The term «keyboard amplification» is broad and includes enhancing all sounds produced by digital pianos, workstations, or synthesizers. Choosing a keyboard amplifier, customers usually consider its budget, portability, and power features for specific venues. There are multiple good keyboard AMPs from credible brand names for any budget and any case. This review will help to choose a stereo or mono amplifier that fits your requirements.
What is a keyboard amplifier?
The prime purpose of this equipment is to reproduce the entire range of sounds in the most accurate way. Widely regarded by amateurs and professional musicians, it releases the necessity of wearing headphones while playing with your synthesizer and allows other bandmates to hear you well.
Most amplifiers represent a combination of features. These include the amplifier itself, speakers, and sound processing features for various types of keyboards. They all require elementary settings: plugging it in your musical instrument is enough to start playing. The extensive range of sizes allows choosing the most appropriate AMP whether you play in your apartment or need a keyboard practice AMP in the studio.
The modern amplifiers support connecting more than one instrument at once. Determining the purpose of the amplifier is essential before the purchase. If you plan to use an amp as a personal monitor onstage, you need the model that supports the connection of house speakers. The presence of a headphone jack allows muting the speakers and organizing a quiet practice without disturbing anyone.
Keyboard amplification comparison table
|Keyboard amplifier||Output Power, W||Number of channels||Speakers||Size, inch||Weight, lb/kg|
|Roland KC-200 best overall||100||4||12″ woofer, 1″ tweeter||11.6 x 19 x 17.1||33.1/15||Review|
|Behringer Ultratone K900fx best under $300||90||3||12″ woofer, 1″ tweeter||17.4 x 16.9 x 11.8||39.9/18||Review|
|Peavey KB 1 best budget||20||2||8″ woofer||19.5 x 18 x 13.1||16/7.2||Review|
|Roland KC-990 best premium||320||2||2 x 12″ woofer, 2 x 1″ tweeter||32.3 x 20.8 x 24.7||92.6/42||Review|
|Roland Mobile Cube battery-powered||5 (2.5 W + 2.5 W)||2||2 x 4″||14 x 6 x 6||1/0.45||Review|
What is the difference between a keyboard AMP and a guitar AMP?
Although the purpose of guitar and keyboard amplification is to boost the produced musical sounds, these devices diverse drastically:
- Keyboard amplifiers combine reproducing low-frequency sounds for deep basses with accurate high-frequency notes, providing a wide range of frequency responses. Guitar amplifiers refer to a strictly specific range of guitar sounds only, ignoring the frequencies out of its spectrum
- While a digital piano amplifier provides a low level of distortion, focusing on the sound accuracy and reproducing the signals, guitar amplifiers do distort the sound, refining it and making it more vivid
- Keyboard amplifiers come with speakers in most of the cases, but guitar amps often need a separate one
- While keyboard amps provide a choice of inputs, allowing to apply several keyboards with one amplifier or add a microphone, guitar amp offers a strictly limited one
- Due to the wide range of transmitted sounds, keyboard amplifiers often come with a compressor to protect the speaker circuits from the destruction caused by high volumes.
So, when choosing a keyboard amplifier, avoid mixing it with a guitar amp and get excellent results from your live performance.
Mono and stereo amplifiers for the keyboard. Which one to choose?
Each amplifier is appropriate for a particular situation. The purpose of a stereo amplifier is to increase an audio signal and enhance its quality. With a stereo amplifier, you get your sound converted into different formats, compatible with the speaker power. Mono devices use a single audio channel only. The quality of the sound is their prime difference.
Stereo systems cope with numerous effects which mono systems can not do. For instance, if you want to make an impression of sound source localization, a stereo amplifier is the right choice.
Choosing a mono amplifier, bear in mind that it can not produce most essential sounds, e.g., organ or electric piano, and other related stereo sounds. If you try to reproduce them on mono equipment, do not wonder that they will sound weird or disappear at all.
However, many performances still run their shows on mono devices. For example, you will never find a better keyboard practice AMP than a mono amplifier for house mixes. Due to its ability to produce low-frequency sounds, it is vital for subwoofer deep basses.
Either you choose a mono or stereo amplifier, make sure that it has the necessary wattage to produce powerful sounds. This factor is paramount whether you prefer stereo or mono.
Best Keyboard Amplifiers Reviews
Best mono keyboard AMP
Roland KC-200 – best overall
Roland has been a producer of a credible and reputable electrical equipment producer since 1972. Its digital devices are famous among professionals and newbies. Roland KC-200 is one of their wide range of representatives. This digital piano amplifier combines versatile connectivity with splendid mixing characteristics to produce excellent sound.
One of the prime features of Roland KC-200 is four 1/4-inch line input channels which work not only with a keyboard but drum machines, saxophone, and many other electric musical instruments.
The improved power compared to its predecessor Roland KC-150 allows enhancing basses providing stable work. And thanks to a two-way speaker system with a 12-inch woofer and horn tweeter, the sound quality is impressive. Previous versions of Roland performed more modest options.
Roland KC-200 has no additional accessories in the kit but is compatible with XLR mic input and headphones output. The metal jacks are durable and will serve for a long time.
The price for this keyboard amplifier is affordable for musicians of any level. Advanced players and professionals will estimate the set of features a lot. This keyboard AMP is the best for home use, and it fits well for training, recording, and performing live shows, giving extra more colors to the music. Due to its compact size and excellent characteristics, this device is applicable for small venues like typical coffee shops, dinner nightclubs, or even church services.
You may want to check another keyboard amplifier if you need less powerful equipment or if you have a tighter budget. In the rest of the cases, Roland KC-200 is the best keyboard amplifier available on the market that will satisfy the needs of each advanced musician.
- Output Power, W : 100
- Number of channels : 4
- Speakers : 12″ woofer, 1″ tweeter
- Size, inch : 11.6 x 19 x 17.1
- Weight, lb/kg : 33.1/15
- Well-knit keyboard amplifier with 100W of power
- Versatile connectivity with input for stage monitors, vocals, and musical instruments.
- Impossible to use in a stereo setup.
Behringer Ultratone K900FX – best under $300
Meet a unique, versatile keyboard and drum amplifier Ultratone K900fx from Behringer. This item will be interesting to those who have a tight budget and look through lightweight keyboard AMPs. Perhaps, it is the best keyboard AMP under 300 USD and an incredibly compact device with a top-notch 3-channels access PA system and 12-inch Bugera speaker. The design of this equipment is perfect for performances due to its focus on rich and accurate tones.
Three separate channels with stereo setups allow independent volume control and input for a direct connection of a dynamic microphone. Drummers and other keyboardists will love this workhorse for its ability to handle three separate signals. All in one solution, e.g., vocal applications, is possible as well. An independent headphone output is ideal for quiet training.
The powerful 12-inch Bugera woofer deserves precise attention. Designed by experienced engineers, it works together with a customized 1-inch high-frequency tweeter for intensive full-range sounds. Widely regarded by bassists, guitarists, and keyboard players, it glosses this amplifier.
Users estimate its perfection for vocals and perfect set of features for this price. Unlike vocal effects pedals, it performs outstanding acoustic. It makes this device appropriate for weddings, private parties, and any group gatherings which need an amplifier. Also, this item will be perfect for solo or jamming with a group. It works well not with keyboards only but with acoustic guitars and bass guitars.
If you hunt for cheap keyboard AMP, this item could be a perfect solution. Although it seems challenging to reach such performance with only 90W of power, Behringer Ultratone K900fx does it with no issues. Various multi-effects and integrated 5-band EQ are a cherry on top.
By and large, the Behringer Ultratone K900fx is the best keyboard AMP for under 300 USD. It is a powerful, versatile, and affordable solution that produces excellent sound.
- Output Power, W : 90
- Number of channels : 3
- Speakers : 12″ woofer, 1″ tweeter
- Size, inch : 17.4 x 16.9 x 11.8
- Weight, lb/kg : 39.9/18
- Incredible for small live performances and vocals with only 90W of power
- Compact size, light for transportation
- Perfect effects engine with a clean, clear, crisp sound.
- Some musicians find it expensive
- Technical issues may happen in one out of the bunch.
Peavey KB 1 – best budget
Along with Roland and Behringer, Peavy is a brand name and a reputable producer of keyboard amps. Their model range includes keyboard AMPs with different voltages and prices. Peavey KB 1 is a 20-W keyboard amplifier that serves perfectly as a personal sound system and fits ideally for training, some warm-ups, individual songwriting, or small venues. Keyboardists, acoustic guitarists, and other musicians respect it for a wide range of features in a small kit. Two channels featuring three ¼-inches inputs, including the jack for a mic, allow controlling low and high frequencies.
Protected with enhanced corners with a handle on the top and additional heavy-duty microphone protection of the microphone, it is a durable device. Moreover, it is portable wherever you decide to go. Also, this device offers acoustic pianos and other sound effects with 2-band EQ per channel. However, it is not one of the lightweight keyboard AMPs.
Users estimate the livable quality sound for the offered price and voltage and use this keyboard amplifier extensively for personal needs. You can rely on it for voice, keyboards, guitars, and drum machines.
However, if you foggily imagine how to use power, switch it, and volume, you will apply for technical support frequently.Meeting the operating instructions from the producer provides stable work for months or even years without issues. Peavey KB 1 is a cheap keyboard AMP for any budget.
- Output Power, W : 20
- Number of channels : 2
- Speakers : 8″ woofer
- Size, inch : 19.5 x 18 x 13.1
- Weight, lb/kg : 16/7.2
- Cheap and cheerful
- Clean and crisp sound.
- Weighty (17, 4 lbs)
- Exceeding the volume causes clipping and distortions.
Best stereo keyboard AMP
Roland KC-990 – best premium
Roland has been an undisputed leader in musical electrical equipment, and Roland KC-990 is another outstanding representative. In its KC series, the producer has improved the entire quality of sound. Also, it delivers onboarding mixing characteristics, versatile connectivity, and prolonged-term of usage. The sample of the latest generation of the KC series possesses the most recent innovations combined with the stability of work.
With the voltage 320 W and four stereo input channels, Roland KC-990 is a device crafted for performance. It supports XLR vocal microphones and provides an excellent solution for musicians with large keyboard settings. Full sound with stereo speaker configurations for simultaneous stage and PA monitoring delivers an outstanding experience.
Four built-in effects (chorus, tremolo, rotary speaker emulation, and a lush stereo reverb) will brighten your music. Deep basses and a wide sonic range are within the scope of its abilities. Customized 12-inch speakers combined with built-in tweeter assist in producing solid lows, acute mids, and accurate highs. Whatever you plug in the Roland KC-990, you will get a stellar sound quality.
The quality of manufacturing is impressive. Metal jacks enhance durability and will support the uninterrupted work of the device during a considerable period. Although the box is not light, it includes wheels and side-mounted handles for easy transportation.
Customers confirm the pleasurable usage of Roland KC-990 for years of stable operating and stay very happy with the purchase. It is the best keyboard amplifier for practicing, recording, and performing. The money spent on this equipment will be worth it for any time.
- Output Power, W : 320
- Number of channels : 2
- Speakers : 2 x 12″ woofer, 2 x 1″ tweeter
- Size, inch : 32.3 x 20.8 x 24.7
- Weight, lb/kg : 92.6/42
- Extra power 320W ideal for performances
- Numerous built-in sound effects.
- Weight (92,6 lbs)
- Spreading of the stereo depends on the area.
Roland Mobile Cube – battery-powered
Roland has represented its Mobile Cube, a small and portable keyboard stereo amplifier surprising its fans. Small yet surprisingly powerful box has immediately found its admirers among buskers, keyboard players, drummers, and even ordinary users who use MP3. The battery-powered (only 5W of power that includes two batteries 2.5W each) keyboard AMP and two 4-inch speakers produce excellent sound.
The Mobile Cube from Roland fits any audio device. Its stereo keyboard amplification copes with all kinds of electrical instruments applicable for the home environment and small events. Its multipurposeness is impressive: with inputting microphones, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, drum machines, or music players, you can enjoy up to 15 hours of playing experience. Want to use it for karaoke? No problem with that. The Center Cancel function fits this need.
The inputs allow connecting a microphone, stereo AUX, and stereo instrument. It also includes the output for a headphone. Among the built-in sound effects are chorus, reverb, and many more. Stereo effects allow sweetening the vocals, enhancing the guitar tones,
If you are often on the go and seek an extra mobile amplifier, you will barely find a more transportable one than the battery-powered keyboard AMP Mobile Cube from Roland. No more hefty than a business case and powered from batteries, it can perform anywhere. Just turn it on and jam at home, during traveling, or outdoors.
- Output Power, W : 5 (2.5 W + 2.5 W)
- Number of channels : 2
- Speakers : 2 x 4″
- Size, inch : 14 x 6 x 6
- Weight, lb/kg : 1/0.45
- Light and convenient in transportation
- Two 4-inch speakers with 2.5W.
- Not the cheapest thing
- The quality of jacks and sound is short-lived.
What to look for when choosing a keyboard amplifier?
When choosing the best keyboard AMP, you should pay close attention to its power in watts, size of the speaker, input and output rates, sound and collateral effects, size, and mobility.
Amplifier power and speakers size
Watt rates mean the volume of power that an amp can produce. The increased watt rates mean a louder sound, sizable speakers, and generally equals more robust productivity. For instance, an amplifier with 180W and 15-inch speakers is tangibly louder and more powerful than the 15W amp with an 8-inch speaker. More powerful equipment fits well for bands that work in sound studios, while less dynamic ones feed into a home environment, bars, or coffee houses.
Power plays an important role here as well. For instance, 40W fits well for a keyboard and one or several guitars. If you want to connect drummers additionally, consider the models with 60W power and higher.
So, avoid following a primitive recommendation «the best amplifier is the most powerful» but focus on your individual needs instead. Moreover, amateurs potentially do not need highly productive equipment. The 50W amp with an 8-inch speaker will be enough for a beginning.
Speakers are responsible for transforming electrical energy from the source (keyboard) into mechanical energy. The design of public address (PA) speakers does not always refer to live performances only. According to PA size and capacity, a home musician and the live performer can choose the appropriate one according to the needs, requirements, and budget.
Build quality and portability
A durable, rugged design with reinforced corners in a keyboard is vital. The quality of materials is responsible for the longevity of your device. Pay attention to the wrapping material of the equipment. Most of them are fit for live performances and are heavy.
If you are not a world rock star and do not have a truck, choose a not very heavy and portable keyboard. Some models offer reinforced handles and wheels, which allow transferring the amp for the keyboard without issues. These features depend on the producer and the model.
When choosing the needed item, pay attention to the original recommendations and feedback from users. Experience has shown that not all claimed features are as good as they claim to be by a producer.
Required inputs and outputs
Most keyboards are multichannel and support plugging in several instruments simultaneously via a built-in mixer, providing a separate volume control for each device. Use this opportunity and buy the best keyboard AMP with two channels minimum. It allows you to play several instruments at once or combine them with a microphone in one amplifier.
Outputs are crucial as well, especially if you plan events in sizable locations. With appropriate rates, you can easily monitor via keyboard your playing and feed the front of the house.
EQ and other features
All keyboards provide various sound effects: some keyboard AMPs offer a shortened line of digital sounds, while other ones have an extensive range of them, e.g., deep booming bass, electronic drums, percussions, high-pitched flutes, chorus, and many more. Usually, these features are not of paramount importance. However, they brighten your playing experience and expand the variations of your music.
The EQ settings can be specified for each channel or affect them all. EQ aims to improve the sound quality: it allows keeping the sounds balance, do a more vibrant rhythm, fine-tune the tone, and do other low, medium, and high adjustments.
Observing each brand product, in particular, you can find numerous built-in effects to cover different instruments and even vocals in some models.
What is better to use, active loudspeakers or keyboard amplifiers?
Since these two devices aim to provide an excellent sound without distortions and include amplifiers and speakers in one, this option is upon your choice entirely. Active loudspeakers have similarities to keyboard amplifiers. Hence, consider their advantages and disadvantages.
A powered speaker provides higher power output. That allows economizing on purchasing a keyboard amplifier. Be ready to pay less than 500 USD for a 500-watt device.
However, powered speakers produce a limited tonal control than you may expect. Also, you may need two speakers to get a stereo sound. Only a few PA speakers provide multiple channel control and do not possess the features of combo keyboard amplifiers.
Meanwhile, many good combo keyboard AMPs offer powered speaking options, and they are compact. Among that, they do not require any complicated settings. But if you perform the live shows, an amp for keyboard and microphone might not be enough. In this case, active loudspeakers will assist you in controlling the overall sound. So choose according to your personal needs and expectations from the equipment.