I was just lent a keyboard (a Korg SP-200) and would like to buy low-cost external speakers for it. What should I look for in speakers for a keyboard?
1I edited your question a bit as it was bordering on off topic. It would be useful to know what you want to do with it. Are you just playing at home?– yossarianDec 16, 2011 at 18:57
@yossarian Thanks, I tweaked further. Kathy, we don't accept shopping recommendation questions (see the FAQ) but the current version of the question should get you answers that will help you determine what fits your needs.– user28Dec 16, 2011 at 21:39
A keyboard like this creates a full spectrum of sound, and you don't generally expect your amplifier and speaker to add colour to the sound. The keyboard outputs stereo (or, optionally, mono) line level, unlike the much quieter "instrument level" that comes from a guitar.
As a result, you're looking for most of the same properties as a you'd be looking for in a set of speakers for a CD player or an MP3 player.
Whatever the output connectors on the keyboard are, you will be able to find adapters to make it fit any of the solutions below.
- PC speakers -- a pair of speakers and maybe a subwoofer, with a built in low power amplifier and a 3.5mm plug designed to go into a PC's sound card. They range from cheap and tinny sounding to more expensive and as good as a hi-fi
- A hi-fi -- just connect it up as if it were a CD player, or any other sound source.
- A powered PA speaker / keyboard amp. -- now we're approaching "gigging" territory. These look like guitar amps, but they're designed to have a full frequency response and not to distort the sound. They have the disadvantage of usually being mono. They have the advantage of being all in one unit. They range from small units that'll fill your living room with sound, to 4 foot high monsters that will fill a large hall.
I can concur on the PC speakers with a subwoofer. Depending on the particular set, you can even use them as a PA in a small space. I've performed live on iPad with a set of PC speakers with a subwoofer and been very satisfied with the results. Dec 29, 2011 at 20:50
Harman Kardon puts out a nice set which I think give a good spectrum spread. There's a separate subwoofer to support the sound; the negative is that it's not stereo -- not essential with the low end but still would be nice for that to be stereo, too. Also note that stereo placement is important for some kinds of sounds and for different reasons. In some cases it may play a role in the identity of the keyboard patch (a harpsichord may span R-to-L) and in others it may be useful for effects or separation (as in a bass-and-vibes sort of patch).– EpanouiAug 19, 2015 at 21:02
You need two things to be able to get external sound, an amplifier and a speaker. Often these will be combined.
In addition to budget, the other consideration is use. Are you planning on playing with a band? At home? How load does it need to be? How great does the quality need to be?
Assuming that you just want to practice at home, I would suggest one of two things:
- Plug it in to your home stereo. Your stereo almost certainly has some inputs that you can plug in to (probably RCA or 1/8th inch) and your keyboard probably has 1/4 inch output. All you need is an adapter to take you from one size to the other, and you are good to go. If you already have a stereo, you're done. You could also buy a cheap stereo, or even an ipod dock, just as long as it has some kind of input.
- Search for "Keyboard Amp" online. You can get one that is quite cheap (all things considered). This might be a bit more portable and will be designed for a keyboard. If you want to play with other people or travel with the keyboard, this may be easier.
3Another option to look for are a pair of small "studio monitors". These are powered loudspeakers with a built-in amplifier intended for listening at close distances. They are suitable for use at home. Dec 18, 2011 at 20:09
Most small speakers that sit at ear level do a poor job of reproducing the frequencies of the low notes. You may hear the bass notes, but they don't sound as rich and full as the signal being sent out of the keyboard. Thus it is essential to purchase speakers with a powerful subwoofer. Commercial keyboard amps have a bass speaker or subwoofer built in. Other kinds of speakers have the subwoofer as a separate component in its own cabinet that sits on the floor.
I would suggest if you have a budget for above $500, go for Bose L1 compact. You can find a used one around $600. If you have a tight budget and you only want to play at home or with some family/friends, then I would suggest Logitech Z623 sound system, which comes with two speakers and a subwoofer.
If you want to go at higher end, then you can get EV, JBL, Mackie or QSC loudspeakers (12 or 15 inches) (any of them you prefer) and pair them with subwoofers (12, 15 or 18 inches).