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Keyboard Amplification at home, what do you guys use/recommend


kaptainkeys
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So if you've been following my other thread (linked here), you may know that I just bought a Kurzweil PC3.

I was planning on buying a pair of TS to RCA cables and connect the PC3 to an old bookshelf speaker system (Aiwa amp and 2 speakers) I have sitting around in my garage collecting dust, but now I am starting to have doubts about whether or not it will work well, so what do you guys think?

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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1 hour ago, drawback said:

Will you be playing with other musicians in your home space? 

My brother is a drummer and his kit is in the same room, so we may jam together occasionally, but not something we do often as we have conflicting schedules

44 minutes ago, ElmerJFudd said:

Do you have a space dedicated to playing - dimensions?

It is a dedicated playing corner in my basement where I already have my upright piano and my brother's drums set up, and the kurzweil is going to be adjacent to the piano, making a keyboard corner if you will
As for dimensions I'd say it is 8 ft by 15 ft approximately, the speakers will be on one the of shorter walls and right in front of me as I'm playing

46 minutes ago, ElmerJFudd said:

Are you trying not to disturb others dwelling in the house?

Kinda?  I need them to be loud enough for a comfortable playing volume, but I don't want them to be super loud since I do live with other people, although I will most likely end up using headphones if I really don't want to bother people (i.e. late at night)

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Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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Playing with drums you're going to need some volume and ability to cover some space.   Me if I was playing in that situation I'd probably go with a couple powered small PA speakers like QSC K2. or similar brand type powered monitors.    For my home setup I use studio monitors now a large pair of those might be able to keep up with drums depending on how loud your brother plays.   A pair of Yamaha HSC8 might keep up again depending on your brother.    

 

Last option maybe you can trade your brother in for a nice looking cello player. 

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OK, the space is not enormous and on occasion you may play along with acoustic drums.  

A pair of 8" powered PA speakers would be great.  Most of them are designed to go on poles or lay on the floor as wedges.

 

On a budget check out the Alto TX308 ($129 a piece).

Up from there you have the TS308 ($259 a piece).

Up from there, the QSC K8.2 ($819 a piece) mentioned above. 

But again, your room is not large and you're not playing with a band.  
 

Another thought is what a lot of home players do with instruments like the Kawai MP11SE.  Use a pair of powered studio monitors on stands positioned at just the right distance and width to give yourself a nice stereo image.  

A pair of Yamaha HS8 on stands is   around $799.  CD69F8DC-F7E6-438F-80DF-72B411B4FC61.jpeg.3fe2258dd4425f71e922cd3c6f41d775.jpeg

 

But there are a lot less expensive  models starting with Behringer Truth or Tannoy Reveal around $189 a piece.  These are near field so the sound is for the player.  Although maybe loud enough for the occasional jam with your brother.  

 

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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16 minutes ago, Docbop said:

Last option maybe you can trade your brother in for a nice looking cello player. 

 

And there's the "Quote of the Day"!

 

Gee, wonder if I trade in my twin brother, the drummer...

 

Old No7

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Yamaha MODX6 * Hammond SK Pro 73 * Roland RD-88 * Crumar Mojo Pedals * Mackie Thump 12As * Tascam DP-24SD * JBL 305 MkIIs

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25 minutes ago, ElmerJFudd said:

OK, the space is not enormous and on occasion you may play along with acoustic drums.  

A pair of 8" powered PA speakers would be great.  On a budget check out the Alto TX308 ($129 a piece).

Up from there you have the TS308 ($259 a piece).

Up from there, the QSC K8.2 ($819 a piece) mentioned above. 

and in-between the TS308 and K8.2 I like the EV ZXa1 at $499 a piece. They also have the ELX200-10P which I haven't heard.

 

I've also heard some good things about the QSC CP8 and EV ZLX12P as lower priced options in their lines.

 

I normally might not be so inclined to go with powered PA speakers for home use, but if you EVER need to play with live drums, it makes sense.

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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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44 minutes ago, Docbop said:

Playing with drums you're going to need some volume and ability to cover some space.   Me if I was playing in that situation I'd probably go with a couple powered small PA speakers like QSC K2. or similar brand type powered monitors.    For my home setup I use studio monitors now a large pair of those might be able to keep up with drums depending on how loud your brother plays.   A pair of Yamaha HSC8 might keep up again depending on your brother.

My philosophy for when we jam could also be for both of us to wear headphones connected to the kurzweil or the amp (and a splitter) and just have the volume low enough so that we can also hear the drums

45 minutes ago, Docbop said:

Last option maybe you can trade your brother in for a nice looking cello player. 

Not a terrible idea, though that might make family functions a little awkward

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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I think for now I'm going to hold off on buying anything new and see how things work out with the bookshelf speakers, and if I need more power I can always upgrade down the road, using the stuff I have already will only cost me like $15 in cables

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Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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Just now, GotKeys said:

I think for now I'm going to hold off on buying anything new and see how things work out with the bookshelf speakers, and if I need more power I can always upgrade down the road, using the stuff I have already will only cost me like $15 in cables

Your idea of both wearing headphones is also a pretty good one.  A little Yamaha MG06 ($109) mixer will take the audio outs of your keyboard and give you another headphone Jack and separate volume control for the drummer.  You can plug your headphones into the headphone Jack of the keyboard itself.  
 

Even less, Mackie makes an HM4 headphone amp for $39.99.  Two mono 1/4” instrument cable to 1 stereo 1/4” plugs in the back and you have 4 people who can jump in with headphones. 
 

 

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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3 hours ago, GotKeys said:

So if you've been following my other thread (linked here), you may know that I just bought a Kurzweil PC3.

I was planning on buying a pair of TS to RCA cables and connect the PC3 to an old bookshelf speaker system (Aiwa amp and 2 speakers) I have sitting around in my garage collecting dust, but now I am starting to have doubts about whether or not it will work well, so what do you guys think?

 

When you want it cheap for the home, this is bang for the buck ...

Presonus Eris E5XT

 

I have a PC361 and I use the much smaller Eris E3.5 for my laptop and software instruments.

They sound surprisingly good.

The E5 XT are much better,- true 2-way amplification, bigger cone, XLR input.

 

Use balanced cables for PC3,- it sounds better and you get higher output level as also better S/N ratio.

With the E5XT, you can use balanced TRS>TRS or TRS>XLR cables.

 

🙂

 

A.C.

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36 minutes ago, Al Coda said:

 

When you want it cheap for the home, this is bang for the buck ...

Presonus Eris E5XT

 

I have a PC361 and I use the much smaller Eris E3.5 for my laptop and software instruments.

They sound surprisingly good.

The E5 XT are much better,- true 2-way amplification, bigger cone, XLR input.

 

Use balanced cables for PC3,- it sounds better and you get higher output level as also better S/N ratio.

With the E5XT, you can use balanced TRS>TRS or TRS>XLR cables.

 

🙂

 

A.C.

Good point. If going with a studio monitor the balanced cables will be nice and quiet if you have other electrical stuff in the room (ie. computer and monitor/screen).  The 5” monitors are good enough if you are playing near to them and not with an acoustic drummer. 

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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Along the lines of the Presonus, the JBL LSR305 and 305P Mk II have been popular choices.

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 must be either blessed or totally ignorant. How can I do anything in my house? I have Mackie HR824s in the living room, use cheap unbalanced cables from my computer's 3.5mm headphone outputand experience zero issues with hum, buzzes, interference, etc. How can this be possible? Maybe I'm just lucky.

 

Here's my advice: GotKeys - why not buy those TS to RCA cables and give your present setup a shot? Hell, get regular 1/4" - to 1/4" cables and adapters. If your old stereo setup doesn't work out, you'll at least have two good 1/4-to-1/4 cables as spares - and be out the cost of adapters. That's probably less than balanced XLR cables and studio monitors!

 

[EDIT -- just saw your post above, ha ha! Glad you "took my advice" 🙂 ]

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46 minutes ago, Reezekeys said:

I must be either blessed or totally ignorant. How can I do anything in my house? I have Mackie HR824s in the living room, use cheap unbalanced cables from my computer's 3.5mm headphone outputand experience zero issues with hum, buzzes, interference, etc. How can this be possible? Maybe I'm just lucky.

 

Here's my advice: GotKeys - why not buy those TS to RCA cables and give your present setup a shot? Hell, get regular 1/4" - to 1/4" cables and adapters. If your old stereo setup doesn't work out, you'll at least have two good 1/4-to-1/4 cables as spares - and be out the cost of adapters. That's probably less than balanced XLR cables and studio monitors!

This is true for me as well - where I live right now.  But prior, I kid you not, I got electrical noise when using unbalanced cables to powered monitors with a less than 10ft run.  I wasn’t able to narrow down the issue.  It was preferable for me to use balanced cables vs. breaking off the ground pin on the monitors or buying a pair of  hum-X or the like.  

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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48 minutes ago, Reezekeys said:

I must be either blessed or totally ignorant. How can I do anything in my house? I have Mackie HR824s in the living room, use cheap unbalanced cables from my computer's 3.5mm headphone outputand experience zero issues with hum, buzzes, interference, etc. How can this be possible? Maybe I'm just lucky.

 

Here's my advice: GotKeys - why not buy those TS to RCA cables and give your present setup a shot? Hell, get regular 1/4" - to 1/4" cables and adapters. If your old stereo setup doesn't work out, you'll at least have two good 1/4-to-1/4 cables as spares - and be out the cost of adapters. That's probably less than balanced XLR cables and studio monitors!

The amp I have for my bookshelf speakers uses RCA, that's why I am buying the adapters, and I'd rather not buy something that already works totally fine and is just sitting collecting dust in my garage (and taking up valuable garage real estate)

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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Yea, I forgot the days of living in an apartment building. I suppose you can get some noises if a circuit is shared with twenty other people's refrigerators or blenders. Twenty-something years ago I shared a big 105-year-old victorian house (with ancient wiring and plumbing!) where each floor was a separate apartment. I had a home studio I was very busy in and can't remember problems with noises then.

 

I know balanced cables can help with induced rfi and emi - but if the AC power itself is dirty, or you're on a circuit with a refrigerator compressor or furnace that kicks in, I'm not sure any kind of cable is going to make a difference. Am I wrong?

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14 minutes ago, GotKeys said:

The amp I have for my bookshelf speakers uses RCA, that's why I am buying the adapters, and I'd rather not buy something that already works totally fine and is just sitting collecting dust in my garage (and taking up valuable garage real estate)

That's a good plan. I've had gear that sat around unused for years, then one day I find a purpose for it. I hope this does the job for you. In my much younger days when I was a totally broke musician and an electronics hobbyist, my gigging rig was a Dynaco PAT4 preamp going into a Southwest Technical Products Corporation "Tigersaurus" power amp - both kits that I built. The Dynaco was meant for stereo systems and had RCA inputs - I put my Yamaha CP70 into the tape monitor inputs using a 1/4" - to - RCA adapter. It worked just fine, was super-loud and clean through my Fender Bassman cabinet with two JBLs!

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1 minute ago, Reezekeys said:

 

That's a good plan. I've had gear that sat around unused for years, then one day I find a purpose for it.

 

As they say, sometimes the best gear is the stuff you already have/know how to use.

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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Agreed…I use Yamaha HS8’s and 35 year old Yamaha rack mixer from my live playing days.

Using: Roland RD-2000, Hydrasynth Deluxe, Mac Studio, Studio Display, Logic Pro, Arturia:V Collection 9/Cherry Audio:GX-80,Polymode,Quadra,Sines/MemoryMoon/G-Force:OB-E, Oddity3, SEM/VPS Avenger/Korg:MS20,Triton/Native Instruments:Komplete 14/Roland Cloud Pro/Spectrasonics:Keyscape,Omnisphere/uhe:Diva,Hive,Zebra2/UVIWorkstation

 

Sold: Korg:Kronos 88,T3,MS20, Yamaha: Motif XS8, Motif ES8, Motif 8, KX88, TX802, Oberheim: Modular 8 Voice, OBXa, OB8, Prophet 5, Roland D50, Dyno-My-Rhodes, Crumar T2

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3 hours ago, Reezekeys said:

I must be either blessed or totally ignorant. How can I do anything in my house?[/quote]

 

 

I recommended "balanced" because he bought a Kurzweil PC3 (which has balanced TRS outputs).

XLR not necessary.

Kurzweil benefits from balanced setup.

Ask Kurzweil,- ask Dave Weiser and other PC3 users.

It works unbalanced nonetheless, but a output level difference of 14dB for one of the quietest keyboards on the market is a plus.

Kurzweil factory patches are programmed w/ insane headroom not to overdrive the SPDIF out.

All my keyboards and rackmount expanders offering unbalanced outputs are way hotter than the Kurzweil !

 

🙂

 

A.C.

 

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25 minutes ago, Al Coda said:

Kurzweil factory patches are programmed w/ insane headroom not to overdrive the SPDIF out.

All my keyboards and rackmount expanders offering unbalanced outputs are way hotter than the Kurzweil !

Got it, I understand now. Do you know if the Kurz XLR outs are transformer-isolated?

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2 hours ago, Reezekeys said:

Yea, I forgot the days of living in an apartment building. I suppose you can get some noises if a circuit is shared with twenty other people's refrigerators or blenders. Twenty-something years ago I shared a big 105-year-old victorian house (with ancient wiring and plumbing!) where each floor was a separate apartment. I had a home studio I was very busy in and can't remember problems with noises then.

 

I know balanced cables can help with induced rfi and emi - but if the AC power itself is dirty, or you're on a circuit with a refrigerator compressor or furnace that kicks in, I'm not sure any kind of cable is going to make a difference. Am I wrong?

I’m not sure.   But I do know in my previous environment that running balanced 1/4” TRS to my monitors solved the problem and that was the end of it for me.  

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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41 minutes ago, Al Coda said:

 

I recommended "balanced" because he bought a Kurzweil PC3 (which has balanced TRS outputs).

XLR not necessary.

Kurzweil benefits from balanced setup.

Ask Kurzweil,- ask Dave Weiser and other PC3 users.

It works unbalanced nonetheless, but a output level difference of 14dB for one of the quietest keyboards on the market is a plus.

Kurzweil factory patches are programmed w/ insane headroom not to overdrive the SPDIF out.

All my keyboards and rackmount expanders offering unbalanced outputs are way hotter than the Kurzweil !

 

🙂

 

A.C.

 

So then would it make sense connecting the keyboard up to a mixer first before going to the amp?  That way I could use balanced outputs from the kurzweil and still not spend a ton of money on new speakers.  (I've yet to buy anything to connect the PC3 to my speakers so I'm still open to other options)

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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