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Keyboard Amplifiers & Monitors

Buying Guide: Instrument Amplifiers
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A great amplifier or monitor is the key to making the most of your electronic keyboard. With the right preamp and speakers, you'll have the frequency response you need to get the full impact out of every note and the clarity for faithful reproduction of every effect your keyboard supports. Your speaker system can be as portable or as powerful as you need it to be, depending on what equipment you choose. Keyboards are versatile instruments, and taking full advantage of what they can do sometimes requires pairing them up with specialty monitors. If you're an organist, for example, you'll likely be taking a close look at rotary speakers. These specialized woofers are designed to deliver ultra-low-frequency sounds that conventional woofers simply can't handle, and they're an essential for reproducing the deepest pipes on a conventional organ. A rotary speaker can also be an amazing asset for a pianist or effects keyboardist, with many models balancing the extreme lows with a good horn to put out strong treble as well. The result is a frequency response range that makes an electric organ incredibly realistic. On the lighter side, it's hard to beat a combo amplifier for general-purpose use. Combo amps are compact and portable, easy to pack in your trunk for rehearsal or in the van when you head to an out-of-town gig. When picking out a combo amp, keep an eye on the speaker and preamp configurations to choose a model that offers the soundstage you're looking for. Just like any type of amp, keyboard monitors come with one of two possible preamp varieties: solid-state or vacuum tube. Your preference between the two is just as personal as any other gear decision you make, with solid-state preamps generally getting the nod for reliability and tube systems appreciated for their rich, warm tones. As a keyboardist, you may opt for solid-state to get clear, distortion-free piano reproduction or tubes to create an antique effect with an organ or other specialty sounds and effects. No matter your tastes, it's undeniable that your amplifier or monitor is a huge part of your keyboard's overall sound. Before you choose a system, you should make sure that you know exactly what features and characteristics you're looking for. When you've determined what you need, narrowing your options down to a final choice is a much easier process.

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