The quality of the speakers you use to broadcast the sound of your digital piano or workstation is the most important decision you must make after you have decided on the right keyboard. This is because your sound will only be as good as your speakers. If they crackle at high volumes or become muffled with the bass notes, you are not going to enjoy your music and neither will your audience.
Some people choose to get amplifiers in order to enhance the quality of their sound or volume to blend in better with a band while others need an amplifier because their keyboards do not come with speakers included (this is usually the case for digital stage pianos). Whichever need you have for an amplifier, these keyboard amp reviews have everything you need to help you purchase the best keyboard amp for your needs.
Some people think that it is ok to use a guitar amp with piano, being of the opinion that an amp is just an amp. This is definitely not true. Guitar amps are designed to handle a frequency range of about 4 octaves. Since a piano can span about 7 octaves, an amp that only handles 4 octaves will fall far short of the sensitivity needed to produce proper sound. You will likely also need stereo speakers to reproduce the proper sound because most piano samples have been recorded in stereo. A mono speaker would not produce the same full sound as a stereo set would.
Keyboard amplifiers are designed to interfere with the sound of the keyboard as little as possible. While guitar amps contain effects like distortion and overdrive, such effects would ruin the sounds of the keyboard. Each sound reproduced by a digital keyboard was specifically designed to sound perfect exactly as is, without the need for added effects beyond what the piano can do itself.
How to Choose a Great Keyboard Amp
There are several factors that you should consider when learning about the best keyboard amps:
Amps are rated by both peak watts and continuous watts. Peak watt limits show how much power your amplifier can put out in short bursts, although putting this must power through the amp continuously could damage the amp’s speakers. Continuous RMS watts are the amount that can be put through your amp on a regular basis. To figure out how many watts you need consider how loud your system needs to be. In general, an amp with more wattage capacity can play louder while still retaining clarity.
Channels and EQ
Dual or more channel amplifiers allow more than one instrument to connect and produce sound. Most amps with multiple channels will have some capability to mix that sound, such as equalizers or individual volume. This is quite necessary in order to keep one instrument from drowning out another. If a multi-channel amp does not have this capability, steer clear.
Most amplifiers now have several types of inputs so players aren’t limited by the type of line out their instruments or accompaniments are using. This will include 1/4 inch inputs or XLR inputs. Good amps will provide several different types of inputs so that any type of instrument can be used. At the same time, the best keyboard amp for performance at venues will have stereo XLR outputs, which are important for connecting the monitor to PA systems at a show while still using your own amp as a monitor. You may need to be able to connect to effects units or signal processing or connect two or three amps in a series to boost bass or expand your frequency range, so look for these features before you buy if you know you are going to need them.
This is the most important aspect of an amp. The size of the speakers is not the only thing you should be considering. You should also look at the speaker efficiency. Speaker efficiency determines volume as much as wattage does. The speaker set up is what affects the quality of sound. Most speakers have a woofer and a tweeter, but some speakers also add a horn that can catch mid-range outputs.
They need to be sturdy enough for the wattage they are handling and built to respond to the type of sound you are producing. Consider whether you need heavier bass or more clarity from the high-end. Are there features which help to expand bass capabilities, such as holes in the speaker cabinets to project tones outside the woofer’s scope?
Some types of amps are made from extremely heavy components because they aren’t really designed to be moved around. The focus on these builds is purely on quality of components, and less expensive, heavier materials can be used without concerns over lack of portability. But newer, lighter building materials have recently made it possible to build incredible state of the art speakers capable of filling a stadium, but still portable enough to move with a small crew.
Depending on equipment capacity at your venues, you may need to consider these possibilities, especially if you will be largely responsible for providing all of your own sound output. Also consider whether you may be playing any small venues that lack power outlets. Some amps can be switched between battery power or electricity from an outlet. Some will even run as long as 8 or 10 hours on a pair of AA batteries.
Stereo output is not only useful but flat out necessary if your keyboard was designed to work with stereo speakers. Otherwise, mono speakers will miss the subtleties of sound that the manufacturers worked so hard to create with their sampling style. It will sound awful and flat, instead of full and powerful as it’s meant to.
Ultimately, if you haven’t bought an amp before or haven’t heard a quality demonstration of its capabilities, you should try it with your own keyboard before you buy it. You may discover that you need a more expensive model to give proper justice to your keyboard’s output capabilities. You might also just discover that you need a different speaker set up, or perhaps even that a less expensive model will do. Testing out amps is much like testing out cymbals before buying them for your drum set.
The nicest cymbals in the world won’t sound good for your set unless their sound is complimentary. Turn up the amp and the output on your keyboard and get a feel for just how much sound they can put out. Is there any feedback? Does the sound get muddy on the low end at higher volumes? If so, look for higher quality woofers or a more complimentary speaker setup. You will know when you have found the right amp after a little work. The difference in sound quality when the right amp is paired with equipment input that it was designed for is very noticeable to even an untrained ear. The best keyboard amps in the world aren’t worth much if they are being used in a way that isn’t complimentary to their design.
Top 10 Best Keyboard Amp Reviews
PowerWerks PW50 RMS Personal PA System 50W
Expandability is one of the best features of this amp. This 50 watt PA can be linked to other PAs with the PowerLink Circuit as your sound need increases. You can connect as many units as you want to gradually increase your output. The amp is also designed with a very small footprint, so it is suitable for smaller or more crowded stage environments.
It’s a budget amp, so if you plan to use it for maximum volume, expect some distortion and crackling. The sound also isn’t warm enough for the highest quality baby grand sound, although you probably won’t notice much difference when using it with a quality workstation and mic input.
If you are planning to use the speaker as part of a chain, consider that you will lose some of the bass sound depending on the amps you hook it in with. It’s probably best chained with more PW50s.
Pros and ConsFeatures
good vocal support with the 4.5 inch speakers and high frequency driver
sound is a little light on the low end
3 channel input
high frequency horn for midrange output
standard high and low EQ
1/8 mini input
The PW50 is ok for the price. The 50 watt output will fill a small venue, but you will lose sound quality when pushing volume. If you don’t have a lot of money and need a small portable for very small venues, this will do the trick, but don’t expect to be overly excited over the sound quality for that purpose. On the other hand, it sounds very nice with your standard keyboard in a practice room or small studio. It’s definitely a good cheap keyboard amp for practice rooms.
This is a super portable speaker that puts out a medium sound. Weighing in at only 12 pounds, its dimensions are roughly 8.5 by 9.5 by 11 inches. The metal grill cover and corner protectors protect the amp from the beating it will take when being moved around.
At 6.5 inches on the speakers and only 32 watts, this tiny cube will probably not produce enough sound to cover a small venue, so it’s most suitable for home, your practice room or a small studio. Or all three since it’s light enough to bring with you.
The point of this speaker is to give you a better quality sound than just hooking up to the standard equipment at your practice room or studio. The best feature of this amp is the XLR input for mic, so you have total control over your keyboard sound and mic sound. The controls are sufficient to equalize your low end and high end sound, but don’t expect to get fancy. Also, the 1/4 inch headphone output is a nice plus.
Pros and ConsFeatures
It’s very tiny, yet puts out a nice, modest sound.
Won’t be loud enough for performance in a moderately noisy venue.
Suitable for studio and home
Stereo preamp with 30 watt 6.5 inch coaxial 2-way speakers
3 input channels–one XLR and two auxilliary
Some will say that this tiny speaker works better as a monitor than a PA, and they are probably right. The flat frequency response of this cube provides excellent sound production for your keyboard in a small environment or on a very small stage. The true quality of the sound it produces is due to the great build of the 16 cm speaker and coaxial 2-way speaker, and if listening to it in the right environment, you will likely be very pleased with the sound.
If, however, you are buying this as a PA to play a venue like the main stage of the House of Blues in Anaheim, you’re going to be very disappointed, and so will your fans. Consider the use you need it for. It’s worth every penny if being used as a monitor, but check our other keyboard amplifier reviews if you are looking for a decent PA.
This is only suitable for low volume sound amplification. It doesn’t even produce enough sound to fill a high school auditorium. If you try to push the volume, you will lose quality on your bass no matter how you tweak it. If, however, you are using it for low volume personal purposes, the sound is wonderful as always with Peavy amps.
Consider using this for practice rooms with no built in sound equipment or as a personal monitor. You will get a much cleaner sound than you would with a basic guitar amp for both your voice microphone and your keyboard.Yes, it’s a Peavy, but this is a bargain basement build. If you are looking for something suitable for performance purposes, this model goes up to 100 watts for just under $600.
If you are looking for a practice amp, then this is probably going to produce the cleanest sound for wattage and price range. Its also one of the best keyboard speakers for in home use by someone who has a digital stage piano with no built in speakers. This type of Peavy is built to stay as true to the manufacturer intended sound as possible.
Pros and ConsFeatures
Peavy quality sound
only suitable for personal use but has no USB, midi capabilities
separate 2 band equalizers for each channel
1/4 inch external RCA jacks and male and female microphone jacks
It sounds amazing through the headphones when you run your voice mic through the second channel and find the sweet spot with the 2-band equalizer. If this is what you are planning on using the KB 20W for, then you are getting a bargain. Otherwise, consider spending a bit more on the higher watt options. The amp also comes in 50, 60, 75 and 100 watts, and they are all worth the money that you will spend.
Roland KC-110 3-Channel 30-Watt Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier
This system provides amazing voice clarity for small venues or street performing. In fact, street performance is one of the ideal uses for this amp since it runs on 8 AA batteries. You can play any venue regardless of availability of power. Just make sure you keep extra batteries on hand because this amp flat-out gobbles them.
Each input is a stereo input, so you don’t need to use two of your channels to hook up a stereo instrument. You won’t notice the stereo sound very much when just listening to this amp alone because the speakers are too close together. However, the stereo output translates beautifully when connected to an auxiliary sound system. The sound of this amp is such high quality that many people use it for other purposes than keyboards.
It’s often used for voice amplification at speaking engagements, television audio and computer output. It creates a very natural sound in all of these situations and definitely does justice to a quality keyboard.
Pros and ConsFeatures
It runs on AA batteries or AC power
Not very much power for the price.
battery powered operation for full portability
30 watts (two 15 watt 6.5 inch stereo speakers)
optional foot switch input to control effects
XLR input, two stereo inputs, one AUX input and stereo outputs for connection to an auxiliary sound system
Wattage isn’t the only thing you should consider when buying an amp, but at the end of the day, low watts = low sound, so you want to get the most bang for your buck in this department. The Roland KC-110 costs about $10 per watt of power and the speakers don’t make up for the high price with efficiency.
That isn’t much bang for your buck.Consider this more of an decent quality item that will fit a certain specialized niche. If you need an amp that operates on batteries for street use or weddings in the park, then by all means, it’s a great purchase. If you need power and performance under standard circumstances, then check out a few more keyboard amp reviews to find something that will be more suited to your need for less expense.
This will fill a medium size venue with crystal clear sound. The speakers aren’t as efficient as you would expect with a 600 watt PA, but it makes up for this by not getting dodgy and muffled on the low end when you turn up the volume. In fact, this PA packs a pretty sweet bass punch. If you want to run your bass through this instead of a bass amp, you will get nearly equivalent sound.
The KXD12 has a lot of nice features that let you tweak your sound perfectly. The Klark Teknik effects include 100 presets covering reverb, flanger, chorus, delay and other goodies, and the 4 channel stereo mixer has a 7 band graphic equalizer for even more control over your sound. The link output lets you connect to a slave amplifier for enhanced stereo sound.
While this won’t do for a stadium or someone that plays at massive volume levels to compete with hyper aggressive guitar and vocals, it will hold its own otherwise. It’s a great PA for a drum machine as well as a keyboard because of the quality low end sound reproduction, so you should be able to put this fairly portable PA to a lot of different uses.
Pros and ConsFeatures
clarity of sound is great for a PA
It’s really not loud enough for the watts.
4 channel stereo mixer
7 band eq
feedback detection system
Klark Teknik effects processor
If you are searching through Behringer amps reviews trying to find the best PA system for a medium venue size, you can probably stop looking now. This is the one. It will definitely do justice to a high quality keyboard or digital stage piano.
You have a lot of control over the sound with seperate FX SEND controls for all three channels, so it’s a helpful keyboard if you are mixing a couple different instruments and vocals. The built in 24 bit effects processor has 100 presets that include flange, delay, pitch shift, chorus and reverb.
And feedback isn’t much of a problem with the feedback detection and 5 band equalizer, so you won’t have any embarrassing sound failures during performance, but it won’t produce excellent sound for your keyboard either. It just doesn’t seem designed to encompass the full range of sound.
It’s almost like someone dressed up a guitar amp and called it suitable for keyboard use despite its lack of sensitivity. The digital effects do help you tweak a lot more out of it, but your sound is only as good as your foundation, and this one is simply lacking.
Pros and ConsFeatures
It’s definitely sturdy
sound is a bit too dull for a quality keyboard
12 inch Bugera woofer
XLR input for microphones
feedback detection system
If you are searching for an amp that will do justice to a very high quality keyboard, look elsewhere. This one just isn’t capable of reproducing the subtle undertones and won’t create the most pleasing sound. It’s ok for a basic setup, but you can probably get better sound from a similarly priced, or even lower-priced Peavy.
This amp has a range that is suitable for anything from a high quality acoustic guitar to a digital baby grand. With 4 separate stereo input channels, you can hook your guitar, keyboard, drum machine and vocals (with the XLR input), while wisely using a separate amp for the bass.
Channels 1 and 2 only have a two band equalizer while channel three has a three band equalizer, and there aren’t very many extra sound tweaks available, but you don’t really need them as long as you are using great instruments. One of the nice things about this model is that you don’t have so much of that annoying electronic buzz or white noise at higher volumes like you would with other amps.
Because you have full stereo inputs for all four channels and can connect this speaker to a slave for full stereo sound, with the right placement you will get great sound separation on a stage. So if you have the right guy behind the mixing bored and are working with decent equipment, this will definitely fit the bill for a small venue performance.
Pros and ConsFeatures
Four independent stereo input channels
There aren’t very many sound tweaks
50 watts (with good speaker efficiency for loud volume)
compact design and light weight at 21 lbs
4 separate stereo channels
This is the larger version of the 20 watt amp we reviewed above. It provides nice lows because of the biamped design, and is definitely more suitable for performance use than the 20 watt model. In short, it’s a very good buy for the money.
Roland KC-550 4-Channel 180-Watt Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier
This speaker is loud enough to fill a medium-sized hall, yet you won’t notice any nasty hums or static. You can used unbalanced 1/4 inch jacks in inputs 2,3 and 4 and a balanced microphone jack in the first input. You should probably use this with a small mixer for input adjustments.
The woofer can handle anything from a bass to a piccolo, so you won’t have any problem capturing dynamics with this amp. Best, your sound won’t get muddy or distorted when you increase the volume. It was specifically designed to do loud with perfect clarity.
Whether you are using this as the sole amp for your keyboard while the rest of the band amplifies through their own sources, or running the entire band’s sound through the 4 available channels, you will be very pleased with the sound production–even for the bass.
Pros and ConsFeatures
180 watt 15 inch speaker that gets nice and loud
it’s expensive, big and heavy (of course, sometimes that’s a plus)
180 watt15 inch speaker
horn tweeter to capture mid range
four input channels
output select switch
shape switch for fast sound adjustment
XLR output for mixing console connection
If you are reading this Roland KC550 review to find out if the amp is suitable for a very high end digital stage piano or digital baby grand piano, the answer is an emphatic yes. Sometimes it’s worth the expense to make sure you are capturing the full sound capabilities of your instrument, especially if it was a significant investment.
If you’ve gone all out on your digital piano purchase, then you should get an amp that does the machine proper justice. Also, if you are in a situation where you can only get one amp for your band at the moment, get this one.
First, despite its moderately high price, this amp doesn’t have a stereo link arrangement, so if this is important to you, you should consider this fact while searching through these digital piano amp reviews. Now that’s out of the way, one of the best features this amp has is the subwoofer output for better low end sounds. If you connect a subwoofer and tweak it properly, you will not experience the low-end distortion at higher volumes. It will produce enough sound to fill a small hall and you will be very pleased with the depth and dynamics of the sound.
If you try to crank up the volume without an attached subwoofer, you are pretty much guaranteed to be disappointed in the distorted, muddled sound. This is because the system is designed to provide extra power to the subwoofer, not the built in speaker. When used as a standalone, the included speaker isn’t designed for the extra volume on the upper half of the volume knob.
If you play it at the volume that the onboard speaker is designed to withstand (about half volume) you will notice that it still produces the high quality dynamics that you expect from a well-built Roland amp. It also sounds fantastic through headphones. If you don’t overload the bass, you will pick up the midranges and fullness that you desire. Just don’t be tempted to test the limits of the volume without hooking up a subwoofer and you’ll be fine.
Pros and ConsFeatures
It’s light and super portable
You can end up with some distortion at the low end if not using the subwoofer output
10 inch speaker and independent tweeter
subwoofer output for low end sound
3 channel input with two 1/4 inch lines and one XLR input
stereo AUX input for CD or MP3 players
rotary controls for channel input adjustment
low and high EQ
This is definitely worth it if you need it at home for quiet use and on the stage for bigger sound and you already have a subwoofer or can find an affordable one. It isn’t worth the expense if you are planning on using it as a standalone because you won’t get the volume and dynamics that you need. This is a fairly new feature for Roland, so perhaps the design will improve over time, meanwhile, it’s very good for its niche and an admirably brave innovation from Roland.
This is the 75 watt option of the 20 watt and 50 watt Peaveys that we reviewed above. It has the same features and tweaks as the lower watt models and sounds as wonderful as they do, it’s just bigger, heavier and much much louder. This is a great gig amp.
Peaveys are so well-built that you can beat the heck out of them in the moving process (which will probably happen with this one at the awkward size and weight) and they’ll just keep on trucking. Indestructible is the word that comes to mind. No matter which size you choose of this Peavy KB4 model amp, you will be very pleased with the sound. The only difference is how much sound you need to produce.
You may not experience perfectly crisp highs on your keyboard with this 75 watt option, so it’s better suited to rock, country or pop, not jazz or classical music.
Pros and ConsFeatures
It’s LOUD. It’s loud enough to fill a concert venue and compete with heavy electronic instrument sound and drums, yet it still sounds good.
It’s a very, very heavy amp at 82 pounds. Most well-built Peavey’s are. Just make sure you have moving equipment or helpers on standby when you need to move it.
two fully separate input channels
two band equalizer for each channel
The verdict–if you are using this amp for rock, pop, country or R&B (Peavey’s brad and butter customer base), this is the best keyboard amp for the job and you will be very happy with this purchase. If you are playing classical or jazz, consider a different amp that has much more clarity and crispness on the high end.
You might be thinking that your keyboard has adequate onboard speakers and that you will never need to use an amp. If you don’t ever intend to play with other musicians, this is probably true. But once you start jamming with a band or chamber orchestra, you will notice that your onboard speakers are completely drowned out by the other instruments no matter how expensive your digital piano. The small speakers and power output included with most workstations and digital pianos just won’t do. Many keyboards have very high quality sampling and well-balanced sound output, but it doesn’t count if you can’t hear it over an electric guitar or a brass instrument. Hooking it through a quality amp in this situation will vastly improve the balance of your group’s music.
The question isn’t really whether you need a keyboard amp, but whether you need an amp or a PA. If you need high quality sound and don’t have to worry much about competing volume levels of other instruments, an amp will be a better choice because of the high sound quality. A PA in the other hand is absolutely necessary for medium and large venue performances. This is because, whether large or small, most basic amps just won’t put out the amount of sound you need to fill the space. Just keep in mind that PA systems sacrifice quality of sound for volume. I know, it’s not fair. Why can’t we have both? Well, you can, but it will cost you thousands and it probably won’t be the most portable PA in the world.
Making The Decision
Now that you know a bit more about the different types of amps and PAs available, plus how much certain features should cost, you can shop for the system that suits you best. Amps are suitable for small room use with small groups, while PAs are designed with volume needs in mind. Amps are useful at home because they help you seamlessly equalize your voice, drums and keyboard, (and guitars too if you have enough channels) for a better performance sound. They are also handy for keyboards that just don’t produce enough by themselves.
PA’s are flat-out necessary for group play in medium to large venues. Of course, most PAs trade sound quality for volume, so you must consider this balance when deciding which purchase to make. A lot of performers have both small amps for studio and home purposes and large PAs for public performance. Whichever of these needs you have for external sound, these keyboard amp reviews will help you decide what features provide the best benefit for your expense.