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Keyboard amps - best for acoustic piano ?


inthezone

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Welcome to the forum, inthezone.

 

This is a hotly debated topic, and maybe the straightest answer is, "as much as your budget allows." I know of no box or FX unit that would do anything except clutter the signal path between KB and sound reinforcement. The key seems to be quality amplification and cabinet. Suggestions for good options include (I might get several of the exact model numbers wrong):

 

Powered PA cabs like the EV SX360a, QSC K8 or K10 or K12, JBL EON, etc. Each model has its own strengths & weaknesses.

 

KB Combo amps like the Traynor K4, Motion Sound 500SN.

 

Separates like the Acme Low B-1, Accugroove TR112L or similar with a healthy power amp.

 

A far pricier solution that has some merit (but little gigging functionality or convenience) might be large electrostatic panels like the Magnepan 3.6 powered by high-current VTL tube monoblocks. But I think you're talking ~$15,000 or so for that solution...it'll sound great, though...

..
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Yeah, what kind of keyboard do you have? Tweaking it can help.

 

The only effects useful is a graphic equalizer, but only if you need it. Don't waste time on exciters/etc. or things that detract from a piano sample.

 

I've heard the Roland AC-90 is good. Otherwise, Motion Sound 200KPS or 500 is good. All stereo amps.

 

If your keyboard has built-in speakers for highs, a Bose Wave gives a warm full stereo dispersal of the mids and lows.

 

In terms of "amps", those are the warmest options next to expensive units like Acoustic Image. Traynor makes clean louder amps, but not quite as warm. For separate cabinets, Accugroove and Acme are recommended. (just saw Tim's post, oh well.)

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Thanks for the quick responses.

 

I have Nord Stage EX compaq and Yamaha XS boards. Most of the problem seems to be in the mid-range (middle octave) where the acoustic sounds have an electronic tinge / like they are generated by oscillators. The top and bottom ends are great. I've tried EQ'ing the mid up and down (the top and bottom-ends as well) and that doesn't work.

 

I've seen the Acoustic Image adds and website - hard to tell what those sound like without a test-drive and no one seems to carry them in stock. Special order which is risky.

 

Using only one amp, regardless of the stereo nature of the amp, is the worst. I had the first version of the Bose L1's I think it was called - the single source loses the stereo, broad sound spectrum vs two units.

 

Tim I have never heard the Acme Low B-1, Accugroove TR112L

 

Thanks

 

 

 

 

 

 

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inthezone, you've isolated the problem - it's always the mids in DP's for piano sounds.

 

The remedy is tweaking the mids some on your keyboard, using a separate band EQ if necessary, and the right speakers. Both the Accugroove and Acme cabs will reproduce the mids better than any keyboard amp. The Accugrooves are a little louder and a bit more expensive.

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Fwiw I was able to recently try out the Acoustic Image Ten2. One of the forum members, Brad Kaenel, was nice enough to drive it out to my studio where I was able to A/B with my EV SXA 360 active speakers. We tested both speakers on my Yamaha CP300 and older P120 in mono---speaker to speaker (with the EV I put an older Mackie 1202 VLZ in the chain). On both DPs I preferred the sound of my EVs although the Ten2 sounded very good. I thought the AI added a thicker quality while the EVs had a little lighter, more focused sound. Perhaps I would dig the AI if my ears got used to that sound. Of course on a newer sample or DP like the Korg SV-1 or Yamaha CP line, my impressions could be quite different. Brad's opinion was that he liked the sound of the EVs on the P120 and the Ten2 on the CP300.

 

I also own a Motion Sound KP-200 and much prefer the EV SXAs to the KP-200.

 

Has mentioned there are still more choices out there. I haven't heard the new QSCs yet. I did hear the new Motion Sound KP-500 briefly last year at NAMM under less than ideal conditions with an inferior piano sound/keyboard and was less than thrilled. I've also heard the Accugroove speakers in my studio. While being very good, I still liked my EVs better. I continue to look but for my ears and my music (Jazz) the EVs still sound best for DPs in their weight/price class.

https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

2005 NY Steinway D

Yamaha AvantGrand N3X, P-515

 

 

 

 

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I play the Nord Stage thru a pair of Accugrooves. I run the mids at 2 KHz down about 3 dB to take the edge off of the piano mids and that seems to work great.

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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I forgot about the QSC-K series - definitely worth a look. Other QSC powered speakers are not, for piano samples anyway. I think both the EV's Dave mentioned and the QSC K series are the top quality of affordable 2 way speakers.

 

I still like 3-way wood cabs, Accugrooves or their close cousin Acme, for resonance/clarity.

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If its mid warmth you are looking for I suggest that you try out a powered speaker thats in a wood box. The QSC K series is a very adequate box, but my ears prefer their HPR series. Much warmer IMHO. I have the TRaynor K4 and the QSC HPR 122i's. The 122i's blow the Traynor away. But they arre different tools for different jobs and the versatility of the K4 is great. Another thing to keep in mind is that amp manufacturers are putting a tube channel in their amps. When properly dialed in it can add a lot of warmth. The Traynor K4 has tubes in the 1st channel. Its a subtle difference but is audible. It is especially evident in boards in the lower price brackets.
SR guy thats finally decided to put his collection of toys to personal use (extremely G.A.S.'y) LOL
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My Barbetta SE 41 is 2X10 in a wooden box. It is quite a bit better than the Eon etc. for piano.

I have 2 SE 41's, an older one with the square tweeter and a newer one with the vertical, rectangular tweeter. The newer one does not "cut through the stage wash" nearly as well as the older one. My main concern with the Barbetta's is service should something go wrong. Tony Barbetta is not particularly "speedy" when it come to turnaround time on repairs. Also, Sweetwater no longer sells his amps, citing "availability" issues. BTW, I love the amps. That being said, I have an Accugroove/QSC rig that sounds great but it does not have the ease of setup of the Barbetta's.

Jim Wells

Tallahassee, FL

 

www.pureplatinumband.com

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My Barbetta SE 41 is 2X10 in a wooden box. It is quite a bit better than the Eon etc. for piano.

I used to own a pair of Barbetta keyboard amps. I currently own a pair of Eon 10 G2's, and I prefer them for piano.

 

For me, this goes to prove the old adage about 'one man's meat is another man's poison' It's fun to read everyone's opinions of gear on these forums, but at the end of the day, you really need to try for yourself, and decide for yourself. I've proven that to myself many times over the years. I've read reviews of this and that, and general consensus of product X is that it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. And then I try it myself and find that I don't like it because of problem Y which no one else mentioned, or it was downplayed, or whatever.

 

So, I'm not trying to convince you that Eon's are better than Barbetta amps. You prefer Barbettas, and that's all to the good. I'm just trying to make a general point.

 

 

 

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It seems Dave and I are about the only ones here who have heard the EV SXa360's.... cause there's pretty much no comparison to all the other names being bandied about.

 

JBL, QSC, AI, AccuGroove, Motion, wood cabs, Barbetta ?... Been there, done those.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." 

Harry teaches jazz piano online using Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, or Google Meet.

 

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Richard I agree. I am sure much of it is relative. I am not trying to convince anyone of the "superiority" of Barbettas either. They are just speakers and life is too short. I got distracted by something unimportant and work related (;)) and let fly on the previous post before I had completed it.

 

I do like the 2x10 configuration for piano in terms for not sounding too boomy, but still moving some air. I think wood adds warmth. I'd like to try a good 3 way crossover in an easily carried wooden box sometime. Have to gather the courage/patience to go with separates ... and no I haven't used the SXA360s or the K series QSC's yet. Something good to look forward to...

 

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It seems Dave and I are about the only ones here who have heard the EV SXa360's.... cause there's pretty much no comparison to all the other names being bandied about.

 

JBL, QSC, AI, AccuGroove, Motion, wood cabs, Barbetta ?... Been there, done those.

I have a pair of EV SXa360's, and they sound great. Never had Eons or Mackies; I graduated from a pair of Roland KC 300's...

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It seems Dave and I are about the only ones here who have heard the EV SXa360's.... cause there's pretty much no comparison to all the other names being bandied about.

 

JBL, QSC, AI, AccuGroove, Motion, wood cabs, Barbetta ?... Been there, done those.

So, let me see if I've got this: you've tried all those other brands, and you prefer your EV's. Therefore, I don't need to try them for myself, because there's no chance I would have a different opinion, so I might as well just go out and buy myself the same speakers that you use. Did I get it right? :):D

 

 

 

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Thanks for all the posts. Too bad we can't all have roadies and bring our respective acoustic pianos with us....

 

1) If I could ask what about the EV SXa360's makes them better than other powered PA speakers? The mid-range ? I know that's subjective but I have not heard them. I'm going to try and see who has them, to test out.

 

So far the powered PA type rigs I've heard have been great on the top and bottom ends, not on the middle.

 

Have not heard the Traynor K4 or the Barbetta's in stereo, only mono.

 

I have heard the new QSC K Series and they don't seem to solve the mid-range problem though they are quite powerful, esp with the sub which is conveniently on wheels.

 

Interesting point re: 2 x 10's vs 1x15, with the 2 10's potentially being less boomy.

 

2) Regardless of the brand, has anyone tried combining cabinets in stereo, say a 1x15 with a 2x10 cabinet to get a more complete fullness of sound from bottom to top ?

 

3) Dave, what do you think that MD1 tube mic/DI pre-amp would do for DP ?

 

Thx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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inthezone, my experience has been that 15" speakers give much more bottom than acoustic piano sounds require. Of course, they can be adjusted down to sound good, but I've never liked them for piano. 12" speakers are the bass extent of what I would consider for a piano sound, and 10's are excellent for piano in general.

 

Not pushing the brand I prefer over others here, but for example, Accugroove makes a 12" with a 6.5" mid cone and two tweeters, and a 10" speaker cab. with the same. The 6.5" cone solves any midrange issues. Acme is really good too, but I've only heard one with my bass player. Based on specs, they're in the same ballpark and should be great.

 

I tried the EV SXa360's out a few months ago, very nice - they do sound much better to me than other 2 way systems and more mids - as to why, I'm not sure. Any of these you should be happy with.

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:) It seems I am about the only one here who has heard the EAW FR153.... cause there's pretty much no comparison to all the other names being bandied about.

 

JBL, QSC, AI, AccuGroove, Motion, wood cabs, Barbetta ?... Been there, read about 'em in the Sweetwater Gear Pron Catalog. I'ma expert.

 

http://www.eaw.com/images/products/fr153z.gif:thu:

 

Geez, Louise guys. First of all, you know better than to argue about DP sounds - nobody is going to win that one. Everybody's got their own opinion.

 

But when you start to argue about DP sounds coming through the bestest speaker in the whole wide world (as far as you know)...

 

Well... go get on your boat. Go real fast. Turn your face into the wind... Then spit.

 

Same result. No difference. :cool:

 

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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:) It seems I am about the only one here who has heard the EAW FR153

http://www.eaw.com/images/products/fr153z.gif:thu:

 

T--back in the day I used to carry around a pair (sometimes but most of the time just one) of the pre trapezoidal Z designs. It was called the FR-153e if I'm not mistaken. I 'd power them with one of these bad boys

http://www.abra.co.uk/specs/6001.PDF

Even back in those days guys in town would look at me like I was from Uranus when I'd come wheeling in with that rig which included this

http://www.keyboardmuseum.com/ar/k/korg/s/sgprox.html

 

They sounded great at loud volumes but were total overkill for anything less than that. There were a brand new pair on the LA CL earlier this year some DJ was selling for $900. They languished on there at least a couple of months. When I finally called the guy on them, he'd just sold them. I told my wife and she said are you nuts to even think about hauling those things around ?! You're 56 not 36. I was thinking they'd make a great FOH PA speaker for that "special gig" once or twice a year. :) Pretty silly. It's still a great box though.

 

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

2005 NY Steinway D

Yamaha AvantGrand N3X, P-515

 

 

 

 

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Dave,

 

I can't give 'em up.

 

I know I need to get something smaller. But they sound so good.

 

AAArrrrrgggggghhhh!

 

Great story - Thanks!

 

Tom

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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