A keyboard amp is the best solution for gigging players who need to project to a crowd but also be able to hear themselves on stage. Even if you run straight to FOH through a PA system, many keyboardists find monitoring can be tricky — unless themselves and their band have an advanced touring rig with in-ears. An amplifier solves that problem by positioning it in such a way that the player can use it to hear themselves, while also projecting to audience near the front of the stage.
Amplifiers are also great for practice and rehearsal. You probably don’t always want to be on headphones at home, because playing out loud is just so much more fun! The right amp is a solid investment for any keyboardist.
What Makes a Good Keyboard Amp?
One of the main elements that distinguishes a keyboard amplifier from a guitar amplifier is in its frequency reproduction. Guitars don’t have nearly as a wide a range of frequencies as keys, so amps designed for the latter can reproduce low-lows and high-highs without breaking up or flubbing out entirely.
Some amps for keyboards work like compact PA systems as well. They can have multiple inputs/channels for other instruments and connections, so you could potentially amplify a whole band, or at least a lot of it, at a smaller gig.
Things to Look for When Choosing a Keyboard Amp
Important features to consider are the number of channels, mentioned above, which corresponds to how many instruments/microphones you can connect. Keep this in mind if you plan to share the amp with other instruments; otherwise, a single line input is enough for just a keyboard.
Some amps have auxiliary inputs for connecting mobile devices for playback, so types of connections is another consideration. If you’re a soloist who uses backing tracks to reinforce your sound, you could run both keyboard and tracks through the amp at the same time. This is also a nice feature for practicing along to songs at home.
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Another feature to be aware of is power and speaker size. Higher wattage usually corresponds to more volume, more headroom, and a better signal-to-noise ratio. For example, a 50W amp at 8 or 9 is nearing its limits, but a 200W amp at 3 or 4 is in the sweet spot — both are putting out the same volume. Bigger speakers also tolerate higher levels and can handle lower frequencies without breaking up.
Ultimately, though, how much power you need depends on how you plan to use it. Lots of keyboardists are using their amp solely as a personal monitor, with the amp either miked up for the audience or having its output running straight to FOH. In that situation, you wouldn’t need a ton of juice.
Other features to think about are onboard EQ and effects, though most of your tone-shaping is probably handled by the keyboard/synthesizer itself. There’s a lot to keep in mind, but once you start looking around, you’ll immediately become familiar with what to expect from a quality keyboard amp.
The 10 Best Keyboard Amp Options for Studio & Live Sound (Any Budget)
The Behringer Ultratone KXD15 is a four-channel amplifier boasting 600W of power and a formidable 15″ speaker as well as a 1″ high-frequency driver. Other features include a seven-band graphic EQ, a Klark Teknik effects processor with 100 presets, and a feedback detection and mitigation system.
2. Peavey KB 4
Peavey’s KB 4 is a mini PA in a box, utilizing 75W and a 15″ speaker. It’s perfectly capable of handling keyboard, vocals, acoustic or electric guitar, and more. The stereo mixer includes two-band EQ for additional tone-shaping, while the mic/line channel has a three-band EQ. Peavey included castors and a handle for easy transport and movement.
The Motion Sound KP-612S is a premium keyboard amplifier carrying two channels, each with its own three-band EQ. It’s designed to replicate the experience of hearing a recorded keyboard in a studio environment, so it has a huge stereo soundstage for an immersive effect with 3D imaging. A pair of Eminence Beta-12A speakers sound impeccable.
You can’t go wrong with the Roland KC-600 — 200W, four channels, 15″ speaker, auxiliary, and XLR input. This is a highly versatile miniature PA, and it excels at representing keyboards and synthesizers in realistic detail. It’s perfectly comfortable pumping out rumbling bass or high-frequency sparkle and clarity.
A slightly older product, the Ultratone KT108 by Behringer is still an ideal practice amp for keyboard. The KT108 is pretty straightforward, sporting two channels, 15W, and an 8″ speaker. One great feature is its Virtual Tube Circuitry (VTC) that adds some saturation and harmonic enrichment for more natural sounding amplification.
Maximum portability (with ample power) is a huge advantage when it comes to keyboard amps and mini PAs. The KC-220 is a 30W amplifier with three channels, two 6.5″ woofers, built-in chorus and reverb, an aux input, and an XLR input for a microphone. It can run on batteries should you need to, and the stereo imaging is impressive for its class.
The Laney AUDIOHUB AH300 is a phenomenal stage companion. It has five channels with two XLR inputs, a five-band graphic equalizer, and 300W of power with a 15″ speaker. Onboard effects include chorus and reverb, and it’s ideal for small- to medium-sized gigs or for use as a personal monitor.
If you’re looking for something truly innovative and unique, the Spacestation by Aspen Pittman fits the bill. The problem with many amplifiers is their inconsistent stereo image, so depending on the listener’s position in the audience, the sound fluctuates. The Spacestation rectifies this by reproducing a 300-degree sound field. The richness and immersion of a detailed stereo keyboard patch stays intact, regardless of where listeners are.
This tiny 2×4″, 5-watt amp is an excellent practice buddy and provides just enough amplification for small and informal get-togethers/parties. It features stereo 1/4″ inputs, a 1/4″ microphone input, and an auxiliary input to connect mobile devices for playback.
The Vox VX50KB is a 50-watt keyboard amplifier with three channels, three-band EQ, and a single 8″ speaker. The whole package weighs a feathery 9 pounds, making it one of the most powerful and portable keyboard amps you can buy. Its speaker does tremendous job of representing the thunderous lows of a synth bass or the crystalline highs of a piano.