the type of speakers that your amplifier comes with is important. The speaker cabinet should be fairly large with a woofer, midrange speaker, and a tweeter or high-frequency horn. If you're be playing at high volumes a high power rating is a must.


When it comes to keyboard amplification, guitar amplifiers just won't do. This is because the frequency range of guitar amps are less than that of keyboards. Think of all the various sounds that a keyboard produces, from low bass notes to high hats, and so on. Guitar amps are not designed to play bass, they have a presence boost in the midrange and in the high frequency range, most of them don't go past 10 kHz. There are several reasons why you shouldn't use guitar amps to amplify your keyboard sound but this is beyond the scope of this article.


A keyboard amplifier is the simplest solution if you are looking into external amplification. It will work well for home settings (practicing, recording) and small venues (local coffee shop or small church gigs).


In terms of power, you can find keyboard amplifiers that start at around 20-watts of power and models that go up to 400-watts. Just for reference, 20 watts of power is more than enough for home use, while anything above 100 watts would be overkill at home.


Both PAs and keyboard amplifiers tend to be built with strong materials since taking them on the road is part of their intended use. They tend to be made of either wood (hard plywood or solid wood), aluminum, plastic or a combination.


However, when choosing an amplifier (or any other piece of equipment) the best course of action is to try as many as you can, particularly in a store where you can connect a keyboard similar to the one you own into several amps to test each individually.


A PA system is a good all-round solution for keyboard monitoring. PA stands for Public Address and it is a system made up of various elements such as mixers, loudspeakers and amplifiers. This equipment is effective at increasing the loudness of a sound source, often substantially.


Nowadays you will not find a huge difference in functionality between keyboard amplifiers and portable PAs. Especially when it comes to the higher-powered systems with outputs of over 50 watts. Music shops and stores often advertise the same items in both categories.


The answer lies in the fact that guitars, being stringed instruments, can only produce notes that lie within a particular frequency range, while keyboards and synths can generate tones at least an octave higher and lower than that. So keyboard amplifiers need to be optimised to reproduce sound across a wider frequency range than most guitar amps, so that rumbling bass notes and sparkling highs are reproduced cleanly and clearly without distortion or muddiness.


Having been released by Peavy back in 2004, quality and reliability is time tested. This also shows that the amplifier needs of keyboardists haven't changed much. Still, being an old release means that it will lag behind recent releases in terms of modern features and connectivity.


The 150W amplifier section is paired with a 12" woofer and a horn tweeter. This combination allows the amp to go really loud, enough for small to medium size venues. The big 12" woofer also means that you have more low end than smaller amps, resulting in a fuller sound. The tweeter handles the high frequencies well, to the point that you have to set it unnaturally loud for it to begin losing clarity. And this makes KC-400 a great stage amp, first for keyboardists, but also for other instruments and even vocals.


Since Roland is known for their "stereo" amps, it makes sense for them to give the same stereo treatment to their flagship keyboard amp. And so the KC-990 was designed to be a "stereo mixing" keyboard amplifier, with two sets of speakers and two line outs. It houses two 12" speakers, and two horn tweeters, that give it genuine stereo sound in one package.


Although it had slow beginnings, this amp has gained enough traction to warrant a special spot in this guide. The KC-990 is a flagship amp for good reasons, definitely worth checking out if you require the highest power rating and want a true stereo keyboard amp.


We started by looking at all the keyboard amps priced under $1,500 at major US based retailers, and for this edition we ended up with a short list of 22 promising keyboard amps to produce ratings for - you can see them and their ratings in our Music Gear Database. Note that we only included full-range amps - we did not include keyboard subwoofer amps in this guide. Then we collected feedback on each amp from store ratings, reviews and forum discussions to feed into the Gearank Algorithm which calculated rating scores out of 100 for each model - this involved processing over 3,500 rating sources. Finally, we selected the highest rated options in each price range above to recommend. To learn more about our methods see How Gearank Works.


It's interesting how top rated keyboard amps are from manufacturers known for their reliability, namely Peavey and Roland. This shows that keyboardists care more about consistent performance and longevity over extra features. My personal favorite in this guide is the Peavey KB 2, a super reliable amp that works well in church settings.


I also bought a spacestation V3 hoping to get quality sound loud enough for gigging in bar/club venues, but still light enough to bring it up and down stairs where I have my practice music room at home. I also bought a Harbringer subwoofer to help out with the bass sounds. I also have quality keyboards (Montage 6, NORD 4, Hammond SK-1, and numerous analogue/digital synths) so I was willing to spend the money to get the quality sound. To be honest, I think I get just as good of sounds from my powered PA monitors (have both JBL and Harbringer) as the spacestation provides. I hear no replication of the stereo sounds we are supposed to hear and I think it struggles to get out the really full sounds my keyboards produce. No mention of Leslie amplifiers here (there is one under 1000 dollars). Any comments to this. I do like the larger Roland amps, but an older retired Army Officer like myself just cannot move those around. Any thoughts anyone? I live in the Wilmington NC area and would love to hear from any locals as well. atimeman@aol.com


But then, the other enumerated keyboard amplifiers are also excellent choices. Nevertheless, if you are still unsure, I have prepared a buying guide, reviews, and FAQs to help you with the selection. 041b061a72


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