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Need some help choosing a Keyboard Amp


Mr. Nightime

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I finally decided it was time to scale down the size of my rig. Im starting with my amp, going with a single amp, as opposed to the PA system Ive been using. So, I thought I would ask for advice from the one group of people whose opinion I respect, you guys.

 

I have a few in mind, and Ill make the trip to the stores to hear them before I decide. What Im asking for is an opinion from those of you that are already using these amps. I prefer stereo, but only two of them are stereo, and Im not adverse to going mono in the interest of ease of use. My biggest criteria for choosing the 6 Im thinking about is power. Theyre the most powerful in each manufacturers line.

 

I know that some of you guys have personal vendettas against one or more of these manufacturers. Ill cheerfully ignore those. What I am interested is the pros and cons of each, including reliability, sonic transparency, cleanliness, clarity, balls, etc. This is a choice that Im going to have to live with for a long time, so I want to use all the resources at my disposal to make the right choice.

 

Ill use these primarily for piano and organ. Im still going to use my MS Pro3TM for the Hammond, running it into the chosen amp. For the models that have a built in mixer and effects, your opinion of them would be nice. For those that dont, Ive still got my 1202VLZ.

 

So here are my current choices. Let the fun begin.

 

Motion Sound KP500SN

 

Roland KC 880

 

Peavey KB5

 

Traynor K4

 

Hartke KM 200

 

Behringer Ultratone K3000FX

 

I thought about the Barbetta, but its too hard to find one, even online.

 

And if none of these work out, then it's time to look into powered PA speakers

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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And if none of these work out, then it's time to look into powered PA speakers

 

And if None of these (will) work out. then It's time to look into powered PA speakers. :D

 

I'm sorry Mr. Nightime. I couldn't resist.

 

Just cheerfully ignore me, 'k? :cool:

 

Tom

 

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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1st choice: QSC K10 or K12 and run in Mono.

2nd choice: Two QSC K10s or K12s and run in Mono (or stereo if you must).

 

It's a killer.

I've owned the Traynor K4 and older variations of the rest of your list. None of them beat the sound quality and portability IMHO.

Most of them do organs and synths alright but fall apart on piano.

 

 

 

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I had a K4 for a long time (in keyboard years anyway).

Great features and oomph, but still weighs 60lbs, and pianos tend to sound a little boxy.

 

I ran mono with the LM8-ST & K10 last gig, and didn't miss the stereo.

Bonne chance.

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

MOXF8, Electro 6D, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.

https://www.abandoned-film.com

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as opposed to the PA system Ive been using.

 

 

And if none of these work out, then it's time to look into powered PA speakers

 

What are you using now? Skip the heartache trying to get good piano sounds out of a keyboard amp and go directly to plan B, powered PA speakers.

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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If you like the sound of your PA and just want to scale down in size, and you're willing to cut back from stereo to mono, why not just go with half your PA?

 

Also, I'd suggest that "transparency, cleanliness, clarity" usually don't go hand in hand with "balls."

 

Anyway, I'm a PA speaker fan myself, but from what I've read, if I were going to look into all-in-one approaches, I'd include Acoustic Image (especially the Ten2) and the Roland SA-300 on my list.

 

Since your main sounds are piano and organ, and you have the Pro3TM covering half the organ, I'd focus on a good piano sound... which is the hardest thing to find. I'd be surprised if any of the amps you mentioned were sufficiently neutral for acceptable piano.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Power is one thing, but I strongly suspect none of these will sound anywhere near as good as a powered PA box for acoustic piano. No "keyboard amp" I've ever heard has the sonic transparency of even my old EON15's from ten years ago, and my current solution (EV SxA360) is head and shoulders above those. As far as I can tell, most folks on this board who care about how their monitors sound are using the QSC K series. The only other option that seems to seriously rival that for acoustic piano clarity is the QSC PLX1804 / Accugroove Tri112L combo that was heavily discussed here a year or two ago.

 

Any particular reason why you're relegating powered PA speakers to 2nd round status? If having the the convenience of a built-in mixer is what's bringing you to the "keyboard amp" side, I understand, especially if you do a lot of quick-set-change gigs, never have to cover the room with your amp, and aren't bothered by inferior piano tone on stage as long as it sounds good through the PA. Don't get me wrong - not caring about sound on stage is a valid position. Many touring players seem to just rely on the house wedges, rather than carry an amp around, let alone a mixer and powered PA cab(s). The lack of control and tone would probably drive me nuts, but then I don't have to deal with the logistics headaches of heavy touring.

 

Whatever you decide, I highly recommend you test it out with your own gear at gig volumes, and preferably at a gig, before you commit.

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Roland makes fine amps if they don't target them for Keyboards.

The Jazz Chorus 120 was a classic. The SA-300 is more of a portable PA. It is stereo and with its "wide" button does pretty darn good. It won't sound as good 2 k12's but its a lot cheaper and wouldn't also need a separate mixer to get flexible I/O options. The top can be pole mounted too.

 

Boards: Kurzweil SP-6, Roland FA-08, VR-09, DeepMind 12

Modules: Korg Radias, Roland D-05, Bk7-m & Sonic Cell

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It's not that I'm relegating the powered PA speaker to 2nd round status. I just thought I'd give an amp the benefit of the doubt. It probably will end up being a powered PA speaker.

 

As far as cutting my current kit in half, the main issue is the weight of the rack. My speakers are relatively light weight, but my rack is a bear.

 

I went into a store the other day, and I liked that the guy was able to pick up a Mackie powered cabinet with one hand.

 

I guess I need to find where I can hear the QSC offerings.

 

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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my current solution (EV SxA360) is head and shoulders above those. As far as I can tell, most folks on this board who care about how their monitors sound are using the QSC K series.

The EV ZXa1 is developing a fan base as well.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Mr. Nightime:

 

Don't waste your time and money trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. That's what a keyboard amp is, those square holes are pretty painful! :cry:

 

If you don't have the $$ to buy a decent set of small PA speakers, hold off until you do. Otherwise you will just be throwing money away.

 

 

 

Cheers,

 

 

Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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As far as cutting my current kit in half, the main issue is the weight of the rack. My speakers are relatively light weight, but my rack is a bear.

So another option would be to just look at some new, lighter electronics. What's in your rack now?

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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I've thought about getting a lighter power amp. I've using a Yamaha P2100 right now. Heavy, and underpowered.

 

One of the big issues I'm having right now is stage footprint. I have to stack the Peavey 1-15 cabs on their sides, with the rack on top, then the Pro3tx, and the 1202VLZ. A lot of height, and too much of the sound going underneath me. Plus it puts the stereo image top/bottom instead of left/right. It's why I'm thinking of going much smaller. Then I can get my optimum sound regardless of the available stage real estate.

 

Money's not really going to be much of a factor. I've got about a $1300 budget for this change. Sure, I'd like to save a buck or 2, but not while compromising my sound. It will have to sound every bit as good as my current kit, and probably a lot better, before I buy.

 

I do have a local source for just about anything I want, at a music store owned by a friend of mine. Problem is, he's got very little room for pro gear considering his store is pretty full with some really nice acoustic pianos. He's already confirmed he can get the QSC, and probably beat the online stores in price. I just need to hear first.

 

There's been some reference to the QSC K10. Since I'll have the Hammond going through it, and will on occasion have to play key bass, how's the low end with the 10"?

That's why I mentioned the need for "balls".

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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My pair of K10's are used with bass from Electro 3 Hammond sounds, bass patches on the PC3, and they are about as adequate as 10" can be. No, they don't go down quite as low as my pair of EON15G2 (but they sound better overall), and definitely not as low as my Trace Elliot bass amp with 2X10+horn cab and 1x15 cab (all told over 5' high and weigh in excess of 100 lb).

 

But - they will fit just about anywhere, they have carrying handles both on the side and on top, and they weigh only 32 pounds each (K12's are 41 pounds each). They have a two channel mixer built in (1 channel is line only, other switches mic or line).

 

One of these days I might add a pair of K12's (but I already have EV SxA100+ pair that are 12's, but the extra 9 pounds each means the K10's will travel more with me.

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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I've thought about getting a lighter power amp. I've using a Yamaha P2100 right now. Heavy, and underpowered.

 

Amps can be so much lighter these days. For example, check out the Crown at http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/XLS1000/ - that series of amps are under 12 pounds.

 

Though if your PA cabs are Peaveys, you still might be better off switching them out for QSC or EV... I don't know your particular Peaveys, but in general, the QSC and EV speakers have a better rep, so you might be better off spending the money on new powered high quality speakers, rather than spending money on a new amp for your old speakers. (OTOH, the QSC and EV speakers everyone rave about don't have 15s.)

 

When I want extra bottom for LH bass, I add a Markbass Mini CMD 121P which I'm very happy with. However, it's a bit pricey. I was also happy with a far less expensive Ashdown 15, but it weighed more than twice as much, I upgraded to get the weight down.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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There's been some reference to the QSC K10. Since I'll have the Hammond going through it, and will on occasion have to play key bass, how's the low end with the 10"?

That's why I mentioned the need for "balls".

 

Kanker used the K10 for kicking bass, PM him and see if he still feels the same about it.

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

MOXF8, Electro 6D, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.

https://www.abandoned-film.com

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As other attest, the K10 rocks and has balls as well as a clean sound. And at 32 pounds it's a breeze for load-in/out. Great for piano and I've been recently pumping my VB3 through it. Really cuts and for me has some nice bottom and still doesn't get in the way of our bassist.

"The devil take the poets who dare to sing the pleasures of an artist's life." - Gottschalk

 

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Aethellis

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The more I look at it, the more convinced that the QSC K10 is the way to go. I could place it on a speaker stand that I have, then use my QuikLok WD stand to put the Pro3TM and the 1202VLZ on right above it. Give me more horsepower, better sound, and less footprint all in one. Sounds like a win-win to me.

 

My Peaveys have been absolute workhorses for me. I bought them used 13 years ago, and there has never been a moment's trouble with them. They're loaded with 15" Scorpions and a dual throat Piezo horn. And, they will get LOUD with NO distortion. I used a Crown XLS402 with them until an unfortunate event with Phantom power to a Mackie output, and the resulting thump took out the finals on the Crown. One of these days I'll send it to Elkhart IN to get it fixed.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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There's been some reference to the QSC K10. Since I'll have the Hammond going through it, and will on occasion have to play key bass, how's the low end with the 10"?

That's why I mentioned the need for "balls".

 

Kanker used the K10 for kicking bass, PM him and see if he still feels the same about it.

Here's his original thread about it.

 

https://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2206015/QSC_K10

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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There's been some reference to the QSC K10. Since I'll have the Hammond going through it, and will on occasion have to play key bass, how's the low end with the 10"?

That's why I mentioned the need for "balls".

 

Kanker used the K10 for kicking bass, PM him and see if he still feels the same about it.

Here's his original thread about it.

 

https://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2206015/QSC_K10

 

OK, I'm convinced

 

Looks like it will be the K10.

 

I'm selling my dad's house, and I'll be buying wifey a laptop, and some furniture, and a K10 for me. The rest get's invested

 

Kinda nice to have GAS, and have the prospect of doing something about it.

 

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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I'm actually looking forward to my heaviest piece of gear being my piano.

 

And only taking 1 trip from the truck to the stage

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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If I could ever find a showroom floor model somewhere I am playing with the idea of running two Hartke KM200s in stereo. The kickback design just looks cool ..... but I guess it is a bad sign when nobody has one.

 

Plus I think Sven told me there were a lot of problems with Hartke aluminum speakers at one time.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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I would still like to hear a comparison between the

 

QSC KW122 (birch - 49 pounds, $1,100)

 

and the

 

QSC K12 (plastic - 41 pounds, $800).

 

Just wondering if the improvement in sound quality is worth the difference in weight and money.

 

Tom

 

Tom:

 

I haven't heard the KW122 yet, but I will tell you that I auditioned the QSC K12 against the QSC HPR122i when I was looking for new PA tops several months ago, and the warmth and transparency of the HPR122i (with its real birch cabinet) compared to the K12 (with its plastic cabinet) was stunningly apparent. I ended up with the HPRs, and I've been VERY pleased with them (despite the added weight). I also got 'em at a bargain basement price ($100 less than MAP at Best Buy plus another $100 mail-in rebate per speaker) because QSC was looking to clear them out of dealers to make way for the KW series. :thu:

 

Noah

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Mr. N:

 

I wouldn't rule out the possibility of finding a keyboard amp that works for your particular needs. At various times, I have used two powered speakers, a pair of unpowered speakers with a separate mixer and power amp (the famed QSC/Accugroove Tri112L combo that has been written about previously on this forum), and a Motion Sound KP200s combo amp to serve my keyboard monitoring needs. By far, the most sonically pleasing of the lot is the QSC/Accugroove combo, but it also comes with a not insignificant amount of setup hassle. Furthermore, stage footprint with that rig has been an issue for me at times in some of the bars that my band tends to play.

 

As a result, I have recently reverted to using my Motion Sound KP200s most frequently for gigs. It serves mainly as a personal monitor and I use the XLR direct outs on the amp to run my keys to the FOH. The Motion Sound takes up far less space than my stereo QSC/Accugroove setup, sounds good enough (when I'm really the only one hearing it), and is very easy/convenient to load in/out and set up. I still LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the sound of my Accugrooves (especially for acoustic piano), but the convenience factor of the Motion Sound has been taking precedence of late. In fact, since my only complaint about the KP200s is its relative lack of power, I've been tempted to sell mine and see if I can score a used KP500sn somewhere.

 

Just something else to think about from someone who has become a bit of a contrarian lately on the issue of keyboard monitoring....

 

Noah

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I still LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the sound of my Accugrooves (especially for acoustic piano), but the convenience factor of the Motion Sound has been taking precedence of late. In fact, since my only complaint about the KP200s is its relative lack of power, I've been tempted to sell mine and see if I can score a used KP500sn somewhere.

 

Again, though, you've reinforced the point about the relative weakness of the Motion Sound compared to PA style speakers specifically for acoustic piano. I also had a KP200S briefly, I didn't like it on piano. If you're thinking of upgrading it and still want to maintain that kind of all-in-one alternative to your other setups, I wonder if the Roland SA-300 might not be better. (Or the Acoustic Image Ten2, but in your case, I see you want stereo.)

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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...the warmth and transparency of the HPR122i (with its real birch cabinet) compared to the K12 (with its plastic cabinet) was stunningly apparent.

 

Noah

 

That's what I assumed.

 

Thanks Noah! I hope you're doing well.

 

Tom

 

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