Keyboard Amp vs Powered Speaker: Which One Do you Need?

Keyboard Amp vs Powered Speaker: Which One Do You Need?

For keyboard players, getting disruption-free sound is crucial. Generally, music from keyboards is prone to disruptions due to low frequency and deep basslines. Thus, you need the right tool to make sure the sound propagates well. 

Generally, keyboard amps and powered speakers are used with keyboards to prevent distortion. So, you might ask, “Which one is better between a keyboard amp vs powered speaker?”

In terms of versatility, powered speakers are the way to go! They work with a plethora of instruments and devices. However, if you’re looking for something compact with customizable options, getting a keyboard amp is a good idea! 

In this article, we’re going to solve your dilemma once and for all. We’re going to discuss all you need to know about the keyboard amp and powered speaker! We hope this will help you choose what you need. Let’s begin!

Things to Know Beforehand 

Before we get into the discussion, you need to take a few things into account. While Keyboard amps and powered speakers do similar tasks, they have different mechanisms. 

So, knowing how they work is crucial in determining which one you need. If you’re wondering how they work, here we go! 

How Do Keyboard Amps Work

The working mechanism of a keyboard amp is pretty similar to that of a generic amplifier. However, it’s modified to an extent to make it work for keyboards.

Generally, keyboards have a lower frequency than guitars or drums. Also, keyboards have a deeper bassline than most instruments. Thus, they often get lost in the shuffle when they’re being played with a number of instruments. 

For this reason, the design of the amplifier is a bit different than conventional ones. Most keyboard amps have multiple inputs and provide very little distortion. They take the low-frequency keyboard tunes and reproduce their input signals.

A standard keyboard amp has three parts. These include a loudspeaker, electronic amplifier, and a 3-4 channel mixer. As a result, you can use one amp to control multiple devices at the same time. 

Now, the amps have a semiconductor circuit for amplification. The size and power of the circuit depend on the size of the amp. The larger the amp, the more powerful the circuit. However, unlike conventional amps, there are no stereo features.

How Do Powered Speakers Work 

The world of powered speakers is often misunderstood. Especially due to their similarity to typical active speakers. However, there’s more to their use than what meets the eye. 

To begin with, the term powered speaker refers to their built-in amplification. So, you don’t need a separate amplifier for the speaker to work properly. Thus, it can work as an amplifier as well.

So, it’s somewhat different from a conventional speaker. Generally, in an active speaker, the music is first pre-amplified, then amplified inside the amplifier. Afterward, the music goes back to the speaker where it’s played.

But, in a powered speaker, the entire process takes place inside the speaker. So, you don’t need a separate speaker to get it running. You can connect it to a studio receiver or directly to the instrument you’re playing.

Also, they have an assortment of ports and connections on them. Most powered speakers have Bluetooth connectivity with other connection features. As a result, they can be used in multiple situations. 

Keyboard Amp vs Powered Speaker: Head to Head 

Now that we’ve discussed the basics, let’s get into details! To help you out, we’re going to break down the keyboard amp and powered speaker to its core. From something as simple as its size to more nuanced aspects such as power consumption. 

Before we get into the technical bits, here’s a quick look table for you to get an idea- 

Specs Keyboard Amps Powered Speaker 
Price $200-1500 $100-800
Weight 30-50lbs 40-90lbs 
Connectivity Wired Wired and Bluetooth
Devices Keyboard, Piano, Microphone Any device that can has similar connection systems 
Power 400watts peak 2000 watts peak 

Now that you have a quick idea about the features, let’s dive into it! 

Usage 

When it comes to usage, powered speakers and keyboard amps are a world apart. So, while they perform similar tasks, they bring a lot of differences to the table.

Keyboard amps are dedicated to keyboards. So, their usage is somewhat limited to keyboards and similar devices. So, their usage is somewhat limited. You can connect keyboards, pianos, mics, and a few other low-frequency instruments here without hassle. 

However, when it comes to a powered speaker, there’s a lot more to it! As the name suggests, it works just like a typical speaker. So, you can pair it with any instrument or any system for an instant sound boost. 

Also, the amplification features make any powered speaker an instant fit for any household sound system!

Price 

The final factor in our discussion is price. Both keyboard amps and powered speakers are available at a wide range of prices. Here, the key is to find the best value for money!

Keyboard amps generally start from under $200. Amps like the Donner DKA-20 are good fits within the budget. However, if you want to stay in a comprehensive range, $300-500 is a good fit. But in case you’re looking for something fancy, keyboard amps can go as high as $1500!

When it comes to powered speakers, the lineup is just as diverse. If you’re on a budget, the Monoprice DT-3 is a good shot at the humble $100 range. However, the $200-300 range is generally ideal for powered speakers. 

If you’re in that range, the Edifier S350DB is a good shot. But if high-end is what you’re looking for, you can go upto $800. The range has the likes of Audioengine HD6  which are worth a shout!

Portability 

When it comes to the keyboard amplifier, size is of the essence. Most keyboard amplifiers are small and super lightweight. Since there’s not a lot of engineering involved, the boxes are pretty lightweight as well. 

However, the low weight is not a sign of weakness! Keyboard amplifiers like the Behringer Ultratone K450FX  and Peavey KB 2 pack a punch despite their small size! Generally, keyboard amps can weigh from 30-50lbs based on size and features. 

However, in terms of powered speakers, portability can be an issue. Since they’re a speaker and amplifier system cramped in one, they’re significantly heavier. 

An average speaker could be anything from 40-90lbs based on its size. So, carrying them around can be a bit of an issue. 

However, smaller powered speakers such as Yamaha DBR10 and Alto Professional TS310 are worth the shot. While they’re a bit on the expensive side, they got the job done very well! 

Connectivity 

Another key aspect that we need to keep in mind is connectivity. If you need to connect a number of devices at the same time, connectivity is key. When it comes to keyboard amps, most high-end ones like the Roland KC-990 have a 3-4 channel mixer. 

As a result, you can connect multiple keyboards and pianos to the same amplifier. This is ideal if you’re a traveling musician or you have multiple people playing similar instruments. Also, you can connect small instruments like microphones as well. 

However, in terms of connectivity, Powered speakers are a beast on their own! Most powered speakers feature a number of ports and connectors. You can connect it to PA systems, Karaoke, home theater, etc. as well without any hassle.

Furthermore, most powered speakers have Bluetooth connectivity that works side by side with the ports. So, if you’re looking for something more than keyboards, a powered speaker is the way to go for you! 

Power

When it comes to power, there’s a lot to discuss. How loud do you want your music to be? Or how big of an audience are we talking about? Factors like these are important when we talk about the power of our amplifiers.

Generally, Keyboards aren’t the loudest instrument out there. And more often than not, they get overshadowed by other instruments. Hence, whatever tool you’re with your keyboard needs to amplify it just as high as everything else. 

Now. keyboard amps aren’t the strongest amplifiers out there. Most mid-range amplifiers such as Behringer KXD15 or Alto Professional Kick 12 can go as high as 400 watts in terms of power. 

So, if you’re playing for a large audience or in big arenas, you need additional speakers with your amplifier. Therefore Keep that in mind as well.

When it comes to powered speakers, they’re named “powered” for a reason. The built-in amplification allows the speaker to generate a high amount of power without losses. Even mid-range powered speakers can raise as high as 2000 watts as RMS power. 

Also, since there’s very little movement involved, there’s no sign of crackling like solid-state amps or distortion. A good powered speaker has its own power amplifier. As a result, it can maintain its peak power a lot longer than a keyboard amplifier.

So, if you’re someone who loves to play loud or play in large areas, a powered speaker is the way to go!

Features 

There’s a lot more to music than just playing and recording. The music has to go through a number of phases to perform at its best. Features such as modeling, voicing and tone controls, etc. are key to the overall experience.

Most good keyboard amplifiers will provide these features easily. So, you can make the required settings on the go and create the experience you need! Also, you can use the voicing selector feature to add additional sounds to the entire experience. 

However, a powered speaker doesn’t provide such features. While they provide amplified sounds, you’d need an audio interface to make direct changes to your sound. So, if you require a lot of tinkering with the final sound, getting a keyboard amplifier is the way to go! 

For musicians and sound engineers, a good audio interface can make a world of difference. But, choosing the right one is what makes the difference. If you’re looking for an audio interface, these might be worth a shout-

Additional Devices 

Additional devices refer to extra tools you might add for a better sound experience. While these aren’t the must, they can improve the overall experience. So, having the option to customize and add things is always good!

When it comes to powered speakers, they’re generally very loud. So, when the frequency is reduced, they generally get very distorted all over the place. Thus, if you have a powered speaker, getting a subwoofer along with it is a good idea.

The subwoofer works well around the 20 to 100 Hz range. So, if you need true full-range sound, a subwoofer is recommended. But, you need to make sure you get the right-sized subwoofer for the best experience. 

If you’re wondering which subwoofer to go for, here are our recommendations- 

Similarly, a keyboard amp doesn’t have a high power or frequency range. As a result, you need additional speakers to make it work. However, you have to choose the speakers carefully to prevent distortions and lost sound. 

Can You Use Both? 

Now, speakers and amps are a must-have for any good combo. But, the question is, can you use both of them at the same time? 

The easiest answer to it is yes, you can! However, there are a lot of technical nuances to it as well. Now, the main task of a keyboard amplifier is to amplify the sound. Similarly, a powered speaker already has a built-in amplifier. 

So, getting both at the same time doesn’t change the music drastically. Rather, it can affect the overall quality of the music since the music will have to deal with pre-amps twice. 

For this reason, it’s a good idea to use either of the two. Then, you should pair it up with other tools for a holistic experience.

Verdict 

Now, let’s ask the all-important question, should you go for keyboard amps or powered speakers. 

If you’re looking for a comprehensive system, getting a powered speaker is the way to go! It provides high-end sound with easy-to-use controls at an affordable cost. You can also use it with a plethora of devices other than keyboards. 

But, if you’re looking for something that caters especially to your keyboard, a keyboard amplifier is the way to go! It provides the necessary features for a comprehensive keyboard experience! But in terms of features, powered speakers still take the win!

FAQs

Now that we’ve discussed all you need to know, here are a few frequently asked questions- 

Are Keyboard Amps Full Range? 

Yes! Keyboard amps are dedicated to producing full-range sounds all the way through! They 

generally, maintain the sounds thoroughly and amplify them, without adding anything to the music.

Can You Use Keyboard Amps for Vocals?

A keyboard amp has multiple channels for connecting multiple devices. So, you can connect a microphone for vocals if you want. However, we recommend getting a separate amp or speaker for vocals.

Can You Connect Multiple Keyboards on a Powered Speaker 

A powered speaker has multiple ports for you to work with. So, you can connect it to any of the ports you want and get the job done. Generally, it’s sturdy enough to support all the keyboards without hassle.

Conclusion

When it comes to keyboards, getting the best experience out of them is crucial. Since it’s a bit technical, you need to choose the right things to pair it up with. Generally, keyboard amps and powered speakers are the way to go for your keyboards. 

Since there’s always a dilemma in the Keyboard Amp vs Powered Speaker debate, we decided to settle it once and for all. We hope you find this article helpful!

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