Best Keyboard Amps – Buying Guide & Reviews

Keyboard amps, as the name suggests, are the best type of amp for keyboards. What the name doesn’t tell you is that they’re far more powerful than that.

If you try to run a microphone through a guitar amp, you’ll quickly run into problems as it can’t handle the frequency range you would need it to. In fact, a guitar amp is terrible for pretty much anything except a guitar.

Keyboard amps are kind of the opposite. Since keyboardists tend to run all kinds of different patches and software synths at just about any octave, the amps they use need to be able to take just about anything you can throw at them. This makes them the perfect ‘all-in-one’ amp.

roland keyboard amp

As a result of their extreme versatility, the best keyboard amps tend to come equipped with XLR and combination inputs that make them great for PA systems in general.

Another key difference between keyboard amps and others is that good keyboards amps tend to have a very clean and transparent tone. In fact, keyboard amps can be thought of as not actually having any tone, as the expectation is that you will be choosing your own tone from your keyboard, DAW or effects pedals.

In this article we give an in depth look at the many benefits of these amps, and which products on the market today are worth your consideration. Here’s a quick peek of the products we review further down the article:

At a Glance: Our Choice of the Best Keyboard Amps on the Market

PREVIEW PRODUCT FEATURES

Behringer Ultratone KT108 Ultra-Compact 15-Watt Keyboard Amplifier

Behringer Ultratone KT108 15-Watt Keyboard Amplifier
  • Two channels
  • Aux input
  • Headphone output
CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

Peavey KB 1 20W Keyboard Amp

Peavey KB 1 20W Keyboard Amp
  • Two channels and 2-band EQ
  • Lightweight
  • Headphone output
CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

Behringer Ultratone K450FX Ultra-Flexible 45-Watt 3-Channel PA System/Keyboard Amplifier

Behringer Ultratone K450FX Ultra-Flexible 45-Watt
  • Pre-set effects
  • 5-band graphic EQ
  • 3 channels
CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

BEHRINGER Keyboard Amplifier, Black (KXD12)

Behringer KXD12 Keyboard Amplifier
  • 7-band graphic EQ
  • Lots of pre-set effects
  • XLR input for a microphone
CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

Roland 4-channel Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier, 150 watt (KC-400)

Roland KC400 4-Channel Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier
  • 3 Channels
  • AUX and XLR in
  • Headphone output
CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

Roland 4-channel Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier, 320 watt (160W+160W) (KC-990)

Roland KC-990 4-Channel Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier
  • 4 Channels
  • 4 built in effects
  • Footswitch-compatible
CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

Roland KC-110 3-Channel 30-Watt Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier

Roland KC-110
  • 3 channels
  • Stereo output and headphone jack
  • Large range of sound shaping controls
CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

Ok, ready to learn a load about keyboard amps. Here’s what we cover:

What is a Keyboard Amp?

A keyboard amp is a powered amplifier and speaker in one box, that’s designed to handle the wide range of frequencies a keyboard can produce.

They’re not limited to keyboards; the word ‘keyboard’ simply refers to what they are capable of.
They make the instrument you’re playing sound louder, whilst keeping the tone true to the original instrument.

 

How are Keyboard Amps Different to Guitar Amps?

There are several benefits of keyboard amps:

Higher Range of Frequencies

One of the main features of a keyboard amp is how many frequencies it can handle. If you try to play high frequencies through a guitar amp, the amp will dull these frequencies as it’s designed to not allow harsh sounds through.

If you try to send low frequencies through a guitar amp, which isn’t designed to handle them, it can damage the speaker and shorten valve life in valve amps.

Low Distortion

As well as being able to handle a wide range of frequencies, keyboard amps also don’t alter the frequencies which go through them.

Guitar and bass amps are designed to encourage overdrive and/or distortion, whereas keyboard amps typically produce an extremely clean, transparent sound.

Multiple Inputs

Unlike guitar amps, keyboard amps also usually have more than one input. Many keyboardists perform with a stage piano for some songs, and a synthesizer for others. These amps are designed so that both can be amplified through the same speaker, with
different mixers for each of the inputs.

 

What are Keyboard Amps Used for?

There are 3 main uses for keyboard amps.

Output for a Keyboard

The main use for a keyboard amp is to amplify a keyboard.

The output of the keyboard is plugged in to the input of the amp, which then has EQ, volume and sometimes FX controls.

There are often multiple inputs on these amps, so you can plug more than one instrument and adjust the volume of each of them separately.

Alternative for a PA System (Personal PA System)

Keyboard amps can also work as alternatives to big PA systems.

They can handle microphones as well as keyboards, and often have XLR inputs. Of course, you wouldn’t want to use a keyboard amp as an alternative to a PA system to amplify your vocals on stage, but for rehearsing this can be an excellent, inexpensive option.

Electric Drums

Because of their transparency of sound and their ability to handle an enormous range of frequencies, keyboard amps are also well suited to electric drum kits.

You can buy amps designed for electric drum kits now, but many people still opt for using a keyboard amps as they’re perfect for the job.

 

Benefits of Keyboard Amps

The main benefits of keyboard amps are their versatility, portability and transparency.

Versatility

Because of the range of frequencies that they can handle, keyboard amps offer exceptional versatility. They can be used for pretty much any instrument as well as for vocals.

These amps can also plug more than one instrument in at once, so the work great as all-in-one, portable PA systems that can handle whichever instruments you need to plug in.

Portability

Keyboard amps are a lot lighter and easier to transport than PA systems.

They are almost always combo amps, unlike guitar and bass amps which often come as a head and cab. This makes them easier to chuck into the back of a van and to set up in a short amount of time.

Transparency of Tone

The tone on keyboard amps remains true to the original tone of the instrument you’ve plugged in.

There are no overdrive/distortion effects when you turn the volume up on these amps, and there is no clipping of high or low frequencies. This can be excellent for intimate vocals and for cutting through with softer sounds.

More Control When Gigging

If you’re a keyboard player who needs to amplify your sound on stage, you might have tried plugging into a DI box, through the PA system. This can be fine, if you have a good sound engineer and decent monitors, but if you’re without either one of those two things then you’re going to run into problems. Having your own amp will give you control over your sound, tone and will ensure that you can hear yourself on stage. Also, to own a keyboard amp is to own an extremely versatile, powerful piece of kit.

 

Buying Guide – Things to Consider when Purchasing a Keyboard Amplifier

There are several things to consider, before you purchase a keyboard amplifier.

Types of Keyboard Amplifier

Keyboard amplifiers come under two main categories.

Keyboard Amps

Most keyboard amplifiers have just one amp and one speaker. They’re joined together and, although there are multiple inputs, there’s just one speaker which all of the sounds go through.

These systems sometimes have the option of adding extra speakers, for example subwoofers, to boost your lower tones, but generally they’re all-in-one, simple devices which can be quite heavy but easier to carry around than separate head-and-cabs.

Bi-Amped Systems

Bi-amped systems are keyboard amplifiers which use more than one amp to control more than one speaker.

Often, there is an extra speaker included in the device which specialises in low or high frequency sounds, and an amp which controls those also.

Bi-amped systems can offer a superior sound quality to ed systems and are excellent for those who use particularly high or low frequency notes often.

Powered Speakers

Powered speakers are also often used as keyboard amps.

These are simple devices, with little to no mixing controls, which work to amplify the sound in the same way as a stage monitor would.

If you use one of these in combination with a mixing desk, it can be an excellent, lightweight way to amplify your keyboard and they can usually handle just as many frequencies.

 

Build Quality and Portability

If you’re considering taking your amp to gigs, it’s important to consider the build quality and portability.

Some large keyboard amps weigh surprisingly little, whereas there are some low-watt amps which might weigh more than you expect.

Bulky can mean better in terms of robustness, so it’s worth looking for an amp which has solid knobs and metal framing.

 

Speaker Size and Power

If you are looking for something that isn’t going to leave your rehearsal space, or perhaps a few intimate gigs, 15-30 watts should suffice. If you need something that’s appropriate for 500+
capacity venues, you’re going to be looking at 100+ watts if you want to get a decent amount of power.

Of course, this isn’t a set rule, and some lower wattage amps can kick out an enormous sound, but generally the larger the wattage, the more noise the amp will make.

 

Features You’ll Find on Most Keyboard Amplifiers

There are some features you can expect to find on all keyboard amps.

Multiple Channels

Most keyboard amps have at least two inputs.

This allows you to plug in more than one instrument at a time or even a microphone as well as an instrument.

It’s great for singer-songwriters, or for keyboardists who use a combination of keyboards during their performances.

EQ Settings

EQ settings adjust the high, mid and low frequencies of your signal.

Some amps have 2-band EQ, which is just high and low, whilst some have as many as 7.

These settings allow you to fine tune your tone and boost the frequencies which need to come out more in the mix.

It’s an essential tool for those with a keen ear for tone and for those who are considering using these amps in a live situation.

Line In / Level Controls

Line in or level controls work as volume controls for your separate channels.

These allow you to alter the volume of each of your inputs separately, so that all of your sounds can be heard appropriately.

It’s essential for those who are going to be using more than one input, and even for those who use just one and need to adjust their volume to suit different circumstances.

 

What Extra Features Can You Find on High End Keyboard Amps?

There are some extra features that you can find on more expensive keyboard amps.

Built-in Effects

Built-in effects are a feature on some keyboard amps. These often include delay, reverb, chorus and tremolo.

These effects allow you to alter your sound and make it more exciting for a live performance.
They can add depth to your instrument and convert a thin sound into a full one

They’re great tools for the creative musician, and can be very handy on stage.

Footswitch Compatibility

Amps with built in effects are also sometimes footswitch compatible, which makes them really performance friendly.

Footswitches allow you to flick between different effects and amp settings without fiddling with the knobs on your amp, and can be the difference between a professional-looking performance and an amateur one.

They’re a must-have for those who want to utilise their amp’s built in effects during a performance.

Multiple Outputs

Some low-end amps only have a headphone output, which is fine for practise purposes, but higher end amps can have multiple outputs.

This can allow for extra amplification at bigger gigs and can be used in a recording process.

They’re a must have for musicians who are serious about gigging with their amplifier in bigger venues, and don’t want their amps to need to be mic’d up.

 

Round-up and Mini Reviews – The Best Keyboard Amplifiers

So, now you know what you’re looking for, let’s take a look at some of the best keyboard amplifiers around.

We’re going to look at budget keyboard amps, mid range and high end keyboard amps, and explore the features of each, to help you to find the right one for you.

Budget Keyboard Amps

 

Behringer Ultratone KT108 15-Watt Keyboard Amplifier

Behringer Ultratone KT108 Ultra-Compact 15-Watt Keyboard Amplifier

The Behringer Ultratone KT108 is a 15-watt Keyboard Amp with two channels.

It has two channels, so you can practise on more than one instrument, and there’s also an aux input which enables you to play along with a backing track.

The two channels share a 3 band EQ, so you can fine-tune your tone, and there’s a headphone output so you can practise silently.

This amp doesn’t have an XLR input, so it will be less suitable for plugging microphones into, and the inputs are both mono which does limit your mixing options.

The Behringer Ultratone KT108 is perfect for those who want something to plug their keyboard, electric drum kit or other instrument through at home.

It will be less suited for those who want to go out gigging with their amp, or to plug a microphone into it.

PROS

  • There are two channels, which share 3 band EQ settings.
  • There’s an aux input, so you can play along with a backing track.
  • There’s a headphone output for silent practice.

CONS

  • Both channels are mono inputs, which limits your mixing options.
  • There are no XLR inputs, and no outputs except for headphones.
  • There’s no EQ control for each channel, so you have to adjust them both simultaneously.

CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

 

 

Peavey KB 1 20W Keyboard Amp

Peavey KB 1 20W Keyboard Amp

The  Peavey KB 1 also has two channels, but there is 2 band EQ for each channel, which gives you exceptional controllability.

Neither of these channels are XLRs, so it’s not ideal for plugging a microphone into, but it’s perfect for amplifying two instruments which are of different frequencies.

There’s also no AUX input, so it will be less easy to play to a backing track, but there is a headphone output so you’re able to practise silently.

It’s lightweight, at 7.9kg, so you can carry it to rehearsal or around your house no problem.

This amp will be perfect for those who might want to amplify two separate instruments with different sounds.

It will be less suited to singers, or those who require an AUX input to plug their phones or similar into.

PROS

  • Two channels and 2-band EQ per channel gives you controllability over your channels.
  • Lightweight at 7.9kg, so it’s easy to carry to rehearsal.
  • Headphone output for silent practice.

CONS

  • The EQ is only 2-band, which limits your mixing options.
  • There’s no AUX input.
  • There can be a humming when your instruments are turned down.

CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

 

 

Behringer Ultratone K450FX Ultra-Flexible 45-Watt

Behringer Ultratone K450FX Ultra-Flexible 45-Watt 3-Channel PA System/Keyboard Amplifier

The Behringer Ultratone K450FX is a bi-amping amplifier that’s exceptional value for money.

It has an XLR input, so you can plug a microphone in, no problem, and there’s a CD input so you can practise with backing tracks.

What really makes this amp stand out is its pre-set effects, which include but aren’t limited to reverb, delay, flanger and pitch shifter.

You can have a lot of fun with this amp, and achieve some truly creative sounds.

It also has a 5-band graphic EQ, which gives it superior controllability and there’s an FX send for each of the 3 channels.

It’s perfect for musicians who like to adapt the raw sound of their keyboard and/or vocals and has an outstanding amount of features considering its affordability.

This amp will be less suited to those who want something more simple or for those who are looking for something bigger and louder than 45 watts.

PROS

  • XLR input to cater for a microphone and CD input so you can play along with backing tracks.
  • Lots of pre-set effects including reverb, delay and pitch-shifter.
  • 5-band graphic EQ
  • 3 Channels, with a volume and FX send per channel

CONS

  • The channels don’t have separate EQ settings.
  • Some of the effects are a bit gimmicky and are likely to prove surplus to requirements.

CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

 

Mid Priced Keyboard Amps

Behringer KXD12 Keyboard Amplifier

BEHRINGER Keyboard Amplifier, Black (KXD12)

The Behringer KXD12 has an XLR input, so you can plug a microphone in as well as 3 other inputs, and there’s an AUX input which allows you to play with backing tracks.

There’s also a 7-band graphic EQ, which allows you to finetune your tone, but the EQ is not separate for each channel.

There is an FX send for each different channel, which allows you to use the built-in effects differently with each input.

The KXD12 includes a subwoofer, which makes it especially suited to electronic drum kits, bass guitars or keyboardists who use a lot of bass notes.

It’s quite large, so might be less suited to those who just want something for practice purposes.

PROS

  • XLR input to cater for a microphone and AUX input so you can play along with backing tracks.
  • Includes a subwoofer which is great for low end power.
  • 7-band graphic EQ and lots of pre-sets give you excellent mixing control.
  • 4 channels, with a volume and FX send per channel.

CONS

  • The channels don’t have separate EQ settings.
  • The sound isn’t as transparent as on some other keyboard amps.
  • It’s quieter than you’d expect for a 600W.

CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

 

 

Roland KC400 4-Channel Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier

Roland 4-channel Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier, 150 watt (KC-400)

The Roland KC400 is a lightweight keyboard amplifier with 4 channels. Each of the channels has its own volume control, so you can do some mixing before the sound’s released, and as well as jack inputs there is an XLR input and an AUX input. These allow you to plug a microphone in, as well as to plug a phone or similar in to play a backing track.

Considering the fact that it’s 150Watts, so perfect for gigging in small-mid sized venues, it doesn’t weigh a great deal. This amp’s perfect for those who need something that’s easy to transport, that will work to amplify their keyboard, electronic drum kit, theremin or similar.

It will be less suited to those who are looking for something smaller for practising with, or for people who require different EQ settings for the various channels.

PROS

  • 4 channels with a volume control for each.
  • AUX in so you can play along with backing tracks and XLR input for a microphone.
  • Lightweight considering its capability.

CONS

  • There aren’t separate EQ settings for the different channels.
  • The results of the ‘shape’ button can be a bit hard to predict.

CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

 

High End Keyboard Amps

Roland KC-990 4-Channel Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier

Roland 4-channel Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier, 320 watt (160W+160W) (KC-990)

The Roland KC-990 is excellent for professional use, and it’s the only one on this list that’s footswitch compatible.

It is a 330 Watt amp which has one amp and 4 channels, each of which have their own volume and effects controls, and there are built in chorus, reverb and tremolo effects. Each of these effects can be controlled using a footswitch, making it excellent for on-stage use.

There’s an AUX in, so you can play with a backing track or attach monitors on stage, and there’s also a subwoofer output, should you need to boost your low end sounds. The amp has a 3-band EQ, so you can control your tone easily.

This amp is suited to the professional keyboardist who may need to trigger effects and/or boost low end sounds via additional subwoofers.

It will be less suited to those who are looking for a simple practice amp, or to musicians who are looking for superior controllability via a 5 or more band EQ.

PROS

  • 4 channels, with volume and effects controls for each.
  • Built in chorus, reverb and tremolo which can be controlled with a footswitch.
  • Aux in for backing tracks and/or monitors.

CONS

  • There isn’t EQ for separate channels.
  • It is very expensive.
  • EQ is only 3-band.

CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

 

 

Roland KC-110

Roland KC-110 3-Channel 30-Watt Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier

If portability is your biggest concern, the KC-110 is hard to beat, as it’s one of the only keyboard amps with the quality you would expect from Roland at this size, and has the added benefit of being either mains or battery powered.

PROS

  • Has 3 channels, two of which have stereo, and the third supports XLR
  • Stereo output and headphone jack, making it perfect for stage monitoring
  • Has a large range of sound shaping controls, including reverb and chorus, master volume, channel specific level knob, and 2-band EQ

CONS

  • Lacks the power needed to compete with loud drums and electric guitars
  • Battery power reduces the wattage from 30 to 20
  • EQ and effects don’t apply to each channel individually, but all three at once

CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

 

Summary

As you can see, each of these keyboard amps offers slightly different benefits.

If you’re looking for something that you can plug your keyboard into at home, with perhaps one other instrument, the Behringer Ultratone KT108 or the Peavey KB 1 20W Keyboard Amp will be well suited to your requirements. The Behringer also has an AUX input, so you can plug in your phone or iPad to play along with backing tracks, and a headphone socket for silent practice. The Peavey as a headphone socket also, but no AUX input. What it does have in its favour is extra controllability via separate EQ controls for each input.

Those who are looking for something a bit bigger, with built in effects will likely be impressed by the Behringer Ultratone K450FX. This amp has chorus, reverb, flanger and more and also has an XLR input so you can sing through it. Additionally, it has a bi-amping system which allows high-end frequencies to really cut through.

The Behringer KXD12 also has built in effects, and benefits from a 7-band graphic EQ which really allows you to control your tone. This EQ is for the overall output, rather than per input, but can offer an excellent amount of control for those who are only putting one or two very similar instruments through the amp.

Those who are looking for an amp that they can take out gigging with them will be best with the Roland KC-400 or the Roland KC-990. The KC-400 is a 150W amp which is incredibly lightweight considering its power, and has 4 inputs including an XLR input. The KC-990 is 330 watts and also has 4 inputs. The KC-990 also benefits from built in effects, which can be controlled using a footswitch, and the option of a subwoofer output should you need to boost your bass.

All of these amps are appropriate for keyboards as well as electronic drum kits and more. Some of them are also suitable for vocals, in very small venues or practice studios.

Whichever amp you decide is the right one for you, we hope that our research has helped you to find out.

Play loud!

 

 

Image Credits: Featured image

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