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  • Keyboard combo amp or powered PA speaker?

    This may look like it starts out as a keyboard question, but it's not. It's a Live Sound question, and I'm looking for a sound engineer answer.

    I play multiple synths for an alternative/prog-ish rock band. I have a sub-mixer for my rig which I normally put into my own direct box and go straight to house sound.

    But we're in that part of the market where we sometimes find ourselves playing 100-300 size venues where either there is no house sound (perhaps the cheapest hired in sound they can find ) or inadequate house system to reproduce my range well. These are the kind of gigs where the guitar and bass are running straight from their amps, not mic'd.

    After a couple of miserable experiences, it's becoming clear that often when the guitar/bass amps aren't being mic'd, I need my own sound output. I can sum my L/R into mono for these occasions.

    I see two good quality possibilities, each with pros and cons. Hartke KM200 combo keyboard amp, or something from the low end of the QSC K-series. Both are overkill in volume -- potentially an issue and a factor to consider if they don't work well at lower outputs -- but my main concern is good quality and projection of the full frequency range in this size venue -- from the lowest roar of the Moog Taurus 3 bass pedal synth to the high end of a Minimoog in the 4'-2' octaves and an organ through a screaming ring modulator.

    If I want to know about live sound, I ask a sound engineer, so that's what I'm doing here: what's the best approach under $1k for this niche? Anything else I should consider?

    Martyn Wheeler (playing synthesizers/organ like it's 1973 in England)

    now: Fredfin Wallaby
    was: The Gonzo Symphonic

  • #2
    A couple of keyboard players that sub for my band use a JBL PRX615 as their amp and honestly, it sounds pretty sweet. That seems to be the new thing with keyboard players, a hot powered PA top instead of a keyboard amp. I am not a sound engineer, but I figured I would chime in anyway since I have seen this.

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    • #3
      I've been playing keys live for years and years. The best keyboard monitors I've ever had are a pair of M-Audio GSR12s I picked up (at the recommendation of some in this forum) for $180 apiece when PSSL was closing them out during the summer. I absolutely love 'em.

      They're gone now unfortunately. There is a powered speaker with similar specs and a very affordable price that's received an extremely positive review from one of the moderators of the "other" big live sound forum (the Alto Truesonic TS115A). Out of courtesy to this forum I won't put a link up, but you can find it easily enough. Assuming the review is accurate there's no reason that they wouldn't sound as good as what I have (which is very good indeed for a keyboard monitor).

      There are all kinds of ways to go with this but it's something you might want to check out.

      Comment


      • #4
        Either way could be just fine.
        -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Former product development engineer: Genz Benz, a KMC Music/FMIC/JAM Industries Company, continuing factory level product support and service for Genz Benz

        Currently product development engineer: Mesa Boogie

        Comment


        • #5
          This may look like it starts out as a keyboard question, but it's not. It's a Live Sound question, and I'm looking for a sound engineer answer.

          I play multiple synths for an alternative/prog-ish rock band. I have a sub-mixer for my rig which I normally put into my own direct box and go straight to house sound.

          But we're in that part of the market where we sometimes find ourselves playing 100-300 size venues where either there is no house sound (perhaps the cheapest hired in sound they can find ) or inadequate house system to reproduce my range well. These are the kind of gigs where the guitar and bass are running straight from their amps, not mic'd.

          After a couple of miserable experiences, it's becoming clear that often when the guitar/bass amps aren't being mic'd, I need my own sound output. I can sum my L/R into mono for these occasions.

          I see two good quality possibilities, each with pros and cons. Hartke KM200 combo keyboard amp, or something from the low end of the QSC K-series. Both are overkill in volume -- potentially an issue and a factor to consider if they don't work well at lower outputs -- but my main concern is good quality and projection of the full frequency range in this size venue -- from the lowest roar of the Moog Taurus 3 bass pedal synth to the high end of a Minimoog in the 4'-2' octaves and an organ through a screaming ring modulator.

          If I want to know about live sound, I ask a sound engineer, so that's what I'm doing here: what's the best approach under $1k for this niche? Anything else I should consider?
          Taurus pedals? SWEET...you need a full range system then.
          A single powered QSC high pac on a pole and a QSC sub would give you a full range
          sound. The last time I heard Taurus pedals was a Genesis/Peter Gabriel band and
          they were really great. I swear my vision was distorted from the sub bass of
          the Taurus pedals... Great stuff!
          Whatever you choose you would want to go with sub/sat setup to really get
          some effect.
          A keyboard amp is not gonna do that.

          Comment


          • #6
            I've used a JBL PRX612 with my Kurzweil SP2X.
            Sounds great.
            "If you don't feel like dancing when you play, neither will anyone else." Bassgeek

            Musicman StingRay 5 Fretless H Piezo / G&L L2500 MIA / Reverend Rumblefish 5XL
            Reverend Rumblefish 5L FS PM
            Epiphone Les Paul
            Mesa Boogie 400+ (backup amp)
            Hughes & Kettner Fortress / QSC PLX 1804 / Bergantino NV412
            Eden WT800B / Peavey 215
            Markbass Little Mark II (backup amp)
            Eden Nemesis ENX-260 / Mesa Boogie PH112 / Mesa Boogie PH112

            Comment


            • #7
              I work with a fair number of keyboard players that use powered speakers for their amp. One of them uses two Yorkville E10P's but others use one (sometimes two) Yorkville NX55P http://www.long-mcquade.com/products/367/Pro_Audio_Recording/PA_Cabinets/Yorkville_Sound/NX55P_550_Watt_12inch_1-inch_Powered_PA_Speaker.htm

              I just worked with a guy last night that was using a Hammond and a Leslie paired with his Nord keyboard and an NX55P - it all sounded great and the balance between the Hammond and keyboard was just right.

              I imagine any decent powered speaker that suits your needs would work. As well, there are some nice keyboard amps out there, but most can't do double duty as a main or monitor. I guess it's your call.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'd say go for powered PA speaker. You can always use it as the FOH on a stick where all the other instruments and vocals can be also go in when used with a mixer.

                Comment


                • #9
                  There are keyboard amps that are just as full range as a PA and in fact are just as much a PA amp as a keyboard amp. Here's one, sold as a 112 combo with a pro audio 12" and a 1" compression driver: http://www.genzbenz.com/img/manuals/gb/UC5_Universal_Combo.pdf
                  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Former product development engineer: Genz Benz, a KMC Music/FMIC/JAM Industries Company, continuing factory level product support and service for Genz Benz

                  Currently product development engineer: Mesa Boogie

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Either way could be just fine.


                    This is essentially what my first thought was. I went and looked at the Hartke KM200 - and it is essentially - a little PA system - a "powered speaker" - with a little mixer built right in (you already have a little stand alone mixer though - right?) The Hartke is a 200 watt amp - into a 15" speaker and a HF horn. Pretty standard set up for "any" powered speaker - except with the addition of the mixer section - although of course - many (if not most) powered PA speakers have some sort of little mixer set up in them too. I saw some sort of an XLR on the Hartke - but I could not really tell if it was a "mic input" or maybe some sort of line level output maybe?? Anyhow - fairly versatile.

                    Someone mentioned a Yorkville NX55P. These are great little speakers - I own a few - and they are - well great little speakers. 550 watts into a 12" woofer - and a HF horn. They have a very nice full rich warm tone. And a little mixer section on the back (including a little EQ available) - but you might not even use that part - I'm not sure.

                    Now the "watt" rating just goes to "how loud" will it get - and truthfully - it is hard sometimes to compare "how loud it will get" - by the "watt rating" from one company to another - so you are just going to have to check that aspect of it out for yourself honestly - to determine which would be louder - or just loud "enough" for what you need.

                    Someone said - TWO Yorkville NX 55P - and that would really be sweet - but closer to 2 grand.

                    Someone said JBL PRX 615 - which is another powered PA speaker - I think maybe 1000 watts into a 15" woofer and a HF horn. I am sure this would sound great too!

                    I use the Yorkville NX 55P speakers for "mains" and also for "monitors" on my system. They work really well for either.

                    One benefit of choosing something like the NX55P - is that it is a VERY versatile cabinet - and sure you use it some night as your on stage keyboard monitor - but maybe some other night you use it as just a general monitor - with a 'feed" from the board - or some night it is set up as an "in fill" cabinet as a part of the PA. it can be used in so many ways - which I guess the Hartke could be used in these capacities too - but - maybe not quite so much?

                    Just some thoughts - take what you like - and leave the rest.
                    http://www.myspace.com/steverobertband
                    Fav. Quote: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Any of the above are viable, as are the QSC K and KW's, the Yamaha DSR and DXR too.
                      -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      Former product development engineer: Genz Benz, a KMC Music/FMIC/JAM Industries Company, continuing factory level product support and service for Genz Benz

                      Currently product development engineer: Mesa Boogie

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The Traynor K4 keyboard amp is a nice alternative. It's well powerd, loud as hell and has direct outs if you want to plug in a powered speaker. From a keyboardists standpoint a nice feature set. Worth checking out. It's biamped at something like 300 watts and puts out a nice stereo sound for maybe 10 ft. Works great as a monitor as it can take a aux feed from the FOH console too.

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                        • #13
                          The one thought that I have is do you use an acoustic piano sound at all? Synths are fairly forgiving about different amps, but when you want to sound just like an acoustic piano, stick to the better PA speakers. I've noticed that Guitar Center usually uses QSC's K-10s for the pianos and it sounds quite good.

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                          • #14
                            PSSL apparently has the M-Audio GSR-12 back in stock for $179.99. Just a heads-up if you're still following this thread. The only powered 12 I've ever been able to directly compare mine to is a Mackie SRM450. Although the Mackies were able to get louder the M-Audio's sounded much nicer. Just a fantastic deal at this price.

                            Get two. Don't be cheap

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                            • #15
                              I don't use piano sounds at all, so that's not a consideration. I do have some patches with sharp attack or bell-like sounds, but nothing that sounds like a real piano.

                              The only "real" instrument sound I use is organ, and I'm usually feeding that through a Tech21 "Oxford" guitar amp emulator; I use an analog string machine type of patch but I don't want that to sound exactly like real strings anyway.

                              And yes, I'm still following this thread. Lots of good information here, exactly what I was hoping for, thanks!

                              Martyn Wheeler (playing synthesizers/organ like it's 1973 in England)

                              now: Fredfin Wallaby
                              was: The Gonzo Symphonic

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