Piano Keyboard Guide
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5 Best Keyboard Amps | 2021 Updated Guide
Every keyboard comes with its own set of speakers. And while these speakers are usually acceptable for home practice sessions (if incomparable to the thick amp sound), they won’t do you any good in a gig/live environment. This is why keyboard amps are very much a thing – every professional or semi-professional piano player has a keyboard amp in their arsenal.
There’s a wide variety of keyboard amps that fit many different purposes. Some are more portable, while others pack more of a punch (watt-wise). With this in mind, we present you with an ultimate buyer’s guide, featuring the 5 best keyboard amps 2020 has to offer.
You don’t visit a store and buy any old keyboard amp available. Well, you could, but that isn’t the smartest way to go. For one, there are various wattage options included – you may end up overpaying for a high-wattage amp for exclusive home use. Even worse, you may end up buying a 7-watt amp for an upcoming live gig.
This is why we’ve come up with an ultimate buyer’s guide for digital piano players. You need to take these factors into account when looking for a keyboard amp in 2020.
This is the most critical factor to take into account when picking a perfect keyboard amp. First, you need to consider your current playing situation. But there’s something you must understand with amp power.
A 100-watt amp can tackle large venues. Now, this may not seem too sensible, but there’s one thing that you should acknowledge – you’ll be using a PA for any larger gig (perhaps even for a small one). If you don’t know what this entails – it literally means putting a microphone right in front of your amp, so the sound gets picked up, fed to the mixer, and put through the venue PA.
Now, there’s a whole science behind this – sound technicians make a living making you sound perfect on stage. As a rule of thumb (but not as an absolute rule), the more watts you go with, the easier job the microphone will have.
Therefore, if you need a keyboard amp for home and band practice purposes, you’ll be okay with 100-200 watts of power. If your aim is playing large gigs, more than 200 watts would be ideal. With that said, all of this depends on the amp in question, so the best-case scenario would be asking professionals and store employees.
Yes, the more effects an amp has, the better. When buying a guitar amp, for example, you’ll want it to have at least some basic effects. Otherwise, you’ll have to purchase pedals on the side, and this won’t save you any money. However, effects don’t play an absolutely vital role when choosing a keyboard amp. Most digital pianos already come equipped with a bunch of effects.
Of course, some native reverb, chorus, and delay can go a long way in making your playing sound warmer and your tone better.
So, try and avoid keyboard amps without the most essential effects, but don’t disregard an amp just because it doesn’t have a full-blown effects processor in it.
Now, this is a factor that isn’t easy to explain. In other words, you can’t know what tone clarity really is if you haven’t tried a number of amps. You can’t explain it in mundane terms, either, so take a look at the reviews and try as many amps as possible, so that you can develop a sense for tone clarity.
Inputs and Outputs
If you’re looking for an amp to play through and nothing else, a single input is more than enough. Most amps, though, feature at least two quarter-inch inputs. Some have XLR inputs for the microphone. This means that a simple keyboard amplifier can perform as an amp for vocals, even as an impromptu PA system.
If you’re looking to add a subwoofer for a beefier tone, get an amp with a subwoofer output.
In essence, it all depends on your personal needs, as a digital piano player.
Most keyboards come with equalizers of their own. They can be 2-band, 3-band, 5-band, etc. However, this equalization is never as good as the one found on the actual amp. Well, using an amp with active monitor speakers can actually bring the best out of keyboard-integrated EQs.
Ideally, you want a 5-band EQ on your keyboard amplifier. The more “bands” an equalizer has, the better you’ll be able to hone in your ideal tone. A 3-band EQ will work great in combination with keyboard-integrated EQ. In addition, it will do a great job with your tone, as well.
If you have a big studio and are looking for a keyboard amp that will just sit there for you to play it, then getting a large, robust one isn’t such a bad idea. Touring/gigging/traveling musicians, however, should always go for more portable models. Try and avoid going beyond 40 lbs., as this can turn into quite a nightmare for transport. In fact, ideally, if you travel a lot and play different venues, think along the lines of 20 lbs.
On the other hand, for busking, you aren’t only looking at the size. You’ll also want a battery-powered amp that weighs less than 10 lbs.
This is a burning question that many keyboard players ask. Yes, there are a lot of professional musicians who actually prefer plugging into the PA during live performances. But when should you go with an amp, instead? Well, if you’re a solo performer with nothing but a keyboard and a mic for vocals, plugging into the PA system may be the best way to go. If you perform with a band, however, a combo amp is a much better idea.
Best Keyboard Amps – Reviews
Best Keyboard Amps – Reviews
Roland 4-Channel Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier, 200 watt (KC-600)
Roland is a widely-known company that makes a variety of products. In addition to excellent keyboards, Roland also makes amps for keyboards. This model is the second largest amp from their renowned KC line and is often quoted as a bestselling keyboard amplifier.
It has a 15” speaker that operates at solid 200 watts. But everyone knows that amps aren’t only about watts and inches. Sound quality is a crucial factor to take into account here.
The Roland KC-600 comes with a custom-designed speaker system that does a pretty good job across the EQ. It’s capable of delivering incredible clarity and detail in mid and high ranges, while the lows remain thumping and powerful. This amp features an onboard 3-band equalizer, which will help you hone your sound according to your preference.
It features four channels with quarter-inch inputs. It even has an XLR mic input, which is a great combination. This makes it a reliable PA system, in addition to just a digital piano amp. There’s also an AUX input for connecting your portable music player. The subwoofer output option allows you to connect an external sub for an even bigger bass action.
Plus, there’s a fantastic feature that not many amps offer – daisy-chaining. Yes, you can connect two KC-600s using the Stereo Link connection technology. This will turn your mono experience into a stereo one. Now, granted, this isn’t a cheap solution, as you’ll have to get two of these amps. However, it might be a cool idea when playing venues that also have this amp. In any case, it’s better to have this unique option than not.
What makes the KC-600 great for live performances is its weight. Although it’s of similar dimensions to other KC models, this one is some 10 lbs. lighter. At 63 lbs., you can carry this one around, which is brilliant for the touring or traveling musician.
Its secret lies in its versatility. It’s excellent for practice, but can work in a variety of live performance conditions. It can even perform as a PA system for rehearsals and gigs that include a small ensemble.
To get one thing clear, this KC isn’t the best amp in the KC range. It falls second to the KC-990, which offers more features and is high-end. However, pound-for-pound, the KC-600 is a better choice. Yes, it is somewhat pricey, but it’s more than worth the price. With it, you get a lot of versatility – it will stack up quite the mileage.
Peavey KB 1 20-Watt 1×8 Keyboard Amp
The Peavey KB 1 is a pretty straightforward amp. It has two channels, features 20 watts, and has an 8” extended-range speaker. It’s one of the most popular practice amps for digital piano players out there.
Although it doesn’t feature a 3-band EQ, each of the two channels has a 2-band equalizer that will help you control your tone to a certain extent.
You wouldn’t think that this amp would boast versatility, but it actually does. Well, to a degree. It’s marketed as an amp that can work well with vocals, guitars, as well as other instruments. Although a guitar player with a pedalboard might actually like this little amp, it’s missing an XLR input. This means that you’re going to have to get an XLR-to-1/4” jack if you want to use the KB 1 for vocals.
When it comes to the controls, the top line is as basic as they get. There’s a level knob, a line-in, a 2-band EQ for each of the channels, and a headphone out. This sort of simplicity goes hand-in-hand with a basic amp like this one.
Underneath all the simplicity, however, lies a very crisp sound and tone. You wouldn’t expect it to be this masterfully executed on such a small amp. It doesn’t have any jaw-dropping effects and similar features, but you don’t need them with a good keyboard. Simply put, KB 1 is an amp intended for individual and small band practice sessions.
At 21 lbs., it’s ridiculously lightweight and extremely portable. But what might not be apparent is the fact that the Peavey KB 1 remains one of the toughest amps available out there. It’s old-school.
As mentioned, it doesn’t excel in the feature department or with the number and variety of inputs and outputs. However, what it promises to be, it delivers with a punch. It’s a small, sturdy, reliable practice amp that will last you quite a while. And, given the fact that it’s cheaper than $200, you get more than what you’ve paid for. If you’re on a quest for such an amp, the KB 1 definitely won’t disappoint.
BEHRINGER ULTRATONE K900FX
The Behringer Ultratone K900FX is an amp that boasts 90 watts of power. It might not be ideal for concerts, but it does a reasonably good job for small- and mid-sized gigs. Of course, it’s suitable for band practice and rehearsal sessions, and for solo practicing at home. This amp comes with some brilliant built-in effects. More importantly, though, the Ultratone K900FX is sophisticated as it is popular.
So, what’s the big deal about this amp? Well, for starters, it features a 5-band EQ, which isn’t something that you see every day, especially not with 90-watt amplifiers. Another unique feature that the K900FX offers is the proprietary FBQ Feedback Protection System from Behringer. This will give you peace of mind, while on-stage. The FBQ system is much more significant than you think.
The Behringer Ultratone K900FX features a built-in effects processor, which is quite the game-changer. The processor brings some 100 presets to the table. Yes, the typical ones like chorus, reverb, and delay are included, but there are many more to choose from.
The Ultratone K900FX has three channels, as well as an XLR mic input. This also makes it a brilliant little PA system. A 12” woofer and a 1” tweeter are more than enough for most non-concert situations. This Behringer amp may not be a juggernaut physically, but it packs quite a punch.
Still, despite all its power and included features, the Behringer Ultratone K900FX is a small amp. It weighs a bit over 40lbs, which is brilliant, considering the flexibility it brings to the table. You can also use the RCA stereo input to connect your music player and blast some fresh jams. You also get a subwoofer output if you want to include an external sub in the equation.
True, the Ultratone K900FX won’t be of too much use if you’re looking for a 200-watt amp. However, it more than delivers with its 90-watt output. It brings some noise to the stage, without going crazy with feedback (thanks, FBQ).
There are many similarly sized amps for digital pianos that you can find for a similar price, but most of them aren’t this versatile. The 5-band EQ and the FBQ system work in tandem to deliver an undisrupted, clear tone that you can shape according to your own preferences.
If you’re looking for a versatile amp that you’ll be able to practice on and take to mid-sized gigs, the Behringer Ultratone K900FX is a perfect fit.
Roland Mobile Cube Battery-Powered Stereo Amplifier
There are many portable keyboard amps out there. They can weigh from 40 down to as little as 20 lbs. These sizes are very convenient for live gigs and practice sessions – and these amps bring versatility to the table.
But if you’re looking for a keyboard amp that you’ll be able to take on the road with you and even play on the street, none of the “real” keyboards amps will do the trick.
The Roland Mobile Cube, with its mere 7 lbs., is a battery-powered amp. All you need are 6 AA batteries, and you’re good to go. Take it almost anywhere with you.
If you’re thinking “boom box”, you’re absolutely right. This is the modern equivalent. It has two 4” speakers that pack 2.5 watts each and bring particularly clear stereo to proceedings. Yes, it does have an AUX input, so you can use it as a boom box. But Roland Mobile Cube is still a keyboard amp. It has two channels, one microphone channel and an instrument channel. With the instrument channel, you get stereo inputs for keyboards.
If this isn’t your first rodeo with keyboard amps, you’ve probably heard about the widely-renowned FX engine from Roland. Yes, the Mobile Cube comes with this engine built-in. This means that you get top-notch chorus, reverb, delay, and a plethora of other effects options.
Yes, of course this amp isn’t expensive. It isn’t too versatile, it won’t be enough for any gig situations, but if you’re a street player, someone who wants an extremely portable practice amp, or just a modern boom box, this digital piano amp will definitely do the trick.
In other words, this amp won’t fit any requirement, but that’s because it was never meant to. It’s the ultimate travel amp.
Oh, and this amp works great with guitars, as well. If you happen to need overdrive or distortion, it definitely doesn’t have these settings, but it gels with pedals pretty brilliantly. So, if you happen to have an overdrive/distortion pedal (ideally with an integrated or separate noise gate), you can use it for rock and even metal busking performances.
Coolmusic DK35S 50W Bluetooth Personal Monitor Amplifier Electric Drum Amplifier PA Workstation Keyboard Speaker
Interestingly enough, the CoolMusic DK35S was designed for percussion sources. However, this model features active monitor speakers that do wonders for tone clarity. So, while brilliant for percussion amplifications, the DK35S can actually enhance your keyboard performance.
It has two channels, as well as a pretty robust EQ with low and high controls. Admittedly, this isn’t too much for tone control, but, again, this model features active monitors, so all the EQ-ing that you’ll be doing is going to take place on the actual keyboard. The CoolMusic DK35S’s job is to deliver the most “honest” sound possible.
As a percussion amp, it doesn’t pack too many features – you get a reverb and that’s about it. Again, this isn’t too much of a problem, as the sound it delivers is as clear as they come, meaning that the keyboard-integrated effects will be able to shine in their true glory.
Another cool feature here is the DI output, which makes direct recording possible, as well as PA integration. It also features MP3 and Bluetooth connectivity, so you can connect to the amp using your phone or laptop.
The fact that this one is a percussion amp with two inputs means that you can have it play a backing drum track, while also reproducing the sound from your keyboard. Other amps may be able to do this, but not with this amount of clarity that you get thanks to the active monitor speaker system. As long as you supply a power source, this amp will make for a brilliant tool for busking.
Oh, and you can also plug in your guitar or microphone, so don’t worry about versatility too much. Keep in mind, though, that you won’t get any overdrive effects for your guitar, so you’re going to have to use an external pedal here.
If you’re looking for absolute tonal clarity with a practice/busking/small gig keyboard amplifier, you’re going to have a great time with the CoolMusic DK35S. There aren’t many keyboard amps on the market that give you the active monitor clarity. With that said, the DK35S can actually be used as a stage monitor. It’s even built so that you can angle it that way.
Every single entry on this list of the 5 best keyboard amps 2020 has to offer will find its rightful owner. However, the Behringer Ultratone K900FX is probably the best choice here.
First of all, it has 90 watts of power, which might not sound like a lot, but with its onboard speakers, it can work in combination with a PA to bring an excellent sound, even for large gigs. It also boasts the FBQ Feedback Protection System feature, which ensures that the amount of noise that the K900FX brings to the table doesn’t cause a ton of feedback.
At 40 lbs., it’s pretty lightweight for the power it delivers. It also isn’t too sizeable and it features a 5-band equalizer, which is more than decent for your tone hunt. With a built-in effects processor, three inputs, an XLR input, a 12” woofer, and a 1” tweeter, this is more than enough.
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