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Recommendations for a lightweight new amp/speaker setup?


jeff7b9

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I'm getting tired of my heavy old stuff, and looking for something light, yet powerful enough to hear in a sometimes loud 8 piece band.

(we're not always loud, but you know how guitarists and bassists get sometimes.)

 

I'll mainly be using the Hammond Sk1 with a midi board for a lower manual, often running EP, Clav and piano on that.

 

Main criteria:

 

Cost: don't want to go bananas, I'll pay for quality, but within reason $500-800 would be nice, less if it were to work would be great too

 

Size: If I was happy carrying heavy stuff, I'd just gig with my motion sound 145, but I don't want to lug that up and down basement stairs for every gig, and I'm actually quite happy with the leslie sim on the SK1 and i have a H&K Rotoshpere

 

etc: I don't really like rear inputs and knobs. I like to be able to change a setting mid song if needed, and if that means getting behind an amp... I think that's a dealbreaker (I think the Sona amps had this issue)

 

I used to gig on a bose L1, which sounded very very clean and clear, but I sold to get a PA. I'm sick of my KC550, and happy to retire it to basement duty.

 

All suggestions welcome. Especially boutique type stuff. Was considering the Barbetta SONA 31C, which is a bit pricey and has rear inputs...also Yorkville or Traynor.... stereo would also be nice (at least stereo signal, even if the amp is mono and stero output into my PA, which is stereo) , however I don't feel like paying for two items or lugging two more speakers. ( we use a set of k12's for mains and have 2 Jrx115's as monitors + drum monitors for some gigs )

 

THANKS!!!

Toys: Hammond SK1, Yamaha Motif ES6, Voce V5+, Virus ti 61, Mason & Hamlin upright, Everett upright, Hammond M3, Korg CX3 analog, Motion Sound Pro145, QSC K10, H&K Rotosphere.. etc
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I can highly recommend going the powered speaker + mixer route. I am using a EV ZXA1-90B with Yamaha MG82cx mixer. Yes, it's two items, but the EV is really small and light, yet powerful and sounds very pleasing. Then IMHO a separate mixer will give you more flexibility than one built into a keyboard amp.

In your case I would use the same connection scheme as I use - the mixer's main out to front of house, in stereo, then using one of the (L or R) ctrl room outs to your monitor. That way, you'll have independent volume control of your monitor, while the main output stay fixed.

Nord Stage 3 sw73, Yamaha CP88, KeyB Legend Live, Kurzweil PC3K7, EV ZXa1 + sub. K&M stands, Hammond E112, Leslie 3300, EHX V256, Roland SE-02, Yamaha EX5R & TG77, Novation Nova desktop & much more...
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re: EV ZXA1-90B

 

I'm intrigued. 19 pounds... so far so good. so the big question would be......

 

Can it hang? 19lbs and an 8in speaker... is that gonna cut it if a bass or a guitar or both start pumping out a lot of volume? I see the 800 watts number, but I value experience over stats in matters such as this.

 

if you don't mind me asking, what music style and stage volume level have you used it at?

 

Toys: Hammond SK1, Yamaha Motif ES6, Voce V5+, Virus ti 61, Mason & Hamlin upright, Everett upright, Hammond M3, Korg CX3 analog, Motion Sound Pro145, QSC K10, H&K Rotosphere.. etc
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Since you have a set of K12's for mains - experiment with one of them. If you want lighter and smaller, go for the K10. I have a pair of K10's, usually just carry one of them, holds up pretty well against bassist and guitarist - and they play loud.

 

As far as the controls on back, I also have a very small Tapco mixer that I can sit right beside me and adjust easily, instead of having to go to the amp/speakers at all. I normally just set the main volume on my keyboards at about 70% and run that up or down as needed for any change.

 

If you do a lot with the Hammond sounds - might even go with the K12. I also have a pair of EV SXA-100+ for 12", they do have a bit more bass for organ (and the EON15G2 even more so if needed, but it is too heavy and bulky most of the time).

 

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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Since you have a set of K12's for mains - experiment with one of them. If you want lighter and smaller, go for the K10. I have a pair of K10's, usually just carry one of them, holds up pretty well against bassist and guitarist - and they play loud.....

 

I'll give that idea another go. maybe if it works i'll investigate the EV ZXA1-90B which are smaller and save me some cash.

 

I actually used the K12's at a very informal jam session. (with a young, talented, WAY TOO LOUD guitarist) and the K12's got blown out of the water by his Marshall tube combo, a 65, i think something about that size. I didn't want to risk blowing the k12s, which were pretty new and not cheap, so I settled for not getting into the pissing contest and plugged my ears and snuck in if there was a quiet section.

 

I'm gonna sit in with a blues band soon, maybe I can give the K12 a go there. At least I know the guitarist well and he isn't a high volume player.

 

It seems that folks on here are somewhat anti combos.... anyone care to detail why? I don't really care for my kc550 anymore, but I figured the other high end stuff might be decent. Sadly GC and Sam Ash only carry "my first sony" level gear these days, so unless I see someone using something on a gig, I rarely see much equipment that interests me in person.

 

(not an IEM fan. felt a bit disconnected. ppl say you get used to it, maybe it wasn't for me, but I like hearing the crowd and I give a lot of cues and sometimes need to talk and listen to my bandmates, they sure are light though!!)

Toys: Hammond SK1, Yamaha Motif ES6, Voce V5+, Virus ti 61, Mason & Hamlin upright, Everett upright, Hammond M3, Korg CX3 analog, Motion Sound Pro145, QSC K10, H&K Rotosphere.. etc
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The 800 watts stat is nearly meaningless, in a powered speaker. The important figure is max SPL, which IIRC is 123 dB SPL. That's beginning to get in the range for a loud rock band stage monitor. There's enough variability in stats to say that it's definitely a possibility, and as you say about watts, experience is what matters. If it were much below that, it wouldn't even be a contender.

 

Also, the less bass you need to push, the more you can expect from it. Roll off the lows and you get more room for mids.

 

The 800 watts is a bit misleading, btw. As someone pointed out on another thread, it's two 400 watt amps, one for woofer and one for tweeter. Clearly, the tweeter doesn't need 400 watts -- it shouldn't need more than 100 to keep up with a 400 watt woofer unless the tweeter is unusually inefficient. So why do they do it?

 

Well, maybe it's cheaper for them to have two of the same amp built than to design two amps to go together. Or, maybe the extra power is cheap enough that it allows them to go with a lower efficiency tweeter, which either sounds better or costs less. No doubt there are other guesses. But the limiting factor is the 400W woofer amp times the efficiency of the woofer.

 

Speaker efficiency varies dramatically. Efficiency is rated by measuring the SPL when driven by a 1W, 1kHz tone (or pink noise, or pink noise with an industry curve whose name I forget), and measured 1M from the speaker, dead center.

 

Most live gear at this level runs near 100 dB SPL.

Studio monitors usually run below 90 dB SPL. That's at least a 10 dB difference. You'd need 10 times the watts to get the studio monitor as loud as the live speaker. (One good reason why we don't use studio monitors on stage!)

 

Kinda off the subject, sorry.

 

People love the EVs as well as QSC K8/K10/K12 series. According to specs, the QSCs are louder, but I haven't A/B'd them, and they're close enough that variations in how specs are measured and reported, that it could work either way. But folks do say the QSC's are louder, and they do have bigger woofers.

 

Note that woofer size can also be misleading, though it is a good general indication. It's the displacement volume that matters (area times travel). You'd have to see the drivers' "xmax" specs to know how much to compensate. And even then, your ears could disagree, as always.

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The only problem with combos is that they don't sound good.

 

BTW, consider the other EV ZXA-1 with the wider dispersion. I forget the details, but the one with wider dispersion might be more flexible as stage monitor, and the horn rotates so you can choose where the 50 degrees go versus where the 100 (or whatever) degrees go.

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The solution for your "way too loud" guitarist (who obviously equates talented with being way too loud), is to tell him to turn the hell down.

 

The reason why most of the keyboard combo amps aren't in favor here is that they simply don't sound as good across the wide spectrum of sounds that most keyboardists have to use. The ONE sound that tends to be the most difficult for a combo amp to handle well is acoustic piano.

 

I've been a powered speaker/line mixer user since 2000 (maybe even a little earlier) and I also wanted a "one box" solution, so when the Traynor K4 came out, so I bit and bought one. It is one of the best combo amps out there, and sounded great for Rhodes, Wurli, Clav, and ok for Hammond and synth, but it was terrible for acoustic piano (with my CP33). This is just my opinion, of course.

 

After less than a year, sold it and I went back to the powered speaker (QSC and Mackie)/line mixer and couldn't have been happier.

Yamaha C7 Grand, My Hammonds: '57 B3, '54 C2, '42 BC, '40 D, '05 XK3 Pro System, Kawai MP9000, Fender Rhodes Mk I 73, Yamaha CP33, Motif ES6, Nord Electro 2, Minimoog Voyager & Model D, Korg MS10
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A guitar amp has to amplify a rather restriced range of frequencies compared to normal keyboard, so my 18 watt Fender Blues Jr can get just about as loud (with my Les Paul going into it) as my K10 can get with normal keyboard patches. However, if I play my keyboard through it on most patches it is nowhere near as loud.

 

OTOH, My PC3 has a screaming guitar patch called "Falgor's Lament," which will cut through a 100 watt tube Marshall like an ice pick.

 

The majority of "keyboard amps" are made from just a box with speakers, even frequently including a piezo tweeter - they just don't have a nice smooth even response. Neither do cheap powered PA, my first DJ type powered PA had a "bump" at cone resonance that would make one note about 3 times as loud as the adjacent notes in the bass range.

 

If size and weight were not a major concern, I'd be running into a three way speaker cabinet, with woofer, tweeter, AND mid-range speakers.

 

BTW, reason that most of the current powered PA have the same wattage feeding the tweeter as the woofer is that most of them use one or more Integrated Circuit Power amps that were originally marketed for stereo use, so they are 2-channel in one piece. It is cheaper to produce than using two custom mono amps of the correct size.

 

Continuing to play on the same stage with a guitarist who plays loud enough that a K12 on a keyboard cannot be heard means eventual ear damage with tinuitis resulting - I just plain won't do it anymore.

 

Try to find a patch and frequency range where the guitaris does not have much output (frequency is why a tiny single piccolo can be heard over an entire symphony orchestra playing). That is one reason the old-time blues pianists played a lot of stuff near the high end of the piano - so they could be heard.

 

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 your keys were drowned out running through a pair (!) of K12,s you need some serious amplification that will not be solved with lightweight tops in the $500- $800 range. Something like a pair of Yorkville EF500p's would do it. I have the unpowered versions (EF508s), and when I use them for keyboard amplification no one blows me away - period!

 

Of course no one has their hearing left either but if you guys play that loud...

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BTW, consider the other EV ZXA-1 with the wider dispersion. I forget the details, but the one with wider dispersion might be more flexible as stage monitor, and the horn rotates so you can choose where the 50 degrees go versus where the 100 (or whatever) degrees go.

The one with the wider dispersion does not have the rotatable horn, as it is 100 degrees in both directions. The one with narrower dispersion is 90 x 50, and it is rotatable.

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What line mixers are you using? anything that is REALLY small? like that could fit in a pedal board? I've seen a few, but don't trust companies like Nady, Art or Pyle...

 

___________________________

The K12 trial was a one time jam with a guitarist I don't play with. With my current guitarist, it my be fine.

 

"a very informal jam session" - me

 

"The solution for your "way too loud" guitarist (who obviously equates talented with being way too loud), is to tell him to turn the hell down." -meisenhower

 

guy I played with 1 time = not my guitarist. I can tell him to turn down, and his band might appreciate it, but it doesn't really help me.

 

 

 

Toys: Hammond SK1, Yamaha Motif ES6, Voce V5+, Virus ti 61, Mason & Hamlin upright, Everett upright, Hammond M3, Korg CX3 analog, Motion Sound Pro145, QSC K10, H&K Rotosphere.. etc
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if you don't mind me asking, what music style and stage volume level have you used it at?

It's always hard to say how loud a band is - I would say it's an average loud rockband, playing modern blues, 60's an 70's rock. I am playing piano and organ and occasional synth leads.

Anyway - I have a pair EV:s on tripod stand at the same level as my ears, about 4 feet from my ears. I am playing at -3dB on the EV:s and the scale goes to +9dB. I think they are loud.

Do the EV:s have 800W of power? - no way. Are they loud? - yes! Can they compete with a crazy guitarist with a 200W Marshall? - hardly. Do they sound good for any keyboard sound? - yes, yes, yes! :) I tried using one as a bass amp today (with a mixer as a preamp) and it did sound quite nice!

But here is the but: if you don't think one K12 is loud enough, then a single ZXA1 surely won't be - it's probably quieter than the K12.

Nord Stage 3 sw73, Yamaha CP88, KeyB Legend Live, Kurzweil PC3K7, EV ZXa1 + sub. K&M stands, Hammond E112, Leslie 3300, EHX V256, Roland SE-02, Yamaha EX5R & TG77, Novation Nova desktop & much more...
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Electro-Voice ELX112P ---- anyone tried it?

 

perhaps i shouldn't have mentioned the K12 jam, seems like that made a lot of folks assume that i am playing exclusively at Spinal Tap levels, which is not the case. I'm mainly a funk, jazz motown type player.

 

I intend to keep the K12's as my mains, as my band gigs with them often.

 

EVs sound very interesting, if I was in Sweden I'd come to your next gig to check em out. Maybe I can find them somewhere around here to check out.

Toys: Hammond SK1, Yamaha Motif ES6, Voce V5+, Virus ti 61, Mason & Hamlin upright, Everett upright, Hammond M3, Korg CX3 analog, Motion Sound Pro145, QSC K10, H&K Rotosphere.. etc
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I agree with other's. I never met a keyboard amp I liked. The powered speaker mixer option is what I use. I have a set of Yamaha 250's and a Mackie 14 chl I bought when I was just getting back into playing, They are fine at home, but I can't seem to get a nice sound live, particularly with the piano. I don't think I can get the cabs in a good location in the types of places I have been playing. Not to mention the stage volume is usually more than I feel is needed, but that's nothing new. Had I been on the forum several years ago, I may have investigated the other options folks have put forward here. That being said, I am not sure that more power is the answer in my case. I have on occasion used a little crap mixer and just taken one cab in mono .
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I am also ready to pull the trigger on a better amp rig. I currently use the Traynor K4.

I have noticed a tinty sound on organ, synth and accordian patches before and thought it may just be the board (Roland VR760) --- that's right, still have not upgraded that either but that's another subject.

 

Last night I plugged a tascam recorder into channel three to play back a cover song we have been working up and realized how tinty this was as well.

In retrospect I should have tried channels 1 & 2 since there is EQ on those.

 

I'm currently on the fence between the QSCK10 & JBLPRX612M

I am concerned about the hot heat sink on the JBL. We all know Heat and electronics dont mix.

I'm also concerned about a possible lack of low end on the K10.

One benefit of the K10 is the mini mixer. I sing and could possibly use Channel B for the keys and channel A for vocal monitoring if kept low enough to eliminate feedback.

I plan to use a mini mixer for the two boards such as a Rolls MX28 with either option.

 

So many choices - so little money. Anyone care to tilt the scales.

 

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BTW, consider the other EV ZXA-1 with the wider dispersion. I forget the details, but the one with wider dispersion might be more flexible as stage monitor, and the horn rotates so you can choose where the 50 degrees go versus where the 100 (or whatever) degrees go.

The one with the wider dispersion does not have the rotatable horn, as it is 100 degrees in both directions. The one with narrower dispersion is 90 x 50, and it is rotatable.

Thanks for the correction!

 

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I'd say that the K12/EV ELX 112p/JBL PRX 612M is the way to go. They are in the same league but with slightly different characteristics sound wise. I ended up with 2 JBL's. They can play really loud and will sound very clear. A great bonus feature is the way they handle vocals. Absolutely stunning!

 

Studiologic Numa X 88, EV zxa1

 

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Has anyone played on the Barbetta SONA 31C ???

 

Also, is the general anti combo movement largely linked to piano sounds? ( live I play a very small % piano, and way more ogran, ep and clav)

 

Elx112 is interesting, gotta find one to try, If I find one in a store I'll just buy it try it and keep it if I dig it or take it back if not.

Toys: Hammond SK1, Yamaha Motif ES6, Voce V5+, Virus ti 61, Mason & Hamlin upright, Everett upright, Hammond M3, Korg CX3 analog, Motion Sound Pro145, QSC K10, H&K Rotosphere.. etc
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Also, is the general anti combo movement largely linked to piano sounds? ( live I play a very small % piano, and way more ogran, ep and clav)

Yes. Piano is difficult to reproduce in a combo amp because of its wide range. Of the combo amps I've used the Traynor K4 comes closest and its still not wonderful on piano sounds. It sounded great on everything else though. The stereo spread was negligible but at least the piano sound didn't have to suffer the indignities of being summed to mono. I let the K4 go because it was too large and cumbersome for a lot of the situations I find myself in. BTW - the K4 is LOUDI You will cross the threshold of pain long before the piano sound starts to break up. I also want to try out the Motion Sound KP500sn but I've not met one in the wild yet.

Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
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Agreed digital piano is notoriously difficult to get satisfying. Forget about authentic, as that benchmark is both terribly subjective and frustratingly elusive.

 

What I have found recently is physically "widening" the mono source yields more satisfying results for me, as it seems to provide a larger "footprint" for the sound than a small, loud point source. Technically this means using both my small 3-way cabs, on small "amp stands" to decouple the bass, spread 5-6 feet apart.

 

Does anyone else do anything similar, or are you guys all going with a single powered cab like a k10?

..
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If the K4 wasn't 57 lbs, I think I would be very into that. but still it seems a lot of folks favor the K series or EVs....

 

Re: piano, *monk

 

My piano sounds like a piano. ANY keyboard I've played, doesn't. I'll only really play piano sounds if it is 100% necessary for a song style- ie, I won't play a rhodes sound on a southern rock/blues tunes. but I have somewhat come to terms with the fact that no keyboard or amp combo I have tried ever does justice to the real thing. Best I've done was going direct on a stage where I got a good feel of the house sound and a little from the monitors, but with no amp.

Toys: Hammond SK1, Yamaha Motif ES6, Voce V5+, Virus ti 61, Mason & Hamlin upright, Everett upright, Hammond M3, Korg CX3 analog, Motion Sound Pro145, QSC K10, H&K Rotosphere.. etc
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I have been using a Barbetta 41C for years. I use it as a monitor and use the direct out to the main board. This amp is loud (which I really needed) considering its size and weight. The two 10's in the 41 cover the bass end pretty well and the top end is crisp so no issues there. The sound quality is real nice although maybe a little on the sterile side. My only real complaints are I would prefer if it were a wedge but I did a little hack there so I can use it in a leaned back position. The other real issue is having all controls on the back. Every time I need to tweak I need to move the amp around to get to the controls and see what I am doing.
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