Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Keyboard Sound Solution


Zulock

Recommended Posts

Hello, I'm new here but have been reading everything I can about speakers/amps for keyboards. I recently bought a Yamaha CP-33 and now have the cash to buy sound components. I started off looking at "keyboard amps" but after a little more research on this board and others it seems that the overwhelming consensus is that keyboard amps are not the way to go. Most everyone seems to be going with powered PA speakers, which to this audio newb would seem to be a speaker/amp/mixer in one...sort of. So, I've narrowed it down to a few options, but still have some questions. The keyboard is sampled in stereo, and from what I've read it sounds like playing a stereo sampled keyboard through a mono system doesn't sound great. Does this mean I simply need to buy a pair of speakers and have the left output going to the left speaker and the right output to the right speaker, or is there more to it than that? Like I said, I'm very new to the technical audio side.

 

Basically I have it narrowed down to the EV Xsa360, which I'm thinking I could only afford one of, or something from the JBL EON series, which I could probably get two of for stereo.

 

In terms of use, they will be used for a home practice/studio initially, but eventually would be gigging with them. I play mostly jazz, but everything else too. My budget could go up to $1500, but would prefer to stay around $1000.

 

Thanks!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 21
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Two Acme Low B-1 3-way cabinets = $420 ea. = $840.00

One Carvin DCM1540L stereo power amp = $399.99

Yamaha MG10/2 mixer - $99.99

 

This offers very balanced natural sound from real wood 3-way full range cabinets (which are only 31 lbs. each), 425w per side into 8ohms (or 750W into 4ohms), 15 lbs., and a great sounding mixer. Downside is more parts to set up - a self-powered cabinet is more convenient. But I haven't heard a self-powered system yet that beats this solution - and the whole thing is $1340 (before tax and shipping, that is).

 

..
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can second Tim's recs on the Yammie mixer (incredible bang-for-buck and easy to find used) and the Carvin power amp (it's a workhorse as are the ones from QSC and Crown). Embarassingly, I am not familiar with the cab recommendations.

 

I may soon be selling my Stewart World 1.2 power amp as I'm planning on going to a powered cabinet sometime this fall, but it might be overkill for you in terms of power rating. It's 1 rack unit and convection vs. fan-cooled. Extremely transparent/neutral, and also very good for mono-bridging. It's better than Crown, Crest, Carvin, and QSC on most scores but is pricier new. Still a bargain though, especially used.

 

Whether you combine used or new purchases, you can do well coming in under your proposed budget. My current bass/keyboard setup is way cheaper than when I had dedicated bass and keyboard amps, and way better. You're making the right choice staying away from keyboard amps and going to separates. Also you will have easier upgrade options and better sell-back value.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Two Acme Low B-1 3-way cabinets = $420 ea. = $840.00

One Carvin DCM1540L stereo power amp = $399.99

Yamaha MG10/2 mixer - $99.99

 

This offers very balanced natural sound from real wood 3-way full range cabinets (which are only 31 lbs. each), 425w per side into 8ohms (or 750W into 4ohms), 15 lbs..

 

I´m interested in these cabs too, but I cannot test ´em in germany unfortunally.

Do you have the 4 ohms or 8 ohms version?

 

I plan to use ´em w/ different mixers I own, Mackie CR1604 VLZ or the ones I have in my racks,- Roland M160 and Rolls RM203.

 

I´ve read a Low B-1 handles 175W RMS.

My amp is a Bryston 3B Pro which delivers 2x 200W RMS in 4 Ohms and my experience is, it´s very loud w/ any other passive speakers I used. I like the Bryston because of quality in sound, manufacturing and because it has no fans.

 

Wouldn´t that be enough to drive these speakers for keys or is there any reason why I should choose a larger amp?

 

In general, I prefer the passive speakers, separate amps solution over active speakers, especially in the case something fails and has to be replaced.

 

A.C.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Acme cabinets sound nice and are priced good. I just heard them a couple months ago and the B1's are perfect.

If you are needing something louder and do not use FOH engineers the bigger cabinets are cheap too.

I use Barbetta's because I need a variety of inputs and I love the punch from smaller speakers but good luck finding any of those used. They are a little pricy but Tony B. is a keyboardist and his cabinets are designed as powered stage monitors, with multiple options for FOH.

Magnus C350 and a TV Dinner Tray Stand

 

http://soundcloud.com/you/sets

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the feedback, it is very appreciated!!

 

That Acme B-1 setup with the carvin amp and yamaha mixer seems like a really sweet setup. I was unfamiliar the the Acme's as well, but if they're all they are cracked up to be they sound amazing.

 

I think I've definitely have been swayed to get separate components, my only initial hesitation was not knowing what the heck I was doing hooking it all up, but I have time to learn!

 

Has anyone else had any experience with these Acme cabs? They're very tempting!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stewart and Bryston are both several steps up from Carvin...many audiophiles use Bryston to drive current-hungry electrostat planars like Magnepan and Martin Logan. Oh, and to answer your question Al, I went with the 8 ohm per Andy's recommendation.

 

Zulock and Al, the reason Acmes remain sort of "best kept secrets" is they don't do normal retail distribution to stores (it's buy from Acme only). Andy has a liberal return policy (just don't try to return it covered in cat hair - a true story he told me). As I've suggested to others who were curious, just call them when you have time. Andy picks up the phone and will be happy to discuss his engineering, your needs, what's the best fit for what you're doing, amplifier matching, etc.

..
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You'll find many more reviews on the Acme Cabs by checking out some bass forums (or google Reviews, ACME B1 for more results).

 

Most keyboard amps just plain suck. The only one I ever found that worked for me is the Yorkville 300K: a stereo combo with 2x10s, and 2 horns, 150watts per side, with 3 stereo channels, 2 mono channels both with line level and microphone inputs, and a take in, all on the front, and balanced line outs on the back (XLR) and tape outs as well. They're hard to find, but well worth if you can. I've used mine faithfully for the last 9 years without fail. Great tone, pianos sound excellent through it (always the hardest test), and they look nice too. I happen to be selling one, but honestly, I'm not pimping it here (it's up above in the "garage sale"), just letting you know that it's worth doing a google or craigslist search in your area to see if you can find/audition one. It would also be worth calling Yorkville to see if they can do a dealer search in your area to see if they can find a new one languishing in a store somewhere; since Yorkville dealers tend to be mom/pop variety as opposed to GSpot or Sam Rash, it's possible there's a new one somewhere you can get your hands on. If not, PM me.

 

Honestly, component rigs are killer (it's what I used until I found the 300K), but sometimes, ease of use and quick set-up mandate an alternative. My amp rig before the 300K was pretty vicious: Roland M120 line mixer into EV P1250 power amp (500w a side at 8@) into a pair of Paradise Audio cabinets with a 15" EV and an EV horn. That was a killer rig.

 

For Al Coda, one more thing about component rigs: yeah, you tend to want BIGGER power amps (higher power as opposed to size) because more headroom means cleaner sound (which is why I went with the P1250). Bass frequencies EAT wattage, and you want the tone to breathe, and if your amp is struggling to keep up, things tend to sound a little choked.

 

And regarding the ACME boxes, I spoke to Mr. Acme recently (sorry, I have forgotten his name), and the one thing he told me is that his cabinets do eat power, so if you are going with the ACME boxes, you definitely want a BIGGER power amp (think watts, not dimensions) to get them to perform. I appreciate honestly and disclosure from companies, and he was very upfront about that, and he personally recommended going big on the amp.

 

Good luck with your quest!

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I've been swayed! The Acme B1 setup is what I'm doing. I put in a bid for the yamaha mixer on ebay and will call Andy to talk about matching an amp since I have no idea what I'm doing. Anyone know of any good online guides to help familiarize myself with all this stuff? Ohms, FOH, impedance, i'm in the dark about all of it.

 

Thanks again for all the help and recommendations, I will surely chime in once I have it all setup and am playing with it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bryston power amps are some of the best in the industry, have 30 year guarantees, and are used in most pro studios around the world.

 

I sold mine a few years ago when I went to active monitors for my home setup. Mine was only 50 watts so couldn't be repurposed as a bass/keyboard power amp. Brystons are much pricier now than in the old days when I bought mine. I still have my Bryston preamp.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

General rule of thumb on power ratings is to go for a power amp rated at about twice what your speaker is specced for.

 

I try not to go much above 12 o'clock or 1 o'clock on my power amp.

 

A line level signal, for instance, doesn't in principle need a pre-amp stage before going to the power amp stage, but benefits from it in terms of headroom and accuracy.

 

That same principle applies further down the chain at the power amp stage. Most people agree that 200% overhead is ample headroom.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For Al Coda,...

... Bass frequencies EAT wattage, and you want the tone to breathe, and if your amp is struggling to keep up, things tend to sound a little choked.

 

And regarding the ACME boxes,... his cabinets do eat power, so if you are going with the ACME boxes, you definitely want a BIGGER power amp (think watts, not dimensions) to get them to perform.

 

Good luck with your quest!

 

Thanks for the info, Tony.

 

Let´s discuss the following:

 

These cabs are designed for bass players and I want ´em for monitoring myself only, not to be loud for the audience because there´s always a PA and a monitor system available.

Only in rehearsals. there´s often no monitor system, but the rooms are much smaller then.

 

I don´t play bass pedals anymore (I had a Taurus I in the past) nor organ bass pedals or organ left-hand bass. I do band work only if I go on he road.

If I have to play a (analogue) synth bass, it´s been splitted out to a separate dry channel to the FOH console of the PA anyway to get it right in the mix for the audience.

 

I just only want small speakers offering a clear sound, without muddy transients, covering the full frequency spectrum of my keys at a moderate level which doesn´t damage my ears and a band should hear me well in rehearsals.

 

I was touring w/ the Bryston 3B Pro and cheapo Dynacord FE 12.2 speakers (endorsed) because these were small and the amp was driven by one of my Roland M160 rack-mixers at a +4dB level and balanced,- it was so loud I had to push the master faders of the M160 down to -12 /-15dB level reading the peak meter of the mixer,- and I played Minimoog bass in one tune on that tour which was concert and halls.

 

So, can it be, the method of measuring wattage an amp delivers might be different depending on the manufacturer of the amp.

The Bryston has excellent dynamics, transient attack (slew rate) and damping factor and surpasses all the common PA amplifiers by far, so I wonder if the ACMEs "eat more power" because of a lack in sensitivity /SPL.

 

AFAIK, the ACMEs use a special designed Eminence speaker and "special designed" for me means "better".

I assume it´s a long-throw woofer to get the bass right out of these small speakers,- but as a comparison, the Dynacords used standard Eminence 12" full range speakers (plus 1" tweeter).

 

So, the question is, do the ACMEs need twice the power a cab can handle for just only to deliver a nearly linear frequency response or would I be fine w/ 2 of these cabs (4 ohms versions in my case) and the 2x 200W Bryston because I would never play w/ amp and mixer fully cranked up anyway, eventually less than half way.

Isn´t that enough headroom ?

 

A.C.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bryston power amps are some of the best in the industry, have 30 year guarantees, and are used in most pro studios around the world.

 

Well, that´s right. I had mine in the service this year and after 27 years and it was like new. The Roederstein capacitors never die. There was only one cheap cap above the mains switch to replace and the negative bias was well adjusted after all these years.

This amp was one of the best investments I ever did.

 

I sold mine a few years ago when I went to active monitors for my home setup.

 

I never went active, I have also Bryston and Tannoys @home.

 

Mine was only 50 watts so couldn't be repurposed as a bass/keyboard power amp.

 

True ! :-)

The 50W version is a 2B, not pro,- and it´s a hi-fi amp.

It has cinch inputs, isn´t balanced (bad for live usage)and the Bryston logo isn´t centered and smaller.

But it´s a excellent hi-fi amp, no question.

 

I still have my Bryston preamp.

 

Good choice !

 

A.C.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Theoretically, just doing the math, you ought to be able to get around 112dB out of them with that amp at 1M distance - that's if there is no power compression from the speaker.

 

So the question is - is that loud enough that you won't be cranking your amp to it's limit?

 

The reason why most people say double your amp power as a rule of thumb, is because that means 3dB of headroom, and it's usually enough that when you're driving the speaker hard, you aren't clipping. If you start clipping, then you don't get much more volume out of the speaker, but the RMS value gets a lot higher, which is more likely to fry the speaker. For instance, for a sine wave, the peak power is 1.41 x the RMS power. If you clip it (100%) it becomes a square wave, where peak power = RMS power. So given the two examples, with the same peak power limit - say 100W - RMS of the Square is 100W, RMS of the sine is 70.7W.

 

Now, if your amp has a lot of headroom over it's rated continuous output, then you've effectively covered this without needing to oversize the amp.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

General rule of thumb on power ratings is to go for a power amp rated at about twice what your speaker is specced for.

 

I try not to go much above 12 o'clock or 1 o'clock on my power amp.

 

A line level signal, for instance, doesn't in principle need a pre-amp stage before going to the power amp stage, but benefits from it in terms of headroom and accuracy.

 

That same principle applies further down the chain at the power amp stage. Most people agree that 200% overhead is ample headroom.

This could be a dangerous proposition when many folks don't really know which speaker specs to use. ;)

 

Nowadays, speakers might be rated 400 (rms)/800 (program)/1600 watts (peak).

 

A speaker will be damaged or severely compromised doubling the wrong number. :eek:

 

It helps to understand the realistic speaker rating and proper gain staging before adding a power amp. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also remember, just turning the volume down on your amp does not limit the max power output. A 1000W amp can still put out 1000W with the volume on "2" if you send it a hot enough signal.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Theoretically, just doing the math, you ought to be able to get around 112dB out of them with that amp at 1M distance - that's if there is no power compression from the speaker.

 

So the question is - is that loud enough that you won't be cranking your amp to it's limit?

 

Well, that´s good question.

I always use speakers as close as possible to my position, so I´d tend to say "yes".

 

The reason why most people say double your amp power as a rule of thumb, is because that means 3dB of headroom, and it's usually enough that when you're driving the speaker hard, you aren't clipping.

 

The Bryston 3B Pro, itself, only has two little screws, one per channel, to adjust the level of the amp, but there´s no scaling, which makes it hard to match the output of both the channels.

Therefore, it´s set to full power on both channels always.

The master-faders of my mixer are the the final level controls. As a result, the amp never gets a overdriven signal input.

 

If you start clipping, then you don't get much more volume out of the speaker, but the RMS value gets a lot higher, which is more likely to fry the speaker.

 

Do I start clipping if I keep the masterlevel of my mixer low enough (and use a limiter between the mixer and the amp for protection)?

 

For instance, for a sine wave, the peak power is 1.41 x the RMS power. If you clip it (100%) it becomes a square wave, where peak power = RMS power. So given the two examples, with the same peak power limit - say 100W - RMS of the Square is 100W, RMS of the sine is 70.7W.

 

Now, if your amp has a lot of headroom over it's rated continuous output, then you've effectively covered this without needing to oversize the amp.

 

O.k., now I know, the peak power of my 2x 200WRMS into 4 ohms Bryston amp is 282W per channel into 4 ohms,- if I´d use 4 ohm cabs.

So, which spec tells me how much the continuous power is and if there´s enough headroom of the amp over it´s continuous power?

 

A.C.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a little more difficult to determine, and illustrates the problem with specifications. Continuous power is a function of Power Supply design and size as well as the output stage components, heat sink size and cooling. And your assumption about peak power only applies to a sine wave. Most music is not a sine wave, it depends on the content, which further complicates matters. They come up with certain standard specifications as a way to compare apples to apples, but it does not tell the whole story, because somebody can design an amp to look good in the specs, but not necessarily perform as well as another amp. IF they publish such specs, you could maybe gain some info by comparing CONTINUOUS POWER, RMS POWER, PEAK POWER, INSTANTANEOUS POWER, DYNAMIC HEADROOM. These all mean different things, but together, paint a picture. In the end, if the thing is big and heavy, it probably has a beefy power supply. There are other technologies that are more efficient but suffer some sacrifices. Do some searching online and compare amp classes - class A, Class B, Class AB, Class C, Class D, etc. All different designs that have different theoretical maximum efficiencies, as well as shortcomings. Then see if you can find out what yours is.

 

All a lot of info. In the end, probably the best thing to do is to just buy the damn speakers and try it with your amp. If it ain't enough, buy a bigger one.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use a Bryston 3B in my studios to power Dynaudio BM15 speakers. I would use it live in a pinch but, depending on how loud you play, I think it would be underpowered for a KB player. I recently sold a QSC 1804 and, as someone suggested earlier, that would make a great KB amp. Come with a 6 year transferable warranty to boot.

JP

1935 Mason & Hamlin Model A

Korg Kronos 2 73

Nord Electro 6D 61

Yam S90ES

Rhodes Stage 73 (1972)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Right, I was in a rush when I wrote that (theoretically my lunch break, but a work interruption came up immediately), so I closed it out without finishing the details.

 

Such as, look at the right power ratings, if available. And most importantly, whether in doubt or not, always consult a salesperson who is knowledgeable, to find the best matching.

 

My main point was simply not to underpower your speaker(s), which most people end up doing unwittingly.

 

I think 80's-LZ did a good job of providing more details on the various power ratings.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps to bring this thing full circle, probably the straightest line if you're talking about powering the Acmes is to call Andy Lewis at Acme and just talk to him about what you're thinking. He's the designer, he's got very strong opinions about what works with his speakers, the reasoning behind his intentional decision to make them inefficient, what's custom about his Eminence woofer, etc. He looked up the specs on the amp I had my eye on while we were on the phone, examined them and gave me immediate answers.
..
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...