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The absolute best keyboard amp for nuanced live digital piano??
Old 30th August 2008
Gear Head

The absolute best keyboard amp for nuanced live digital piano??

Whoops, should have posted this in the live sound category, but anyway... I have a Roland RD 150 digital piano which sounds good through the head phones. I'd like to be able to hear that nuanced dynamic naturalistic sound when playing out, BUT...
I went to guitar center to try out the supposedly best options in the way of keyboard amps, as well as some PA systems that some people online recommended for keyboard, and was shocked and confused to find that the sound of this equipment (in the thousands of dollars) for naturalistic piano was completely unusable. I have finicky ears but even the guitar center guy had to admit that these things sounded bad to an absurd, unbelievable degree-I mean distorted, abrasive, unbalanced throughout the keyboard's range, with no possibilty of nuanced tone or dynamics. I play singer songwriter stuff in the style of Elton John and Billy Joel and need to get across subtly expressive piano playing and not just pounding. BTW I'd love to know what somebody like Elton would use as I hear he uses digital pianos live these days. Any advice, recommendations or just sympathy for this appalling situation much appreciated.
Also, that's just talking about what I would hear live. Any tips for getting good sound that the audience can hear? Seems like people trying for naturalistic sound from dig pianos in smaller clubs sound tinny. Why should it be so hard to get acceptable sounds from a dig piano anyway, why such a discrepancy between the headphones and what's coming through the amp??
Old 30th August 2008
Gear Maniac

Part of the key is that you MUST have a stereo set-up to get anywhere close to what you're hearing through headphones. I personally use a pair of JBL EON's - 15" drivers. They are powered. Might also check out the upper end Fender Passport, which will be more portable than the JBL's.

Secondly - try patching an EQ into your chain. Scoop out some of the midrange. And, if dynamics are out of control for you - put in a compressor. Try an RNC in supernice mode.
Old 30th August 2008
Great tips above! I second all that.

If money is tight and the world wont end without a stereo output, I find the new Hartke KM200 amps are amazing! The aluminum cones can pump too. They go for about 400 or 500 I believe is what I paid for mine.
Old 30th August 2008
Gear Nut

I to use two EON's live although in my case they are 17's. I place them on the floor like fold back wedges. Mine have multiple inputs with individual gain and a eq section so i don't need a keyboard mixer and there is line out for P.A.
Work great and sound good with my Roland CP 33 and VK-7.

Old 30th August 2008
Gear Head
neilgggg's Avatar

a QVC PLX 1804 powering two accugroove tri 112 bass cabinets with Ashly LX308B line mixer is what i recently spent both arms & both legs on.. it sounds better than headphones & loud. --- for a little less i hear two EVSXA360's work well. stike
Old 31st August 2008
Lives for gear

Assuming you are going to send a feed to the FOH mixer, you don't need a lot of volume for your own foldback IF you have small speakers close to your ears.

I personally would avoid large PA type speakers, and go for a pair of small full range speakers on mic stands (or hifi type speaker stands). By placing them close to your ears they are the next best thing to headphones, and spillage and cost and weight are minimised. Some small powered monitor speakers would be fine. There are some ridiculously cheap small hifi setups that would work fine, and be cheap enough not to care if you broke them.

OR - if you need to move a lot of air, EONs or Mackies are good powered PA speakers.
Old 31st August 2008
Gear Nut

I wouldnt go to small.. as a performer it's about being inspired by stage sound.

I find small foldback systems sound small and you can play small.

Gigs do of course differ from size of venue and loudness of FOH. With a powerful monitor system it's always possible to drop the volume back if foldback is messing with FOH.

As a keyboard player it's always nice to have enough reserve to compete with big rig guitar players but lets not go down that one.

Old 31st August 2008
Lives for gear
PlugHead's Avatar


I agree with a lot written here, tho to my ears, digital pianos sound best through older (tube) amps, such as a Magnatone, or the like - ones that don't accentuate their shrill highs.

An RNC is also a very handy tool on a gig, and can take the 'spikiness' out of digital transients.

If anything, I find the low mids to be unbearable on most digital pianos - cutting 250-300 Hz often clears the mud and helps the band out immensely...
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