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Amp Recommendation


zoooombiex

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It's Wednesday, so it's time for an amp thread. I've done some searching and reading, so I have some ideas, but was hoping for some additional input.

 

For reference, my usual setup is a Rhodes and a NE2, both through various effects. I occasionally add or swap in an analog synth or melodica. My usual amp is either a blonde bassman or blonde showman (depending on volume needs) into a Hard Truckers cab with EVM12L's. We're kind of a psychadelic/funk/jam type band and tend to play on the louder side, though not ridiculous.

 

This setup does an excellent job with the rhodes and with the NE2 whurly/clav/rhodes. It's pretty good for the NE2 organ. (I go for a somewhat dirty, old-school sound.)

 

I'm generally content with the sounds at my disposal, but have been starting to look around for 2 reasons:

 

1) It's a heavy setup. The amp is about 30 pounds by itself, plus 70+ pounds for the cabinet.

 

2) It doesn't work for piano. Although the NE2 piano is pretty bad, I may upgrade at some point and would like to have acoustic piano as an option, and that just really doesn't work through a guitar amp.

 

So that's made me start reading around about keyboard amps and powered speakers. I'm interested in trying a powered speaker and a few caught my eye - JBL EONs & QSC K10s, maybe something from EV? I was hoping people could chime in with something like a top four at or under $600, with sound, weight, and versatility being my main considerations.

 

Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!

 

EDIT: for clarification, I'm looking for something to replace my entire current amp setup rather than an addition. So one amp I can bring to cover acoustic & electric pianos, organ, synth, misc. Thanks again.

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EV ZXA1 would be my pick for piano sound in a lightweight <$600 model. The QSC doesn't sound as good to me, but it cranks louder.

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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Your rig is great for clav, wurly, and Rhodes. But terrible for AP. For that you need hi fi. Powered mains like QSC

Hammond C3, Leslie 122, Steinway B, Wurlitzer 200A, Rhodes 73,

D6 Clav

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I have four pair of powered PA:

JBL EON 10G2 - sound good, not enough power in gigs (ic power amp thermal protection circuitry cuts volume down). They do work well for the 88 key board in the living room.

JBL EON 15G2 - work well on organ, even bass guitar. Not as smooth sounding as the EV's or QSC's. Not easy to move due to shape - I leave these at my church gig.

EV SxA 100+ - these sound very good, 12" woofers, enough power. I was gigging with them until I got the QSCs, now used in my studio.

QSC K10 - sound very good, enough power - if I didn't have the EVs already, I might have bought K12's. Very light weight and easy to move - my regular gigging speaker.

 

I use a PC3 and NE3, lots of elect pianos, Hammond/Leslie, pads, synth leads, occasional LH bass, some orchestral sounds. The EVs and QSCs work well for all my uses.

 

The JBLs have been discontinued, I think the EVs are still being sold, although EV has later designs, the QSCs are definitely still being sold.

 

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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Your Rhodes won't sound the same through a PA. I didn't say bad -- I always played mine that way, starting back in 1978 or so (after a brief stint using a Roland JC120). Just be aware that it'll be a different beast. Some stuff you do won't have the same punch, but you'll learn other things you can do that didn't work so well through the guitar amps.

 

The same is probably true for the clav and EPs on the NE, though not quite so much. However, even the NE2 piano will benefit a lot, and a good piano even more. (I currently use an NE2, with MR76 for piano. 15 years old and still way better than the NE2.)

 

IMHO, the NE's hammond should sound great either way. Again, there will be differences & tradeoffs, but not as much as with the Rhodes.

 

I'd be looking at exactly the kind of items mentioned above, with probably the QSC K10 or K12 as the top runner. I use a good powered mixer with a pair of JBL 12" wedges. It was a great value at the time, but today I think I'd go with powered cabs.

 

If you miss the guitar amp sound on your Rhodes, consider an amp/cab sim; even an old used Johnson J-Station would be worth a try, and cheap on ebay. No, it still won't be the same, but might get close enough and a hell of a lot easier to carry. Nothing sounds quite like a good 4x10 guitar cab with a clean tube amp cranked up. :-)

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QSC is always recommended a lot on this board, but for piano, I'm not sure how many people who suggest it have heard it compared to the EV... I did A/B the K8 and ZXA1 and thought the EV sounded noticeably flatter and better for piano.

 

Another brand worth looking into is RCF. I think they also sound better than QSC, though in that case I was not able to directly A/B them, so I am less certain. The EV still sounds flatter, though. But like the QSC, the RCF will go louder.

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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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks again for the ideas. I rounded up a few amps and thought I'd share my comments FWIW. I compared them using a Rhodes, NE2, and synth, and had a switch to instantly flip between amps.

 

EV ZXA1 - I agree this has the best piano sound of the amps I tried. Particularly in the low registers, this one kept a nice punchy low end without getting too boomy. It has a surprising amount of bass for such a small package. The overall volume/sensitivity is a bit lower than the QSC's and much lower than the EON G2, so it requires more of a push from the mixer. It can get decently loud overall - enough for a full band practice I expect, but I'd be slightly hesitant about it keeping up at a show.

 

JBL EON10 G2 - Very loud and relatively light & compact. It was the least neutral sounding of the amps I tried, but it did cut through well.

 

QSC K10 - Perhaps the best all-around amp of the bunch IMO. Not quite as neutral for piano as the ZXA1, but not bad at all. Great dispersion, and ample low end. Particularly with the deep switch on, it could cover all my low end needs (no left-hand bass needs). Good volume/sensitivity (quieter than the G2, but that's the only louder one I found). Also very small & lightweight.

 

QSC K12 - The other K12/K10 comparisons I read were right on. The K12 & K10 sound extremely similar. The K12 has a slightly richer low end if you really need it, and possibly a slightly thicker sound than the K10 (there was a window in the upper mids where the K10 has slightly more presence and sparkle, but it was relatively minor). It's a very portable amp - not too big or heavy, but the K10 is noticeably lighter & easier to tuck away if those are factors for you, and the K10 has a slightly larger dispersion angle.

 

JBL EON 515 - Big, but surprisingly light. It has a pretty netural sound - definitely the most relaxed high end, which was nice for keeping things from getting too harsh. It also had a nice low end. The K12 could keep up with it's bass for most purposes except super-deep synth or organ sounds. The fatal flaw is the low volume/sensitivity. Even with the keyboard, mixer, and amp at max, it just wasn't very loud compared to the others. Maybe you could use it at a gig, but I expect you'd be running everything pretty much full-out all night.

 

JBL EON 510 - Very light & compact, and a similar overall sound as the 515. Relaxed highs and pretty flat presentation overall. Suffers from the same volume/sensitivity issue. Unfortunately, this makes it pretty much unusable for my purposes.

 

..............

 

So after all that I started pitching the K10 and ZXA1 against my guitar amp rig. I can't say I'm ready to make the switch yet, but haven't given up. The bassman just sits perfectly in the mix for my needs with EP, clav, & organ, and synth. The PA amps (as they are designed to do) feel spread out across the entire spectrum and don't have the punch I'm used to. That said, they are obviously the only option for decent piano, and I like how the organ sounds through them. It's a nice alternative to the rock-type organ that the bassman does.

 

For now, I'm going to stick with the bassman and keep working on the PA. I did, however, find a partial solution to my problem. I replaced the heavy EV 12Ls with some super-lightweight Jensen Neo's. I was skeptical of the Neo's, as coming from my biases it was hard to see how something so light could have the bass extension and range of the EV's, but the Neo's do a really great job. They are not 100% the same as the EV's, but the ways in which the differ are not really worse, just different. In light of the weight savings (over 15 lbs per speaker lighter), it was a no-brainer.

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  • 2 months later...

Really surprised to hear that you find the Eon10 G2 to be louder than The EV and QSC.

I recently picked ud a pair of Eons and found them to lack in power when playing with a band. SPL is only stated as 117db versus quite a bit more for both QSC and EV.

Studiologic Numa X 88, EV zxa1

 

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I retired my pair of EON 10G2 from gigging, they are in the living room on the family keyboard. JBL designed the three IC amps in the unit (1 for horn, 2 for woofer) with a thermal circuit that prevents damage if the unit is overdriven (if the heat sink area gets too warm).

 

I'd be playing in the band (reasonably loud lead guitarist, but not extremely loud) and after half an hour or so, my amp volume would cut itself way down. Haven't had that problem with the EV SXA 100's or the QSC K10's. Never tried the new EV's - but the 12" ones I have sound very good. The K10's don't have quite as much bass, but are a lot lighter and easier ro load.

 

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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If you're evaluating powered "12 and horn" speakers (i.e., JBL PRX112M, QSC K12, etc) - you should probably give the new Yamaha DSR112s a look as well. They're a bit heavier - but are made of wood (as opposed to the plastic used in the JBL PRX112Ms and the QSC K series).

 

I recently bought a pair of 'em for my rig and am extremely satisfied with the purchase - great low end (tight, punchy), nice highs (not at all shrill), smooth from one end of the spectrum to the other. Doesn't change (i.e., get "honky" or "harsh") at volume. The nominal 1,300 watt amp leaves you with headroom to burn.

 

At MAP pricing, they're roughly $800 - however, Yamaha has sweetened the deal and is offering a $100 mail in rebate through November 30th - and has extended the warranty to 5 years (as opposed to 1 year for most everything else in this space).

The SpaceNorman :freak:
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Really surprised to hear that you find the Eon10 G2 to be louder than The EV and QSC.

I recently picked ud a pair of Eons and found them to lack in power when playing with a band. SPL is only stated as 117db versus quite a bit more for both QSC and EV.

I wonder if there might have been some "user error" here. If the JBL were used with its internal mic preamp engaged, and the other speakers were used through their inputs that do not engage their own mic preamps, then the JBL would appear to be able to go louder. Maybe?

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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