Best Keyboard Amp of 2020 and beyond.
Did you hear about the keyboardist’s performance? He drowned in the music. Okay, maybe that’s lame, but seriously, what’s the point of using your keyboard if you can’t hear yourself play?
Louder instruments have a way of diminishing a keyboard’s sound and if you’re playing in a band, that can put a damper on your mood, the music and just about everything else. A keyboard amplifier is an excellent way to amplify your keyboard sound and we’ve compiled a list of the best keyboard amp on the market just for you.
What Does a Keyboard Amp Do?
A keyboard amp is an electronic amplifier and loudspeaker device integrated into a wooden cabinet and is used to enhance the sound produced by keyboard instruments such as keyboards, pianos, organs, synthesizers, and electronic drums among others.
Keyboard amplifiers provide a crisp high-frequency sound for high treble notes and reproduce solid low-frequency sounds from deep bass notes. Most of them feature a 3-4 channel mixer that allows you to play multiple keyboards simultaneously.
These devices also act as your stage monitor by allowing you to hear what you’re playing. We all know how difficult it can be trying to concentrate and control your sound when other (louder) instruments are also playing. Without a keyboard amp, you’re likely to go off tune and ruin the band’s overall sound.
Can’t I Use a Guitar Amp Instead?
Okay, using an amp makes sense, but do I really need a dedicated keyboard amp? Isn’t it easier to just share the guitar amp our band already owns? Or buy a cheap second-hand guitar amp? Well, it is easier, but we wouldn’t recommend it. At all.
And here’s why.
First, the tonal spectrum of the guitar amp and the keyboard amp is distinct. A guitar amp boosts sound over specified (read narrow) range which works for guitars but is limiting for a keyboard. Plugging your keyboard into a guitar amp may not reproduce a clean, crisp and accurate sound.
A keyboard amplifier, on the other hand, provides a wider frequency range that covers very high treble notes and very deep bass tones. The keyboard amp has a tweeter for high-frequency responses and bass reflex ports that accurately accommodate low-frequency responses. As such, the keyboard amp can reproduce the sound of different musical instruments.
Further, a guitar amp mostly includes a single input, unlike the keyboard amplifier that contains several inputs that can be used with several other instruments including a vocal microphone.
Keep in mind that many guitar amps are single units that require a separate speaker. As mentioned earlier, keyboard amps are mostly always combos that bring together an amplifier circuit, controls, and speaker in one package.
How about a powered speaker?
Today’s powered speakers have more wattage, are louder, and the more premium models multi-channel inputs, as well as EQ controls.
It’s important to note that while these speakers are loud, they aren’t as clear as keyboard amps. Your goal shouldn’t be about having the loudest monitor, rather, a device that is loud enough for you to comfortably distinguish your instrument’s sound from the rest of the band’s output.
Can a PA System do the trick?
If you do solo gigs, this may be an option for you, especially since most venues have an in-house PA system that singers and keyboard players can plug into.
However, most keyboardists like to have some control over their sound which will not be possible while using the PA system. A keyboard amp gives you more control over your levels and EQ. You can also use it as a personal monitor or for the effects.
How to Choose the Best Keyboard Amplifier
As with any other purchase, the best way to get more bang for your buck is to know what you need the item for. Here are some things to consider:
Watts and Speaker Size
Here, watts refer to how much power a keyboard amp has. The higher the number of watts an amp, the louder it is. Generally, a keyboard with more watts will be able to drive a larger speaker.
Usage should help you determine the number of watts you need in an amp. A 15-watt amp with an 8-inch speaker is less powerful than a 180-watt amp with a 15-inch speaker but more ideal for home practice or performances at a small bar, coffee shop or the barbeque in your backyard.
Inputs and Outputs
How many channels do you need? Most keyboard amps are multi-channel which essentially means that they include built-in mixers that allow you to plug in more than one instrument and control the volume for each channel independently.
So, if you’re playing and singing at the same time both the keyboard and vocal mic can be plugged into one amp.
Outputs are important too especially when performing at big venues that have sound systems. You can use your keyboard amp as a stage monitor.
Extra features and Effects
Special effects make your experience more enjoyable. Basic keyboard amps may come with features such as reverb and chorus effects.
Newer and more expensive models contain more built-in effects such as echo, reverb, chorus, overdrive, and delay among others. If you’re looking for the 50’s sound the reverb/echo effects may help you with that.
Durability and Portability
Longevity is certainly a key consideration as you don’t want to go back to the market every few months. Luckily, most keyboard amps are sturdy and rugged and built to withstand rough use and handling.
If you’ll be holding regular holding gigs outside your home, portability should also be considered. Powerful keyboard amps tend to be weightier and can be such a drag to transport. Lightweight amps will be great for your back but may not be very powerful. You’ll need to find a middle ground.
Review of the Best Keyboard Amp
With everything we’ve learned so far, it’s time to sample some of the best keyboard amplifiers on the market.
Best Overall Keyboard Amplifier
Top on our list is the KC-400 keyboard amplifier from Roland that provides functionality, versatility, connectivity, and durability. It’s an upgrade from the well-loved KC-350 amplifier.
But before you tell me that, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” check this out: the KC-400 is loaded with more power than its predecessor. With 150 watts of power, 12-inch custom woofer, and horn tweeter, this amp delivers powerful and punchy sound as well as full-range audio reproduction.
Thanks to its patented twin bass-reflex design, this Roland keyboard amp offers extended low-frequency response. It will amplify 88-note stage pianos, organs, synths, rhythm machines, and a host of other instruments.
This amp includes 4 input channels for connecting instruments plus a vocal mic, an auxiliary input for plugging in smartphones and music players for backing tracks, a master EQ, and a shape switch.
A cool feature that can enhance sound in a live performance particularly at large events is the Roland Stereo Link Connection that allows you to connect two KC-400 amps. You can then assign them to separate sides of the stereo and cover more ground.
As far as connections go, you’ll love the 1/4-inch jacks that make interfacing with PA systems, recording devices, and stage monitors so easy. A headphones jack is also available for those silent practice sessions and discreet stage monitoring.
At 48 lb 9oz, this stereo keyboard amp isn’t the lightest device you can carry but its versatility excellent features more than compensate for that.
- Doubles up as a mini PA system for live performances
- Sturdy construction
- High sound quality
- The fabric cover tends to collect dirt and may require a cover
Best Budget Buy
Finding the right mix between functionality and cost can be difficult but not so with the K900FX Ultratone keyboard and drum amplifier from Behringer. It’s reasonably priced and a little easy on the eye, compared to other amplifiers.
Using 90 watts of power, this amp delivers crisp and clear full-range sound via a 12-inch Bugera woofer and 1-inch tweeter. It’s a 3-channel amplifier that allows you to connect multiple instruments with individual volume and FX send controls.
You also get an XLR mic input on channel 1, an aux input for playing recorded music, and a separate headphone output for quiet practice sessions. The manufacturer throws in a 5-band graphic EQ that’s good for more than sound shaping.
One of my favorite features is the integrated FBQ feedback detection system that picks up feedback frequencies in the frequency ranges. When feedback occurs, the LED on that particular EQ fader illuminates, effectively showing you the fader to lower to tame the feedback.
With everything that goes on when you’re on stage, I’d say this is a super helpful way to help you stay focused on more important things—your performance.
What about effects? The digital onboard 24-bit FX processor offers 100 awesome presets like pitch shift, flange, delay, reverb, and chorus among others, designed to add some flavor to your sound.
If you’re keyboardist and singer this 40lb amp may be the perfect all-in-one solution for your keys and vocal applications.
- Crisp and clean sound
- Reasonably priced
- Subwoofer output
- Feedback protection system
- Stand mountable
- Peak volume may produce a humming sound
Busker’s Dream Keyboard Amplifier
Weighing in at 5lb 9oz, this small keyboard amp is a worthy contender for the portability seat. It’s lightweight and compact making transportation a breeze.
The amp is battery-powered which can come in handy when performing at venues that have no power outlets. But this amp is not just for gigs, there are more fun ways to use it—family entertainment at picnics and camping, home practice as well as for karaoke and vocal lessons.
Despite its compact size, this Roland keyboard amp shouldn’t be underestimated. Its construction is sturdy, and it packs a ton of nice features. It’s a 2-channel amp that allows you to plug in an instrument and a mic and has two 4-inch speakers that blast good quality sound.
It comes loaded with Roland’s built-in legendary FX engine with top quality stereo effects including reverb and chorus as well as stereo AUX in. Play-along performers will appreciate the center cancel button that minimizes vocals in pre-recorded music.
In true Roland style, this stereo keyboard amp welcomes all musical instruments. You can plug in keyboards, MP3 players, computer audio, electric guitars, and acoustic guitars among others.
It’s worth noting that this amp is not suitable for low-frequency bass response and you may encounter sound problems if you turn up the volume. Further, the carrying case and power cord are sold separately.
Overall, this Roland mobile cube amp will be a valuable addition to your sound enhancement gadgets.
- Can use batteries or AC power
- Highly portable
- Great choice for beginners
- Batteries are included in the purchase
- Requires minimal storage space
- Easy to use
- The sound may distort when you turn up the volume
- Some users report that the batteries get used up fast
Are you looking for a keyboard amplifier for medium-sized or large gigs? Here’s an amplifier that’s worth considering. With 300 watts of power, a 15-inch speaker and high-frequency horn, this bad boy holds its own by delivering some serious sound.
This 5-channel multi-instrument amplifier has been built with an array of input options such as XLR, RCA, Jack, and Mini Jack. Although the channels don’t have a dedicated EQ, channels 1-4 come with two-band EQ plus FX send controls and the 5-band Master Graphic EQ does a good job at controlling the overall mix.
The AH300 is equipped with 16 onboard digital effects including reverbs, chorus, and multi-FX. My favorite feature is the FX loop that allows you to add time-based FX after the pre-amp section.
If for example, you add a delay after the distorted pre-amp section, you’ll have distorted delay instead of delayed distortion and it sounds completely different.
As with other top keyboard amps, this powerhouse gracefully accommodates keyboards, mics, acoustic guitars, E-drums, and other electric instruments and playback. It weighs roughly 50 lb and the back of the cabinet is angled allowing you to vary its positioning. The kicked-back position is terrific for personal monitoring.
50-years after the first Laney amplifier was designed, this brand continues to help keyboardists world over, achieve their dream tones and wow their audiences.
- Renowned brand
- Powerful amp
- Solid build
- Carpet covered finish
- No dedicated EQ per channel
While this amplifier is not exactly entry-level, it’s second in the KB series by Peavey. The amp is compact, easy to use and has been endorsed by performers such as Craig Morris and Jordan Rudess. It can make the perfect gift for loved ones who are trying out their musical talents.
What’s good about it? It has four separate channels that can comfortably accommodate keyboards, vocals drum machines, acoustic and electric guitars, and backing machines.
Channels 1 and 2 have a 2-band EQ and 1/4″ inputs, channel 3 has a 3-band equalizer XLR and 1/4″ inputs while channel 4 boasts 1/4″ monitor input with level control which is great for personal monitoring. Other features include headphone out and FX send/return controls.
This keyboard amp weighs 38lb with a rugged build that’s designed to last. While this keyboard amp will not be very effective on big stages, it can work well for small to medium-sized gigs and even double up as a small PA.
- Great sound quality and range including deep bass
- Solid build
- Limited effects
- May not work with electronic or new age music
There are many keyboard amplifiers on the market, and we trust that our review of the best keyboard amps has shed some light on what to look for and where to find some fantastic options.
All the amps on our list are top performers but the Roland KC-400 Keyboard Amplifier steals the show. Whether you’re looking for delightfully deep bass tones or high treble notes, this powerful 4-channel amplifier will reproduce high-quality sound. With versatile connectivity, the amp can accommodate multiple instruments and has interfaces for PA systems, (discreet) stage monitoring, recording devices, as well as silent practice sessions.
Over to you now, thanks for reading.