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#1233401 - 07/18/09 01:46 PM Speaker solution
Zulock Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/17/09
Posts: 2
Loc: Oregon
Hello, I'm new here but have been reading everything I can about speakers/amps for keyboards. I recently bought a Yamaha CP-33 and now have the cash to buy sound components. I started off looking at "keyboard amps" but after a little more research on this board and others it seems that the overwhelming consensus is that keyboard amps are not the way to go. Most everyone seems to be going with powered PA speakers, which to this audio newb would seem to be a speaker/amp/mixer in one...sort of. So, I've narrowed it down to a few options, but still have some questions. The keyboard is sampled in stereo, and from what I've read it sounds like playing a stereo sampled keyboard through a mono system doesn't sound great. Does this mean I simply need to buy a pair of speakers and have the left output going to the left speaker and the right output to the right speaker, or is there more to it than that? Like I said, I'm very new to the technical audio side.

Basically I have it narrowed down to the EV Xsa360, which I'm thinking I could only afford one of, or something from the JBL EON series, which I could probably get two of for stereo.

In terms of use, they will be used for a home practice/studio initially, but eventually would be gigging with them. I play mostly jazz, but everything else too. My budget could go up to $1500, but would prefer to stay around $1000.

Thanks!!

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#1233412 - 07/18/09 01:58 PM Re: Speaker solution [Re: Zulock]
pianonewb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/09
Posts: 221
Loc: No. Va.
Welcome to the forum! For around the home, if you have a good stereo, you could run L and R output to the auxiliary or any other input(Tape, CD, etc.)and play through that. I've done it and it works well, provided the stereo is a decent one.
For gigging, MHO, you could do as you suggest and run powered speakers off the L and R line outs of the DP. I would personally prefer a small P.A., as I think that it would be much more versatile. But most of the powered speakers have at least one mic input and some type of e.q., so it comes down to personal preference. The advantage of a small p.a. instead of powered speakers is, again, MHO, if the power amp goes out in the powered apeaker, you chuck the whole thing. If a non-powered speaker goes, you simply replace it, at roughly half the cost. Also, a small 6 channel p.a. head and 2 speakers takes about the same amount of set up time (10-15 minutes), but you can do so much more with it. Also, the powered speakers are much heavier than either their non-powered brethren, or a seperate small head. Depending how old you are/how good a shape your back is in, that makes a difference as well. MHO.
_________________________
Mike
Casio Privia PX 120

The only thing nescessary for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.


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#1233621 - 07/18/09 11:32 PM Re: Speaker solution [Re: pianonewb]
Bob M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/02/09
Posts: 208
Loc: North Carolina
Zulock,
Playing a stereo sampled DP from the L(mono) out is a big red flag for me. I have tried to do this with a Roland FP-5 into the already crowded mixing board of our church sound system and the DP sounds like c____. And it doesn't sound any better as a mono feed to a Peavy keyboard amp. Like you, I remember some discussion of this, and would like to read more. How do sound techs bring a stereo DP into the mix in a live sound situation?
Do you have a nearby Guitar Center? They hook some of their better stage pianos to M-Audio powered monitors (70 watts each, R & L). You might want to see how that kind of a set-up sounds to you. For my practice, I use an 80 watt Cambridge Soundworks 2.1 "multi-media" system which sounds great to me--solid bass, clear highs, for all of $140 online. If my home stereo was in the same room, I would have used it, as suggested above. My HO, stick with stereo and avoid Public Address gear, which is designed for speech, not music.
_________________________
Bob M

Charles Walter Model 1520
Yamaha NP 30, NP 11, PSR E333

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#1233735 - 07/19/09 09:26 AM Re: Speaker solution [Re: Bob M]
MarkL Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/07
Posts: 728
Loc: Chicago Suburban
I happened to have a very good stereo when I bought my DP, so as other posters suggested, I run my DP through the stereo. I originally had just 2 speakers for the stereo, but it's designed to do surround sound, so I bought 2 more good speakers, played with positioning things around the room, and it really sounds great. You don't say if you have a software piano, given the budget you mention, you could probably buy a good software piano and a good stereo (if you don't already have one). I think the software piano adds more to my personal enjoyment when I play than the stereo itself. Of course if you plan to perform, you need to go with some kind of amp and/or speaker setup that is portable.
_________________________
Yamaha P90

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#1233761 - 07/19/09 10:56 AM Re: Speaker solution [Re: MarkL]
Zulock Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/17/09
Posts: 2
Loc: Oregon
Thanks for all the input! My options keep growing!! I do have a decent stereo and if I'm dying to take off the headphones I hook it up, but it's in another room and really isn't a permanent solution, though it sure sounds better than through my headphones! I'm starting to like the idea of separate speaker/mixer/amp system, if I could ever figure out what I was doing~

Part of the reason I posted is because the retail options where I live are minimal. There is a Guitar Center about 2.5 hours away (where I got the CP-33) and will be moving there in the fall, but for now my options to test things out are pretty limited.

I very much appreciate all of the feedback, being new I wasn't quite sure what kinda of a response I might generate. Thanks again!!


Edited by Zulock (07/19/09 10:56 AM)

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#1234024 - 07/19/09 10:31 PM Re: Speaker solution [Re: Bob M]
pianonewb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/09
Posts: 221
Loc: No. Va.
Originally Posted By: Bob M
..... How do sound techs bring a stereo DP into the mix in a live sound situation?


Most decent boards have a few stereo channels, with L&R 1/4 inch inputs that are grouped around a single volume fader. The small head that I use does not, so I just plug the left into one channel and the right into another. Works fine, but you have to adjust the volumes of both channels independently.
_________________________
Mike
Casio Privia PX 120

The only thing nescessary for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.


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#1234116 - 07/20/09 05:27 AM Re: Speaker solution [Re: pianonewb]
DavidKitazono Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 65
Zulock,

Having worked in recording studions and played music live for many years, IMHO I would suggest two systems. One for live performances such as Roland's KC-series, a range of amps from small and easily portable to a stereo combo amp (KC-880) with twin 12" speakers and tweeters with over 300 watts of power. As mentioned above, JBL's EON speaker line is very nice, too.
Both brands give you plenty of features, sound great, and have proven themselves for years on the road under professional use.

For home use, with a digital piano, and for a project studio, I would choose a nice set of powered near-field monitors. These type of speakers are used by engineers and producers to record and mix the tracks that go into a recording, so as a group, they have a neutral, uncolored sound, with good sonic detail and a wide frequency response. However, just like the various brands of DPs, each has a distinct sound which may or may not be to your liking, so please be sure to audition them carefully with recordings you are familiar with. Prices range from about $150 to way more than several thousands of dollars each. The great thing about powered monitors is the manufacturer has designed the speakers and amplifier to work synergistically together, so you don't have to worry about the speakers and amplifier being mis-matched.

For under $1,000 per pair, you can look at brands such as JBL, B&W, KRK, M-Audio, Yamaha, etc. If, by chance, you want to invest more money into your monitors, I have heard great things about the French Focal line of studio speakers (Twin6 Be, Solo6 Be, etc.).

Please keep in mind that studio monitors require a "breaking-in" (playing at a moderate volume level) period, so they will sound a tad different straight out of the box.

For an extended low-end, you can usually add a matching powered sub-woofer to your set of near-field monitors.

Trying to have one system perform well under both live and home studio conditions involves too many compromises. Personally, I would determine which area is a prioity for me and spend my money in that area, and then save up for the other.

One thing to keep in mind is that often, keyboards are plugged directly into the house public address system, so a keyboard amplifier/speaker combo is not necessary. Normally, the house will also provide monitors, either in-ear or floor speaker wedges, so you can clearly hear yourself over the other musicians.

In a pinch, for a live gig, borrow an amplifier from your guitarist! Many have more amplifiers than they know what to do with!

Guitar Center does have a good selection of both the keyboard amplifiers and studio powered monitors, so a visit is well worth the drive.

Check out Sweetwater.com, a bricks and mortar, and online retailer. They have a great online catalog, with much information on keyboard amplifers and powered monitors, among other things. I have also found their customer service folks to be very knowledgeable and helpful.

Check out Mix magazine for reviews on studio monitors and various other equipment.

Good luck in your musical endeavors and search!

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#1234721 - 07/21/09 10:03 AM Re: Speaker solution [Re: DavidKitazono]
gdguarino Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/07
Posts: 317
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: DavidKitazono
Zulock,

Having worked in recording studions and played music live for many years, IMHO I would suggest two systems. One for live performances such as Roland's KC-series, a range of amps from small and easily portable to a stereo combo amp (KC-880) with twin 12" speakers and tweeters with over 300 watts of power. As mentioned above, JBL's EON speaker line is very nice, too.


I use an EON15 G2 . I really don't like any keyboard amps, and you've mentioned the reason above. Keyboard amps, presumably to keep the price down, have woofers and tweeters, but no way to accurately reproduce the high mid frequencies that make up so much of what we play.
Originally Posted By: DavidKitazono

One thing to keep in mind is that often, keyboards are plugged directly into the house public address system, so a keyboard amplifier/speaker combo is not necessary. Normally, the house will also provide monitors, either in-ear or floor speaker wedges, so you can clearly hear yourself over the other musicians.

I have to disagree here. Most of the time my band brings our own sound system. But for maybe 15 gigs a year we are left to the tender mercies of outside sound companies. For me, the benefit (not having to carry my EON) is greatly outweighed by the downside (not having control over the sound that I hear).

All too often the on-stage sound is an afterthought, or no thought at all. Even with a skilled crew (which can hardly be taken for granted), there is generally not enough setup time to get things right beforehand, and no time to correct it during the show. With a powered speaker that is just for my instrument, I can tweak it myself as necessary. Further, having the vocals coming from a different box allows me to use my ears' natural ability to discriminate among sounds arriving from different directions.
Originally Posted By: DavidKitazono

In a pinch, for a live gig, borrow an amplifier from your guitarist! Many have more amplifiers than they know what to do with!

Ouch! That would have to be a pretty tight pinch indeed.

I strongly recommend a powered PA speaker. JBL, Mackie and others make good choices.
_________________________
Greg Guarino

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#1235171 - 07/22/09 01:53 AM Re: Speaker solution [Re: gdguarino]
DavidKitazono Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 65
Greg,

I agree with you. Like speed, sound quality is often just a matter of money.

If at all possible, and you can afford it, it is always best to bring your own equipment to live gigs. I am dating myself, but the Grateful Dead used to tour with their own HUGE PA system comprising of JBL speakers in I believe Bag End cabinets, and refigerator size racks of McIntosh power amps. They were way ahead of their time.

Unfortunately, it is all to true about un-skilled live sound engineers, and inadequate set up time. I heard one gig where the sound board person was a wedding DJ, so his mixes (!!!) had an over-powering BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, and not much else!

When I was in my first junior high school band, one guitarist (me), the keyboard player, bass guitar, and vocals, all plugged into one small Plush PA amplifier with two blue metalflake tuck and roll padded cabinets. The other guitarist had his own Fender Champ amp with a single 8" speaker. The mixing was done by whomever was closest to the PA amp knobs. The good old days!

One thing I observe many digital piano players don't pay enough attention to is their monitors and playback system, along with room acoustics. If the sound and very subtile nuances a mid to high level DP can produce is important to you, it is essential to have equally high end monitors to bring out the true sound the piano can reproduce. Unfortunately, powered monitors that can do this cleanly, with a neutral wide-frequency response, and excellent imaging are expensive, very often much more than most people spend on the DP itself.

Also, once external speakers/monitors are involved, you have to pay attention to room acoustics and monitor placement for optimum results. Tomes have been written on this subject. Of course you can spend tremendous amounts of time and money creating the ideal sonic space for your DP, but doing things such as experimenting with speaker placement (closer/further from the walls and corners, toe-in/out, stand height, etc.), re-arranging furniture, adding/removing rugs, drapes, window treatments, etc., can have a real impact on how the DP sounds.

The quality of the connectors and cables will also influence the sound quality and reliability of the DP. Buy the best studio-quality connectors and cables you can afford. Mogami, Belden, George L's, and several other companies make excellent interconnect cables. Neutrik, and Switchcraft make good quality, afforable connectors.

Personally, I don't find spending thousands of dollars on a couple of "audiophile quality" cables made with "unobtainium" metals/alloys worth it. Studio quality is good enough for me.

Treating all of your connections with DeOxIT Gold contact cleaner/conditioner annually will ensure the electrical and sonic integrity of all your connections, and make sure you get every bit of sound you pay for. Dirty or corroded connectors will definitely degrade the sound and reliability of your equipment. Since contact corrosion starts at a molecular level, even seemingly clean-looking connectors could be a problem and degrade your sound.

Don't forget about protecting your equipment investment from AC power surges, transitent spikes, brown-outs, power ripples, etc. Purchase a good AC line conditioner/surge protector. Companies such as Monster, APC (UPS systems), and Surgex (my favorite), make excellent, affordable protection. Some companies offer an insurance policy to replace any equipment damaged by AC-related conditions. Avoid cheap AC surge protectors sold at many discount stores.

And you thought acoustic pianos have a lot of foibles and things you have to pay attention to!

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#1235365 - 07/22/09 12:13 PM Re: Speaker solution [Re: DavidKitazono]
Chopin Liszt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/02/09
Posts: 37
Originally Posted By: DavidKitazono
Don't forget about protecting your equipment investment from AC power surges, transient spikes, brown-outs, power ripples, etc. Purchase a good AC line conditioner/surge protector. Companies such as Monster, APC (UPS systems), and Surgex (my favorite), make excellent, affordable protection. Some companies offer an insurance policy to replace any equipment damaged by AC-related conditions. Avoid cheap AC surge protectors sold at many discount stores.

Most surge protection devices offer little or no protection (and not just the discount-store junk).

Many of them offer no protection against common-mode transients, which is the commonest threat. Even among those that offer common-mode protection, the MOV devices used will degrade each time they absorb a transient, eventually leaving you with no protection at all ... but with no indication of the loss.

For home use, surge protectors are seldom necessary. They offer false comfort, but no little real benefit. And the million dollar warranties aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

For on-the-road/stage use, power sources can be much "dirtier", so protection is worthwhile. Be sure to use quality equipment.

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#1235590 - 07/22/09 07:46 PM Re: Speaker solution [Re: Chopin Liszt]
DavidKitazono Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 65
I use Surgex SEQ/2120 surge eliminators/power conditioners on all my professional and personal installations. Knock on wood, it has been years since one of my racks has suffered power-related damage. I know they work because, I've been in venues where a lightning storm blew out equipment, but my racks -- protected by the Surgex SEQ -- was undamaged.

Point well taken about MOV's. The Surgex SEQ and 2120 do not use MOV or MOV-hybrid devices, and are completely non-sacrificial. This is one of the reasons I use them.

Personally, I've found power sources to be "dirty" and fluctuate no matter where I am -- home, stage, city, country, etc... It just is the nature of the beast, and why I use protection on all my equipment.

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#1235681 - 07/22/09 11:09 PM Re: Speaker solution [Re: DavidKitazono]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2223
Loc: Sydney, Australia
I usually use headphones with my DP, but I find that hi-fi bookshelf speakers at head level, combined with a subwoofer, produces a pretty good result. I had started off using much larger speakers placed each side of the piano, but I soon realised that I was missing out on a lot of the sound that way.
Yes, nearfield monitors would be better, of course.

Greg.


Edited by sullivang (07/22/09 11:11 PM)

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