Most digital pianos come with built-in speakers which are more than enough for every kind of player. These pianos can also be heard through earphones for silent playing. But a lot of digital piano models don’t have built-in speakers. Some of them may have them but as a player you might be looking for better or louder sound quality… This situation demands that you get your own set of speakers to amplify the sound. This may seem like a disadvantage when it comes to space and cost but this also means that it is now at your disposal to decide what speakers to get which will directly result in how loud and how rich your instrument can sound. If you have some extra $ then you can buy really good speakers that will alleviate the sound quality and your playing experience in general.
Speaker technology has continued to amaze users over the past 20 years with incredible developments that translate into great end-user benefits. Speakers don’t just amplify the sound and make it louder. You need them to monitor your playing and it is important that you get the right sound to play perfectly.
Here are some considerations before you buy external speakers for your digital piano –
- Define your needs accurately before you go hunting the market. There are lots of deals out there that will try to entice you to go in for the overkill. What good are huge speakers if all you want to do is hear yourself playing in your living room? Speaker size, room size, weight, portability, budget etc. are some of the things you should define before you start looking.
- Research and read reviews. You can also watch online video demonstrations and video reviews of products by stores or experts.
- Stay away from keyboard amps if you want to hear the pure sound of your instrument as they may color the sound. If you spent a lot of money on a digital piano, you can be assured that it will sound good without the need for external equalization.
- How do you check the sound quality of speakers in a store? Take your favorite piano song CD or maybe even something you’ve recorded on your piano and play it from the speakers at the store. That should be a start…
But what options do you have? Given the nature of the sound of a digital piano, you can either opt for amplifiers, monitors or PA system speakers which are capable of handling the richness of the sound. There are three directions for you to venture in –
Keyboard Amplifiers are NOT the same as guitar amplifiers. Digital Pianos are full range instruments and the guitar, bass or any other general amplifier won’t be able to do justice to the sound. Even keyboard amps, for that matter, are the least recommended option of the three choices because they are mostly mono which won’t suffice to give you the right sound for a digital piano. You do get high-end speakers (like the Roland KC-100) which have a main driver and tweeter but that will cost a lot more.
Speakers aren’t that bad an option either. This is a good choice for people on a budget because you can obtain some hi-fi speakers from the 90s for dirt cheap in the used market. If you do so, you should try and get your hands on high quality ones. Depending on the build, you may or may not get the best possible sound from your instrument. You will also need to have an ear for mixing to tweak the sound until it sounds just right.
Studio monitors are compact, sleek and provide good uncolored sound that can be great for monitoring your playing. They are ideal if you want close-up listening and how a small or medium sized space. Another advantage of studio monitors is that you may be able to wall mount them or get stands that can be neatly placed behind your digital piano. The drawback, however, is that you may need to buy a sub (sub-woofer) to get a complete sound especially the low end. This can add a few hundred dollars to the cost which makes this possibly the most expensive option out of the three. Just a pair of studio monitors can cost $200 and upwards. This doesn’t include the cable, stand and sub. Mackie, Yahama, KRK etc. are some well-known names in the active studio monitor industry.
Here are some tips to get the best sound from your external speakers –
- Height is key. Make sure that you speakers are facing towards you when you are playing and also ensure that they are at ear level.
- Make minor adjustments in the direction they face and height until you are satisfied with the sound you are hearing when you play.
- Don’t spend mindlessly on brands or large speakers – buy only what you need. Bigger isn’t better but bigger can certainly wake the neighbors.
- If your speakers are rattling or making a distorted/jarring sound when you play the lower notes then you need to reduce the volume or replace them with something more powerful.
- You need a minimum of 8-inch model if you are going for the studio monitors because the 5-inch’ers may be lacking in low end reproduction.
Hopefully this post will help you with finding the right external amplification for your instrument. As always, trust your ear and know your budget when you go looking for the right set of speakers. Be careful about the placement of the speakers and if you are placing them on your piano or above it then make sure that you don’t damage/scratch your instrument. Take the required precautions by placing foam, thermocol or a mat to avoid scratches. Another post, at a later stage, will attempt to post some amplifiers or studio monitors with brief reviews that would be great for digital piano amplification.