What's Different About Keyboard Amplifiers?
Nearly all electronic keyboards, synthesizers, organs, and pianos require external amplification. And while players can connect their keyboards directly into PA systems, or even guitar amps, this isn't always the ideal choice. Keyboard amplifiers are built around the unique needs of keyboard players, just as guitar amps are made for guitar players. For example, keyboards can play a broad spectrum of pitches - as low as 20 or 30 Hz. Keyboard amps, then, are built to reproduce rumbling low end frequencies, all the way up to shimmering high-frequency harmonics. (Most keyboard amps have a built-in horn, and some have a subwoofer, for maximized range). Because guitar amps aren't intended to play below 82 Hz, they can't faithfully reproduce many low-end keyboard frequencies. Attempts to do so may even damage the guitar amp.
PA speakers can also reproduce a broad range of pitches - but keyboard amplifiers offer unique conveniences. For example, keyboard amps are designed for portability, while most PA systems are not. For a coffee shop gig, a keyboard player can easily bring a single keyboard amp for amplification and mixing. Some keyboard players will simultaneously use multiple keyboards; for this reason, many keyboard amps take multiple channels, and offer individualized mixing for each channel. This way, keyboard players have easy access to the levels and tone of their instruments. If additional amplification is needed, the keyboard amp can then be fed into the PA system.
A Variety of Different Models
While guitar amps are commonly effects-driven, keyboard amplifiers aim at a transparent reproduction of a wide range of tones; after all, keyboards can "play" anything from synth pads to pizzicato strings. It's standard for a keyboard amp to include two to four inputs, a full-range speaker(s), EQ control, and power amplifier - all in one cabinet. For instance, while the super-portable Behringer Ultratone KT108 has two channels, the Roland KC-880 can handle up to five channels. Many keyboard amps are wedge-shaped - like the Behringer Ultratone KXD15 - allowing them to easily double as monitors for seated keyboardists.
Like any amplifiers, keyboard amps also differ in the wattage they muster. While the 20-watt Peavey KB 1 is great for home practice, the 500-watt Motion Sound KP-500SN is made for larger venues. The majority of keyboard amps are designed for minimal distortion, but there are exceptions; the Leslie 3300 uses a tube preamp and rotary horn to intentionally color the sound of Hammonds, Rhodes, and more. Most keyboard amps project mono sound, but some models come with powerful stereo capabilities - like the Center Point Stereo Spacestation V.3. Certain keyboard amplifiers even have built-in subwoofers; the Behringer Ultratone K900FX boasts a 12" sub for rumbling low end. There's a keyboard amplifier for every need, and any budget - call your Sweetwater Sales Engineer today, and we'll help you find your perfect fit. Learn More
Sweetwater's Sales Engineers are regarded as the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the music industry, with extensive music backgrounds and intense training on the latest products and technologies. They are available to offer you personalized product advice any time you need it.