Which Keyboard Amplifier?

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Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby Paul99 » 00:11, 12 August 2017

Hi Guys,

Until now I always played in bands my keys over the PA system which was fine for me. Tonight my fellow members complained that I always sound too low. So as a practice proof they advised to hook my FA-06 up to the Peavy Bass amplifier from the bass player. Conclusion: they all found it much louder and much better....
So now I have a problem because I know my way in keyboards and software, but I have no clue in keyboard amplifiers.

That's why I am asking you guys: what keyboard amplifier do you use and are you satisfied?

I would love to hear your stories!

Take care!
Paul
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby Gatorjohn » 12:01, 12 August 2017

Budget? All lot of folks are raving about these:

https://www.sweetwater.com/c525--Keyboa ... lnbnMiXX19

You can find a used v.3 for about $650 nowadays as some are upgrading to the new sleep version.
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby Paul99 » 15:01, 12 August 2017

Thank you Gatorjohn, I should indeed have mentioned my budget: max 400 euro/dollar.
So these excellent looking amps are really outta budget. I should add also that I am just a very simple amateur, so I don't need professional equipment to do gigs for 40.000 people...;-)
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby bennyseven » 17:09, 12 August 2017

ROLANDs KC combos are pretty good keyboard amplifier. There are small to big versions available, depending on the size of stage/club. Starting at 349$.
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby Paul99 » 17:49, 12 August 2017

Thanks Benny. Unfortunately my music shop only has the more expensive Roland models.....

How about the ones from Behringer? For example the Ultratone KDX12 and KDX15. They are fairly reasonably priced (resp 369 and 478), but are they any good?
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby motidave » 19:40, 12 August 2017

Need more info but buy a PPA. Depending on what music (sounds) you play and how you play, more specific recommendations are possible. How many keyboards are you running? do you run into a small mixer and then to your sound amp? Do you run stereo or mono. How much bass (LF) sound do you generate? What type of sounds are most important: AP, EP, organ, synth or ? And perhaps must important - whats the budget? Assuming an FA-xx user likes alot of great Roland synth - I'm going to recommend a 10" or 12" main driver to get that thick warm lower frequency response.

As to Spacestation - I tried ss v3, it wasn't for me and what I play. many like it, but i didn't. I play alot of synth and it was lacking in the lower frequency range. Also lacked power for a very loud rock band (again, me). i currently have an EV ELX112P. great value for price. there are alot of options. PPAs deliver the clearest sound with flattest frequency response - which is what you want.
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby motidave » 19:41, 12 August 2017

I personally do not recommend any keyboard amps. PPA is the way to go. trust on this.
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby Paul99 » 21:16, 12 August 2017

Thanks guys. Let me again emphasize that I am a very small amateur in a 5 person amateur band: drums, bass, two guitars and me playing only on my FA-06. We will do gigs for max 100 people. The only reason I need an amp is that playing over our PA system delivers a somehow weak sound compared to the two guitar players. So no need for me for real professional stuff. I play mostly organ, ac. and el piano, since we play plain rock music.
The only thing I just discovered by reading about this topic is that it would be handy to have a line out so that I can use the amp as my monitor on stage while making a connection to the PA if necessary.

Motidave, could you elaborate on PPA, what models? I searched and can find nothing? Obviously it is not a known brand here in my country (Netherlands, Europe).
And also: why not a dedicated keyboard amp?
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby scramble » 21:51, 12 August 2017

Dont get anything labelled a keyboard amp, especially by Roland! They're usually overpriced, heavy, and sound terrible (with a few exceptions which sound very good, but those are pricey).

Just get a PA powered speaker or stage monitor. You can get cheap but good ones these days. Yamaha and Alto, for example, will have good models in your price range. These are cheaper than keyboard amps because they sell ten times as much of them as a keyboard amp, and they'll handle a keyboard signal fine. Most keyboard players these days at your sort of level use PA powered speakers or stage monitors rather than keyboard amps.
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby Dyffryn Studios » 18:32, 13 August 2017

Hi Absolutely agree with scramble

I play in a 5 piece and initially had a KCA 55. Fine for volume, but very very heavy and never delivered a good piano to my ears, very resonant in the low mids. I changed to a pair of active 12 inch PA speakers. Yamaha DSR12's. They are soooperb. Not too heavy, and very flexible in that can use a PA or monitors. Lots of other makes just as good, Electrovoice, RCF...
Piano and my other instruments sound great through them.
I use a small Mackie mixer to drive them as have PC Audio , Guitar synth, etc.

Try some active PA's at your local music store.

Rob
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby motidave » 19:55, 13 August 2017

Get a PPA and a small DI box. PPA is your monitor and could be use for overall sound if you need to. Depending on how loud you play will dictate how much SPL output you need. The DI box lets you run a line to a house PA system while running the thru line to your own monitor. It will let you set your stage amp volume separate from the house sound and protect your keyboards from phantom power (if the house sound makes a mistake and sends phantom mic power, it can damage your keyboard output circuitry).

PPA is an amp. They are not more expensive than keyboard amps. you can get them from low price to very expensive, and to a degree you get what you pay for. It just doesn't have keyboard in its name. But ironically these are by far the best sounding choice for modern keyboards. Keyboard amps are usually overpriced compared to PPA speakers.

Unless you are Jon Lord - then get a Marshall stack.
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby anotherscott » 23:34, 13 August 2017

Paul99 wrote:could you elaborate on PPA, what models? I searched and can find nothing? Obviously it is not a known brand here in my country (Netherlands, Europe).
And also: why not a dedicated keyboard amp?

PPA is not a brand. Took me a sec too, as I'd never seen that abbreviation, but they mean a Powered PA cabinet. The least expensive one I've found that sounds good for acoustic piano sounds (the toughest sound to reproduce well) is the EV ZXa1. I've also read some good reports of the cheaper EV ZLX 12P but I don't have any personal experience with that one, and it's a lot heavier to carry around. But either should be in your budget. Hopefully you can find a place to try both of them out. Whatever you do, make sure your testing includes acoustic piano sounds.

Dedicated keyboard amps may have more features, but they just don't sound as good. (Especially low priced ones.) Speakers designed for PA are generally designed with flat frequency response as a goal, to sound good with whatever is played through them. I don't know why keyboard amps aren't, but that does seem to be the case, the sound tends to be colored, making piano in particular less natural sounding.
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby Paul99 » 00:40, 14 August 2017

motidave wrote: Unless you are Jon Lord - then get a Marshall stack.


Well....most definitely not....unfortunately. But I would have been happy with just 1% of his talent!

So first: thanks for all your help. I have no idea what PPA is. I googled it and I got very strange results since I live in The Netherlands: "Personal Profile Analysis" etc. I don't think that wil help me get my FA-06 any louder....;-) Maybe you could name a model so I could search on that name?

About our PA: yeah, that's not gonna help. It is fine for our vocals but that is really all there is. So not enough power to use it with a separate PA powered speaker, or maybe do I understand that concept wrong?

If it would be possible, a name and model would would really help so I can do the searching easier.

I really appreciate all the help, thank you!
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby motidave » 03:13, 14 August 2017

Sorry - PPA just means Powered PA speaker. PA once stood for Public Address but nobody uses that term anymore. PA is a main sound system the band projects sound from. Sometimes if they only have a small PA, only the vocals are put in it. Big systems mic up the entire band. Keyboards tend to run direct signal in, not be mic'd up. Etc etc. ..

Traditional PA systems had separate power amplifier(s) that woul boost the input signals and drive high power sound signals to unpowered speaker cabinets. These were called passive speakers, they had no internal power.

PPA means they are powered (or active), and you don't need a separate amplifier to boost your line signal. Its all in the one speaker box.
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Re: Which Keyboard Amplifier?

Postby motidave » 03:28, 14 August 2017

Ok - Step 1 is you don't look in the keyboard amp section of a store or website. You go to the Live Sound section, where they sell PA gear. Go to either of these and you can search for Powered PA speakers

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Powered-PA-Speakers.gc
https://www.sweetwater.com/c134--PA_Speakers

There are lots of other websites that also sell. There are lots opinions on sound and a wide range of money you can spend. I can tell you my opinion but I've heard so many with different ones, sound is personal and it depends on what tones you play, how you want it to sound etc. I recommend if you have a local music equipment store, go there and try some out. You can judge where the added sound quality is worth the added cost.

Examples of a few common main brands and some of their models are here - but there are a few others:

QSC: K8, K10, K12. (They now have a x.2 series out)
yamaha: DSR10, DSR 12, DXR10, DXR12
Electro-Voice (EV): ZLX-12P, ELX112P, EKX-12P, ZXA1-90
JBL: ... etc etc etc ...

Start reading reviews, decide how much you want to spend ... best thing to do is go and listen - bring an MP3 player of music that is like what you want to play and a cord to plug in to the speaker - most all will take 1/4" or XLR, some also have a mini-plug jack for MP3/iPods.

I myself think 8" main driver (speaker) is too small for keyboard sounds, cannot get the low end response. There are guys that use them though. I think 10" and 12" is the sweet spot. I currently have an ELX112P which was a good value for price. Its 12" main an 1000W. But note - the "1000W" is the rating of the power amp, its not the actual sound that is put out. The Key specs you want to look for are

1. SPL - thats the amount of actual sound it can put out (dB). Top line for a pro use is around 125 - 134 dB. If a speaker doesn't state what its SPL is, I won't even consider it personally.

2. Frequency response - At what frequency does sound level drop off (-3dB). Not all manufacturers seem to measure and test the same so its a bit iffy but the key is for a keyboard you want a flat frequency response.
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