Best Keyboard Amp to Take Your Performance to the Next Level

keyboard amps

Here are the highest rated Keyboard Amps at all prices up to $1500 – many also have mic inputs and can be used as a compact PA system.

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Here are the highest rated Keyboard Amps at all prices up to $1500 – many also have mic inputs and can be used as a compact PA system.

The elephant in the musical room isn’t often addressed: What differentiates a keyboard amp from guitar amp? Guitar amps focus on tone coloration, keyboard amps focus on transparency, projecting sound as clearly as possible.

Since keyboards are unique in a way that they have a wide selections of voices, compared to a guitar. Thus, keyboard amps are designed to be uncolored.

For this gear guide, we feature the best keyboard amp options of popular price categories based on actual market sentiment. Here we include the most recent rating and review sources. With this, you can focus on amps that have been proven to provide good real-world results in order to find the one that suits your budget and needs.

To handle the broader frequency range of keyboards, these amps are often equipped with full-range speakers. This means that they also work well with other instruments like acoustic-electric guitars, electronic drums, electric cellos, guitar processors, and more. Many of them also offer extra inputs, including mic inputs, essentially turning them into a mini-PA system, which means that you get more use and value.

The Best Keyboard Amps – 2024

Author & Contributors

Best Keyboard Amp Under $200

Peavey KB 1

88 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.
At publication time, this was the Highest Rated Keyboard Amp Under $200.


  • Not meant to be driven hard
  • Volume is a bit low


  • Portable profile
  • Time tested durability
  • Dual channel with independent controls
  • Clean sound with good projection

The KB 1 is a 20-Watt dual channel amp designed for keyboards, made by Peavey, a brand known for affordable and reliable guitar amplifiers and keyboard amps.

Given its low power rating and small 8" speaker, this keyboard amp is not meant to be loud. However, its sound projection and volume is what you'd expect with its specs. It is loud enough for practice and can even be used for jamming with other people, as long as volume levels are kept at manageable levels.

It has two channels with independent controls for volume level and 2-band EQ (high and low). Both inputs have a 1/4" jack, so they won't be able to accept XLR connections that are common with mics. Still, it does allow you to connect both stereo output keyboards, or you can plug in two different instruments and use this keyboard amp as a mini sound system.

Sound quality is OK. It cleanly reproduces sound with minimal coloration, from piano samples to synth sounds and more. It also sounds full and detailed, which is quite surprising given its size and low-wattage design. But as expected from its small speaker, bass is a bit lacking. Also note that driving the keyboard amp too hard can cause unwanted noise and damage.

More importantly, it does all this while retaining a portable and lightweight yet durable profile.

The Peavey KB 1 is a great practice amp to have for a home studio setup, well worth checking out for those with tight budgets. It can even be a simple home PA system.


  • Output Power: 20 Watts.
  • Number of Channels: 2.
  • Inputs: 2 x 1/4".
  • Outputs: 1 x TRS for Headphones.
  • Speakers: 8" speaker.
  • Tone Control: 2-band EQ per channel.
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz to 10kHz.
  • Size: 13.75 x 9.00 x 14.25" (349.00 x 229.00 x 362.00 mm).
  • Weight: 17.40 lb (7.89 kg).
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 2 years.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Audiofanzine sw80 80/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Donner DKA-20

88 out of 100. Incorporating 600+ ratings and reviews.


  • Tends to clip at higher levels
  • Has a slight of hiss


  • Affordable with good frequency response
  • Can double as a monitor speaker
  • Great for practices and small venues

We've featured the Donner DKA-20 for 2 years in this guide, but it was discontinued in 2022. The good news is, that it re-entered the market and is still a viable keyboard amp for those who want an affordable option.

The Donner DKA-20 is a 20-watt keyboard amp with an 8-inch woofer and a 2-inch tweeter. For its price point, it delivers a decent frequency response.

Some reviews swore that you can use it as an e-drum, an acoustic, or bass amp as well. You might be able to do that but it's really designed for keyboards.

The wedge design makes it behave similarly to how floor monitors behave. It's surprising that a 20W amp projects the sound loud enough that you could use it in a small venue. Place this amp in an auditorium, and you have a handy monitor where you can hear yourself.

The two 1/4″ inputs and a 1/8″ stereo signal aux input have independent input volume controls. It also sports a 3-band EQ section which lets you shape the sound from the amp.

You can push the input levels loud enough at around 80%. However, dialled to a hundred, I do find that it tends to clip quite a bit. Compared to Roland keyboard amps, there's also a slight hiss to the Donner. It's not bothersome but it might be something you need to be aware of.

This compact amp also comes with nifty output options, including a DI out which lets you hook it up to PA systems or recording consoles. And of course, you have the headphones output for quiet practice.

The Donner DK-20 makes it the best keyboard amp in terms of affordability. It's straightforward and does its job well with no fuss.


  • Output Power:20 Watts
  • Number of Channels: 2
  • Inputs: 2 x 1/4″ (Instrument), 1 x 1/8″ (Aux)
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4″ (DI Out), 1 x 1/8″ (Headphones)
  • Speakers: 8″ woofer, 2″ Tweeter
  • Effects: None
  • Battery: Not Applicable
  • Size: 13.78″ x 5.11″ x 9.06″
  • Weight: 11.6845 lbs (5.3 kg).
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 1 Year

Best Keyboard Amp Under $500

Peavey KB 2

95 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.


  • Lacks modern features being an old release
  • Loses clarity when volume is set too high


  • 4-Channel Keyboard Amp, viable for monitor use
  • Time-tested build quality and reliability
  • Clear sound and loud projection
  • Detailed highs and good low-end depth

Peavey is known for gig-worthy amps like the KB series, which even pros like Peter Keys from Lynyrd Skynyrd use. The KB 2 is part of this line, but with a more compact profile while carrying the same mini-PA system capable features.

It has 4 independent channels, with the first 2 channels having 1/4" instrument inputs with 2-band EQ. Channel 3 has both XLR and 1/4" inputs with 3-band EQ, and channel 4 is for using KB 2 as a monitor with dedicated level control. All these features go beyond the usual 2-channel amps that most musicians work with, which means that you get more value for the money with this keyboard amp.

At 45W, this amp can go loud, good enough for small venues, as long as you don't push it too hard for long periods of time. It sports a 10" coaxial full-range speaker, where the tweeter is positioned in front of the woofer. This way, it can produce the full range of frequencies while retaining a portable and compact profile. And more importantly, it helps the amp produce detailed highs that are needed by keyboards.

Peavey designed the cabinet to help enhance the low end, and it does the job really well, providing good low-end depth. Note that since it has a small 10" woofer, the low end tends to become muddy when the volume is set too high. Anyway, you can make use of the KB 2's clarity in bigger venues and stages by using it as a monitor.

Given its clarity and multiple input options, this keyboard amp is also a favorite among singers, electronic drummers, acoustic guitarists, and those who use amp modelers and effects. Speaking of effects, it has effects send/return loop and a balanced XLR main out for plugging into a PA Mixing Console.

Having been released by Peavy back in 2004, time-tested items like the KB 2 evoke quality and reliability. This also shows that the amplifier needs of keyboardists haven't changed much. Still, being an old release means that it will lag behind recent releases in terms of modern features and connectivity.

If you're looking for a 45 Watt versatile keyboard piano amp that also serves as a small PA system, then this is a great choice.


  • Output Power: 2 output channels - internal is 45 Watts, and the output channel is 12 Watts into 8 Ohms.
  • Number of Inputs Channels: 4.
  • Inputs: 2 x 1/4" on first 2 channels, 1/4" & XLR on channel 3, and channel 4 is 1/4" monitor with level control.
  • Outputs: Main: XLR, Headphone: 1/4", Send: 1/4".
  • Speakers: 10" coaxial with crossover at 3.5 kHz.
  • Tone Control: 2-band EQ on channels 1 & 2 and 3-band EQ on channel 3.
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20 kHz.
  • Size: 17.75" x 17" x 12.5".
  • Weight: 34 lbs.
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 2 years.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Audiofanzine LéoMoldo 80/100
HunterHarp Richard Hunter 94/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Roland KC-80

94 out of 100. Incorporating 80+ ratings and reviews.
At publication time, this was the Highest Rated Keyboard Amp Under $500.


  • Limited control over each channel
  • Not a fan of the look of the knobs


  • 3-Channels with simple controls
  • Balanced sound with good projection
  • Good build quality
  • Good portability

The KC-80 keyboard combo amp is part of Roland's 2017 refresh of their KC line of keyboard amplifiers. This is the smallest member of the group (apart from the battery powered KC-220), and it replaces its predecessor, the KC-60, with a higher power rating at 50W and a slightly lighter weight.

The 50W amp section is joined by a 10" woofer and a 1" HF driver, all of which combine to give this Roland keyboard amp good projection, balanced sound, and clarity - all of which are needed by keyboardists. And for its size, it has enough volume for most small venues and rehearsals. This way, it gets a lot more use on top of being a good practice keyboard amp.
It has 3-channels, one of which has support for mic line input. Controls are kept simple with a master volume knob, a 2-band EQ, and dedicated volume knobs for each channel. This simple setup makes it easy to use, with no extra knobs to waste your time on and fewer ways of messing with your core sound. On the flip side, this also means that control for each channel is very limited, with no dedicated EQ control for each one.

Roland is known for producing reliable amps, and this applies to the KC-80. The cabinet and front grill all look solid and protect the innards very well. I'm not a fan of the simplistic knobs used, but they get the job done reliably well.

If you're looking for a keyboard amp that can handle both practice and small venue gigging duties, then check out the KC-80.


  • Output Power: 50 Watts
  • Number of Inputs Channels: 3.
  • Inputs:3 x 1/4" (Line Input), 1 x XLR, 2 x RCA, 1 x 1/8" (Aux), 1 x 1/4" (Headphones)
  • Outputs: 2 x 1/4" (Line, Sub).
  • Speakers: 1 x 10", 1 x Tweeter
  • Tone Control: 2-band EQ (Low/High)
  • Size: 16.18" x 16.56" x 11.81".
  • Weight: 27.56 lbs.
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 3 years parts - 2 years labor.

Best Keyboard Amplifiers Under $1000

Roland KC-400

95 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.
At publication time, this was the Highest Rated Keyboard Amp Under $1000.


  • No independent EQ for each channel
  • Quite bulky


  • Can get loud without compromising clarity
  • Full sounding bass and clear highs
  • 4-Channels with master EQ and shape control
  • Capable of stereo linking with compatible amps

The KC-400 is part of the 2017 line of keyboard amps, it replaces the KC-350 from Roland's previous lineup. It retains the 4-channel design of the previous amp but offers an increased level of output power up from 120W to 150W.

The amp's four channels have dedicated level controls, while master controls include 3-band EQ and master volume. The 4th channel has a rotary switch for routing its output, which can be used for quiet headphones practice, or when you want to use the amp as a stage monitor. The master EQ control is not deep enough for those who want to tweak each channel independently. So any tweaking should be done on the instrument or sound source. Another noteworthy feature is the addition of a shape button, which enhances the highs and lows for more clarity.

The 150W amplifier section is paired with a 12" woofer and a horn tweeter. This combination allows the keyboard amp to go really loud, enough for small to medium size venues. The big 12" woofer also means that you have more low end than smaller amps, resulting in a fuller sound. The tweeter handles the high frequencies well, to the point that you have to set it unnaturally loud for it to begin losing clarity. And this makes KC-400 a great stage amp, first for keyboardists, but also for other instruments and even vocals.

The Roland KC series have a reputation for being durable, and this applies to the KC-400. Nothing about it will make you worry about quality or reliability. While it is a bit bulky, it is still reasonably portable.

The KC-400 comes with Roland's Stereo Link feature, which lets you connect two amps together and have each one assigned to separate sides of stereo. Although you can get a single stereo amp for less than two of these, some people prefer to use two amps for stereo so they can be placed at a much larger distance apart than the two speakers of a stereo amp.

The Roland KC-400 is the best keyboard amplifier for a performer who are need enough volume for a modest band setup. It even doubles as a simple 4-channel mixer PA system. If you need to go louder, you can go for a more powerful keyboard amplifier like its bigger sibling, the Roland KC 550.


  • Output Power: 150 W.
  • Number of Channels: 4.
  • Inputs: 8 x 1/4" (L/mono, R) - 1 pair for each channel, 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/8" TRS Aux, 1 x 1/4" Stereo Link and 2 x RCA.
  • Outputs: 2 x 1/4" (L/mono, R), 1 x 1/4" Stereo Link, 1 x 1/4" Headphone, 1 x 1/4" Subwoofer Out.
  • Speakers: 12" Woofer and 1" Tweeter.
  • Tone Control: 3-band Master EQ and Shape button that boosts high and low frequencies.
  • Frequency Response: Not Specified.
  • Size: 19-5/16" (W) x 15-3/16" (D) x 18-9/16" (H).
  • Weight: 48 lbs 9 oz.
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 3 years parts - 2 years labor.

Roland KC-600

95 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.


  • Deep bass is not for everyone
  • Can be overkill for common gigging venues
  • Not easy to carry around


  • 15" speaker for deep bass
  • 200W of projection, high headroom
  • Multiple input/output options
  • 4-Channel functionality

The Roland KC series takes yet another spot in this edition, this time for the KC-600, which has a power rating of 200-Watts. Paired with a 15" speaker and 1" horn tweeter, this amp has substantially higher headroom and louder projection than its smaller siblings.

Thanks to its big 15" woofer, you can get deep subwoofer-like bass response, and you do so without compromising the mids. This also makes the KC-600 much more capable than some bass amps. The highs are also well represented with the dedicated tweeter. This keyboard amp is more than capable of handling traditional low acoustic piano notes, along with the modern rumble of bass pads and synths. And with its expanded input and multi-channel design, it has enough juice to amplify an entire band, including vocals, bass, and even electronic drums. Note that the deep bass of this keyboard amp may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Speaking of multi-channel, this Roland keyboard amp follows after the same "mixing" amplifier design with multiple input and output options and 4-channels. Control setup is similar to the KC-400, having master volume, global 3-band EQ, shape, and dedicated volume controls for each channel. Channel 4 also has the same routing options that allow for silent practice via headphones and stage monitor functionality. It would've been nice if they gave each channel their dedicated EQs and shape controls.

Given the size of the speaker, this keyboard amp is heavy and bulky. Thankfully, it does come with caster wheels to make it easier to push around.

It also has the ability to stereo link two KC-600 amps, which may be overkill for small to medium venues, but could help if you need to fill big spaces. Finally it has a subwoofer out for extending your lows further with a dedicated sub.

If you're looking for a reliable 200W keyboard amplifier / mini-PA system / multi-instrument amp, then check out the Roland KC-600.


  • Output Power: 200 W.
  • Number of Channels: 4.
  • Inputs: 8 x 1/4" (L/Mono, R), 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" (Stereo Link), 2 x RCA, 1 x 1/8" TRS (Aux), 1 x 1/4" (Headphones).
  • Outputs: 2 x 1/4" (L/Mono, R), 1 x 1/4" (Stereo Link), 1 x 1/4" Headphone, 1 x 1/4" Subwoofer Out.
  • Speakers: 1 x 15" Woofer, 1 x 1" Tweeter.
  • Tone Control: 3-band Master EQ and Shape button that boosts high and low frequencies.
  • Frequency Response: Not Specified.
  • Size: 23.25" (W) x 23.25" (D) x 17.5" (H).
  • Weight: 63.93" lbs 9 oz.
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 3 years parts - 2 years labor.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Justin Unsworth 93/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Best Keyboard Amps Under $1500

Roland KC-990

97 out of 100. Incorporating 70+ ratings and reviews.
At publication time, this was the Highest Rated Keyboard Amp from $1000 to $1500.


  • This keyboard amp is heavy, so it comes with castors
  • Not meant for small venues


  • 2 x 12" stereo speakers
  • 320W of superb projection
  • Wider and louder but not too boomy
  • Built-in effects

When Roland updated their range of keyboard amps in late 2017 this was the one that superseded the venerable KC-880, making the KC-990 their new flagship keyboard amp. Strangely, this line was slow to take off after the 2017 launch, but the KC-990 and its siblings have grown to be consistent market favorites in different price ranges.

Being the front runner keyboard amp, the KC-990, has the highest power rating at 320 Watts. This is incredibly high for an instrument amp, so there's really no need to pull your punches. It has more than enough juice for bigger venues.

Since Roland is known for their "stereo" amps, it makes sense for them to give the same stereo treatment to their flagship keyboard amp. And so the KC-990 was designed to be a "stereo mixing" keyboard amplifier, with two sets of speakers and two line outs. It houses two 12" speakers, and two horn tweeters, that give it genuine stereo sound in one package.

Interestingly, Roland didn't go for two large 15" speakers, so it does not sound as boomy as the KC-600. It has balanced response across the frequency spectrum from low to high, with lots of volume and headroom. This makes it ideal for pretty much any kind of synth / piano / keyboard sounds as well as using it as a Public Address system. Like a guitar amplifier, it can also work great with guitar processors, acoustic-electric guitars, electronic drum kits and other instruments.

Although Roland shaved a few pounds off from its predecessor, don't mistake this for a light amp. It is a heavy keyboard amp that needs the castors it comes with, so take this into account before you buy it. The extra weight are justified though, especially for a gigging musician, given its solid build quality, extra components and functions.

Speaking of functions, the KC-990 comes with built-in effects that include reverb, chorus, tremolo, and rotary. This feature is unique to the KC-990, which begs the question, why did Roland add this future to just this specific keyboard amp? If you think you know the answer, do let everyone know by writing it on the comments section.

Here's another twist, this is a stereo keyboard amplifier that can be wired to a compatible amp for wider stereo setups on stage. This is done through Roland's Stereo Link feature.

Note that while it does have an XLR mic input it doesn't provide phantom power. This means you can plug a dynamic mic directly into the amp, but if you want to use a condenser mic then you'll need some sort of mic preamp such as a vocal effects pedal that provides phantom power.

Although it had slow beginnings, this Roland keyboard amp has gained enough traction to warrant a special spot in this guide. It is part of Roland's KC series of keyboard amplifiers which popularized the Roland KC 110. The KC-990 is a flagship amp for good reasons, including high power ratings and being a true stereo keyboard amp.


  • Output Power: 320 W (160 W + 160 W)
  • Number of Channels: 4.
  • Inputs: 10 x 1/4" (L/mono, R), 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" (stereo link), 2 x RCA, 1 x 1/8" TRS (aux).
  • Outputs: 2 x 1/4" (L/mono, R), 2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4" (stereo link), 1 x 1/4" (headphones).
  • Speakers: 2 x 12" woofers, 2 x horn tweeters.
  • Tone Control: 3-band EQ.
  • Frequency Response: Not specified.
  • Size: 23.06" x 29.93" x 18.56".
  • Weight: 92.62 lbs.
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 3 years parts - 2 years labor.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Mike Block 95/100
Music Player Network Uncle Mark 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Things to Consider When Buying a Keyboard Amplifier

Keyboard Amp or Powered PA Speaker?

Before buying a keyboard amp you should decide whether you actually want a keyboard amp or if Active PA speakers would be a better option.

Both of these types of systems often come with Class D amplifier sections. They also have speakers designed to provide a relatively transparent sound without unwanted tonal coloration.

But they are completely opposite of a Guitar Combo Amp or an Amp Head, which is designed to influence or shape the resulting sound.

The advantages of a powered speaker are that you generally get much higher power output than you get spending the same amount of money on a keyboard amp - you can get good 500W RMS powered speakers for less than a similarly spec'd keyboard amp - and you gain the added versatility of being able to use them as a PA speaker.

There are some disadvantages with powered speakers however, such as sometimes providing less tonal control (if that's something you want), you need two of them if you want stereo amplification, they don't always have multiple channels, and they don't have the same aesthetic appeal of a dedicated combo keyboard amp (in my opinion at least).

If you are considering the powered speaker option, as many keyboard players do these days, then head on over to our Powered PA Speaker Guide.


The more use you can get from an amplifier, the better value you get. Thankfully, most keyboard amps are versatile enough to work with other instruments, some more than others. As such, we've added actual user feedback regarding how well these keyboard amps work with non-keyboard instruments like acoustic-electric guitars, electronic drums, bass guitar, vocals, Saxophone, violins, and more. If you need a lot bottom end look for ones that either have 15" woofers, or that have an output for a subwoofer. Still there's no replacing the tube overdrive sound of guitar amplifiers, if that's what you need for your electric guitar. Keyboard amps are also quite good as an auxiliary speaker system, for plugging in media devices, even old ones if it has a CD input. They often have enough connectivity to be a good busking amp for keyboardists who sing. Because fo their full range design, small keyboard amps are viable studio monitors for recording.


If you play multiple keyboards at the same time, or if you have multiple sound sources you want to amplify then you need an amp which provides a separate channel for each sound source unless you are running them through a sub mixer before going into the amp. If you will be singing through the amp then you'll need one with an XLR input for each mic you intend to plug in. Note that keyboard amps don't usually provide phantom power so you won't be able to use most condenser mics with one of these unless you run them through a preamp first. Note that some keyboard amps have a separate Auxiliary channel - these can be used for backing tracks but don't always have the types of connectors needed for instruments (this helps prevent impedance mismatching). Another feature to look out for is independent EQ control, especially those with 5 band graphic EQ. Feedback detection and control are also good functions.

Bi-Amped Systems

Bi-Amped means that the keyboard amp uses 2 separate amplifiers internally where the high and low frequencies go through the crossover, where the two sets of frequencies are separated, before being separately amplified and then sent to the woofer and tweeter. The advantage of bi-amped systems is that they provide better clarity and separation for the high and low frequencies. The downside is that having 2 amplifiers tends to add some weight and cost.

Size & Weight

Try to get the lightest keyboard amp that has all the features you need and your back will thank you in the long run. This is imperative if you're going to be transporting it frequently to gigs or rehearsals. If you're just going to be using it in a then you don't need to worry too much about how heavy your keyboard amplifier is. Volume and projection of the amp will depend largely on how much power it has. Speaker size can also influence the resulting sound. Smaller speakers will tend to sound thinner, because of lack of lower frequencies, while the types of amps with big speaker sizes tend to sound boomy, with lots of low end.

Best Keyboard Amp Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2016. The current edition was published on May 19, 2024

We started by looking at all the keyboard amps priced under $1,500 at major US based retailers, and for this edition we ended up with a short list of 26 promising keyboard amps to produce ratings for - you can see them and their ratings in our Music Gear Database. Note that we only included full-range amps like the Motion Sound KP 612s. We also did not include keyboard subwoofer amps in this guide.

We collected feedback on each amp from store ratings, reviews and forum discussions to feed into the Gearank Algorithm which calculated rating scores out of 100 for each model - this involved processing over 4,600 rating sources. Finally, we selected the highest rated options in each price range above to recommend. To learn more about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

It's interesting how top rated keyboard amps are from manufacturers known for their reliability, namely Peavey and Roland. This shows that keyboardists care more about consistent performance and longevity over extra features. My personal favorite in this guide is the Peavey KB 2, a super reliable amp that works well in church settings.


Allen Articulo: Product Research, Co-Writer.
Alden Acosta: Additional Product Research.
Jason Horton: Illustrating.
Alexander Briones: Editing.


Main/Top Image: Compiled using photographs of the Peavey KB 2 and Roland KC-990.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers

42 thoughts on “Best Keyboard Amp to Take Your Performance to the Next Level”

  1. IMO a powered speaker is best for amplifying the various nuances of a keyboard. Keyboard amps are generally more bulky and heavier than a similarly equipped powered speaker. Plus I like the number of angles most powered speakers can sit on stage, allowing them to project to your ears as an on-stage monitor as well as send sound out to the audience. I play keys and LH bass in a rock trio and for me a pair of Alto TS310’s set apart on stage is all I need.

  2. Hello, your recommendations are great. Would you help me with the next question? I play the alto saxophone with condenser microphone through a small pedal mixer, with backing tracks, impedance adapter with effects loop for guitar pedals, delay, phaser, reverb, although sometimes I leave the effects aside. Based on your recommendations in the range of 600euros I doubt between the Roland kc-600 or the Roland BA-330. Which one would you recommend me? I agree that the aesthetics of the KC is beautiful, I only fear its behavior with guitar effects. The BA I find interesting the anti feedback, I read that it is better when more “air” it is needed(I suppose they refer to the high frequencies, which is important on the alto saxophone) although I tend to believe that the KC will sound with better “acoustic” quality. One has 30v and the other 200vv, without going into technical issues, the power will be similar? the price is almost the same here in Spain. Finally, do you think I will get an important improve of the my sound experience by going up to the 888 euros of an aspen pittman designs Spacestation V.3 or the 1650 euros of a hk elements Smart Base? Thank you so much!

  3. Strange question maybe, but I am a guitarist and have a Blackstar 40Watt. I have bought the Digitech Trio Plus band creator which is a bass and drum machine in a pedal. But the sound of the drums and specifically the cymbals and snare sound poor through the Blackstar. It is only for home usage. What would you advice as people say you need an keyboard amp….

    1. Guitar amps (with the exception of some acoustic guitar amps) are unsuitable for general use because they don’t faithfully reproduce the input sound – they’re designed to color the sound in ways that are specifically pleasing for electric guitars.

      If you want a good sound then you’ll have to get an appropriate type of amp such as a Keyboard Amp, Powered PA Speaker, or even a Drum Amp.

  4. I have been playing my Nord 4 through a Roland KC 550. It has plenty of power but the bass is off the charts. I have the bass set to 0 except when I use my clav sound and it still too boomy. I am feeling that I need a clearer and truer sound to the quality of the Nord. Not sure if I should be looking for a mixer and powered amp so I can control my different sounds ( I play organ, piano, electric piano, and clav at all my gigs). If i do the poweres amp thing, will I really miss the stereo sound? Cost wise if I need two amps I will be at the cost of a keyboard amp. Would the Motion sound ks500 be a viable option if i choose keyboard amp?

    1. I bought the Motion Sound K500S over 2 years ago. It’s still running strong after using it at well over 50 gigs. I usually run a Motif XS 8 through it. The amp perfectly captures all the nuances of the Motif’s great piano, organ and synth sounds. It’s plenty powerful by itself for small to medium gigs. For larger gigs, I use the stereo line-level outs on the amp and either run those through the house system or else through some of my QSC powered speakers (which are excellent keyboard amplification in their own right). What a sound! The amp also has a separate mono line-level out that can be used as needed. Yes, the amp is pricey. But you truly get what you pay for with Motion Sound. Seriously, this amp does NOT disappoint! Well worth the bread! My amp in particular has paid for itself several times over. In any case, look around on the web and you’ll be able to find a new one below the street price someone previously mentioned. Good luck and good gigging!

    2. There are a lot of good reviews for the Motion Sound KP-500S so that might be a good option for you, however I can’t say much more than that because it has a street price of $1300 and we’ve only researched sub $1000 keyboard amps in detail.

  5. Bring back the old Peavey KB 300, Black Widow equiped, with the knobs, not the sliders. Mine died 5 years ago. I am please with a pair of Thumps and a Mackie Mixer, but the Roland KC-550 is really the next best thing. I found the new Peavey KB 4 and 5 to be useless unless you use the powered out with a good speaker. But that defeats the purpose of the Keyboard amp.

  6. I’m currently playing the Hammond XB-2. Sounds great, never played hammond before and started to play it when I got in my father’s bluesband. What amp do you suggest ? I play at rehearsels through the PA together with my dad’s mic. aswell in small bars where we have our gig’s. I read that a stereo amp would be good for the Leslie. I’ve seen amp with woofers inside, but since I dont play any bass lines I really dont need that. I need something so that I can hear myself properly and not that we need to turn a speaker towards me in order to hear myself. (I had a lot of problems with my sound at our last performance). Hope you can give me a direction in what i’m looking for
    PS: pardon my grammar in English. This is not my native language.

    1. Years ago the two of us who founded Gearank recorded a couple of tracks with a session keyboardist who played a Hammond through a stereo distortion pedal into rotating Leslie speakers and the sound was awesome, both on the recording and later when we performed it live.

      Of course these days you can reproduce the Doppler effect electronically without the extra weight and mechanical issues of rotating speakers (they can be a bit noisy when recording), however you still want a good stereo amp to get the most out of your Hammond.

      I’m not sure why you would say you don’t need woofers because all combo keyboard amps have them and because a Hammond organ produces rich tones on the bottom end that benefit from woofers whether you play bass lines or not. What you probably won’t need is an additional sub-woofer – perhaps that is what you meant?

      I recommend you get a powerful stereo amp with 12 to 15 inch woofers, or two mono amps with stereo link if you want wide separation of the left and right channels. That would be something like 2 of the Behringer KXD12s or Roland KC-550s, or a single Roland KC-880.

  7. I’ve learned it depends on what kind of keys you are playing. A synth player may want more low-end than a Memphis-soul piano/organ player. I haven’t found anything cheap that is loud and not overwhelmed with low-end. KC-550 is like a bass amp in my opinion. Gotta spend big bucks for smaller two-ways with 8″ drivers that are fairly flat across the frequency spectrum. I’m looking at QSC K8.2 right now. I’ve been reading it will need a little sub-mixer to boost the gain from the keys.

  8. I’ve been using an Acoustic Image Coda R and/or a Barbetta Sona 41 Pro Combo for a wide variety of club gigs. (I also own a KC-550.) I have no idea how watts translate into SPLs when looking at the Aspen Pittman. I like the Barbettas for their flat response and SPLs in a lightweight box (I’ve owned three). I like the Coda R for a lightweight easy carry if the gig isn’t too loud. When I put them together as a stereo set….I have PLENTY of SPLs for a big rock gig (-:on a small stage:-). I think the KC-550 has too much woofer for a keyboard amp, and it’s tweeter craps out at certain high frequencies from an organ or Rhodes tone, and it’s not fun to lift. I’m in the market to buy something new….maybe the Ten2 from Acoustic Image, but the Coda R is NOT flat when the EQ is set flat, gotta do drastic low and mid cuts and engage the handy notch filter, so I’m not sure about that, but the design is pretty cool. Anyway…the Aspen Pittman shown here caught my eye, but the wattage seems low compared to what I’ve been using to fill the stage with sound. Again, I have no idea how the ‘advertised’ watts translates into SPLs. If memory serves, I think the Barbettas add up their multi-amped wattage…300W to the cones + 150 to the tweeter = 450!!!

  9. Hi Jason,

    I’m using Roland keys and acoustic guitar. I’m currently looking for keyboard amps for home/practice/gig use but still bit confused with some few options under $300 price range (behringer B112D powered PA speaker and behringer k450fx/k900fx). I would also appreciate if you could give some opinion on Laney keyboard amps or PA speaker.


    1. Hi RM,

      You’ll have to tell me specifically which options you are confused about before I can offer any advice that isn’t already presented in our gear guides.

      As for Laney – their keyboard amps and PA speakers haven’t had sufficient distribution in the USA to get past our short-listing process so we haven’t analyzed them in detail. You can see the few Laney products we have analyzed in our Music Gear Database.

  10. Jason
    I am looking for a small amp/whatever that will faithfully reproduce without distortion everything from flute to bass guitar from my roland gr55 guitar synthesizer. Perhaps you could suggest 2 or 3 units. Much thanks.

    1. Guitar synths are a bit of a tricky issue and ultimately it comes down to a combination of personal taste and what you want to sound the best.

      My advice is based upon the assumption that you’ll want to plug both the synth outs and guitar outs of the GR-55 into the same amp – so you need one with at least 2 channels.

      If you want to optimize for synth and bass sounds then one of the keyboard amps above would be best – particularly a stereo one given that the GR-55 offers stereo out for synth sounds. Depending on the power you need either the Roland KC-110 or the Roland KC-880.

      If you want regular guitar to sound good without compromising the synth sounds too much then I’d suggest the Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus, it’s also a stereo amp with 2 channels.

      Note that if you choose a keyboard amp and you find you have impedance miss-match issues with the guitar out on the GR-55, then you’ll also need to get a DI Box.

  11. Avatar
    Tom McMahon- Hore

    Hi Jason,
    Thanks very much for this shortlist.
    I’m a keyboardist/ synth player but I’m also using guitar, drum machine and singing. My intention is to busk with this act and due to the slightly unique scenario I am struggling to find the right bit of gear for my amplification- PA or amp. I’m up for using a battery and inverter, trolley if it will make for a better value and sounding system. Any advice much appreciated.

    1. Hi Tom,

      You didn’t say what the specific problems are that are causing you trouble finding the best solution, so I’ll make some assumptions about your needs and offer some advice based on that.

      • You’ll only be using this where typical busker volume restrictions apply
      • Your microphone does not require phantom power
      • You don’t need a stereo system – 4 mono input channels are all you need
      • You’ve already ruled out these types of portable PA systems
      • You don’t want any of the 4-channel keyboard amps listed above

      Battery powered option:
      Roland BA-330 – $599, 30-watts, powered by 8 x AA batteries or 12V A/C adapter.

      Mains powered option:
      Marshall AS100D – $700, 100-watts, 16 digital effects, tons of features.

      If you can provide feedback on what I got wrong in my assumptions, or why the two recommendations I made above are not suitable, then I may be able to offer more appropriate advice.

      1. Avatar
        Tom McMahon- Hore

        Hi Jason,

        Cheers. The main problem I’m having is all the variables and alternative solutions which are just getting me confused…

        whether to use a mixer or an amp with four channels, a PA or a keyboard amp. Trouble with AA batteries is with the drum machine and the Synth plus a pedal for delay/reverb on vocals if its not in the amp I will be getting through an awful lot of batteries- expensive unless I use rechargeables. If used frequently as I intend to- they can be quite poor in my experience- that may be outdated now. An internal battery as I’ve seen on some Pa’s or my own battery might be better?

        Ideally I’d like something small but if the sacrifice in sound quality is too much I will use a trolley- for something like the Marshall I would have to. I hadn’t looked at acoustig guitar amps because I thought the frequency coverage was not ideal for synths/bass?
        I was recommended the BA 330 but have read mixed reviews and it seems expensive compared to its competitors.

        I hadn’t ruled out the options above or in the portable PA article- I would love to spend a lot less on something like the Behringer MPA40. That portability is obviously a nice plus. I am going to Birmingham tomorrow to try a few but its quite a long way..

        I’m playing a combination of Songwriter stuff and EDM-
        Synth, Vocals(with reverb/delay- I do have a guitar pedal I think I could use with an impedance converter if necessary), Guitar, Drum machine and soon a looper. I want a nice amount of Bass and decent sound quality to rehearse at home and play in the street but yes don’t need any more volume than for a small gig or busy street corner… I’m not too sure how much power I need for this and just asking what you’d recommend as a solution from your experience…

        I’ve been recording atm but completely new to attempting to play this live and so its a big learning curve finding the best technical solutions and gear for it in a one man show!

        Thanks for your help,

  12. I’m new to purchasing amps and need one for my keyboard that will accommodate a large reception hall-type room of perhaps 1500 sq ft. I only need it for the keyboard but 1 additional channel would be a plus.

  13. I have used Roland amps and keyboards for years. Keyboards are great, amps, not so great. Durable, Yes. They tend to “color” the sound and are a bit on the muddy side. Not a big issue when the band is playing at “11”, but at low volumes very noticeable.
    I now use Nord keyboards with the Centerpoint SS-3.
    It is hands down, the best overall sound I can get.
    The Centerpoint SS3 is a curious amp. I would have NEVER ordered it, based on the specs, but I happed to walk into a venue one night and the keyboard player was using one.

    It was so impressive, I ordered one immediately. After gigging extensively and being very happy, I just ordered the “XL” version.

    A little pricey, but considering the money I’ve spent on my boards, why cheap out?

    1. I also bought a spacestation V3 hoping to get quality sound loud enough for gigging in bar/club venues, but still light enough to bring it up and down stairs where I have my practice music room at home. I also bought a Harbringer subwoofer to help out with the bass sounds. I also have quality keyboards (Montage 6, NORD 4, Hammond SK-1, and numerous analogue/digital synths) so I was willing to spend the money to get the quality sound. To be honest, I think I get just as good of sounds from my powered PA monitors (have both JBL and Harbringer) as the spacestation provides. I hear no replication of the stereo sounds we are supposed to hear and I think it struggles to get out the really full sounds my keyboards produce. No mention of Leslie amplifiers here (there is one under 1000 dollars). Any comments to this. I do like the larger Roland amps, but an older retired Army Officer like myself just cannot move those around. Any thoughts anyone? I live in the Wilmington NC area and would love to hear from any locals as well.

  14. I am a pianist with varied program: ragtime, classics, songs, jokes, stories, monologs, etc. What amps would suggest for this one man performance? Higher price ok.

    1. Hi Frank,

      The short answer: Roland KC-550.

      The long answer…

      I’m making the assumption that your keyboard amp will also serve as your PA system and you’ll be putting everything through it including vocals and backing tracks or break music, etc. I’m also assuming that you already have whatever effects units you need for your act.

      In this situation the Roland KC-550 stands out as your best option in my opinion because:

      • Most Importantly: It has established a reputation among professionals as a reliable roadworthy system. I personally did the detailed product research on the 16 amps that made our short list and the KC-550 stood well above all the other amps in terms of how many professionals recommended it. In this regard it totally eclipsed its nearest rival (in terms of features), the Behringer Ultratone KXD15.
      • Its 15″ woofer and 1″ tweeter will easily cover the range of frequencies implied by the list of material you provided above.
      • If you need to expand you can get a second one and they link together in stereo instantly doubling your output power.
      • It comes with casters – one of the little things that can make a big difference.

      I should note that the Behringer Ultratone KXD15, which is my second choice, does offer better price/performance on paper – and it has all of the features (except casters) of the Roland amp, but on top of that it also includes effects while the KC-550 does not. However, the Roland KC-550’s reputation with professionals gives it the advantage.

  15. Do you have an opinion on the Roland KC-880 vs the Yamaha DXR-15 (or DXR-12)? It looks to me like the latter gets great reviews for use in gigs (like the Roland, too). But the weight is very different. Your thoughts?

    1. Hi Bob,

      We don’t do research on head to head comparisons of this kind, but I can offer some personal observations which you may find helpful…

      Both the DXR15 and DXR12 powered speakers cost and weigh less than the KC-880 keyboard amp ONLY if you don’t need stereo, otherwise you’d have to get 2 powered speakers. The KC-880 also has 5 stereo input channels, including one which can take a dynamic mic, with a built-in mixer and effects – so you would also need to get a small mixer to go with 2 powered speakers to reproduce all the functionality of the Roland keyboard amp.

      But if all you want is a mono single input amp then powered speakers offer better value and they’re easier to lug around to gigs and rehearsals – as you probably noticed in the reviews, this is an option many keyboard players go for these days. Don’t forget that you can have a mono monitor on stage and send a stereo output to FOH if needed.

      I hope this helps,

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