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Light weight keyboard amp or equivalent


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I am going to do a gig indoors with a band for 50 to.100 people.  I need an amp.  I have  a Roland.Mobile Cube - which I like - looking for something louder than that.  Looking for something lightweight - 25 lbs or under.  Will pay up to $600.  I have read some of the posts on this topic.  There seems to be a dislike of keyboard amps such as Rolands KB amps - preference is for powered speakers. Guitar Center recommends Harbinger 12  inch powered speaker or Bose S1.  I saw they had a QSC 8 inch powered speaker for $200 less than the Bose S1.  Wondering if that would work.

 

My set up is two keyboards running through an IPad.  Possibly will run that through an audio interface.  This my budget rig that I have posted before on.  I would like something I could also use with a mic and two keyboards.

 

Thank you for any suggestions.

 

 

Casio Privia PX-300, Yamaha NP-30, Korg Module and Gadget, Alesis Q49 Controller
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I agree with Dave. Other possibilities could be Alto TS308 (I don't like it as much as the EV, but it's still quite good, and cheaper), and maybe QSC CP8 (I haven't heard that one myself yet).  I'd say that's your short list.

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Note - Even if you only use one board you will need a mixer for the EV ZXA1 for the gain stage ... or maybe the headphone jack on the board could work.   Or something to use as a line level preamp.  If you don't you will not get much volume out of the speaker.

 

Other speakers may have hot enough inputs.  I don't know,  I only use the EVs in question and I always use a mixer.   You need to read the input specs on the speakers.

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Yes, also picking up from what Dave said... any powered PA speaker pretty much needs a mixer. Though OP also mentioned possibly running everything through an audio interface, which might be another way to get the gain he needs...?

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 actually like KB amps for this sort of thing but all the KB amps that sound decent are heavier than hell.  Motion Sounds, Traynors, Barbetta, etc.  The Rolands are mid heavy and honky and in general just sound like ass.  Behringers  sound a little better but I have a friend who went through three of them.  They weren't reliable.

 

So yes powered speakers are the way to go.

"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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Thanks to all for the feedback - very helpful as I need to make a decision soon.

 

Sales person said the Bose S1 is louder than the QSC.  Nobody on the post voted for the Bose so far.  Is he trying to make the extra $200 or is it better?  

 

The QSC cp9 has the best reviews.

 

EVZXA1 gets good reviews for loudness and sound quality but some complaints about reliability.  Also, only one 1/4 inch input.

 

 

Casio Privia PX-300, Yamaha NP-30, Korg Module and Gadget, Alesis Q49 Controller
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12 minutes ago, Jamkeys2000 said:

Also, only one 1/4 inch input.

 

 

That's what you plug the mixer into. Almost all mixers are stereo if you need to run something else just hook it up to the other channel in the mixer and adjust the pan knobs as needed. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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I plan to run my keyboards through an audio interface into the speaker.  Also have a mixer if that is needed.

 

Getting the picture EVZXA1 is the best choice.  But, I may have to go with QSC unless I can find it in a store somewhere. 

 

Thanks again for the helpful posts.

Casio Privia PX-300, Yamaha NP-30, Korg Module and Gadget, Alesis Q49 Controller
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2 hours ago, AnotherScott said:

Yes, also picking up from what Dave said... any powered PA speaker pretty much needs a mixer. ...

I did gigs for years without any mixer involved...at that time my speaker was a Yamaha MSR-100, which got decently loud even for outdoor gigs, just being fed from my Motif (and/or accordion mics). But that was solo gigs. Still, I never had a need for a mixer for gigs until I significantly expanded my rig and needed more inputs.

Yamaha: Motif XF8, YS200, MX61, CVP-305, CLP-130, YPG-235, PSR-295, PSS-470 | Roland: Fantom 7, JV-1000

Kurzweil: PC3-76, PC4 (88) | Korg: N1R, X5DR | Emu: Proteus/1 | Casio: CT-370 | Novation: Launchkey 37 MK3

Former: Emu Proformance Plus & Mo'Phatt, Korg Krome 61, Roland Fantom XR & JV-1010, Behringer CAT

Yamaha Pacifica 112V & APX600 | Washburn WI64 | Ibanez BTB-675 | Alesis SamplePad Pro | Assorted organs, accordions, other instruments

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Yes, for solo gigs, or even, say, unplugged duo/trio gigs, you probably won't need a mixer. Once you're playing with a live drummer and electric guitarist, though, that's likely to change.

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Best grab and go single amp I know of in that price range is the Hartke KB12. Very loud, good sound.

8BBF27E6-10F9-42BC-BA1F-F42FBB598053.jpeg

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10 minutes ago, AnotherScott said:

Yes, for solo gigs, or even, say, unplugged duo/trio gigs, you probably won't need a mixer. Once you're playing with a live drummer and electric guitarist, though, that's likely to change.

Yeah, I'd probably agree, at least if it's above rehearsal volume. Come to think of it though, I did do some full-volume rehearsals at a church with a full band (2 guitars, drums, bass, vocals, and an acoustic piano played by someone else) just plugged into a QSC K10 (the original) with no problem, but those speakers seem to have a LOT of juice. BUT if we're talking about festival (or even loud bar band) levels, then yeah, you're probably going to need a mixer! Although at that point I always wonder why it's worth trashing your ears/why the venue isn't set up to run keys through FOH. It's not like most keyboards get a significant portion of their tone from the FRFR PA speakers we use, unlike guitarists. Leslies and Rhodes/Wurli with amps being the exceptions, of course.

Yamaha: Motif XF8, YS200, MX61, CVP-305, CLP-130, YPG-235, PSR-295, PSS-470 | Roland: Fantom 7, JV-1000

Kurzweil: PC3-76, PC4 (88) | Korg: N1R, X5DR | Emu: Proteus/1 | Casio: CT-370 | Novation: Launchkey 37 MK3

Former: Emu Proformance Plus & Mo'Phatt, Korg Krome 61, Roland Fantom XR & JV-1010, Behringer CAT

Yamaha Pacifica 112V & APX600 | Washburn WI64 | Ibanez BTB-675 | Alesis SamplePad Pro | Assorted organs, accordions, other instruments

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8 minutes ago, Ledbetter said:

Best grab and go single amp I know of in that price range is the Hartke KB12. Very loud, good sound.

 

I've used one of these, but actually as a cajon amp (for a cajon with piezo pickups). Definitely very loud, I thought the sound was sufficient.

Yamaha: Motif XF8, YS200, MX61, CVP-305, CLP-130, YPG-235, PSR-295, PSS-470 | Roland: Fantom 7, JV-1000

Kurzweil: PC3-76, PC4 (88) | Korg: N1R, X5DR | Emu: Proteus/1 | Casio: CT-370 | Novation: Launchkey 37 MK3

Former: Emu Proformance Plus & Mo'Phatt, Korg Krome 61, Roland Fantom XR & JV-1010, Behringer CAT

Yamaha Pacifica 112V & APX600 | Washburn WI64 | Ibanez BTB-675 | Alesis SamplePad Pro | Assorted organs, accordions, other instruments

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3 hours ago, AnotherScott said:

any powered PA speaker pretty much needs a mixer

 

I've never needed a mixer to get way more than enough gain on my QSCs... just put the mic/line switch to "mic" and back off on the volume a bit. I used to do this on the crazy loud wedding gigs. Now, if a gig requires me to switch to "mic", I don't take it! 🙂 

 

The point is that any PPA with similar sensitivity range settings should be able to be driven to its full output from a keyboard without a mixer. Of course you may need a mixer for other reasons - like EQing, or adding an mp3 player for breaks, or a second board or a mic to sing or announce through. You shouldn't need it if all you're need is volume from whatever you're plugging into it. Don't most keyboards have onboard eq and effects?

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10 hours ago, Jamkeys2000 said:

Thanks to all for the feedback - very helpful as I need to make a decision soon.

 

Sales person said the Bose S1 is louder than the QSC.  Nobody on the post voted for the Bose so far.  Is he trying to make the extra $200 or is it better?  

 

The QSC cp9 has the best reviews.

 

EVZXA1 gets good reviews for loudness and sound quality but some complaints about reliability.  Also, only one 1/4 inch input.

 

 

Bose S1 is battery-powered, with Bluetooth and other bits. If you don't need that, why pay for it.

 

Cheers, Mike.

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The question is a bit . . . I'll say . . . artificial, because generally people don't buy amplification with only one gig scenario in mind.

 

There don't seem to be any available when I do a search so this may be moot for the OP, but for a situation like this a pair of Vox V50KB amps might work out.  $600 and under 20 lbs for a pair. 3 inputs.  Punches above weight for wattage.  EPs and organs in particular will sound good, but APs won't be a hi fi as some would demand.  Would it work for 50-100 people outdoors?  I've used this arrangement for similar and so I think it could, but with little or no headroom, so it's chancy from a volume standpoint.

 

Above a certain size crowd you're ideally going to a PA rather than relying on your own amplification.  That size might be around 100 but that's a gross generalization and actual feasibility will depend on site-specific factors.  The point is, at some point a more powerful personal amplification system becomes non-functional.  

 

One thing I like about the Motion Sound series is being able to hearing yourself in stereo but having the option of going to FOH in either stereo or mono.  

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9 hours ago, Ledbetter said:

Best grab and go single amp I know of in that price range is the Hartke KB12. Very loud, good sound.

8BBF27E6-10F9-42BC-BA1F-F42FBB598053.jpeg

 

Can vouch for Hartke keyboard amp as i was gigging with my Hartke KM60 (doesnt have kick backs like this one) setup behind me as my single EVZXA1 never seemed to have enough volume for keys contrary to the norm so the EV became my personal vocal mointor at my feet.

 

My keys also went thru the front of house which was only vocals and keys as the guys wanted to hear me in foldback.

 

I also liked having the speakers of my PX330 turned on as i connected more with it feeling like it was in front of me. 

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9 hours ago, Reezekeys said:

 

I've never needed a mixer to get way more than enough gain on my QSCs... just put the mic/line switch to "mic" and back off on the volume a bit. I used to do this on the crazy loud wedding gigs. Now, if a gig requires me to switch to "mic", I don't take it! 🙂 

I usually use a little mixer for gain /eq / proximity to controls but when I've had to do quick set-ups or was just too lazy to hassle with it, I've also flipped the line/mic switch to "mic" for more gain with my QCS K12 and Yamaha DBR 10.  When I've done this, there was plenty of volume and headroom. 

 

FWIW...  My Alto TS310's don't have a line/mic switch and when I boost their gain knobs above 2/3'rds they start distorting so I recently used the headphone out from my keyboard for more gain when I had to do a quick set-up.  It worked but the gain increase wasn't nearly as much as flipping the line/mic switch to "mic" on my QSC K12 or Yamaha DBR10. 

Gigs: Nord 5D 73, Kurzwel SP4-7, Hammond SK1, Numa Compact 2x, Yamaha MX88, Casio CGP700, QSC K12, Yamaha DBR10, JBL515xt(2). Alto TS310(2)

 

 

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12 hours ago, Jamkeys2000 said:

Thanks to all for the feedback - very helpful as I need to make a decision soon.

 

Sales person said the Bose S1 is louder than the QSC.  Nobody on the post voted for the Bose so far.  Is he trying to make the extra $200 or is it better?  

 

The QSC cp9 has the best reviews.

 

EVZXA1 gets good reviews for loudness and sound quality but some complaints about reliability.  Also, only one 1/4 inch input.

 

 

I would go with the QSC on your budget, should sound great.  You will need a small mixer as others have mentioned.

 

 

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1 hour ago, DJKeys said:

You will need a small mixer as others have mentioned.

 

And a few others have mentioned that a mixer may not be needed. Hard to tell from the original post - 

 

17 hours ago, Jamkeys2000 said:

My set up is two keyboards running through an IPad

 

Not sure what "through" an iPad means here - two controllers with no sounds going into an iPad with virtual instruments? If the iPad is the one and only source of audio, I can tell you that I connect the headphone output of my iPad directly to my QSC K8s and with the line/mic switch on "line" I still get plenty of volume. I use AUM on the iPad so I have all the mixing, eq and efx capabilities I need - definitely no external mixer required! However, my iPad is the only source of sound, and being older has a headphone jack which makes things simpler in terms of hookup.

 

If Jamkeys' keyboards produce sound, then that obviously means there's more than one source of audio so a mixer may be needed! I say may because my QSCs (and many other PPAs) have two inputs. On my K8s, one is switchable between mic and line level and the other is line level only. As I said before, the headphone output of my iPad (or laptop when I use that) has plenty of clean signal level to drive the line-level inputs to what I consider a very loud level.

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11 hours ago, Reezekeys said:

 

I've never needed a mixer to get way more than enough gain on my QSCs... just put the mic/line switch to "mic" and back off on the volume a bit. I used to do this on the crazy loud wedding gigs. Now, if a gig requires me to switch to "mic", I don't take it! 🙂 

 

The point is that any PPA with similar sensitivity range settings should be able to be driven to its full output from a keyboard without a mixer. 

 

Yes, this can also be an option. Caveats: sending the keyboard signal through the speaker's mic preamp could degrade the sound (e.g. add noise, but also see further down); it could require a particular cable (i.e. to go from your 1/4" to XLR); and there's also the possibility of something like this:

 

2 hours ago, HSS said:

I usually use a little mixer for gain /eq / proximity to controls but when I've had to do quick set-ups or was just too lazy to hassle with it, I've also flipped the line/mic switch to "mic" for more gain with my QCS K12 and Yamaha DBR 10.  When I've done this, there was plenty of volume and headroom. 

 

FWIW...  My Alto TS310's don't have a line/mic switch and when I boost their gain knobs above 2/3'rds they start distorting

 

It seems the Altos don't like this. The TS308 has specific warning against turning the knob to its mic level unless you're plugging in a mic, and I guess you're seeing the result. It's possible that the "microphone input modes" of some of these speakers does more than simply boost the signal. Maybe there's some kind of impedance thing that happens or something? I don't know, this is out of my element.

 

3 hours ago, Adan said:

a pair of Vox V50KB amps might work out.  $600 and under 20 lbs for a pair. 3 inputs.  Punches above weight for wattage.  EPs and organs in particular will sound good, but APs won't be a hi fi as some would demand.  Would it work for 50-100 people outdoors?  I've used this arrangement for similar and so I think it could, but with little or no headroom, so it's chancy from a volume standpoint.

 

Picking up from that, my concern here isn't just covering up to 100 people, but outdoors can be tougher, and then with full band... If we're talking about an electric guitarist and a rock drummer on an outdoor gig, I'd have a hard time imagining the Vox if it has to play the role of FOH for your keyboards.

 

3 hours ago, AUSSIEKEYS said:

 

Can vouch for Hartke keyboard amp as i was gigging with my Hartke KM60 (doesnt have kick backs like this one) setup behind me as my single EVZXA1 never seemed to have enough volume for keys contrary to the norm so the EV became my personal vocal mointor at my feet.

 

Which again gets back the the EV typically needing a mixer for full band "audience" use, unless maybe you use the mic input "trick" mentioned above, which I haven't tried, personally.

 

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Consider JBL Eon One compact. 4 inputs. No separate mixer needed. Battery powered. Light weight. But you might also consider borrowing a powered speaker to see how much volume you really need for this band/gig. A friend used a Bose S1 as a PA for his low volume trio (guitar, string bass, small drum kit) with 2 mics going into the Bose and it was not enough volume. Without checking, I think it's a 6 inch speaker + tweeter. The Eon One compact is an 8" speaker. I use it for band rehearsal for keyboard, but it may not be enough volume for a band at gig volume.

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These are only my opinions, not supported by any actual knowledge, experience, or expertise.
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1 hour ago, AnotherScott said:

Caveats: sending the keyboard signal through the speaker's mic preamp could degrade the sound (e.g. add noise, but also see further down); it could require a particular cable (i.e. to go from your 1/4" to XLR);

 

All the more reason to go with the QSC then, it has a combo jack and the mic/line switch is just a pad, there's no separate "mic preamp" (at least on my original K). If one knows how to properly gain stage there should be no degradation in the sound either.

 

Obviously it's not gonna hurt to use a mixer - but my choice is to have a streamlined rig. The less to buy, carry, and set up (and potentially break!), the better. That's just me!

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16 hours ago, Jamkeys2000 said:

Thanks to all for the feedback - very helpful as I need to make a decision soon.

 

Sales person said the Bose S1 is louder than the QSC.  Nobody on the post voted for the Bose so far.  Is he trying to make the extra $200 or is it better?  

 

The QSC cp9 has the best reviews.

 

EVZXA1 gets good reviews for loudness and sound quality but some complaints about reliability.  Also, only one 1/4 inch input.

 

 

 

That's another reason why I included a small mixer.  Not only for gain staging but more than one input as you said you needed a mic and two keyboards.

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13 minutes ago, Delaware Dave said:

That's another reason why I included a small mixer.  Not only for gain staging but more than one input as you said you needed a mic and two keyboards.

 

I should learn to read! I looked at the OP again. Yes, of course you need a mixer here. One of those small Yams or Mackies is what I'd do. Here's one that'll probably work OK and not hit the wallet too hard:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Mix5--mackie-mix5-5-channel-compact-mixer

 

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6 hours ago, AnotherScott said:

 

Which again gets back the the EV typically needing a mixer for full band "audience" use, unless maybe you use the mic input "trick" mentioned above, which I haven't tried, personally.

 

 

Yeah i even tried a small used and untried Behringer mixer I had lying around at the time as I felt that would be the answer but it made no difference.

 

I was bamboozled by that and wondered was the untried used mixer i had not "the full quid".

 

I didnt have another small mixer to try so to solve issue quickly as it was a new band i joined and didnt want to experiment more on those first gigs I started looking at alternatives and a new Hartke came up cheap at time. Instantly solved the problem and left the EV open to being a monitor which i needed anyway as they were short one

 

The Hartke with 10" speaker is nicely portable sizewize but heavy at 20kg next band I join I may go back to trying to sort the EV out due to its light weight. (Hoping i dont need to supply monitor)

 

I love the Hartke but i did also go thru the 250 a side vocal front of house too so definately wasnt pushing the Hardkt at all.

 

Edit: Why didnt i do that when using just the EV for keys well i just joined the band and didnt want to ask to put my keys thru the singers PA even though it was 15s. Touchy subject his PA.

 

The singer had no idea how to set his own PA up properly. On that first gig I was so itchin to change the EQ but I only mentioned it casually. On the second gig I told the other guys I could improve the PA sound immensely which they let me do. They always said the singer didnt know what he was doing but admitted nor did they.

 

From then on I was the PA guy. I gave a bit of time before introducing my keyboards thru FOH so as not to scare the singer (he really had no idea) but thankfully the guys wanted me in the monitors too.

 

Eventually i supplied my own PA so no probs then. Ironically smaller speakers that killed the old fashioned 15s. They were amazed. Old school players old school ideas. Its always the keyboard player that keeps up more with the times in some "old codger" bands even if the keyboard player is an "old codger" like me. hee hee.

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In addition to previously mentioned powered speakers, you might want to consider the Yamaha DBR10 which is similar to but less powerful, lighter, and less expensive than its big brother the Yamaha DXR10.  It has two xlr /1/4"combo input jacks along some simple DSP settings for some basic mixing capability.  It's under your stated price and weight limit, costing less than $400 and weighing 23 lbs. 

 

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/DBR10--yamaha-dbr10-700w-10-inch-powered-speaker

 

Gigs: Nord 5D 73, Kurzwel SP4-7, Hammond SK1, Numa Compact 2x, Yamaha MX88, Casio CGP700, QSC K12, Yamaha DBR10, JBL515xt(2). Alto TS310(2)

 

 

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1 hour ago, HSS said:

In addition to previously mentioned powered speakers, you might want to consider the Yamaha DBR10 which is similar to but less powerful, lighter, and less expensive than its big brother the Yamaha DXR10.  It has two xlr /1/4"combo input jacks along some simple DSP settings for some basic mixing capability.  It's under your stated price and weight limit, costing less than $400 and weighing 23 lbs. 

 

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/DBR10--yamaha-dbr10-700w-10-inch-powered-speaker

 

Despite the fact that it has DSP, which can effectively act like there is unlimited gain, be wary of pushing the speaker to hard.  Many people crank the volume up way to loud on these Yamahas, putting them into protected mode, leading to them overloading the speaker and then they don't last nearly as long as they should.

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