Note from Stan: “Amplify Your Digital Piano” is a guest post. In the days of acoustic pianos, the “amplification” came from the soundboard. Now, you need to be your own sound technician besides being a pianist because you want your performance to sound good.
This guest post (below) is a beginner's guide to the general directions you can take with keyboard amplification. When you're ready to take the next steps in your digital piano journey, here's the post you're looking for.
As a keyboard player, amplification is one area that plays a vital role in your playing. Even with high-quality digital pianos and keyboards which have the potential to give the quality sounds you crave, it won’t sound as well if you don’t have the right keyboard amplification.
That’s why you need to understand the available options and know which fits you best. Without further ado, let’s dive in the three best ways to amplify your digital piano and keyboard:
1. Keyboard Amps
A keyboard amp is a powered amplification system that comes with built-in speaker(s). They are easy to use so that you just need to connect to a power source, plug in the audio cable from your keyboard and start your instrument. You are good to go.
Despite “keyboard” in the name they are versatile and can usually amplify more than just keyboards. Keyboard amps are basically used to reproduce an electronic instrument's wide frequency range accurately so any instrument can enjoy their abilities.
In general, we can say that the keyboard amp magnifies an instrument to be heard on the stage (hopefully) without changing the character of the sounds of it. Because of their ability to handle the sonic sound spectrum from the keyboard and amplify them without distortion, you will greatly enjoy every effect and sound your digital piano has to offer.
What Features Should You Look for When Choosing a Keyboard Amp?
Although some features are obvious (portability, multiple inputs, etc.) in the amplifiers, there are some additional features that play great roles on your playing. To start with, for gigging players, a keyboard amp with 3 or more bands of EQ (equalization) will help you to easily tune the amp to fit the environment.
Similarly, amplifiers with line output will help you split your signals to the main system if you are playing in a band. Other than that, features like built-in effects, stereo sound, rotary speakers will greatly contribute to your playing and make it even sound better.
2. PA (Live Sound) System
A live sound system commonly known as the public address (PA) system or sound reinforcement system is used to get sound from the performer to the audience. The PA system includes several components that serve purposes like:
- Converting acoustic sound to an electronic signal
- Processing the electronic signals
- Amplifying the signals
- Delivering the sounds to the audience
- Monitoring of the performance by the performers
Although PA systems vary greatly, they all tend to have these basic functions.
What to Look for When Choosing a PA System to Amplify Your Digital Keyboard
One of the most essential questions many pianist and keyboardist ask when looking a PA system is how portable you need it to be. Most of the traditional options are made up of separate pieces each with individual functions: signal processors, power amp(s), mixing board, and monitor speakers. These can take a lot of space when musicians are transporting, storing, or setting up on stage which will put them out of reach of the typical act.
Fortunately, there are modern options for players in need of a PA system to use in a crowded performance space or where musicians require portable options. This equipment tends to be compact with some including all the necessary equipment in a single unit.
That said, these systems come with their limitations. For starters, they may offer limited control and customizability. Unfortunately, some even have unexceptional sound character.
So, How Much Power Do You Need?
This is another thing you should consider when buying a PA system to amplify your digital piano. You need to get enough wattage to fill the expected venue and not compromise the sound quality. Learn about “headroom” (among other things) if you want to make sure that you can fill the space with music.
Other than the performance location, you should check on factors like speakers' efficiency and how much power they should take to handle without distorting the desired volume level of your music. This is one of those technologies where “you get what you pay for” (usually).
Studio monitors are intended to provide the most accurate, uncolored representation of your playing possible. It’s ideal for enclosed performances like studios or home (think “house concert”) performance where you can use it for recording, mixing, and editing audio.
While there are a large selection of monitors to choose for your digital piano, there are two options worth noting. First, there are passive monitors that require you to match the speakers with appropriate crossovers and amplifiers and there are active monitors that include everything built in.
Most players especially those who are in need of a keyboard amplification to perform for a small audience or just use in a studio will go for active monitors. However, if you are in need of a monitor that can give you enough power to perform for a large audience, it would be a great idea to go for passive monitors.
With a quality passive monitoring system, you can create unmatched professional sounds from your keyboard and be able to deliver to a larger crowd. Even with the bulkiness and their space consumption, the passive monitors can be quite impressive and give the quality performance you need.
When buying most digital pianos or keyboards for home use, built-in amplifiers and speakers will not be adequate for your performances. If you are a gigging keyboard musician who cares about how you sound and you are playing for an audience, you’ll need additional amplification.
The rule here is that no matter which option you go with, you’ll almost always get what you pay for. However, even with high-end amplification, you need to define your needs to get the best of them.
This guest post comes from the blogger at Digital Piano Judge.