Perhaps you have a keyboard amp. And you are wondering if you can use it for an electronic drum kit or if you actually need a new amp for it. Here is everything I learned on the subject after some hours of research.
You can definitely use a keyboard amp for electronic drums. Keyboard amps are an excellent alternative to drum amps. And that’s because they have a full range frequency response which makes them sound great from electronic drums. However, ideally, you want to use a drum amp.
If you are keen on using keyboard amps for your electronic drum kit, there are some things you should definitely consider when choosing one for your drums. And we’ll take a look at them later in the article. I’ll also talk about some alternative speaker options that are excellent for electronic drums. And then I’ll follow that up with some recommendations.
Now let’s talk about all of the reasons why it’s actually a good idea to use keyboard amps for an electronic drum kit.
Reasons to Use a Keyboard Amp for Electronic Drums
Why are some drummers choosing keyboard amps over drum amps for the e-drums? Let’s take a look at them.
Keyboard amps have a full-range frequency response.
Keyboard amps are made for keyboards (well, obviously). And as you may already know, keyboards can produce many different sounds. There are piano sounds, rhodes, organs, synthesizers, sampled instruments like strings, electric bass, guitars, and even drum kit sounds on keyboards.
For this reason, keyboard amps are designed to have a wide-range frequency response. This simply means keyboard amps can reproduce all of the sound frequencies between 20Hz and 20kHz, which is the frequency range of humans.
Keyboard amps are able to play back all of the frequencies of any sound that is run through them. And this makes them excellent for electronic drums.
Why do I say this? Let me explain
The drum is an instrument that covers the entire frequency range. The kick and the toms exist mostly in the low and mid frequencies, while the cymbals cover the high frequencies. And since keyboard amps have full-range speakers built into them, they are able to reproduce all of the frequencies. And they tend to give electronic drums a more natural sound as compared to other types of amps.
Keyboard amps are able to amplify your toms, kick and cymbal and make them sound punchy and brighter. This affords you the luxury of listening to yourself with pleasure and makes your playtime more enjoyable and productive.
Keyboard amps are cheaper.
Most often than not, the reason why some drummers go in for keyboard amplifiers (or amp for short) is due to the fact that it is relatively less expensive, as compared with dedicated electronic drum amps.
Keyboard amps are relatively more affordable than electronic drum amps. There are indeed amps solely made for electronic drums. However, these are quite expensive. Depending on the brand, some can cost as much as two to three times the price of the average keyboard amps, which can equally do the job for you). This is why many drummers go in for keyboard amps.
But don’t draw your conclusions just yet — continue reading!
Ideally, You Want to Use a Drum Amp
In an ideal situation, I’d recommend you choose a drum amp over a keyboard amp for your electronic drum kits. It is even more ideal to use one from the exact company which made your electronic drums. This means if you own an electronic drum kit made by Roland, if possible, you should get a Roland drum amp.
That’s because manufacturers usually calibrate their drum amps to sound more punchy and richer with their electronic drum kit sounds. However, you can still use one from a different manufacturer once it is compatible with your kit.
If you want a louder option, some of the best drum amps to consider are the Roland PM-100 (Amazon) or the PM-200 (also on Amazon). The Alesis Strike Amp 12 (Amazon) is also an excellent option for the stage.
The Alesis Strike Amp 12 was specifically made for electronic drum sets. It has a deep bass performance, clear mids, and highs as well. And it has little to no distortions at all, even when used at a high volume.
And although Alesis Strike Amp 12 can get really loud, it is lightweight, making it easy to transport. It is arguably the best on the market and very recommended for live performances since they are loud.
Even though the Roland PM-100 was specifically built for Roland’s V- drums, it can still comfortably be used with other compatible electronic drums. It offers a rated power output of about 80W. This renders it suitable for personal monitoring, privately or with the band, or even at gigs in small venues. But I honestly wouldn’t recommend the PM-100 for gigging, though.
The Roland PM-200 is a more powerful option with a power rating of 180W. This has a low-frequency drive, a 10-inch woofer, and a 1-inch tweeter, giving it a realistic sound quality for the kick, snare, and toms. Also, the 1-inch high-frequency driver handles the hi-hat and cymbals suitably, presenting a good overall sound output.
However, you must know that the thing is quite heavy (about 13.5kgs) and is around the same price as the Alesis.
Alternatively, You Can Use Powered PA Speakers
Powered PA speakers are also an excellent good alternative (and arguably a better choice) for electronic drums. It offers more than one input connection option.
This makes it so ideal for you to carry along to rehearsal venues, allowing other band members to connect to it and play their instruments through it. Active PA speakers will also have mic inputs as well as inputs. And this makes them a more versatile option.
And also, PA speakers are generally louder, meaning you can use them on stage with other band members and still be able to hear your drums. Depending on the PA speaker you go for, you can even use them in small to medium venues without the need to run it through a PA system. And your audience will be able to hear you clearly.
You can go in for Active PA speakers, which I recommend, or you could go with a passive PA speaker and amplifier combo. But that’s not very ideal since you’ll need two gears (speaker and amp) instead of one.
The only disadvantage with PA speakers is that most of them don’t have a good bass response. You may not have a bass deep enough to make your drum kick sound punchy. But this is not the case for all PA speakers. There are excellent PA speakers, which are great for electronic drums.
While I was researching this topic, one particular PA speaker that was recommended for electronic drums by many drummers is the Yamaha DXR 12 MKii (on Amazon). The DXR 12 MKii is attributed to have a more robust build and also is widely known to have a higher audio quality and cleaner sound.
It also has an exceptional bass response that makes it good for the kick drum, and overall it sounds crisp for an electronic drum set. The DXR 12 MKii is also loud enough for live performance. Overall, it is a versatile speaker you can use for just about anything — vocals, keyboards, and even electronic drums.
A much cheaper option of the DXR 12 MKii PA speaker is the Yamaha DBR12 (also on Amazon). They are similar in many regards, and you’ll get amazing results with this option as well.
Things to Consider when Choosing a Keyboard Amp for Electronic Drums
If you are still keen on sticking with a keyboard amp (or maybe, you want to buy one in the meantime), here are some things to consider.
A major thing you should look out for is the power rating of the keyboard amp. You should ask yourself, “What am I going to use the amp for?” because the intention matters.
While a personal practice amp may require about 50 to 60W for you to hear good sound sufficiently, it would be woefully unsuitable for playing with a band or for live performance.
If you intend to use the keyboard amp for live purposes, you should consider an amplifier with a power rating of 150W or higher. Amps with higher ratings are generally louder than those with a lower power rating. So keep that in mind.
One of the most frustrating things that could happen to a drummer is to hear marshy, dull, and muddy sounds from amps. In purchasing a keyboard amp for your electronic drum kit, you must consider the sound quality. You should not follow just the “name” of the product, as you may not necessarily like the quality you get.
Let your ears do the judgment, and weigh this against your budget as well.
Number of Inputs
The number of input channels of the keyboard amp is also something you should definitely consider. If you plan on using it for just your electronic drums, then one stereo input on the keyboard amp will be good enough.
However, if you plan to practice with a metronome or play along with backing tracks, you should consider getting a multiple-input channel keyboard amp. Most keyboard amps have multiple inputs, so this shouldn’t be an issue at all.
Best Keyboard Amps for Electronic Drums
Here are my two top picks for keyboard amps you can use for your e-drums.
It is no secret that Roland has been making great amps for a long time now. And the KC-200 comes as no exception to the legacy they have built over the years.
Roland KC-200 (on Amazon) features 4 line- input channels, an aux input channel, and allows for an XLR vocal mic. This makes the Roland KC-200 a versatile keyboard amp for many situations. Its 12-inch speaker is loud enough for gigs in small to medium-sized venues and sounds excellent for e-drums.
What I particularly like about the Roland KC-200 is its portability. It weighs about 41 pounds and doesn’t take up a lot of space. Regardless of its size, this is a powerful amp for the studio and on stage.
Behringer Ultratone K450Fx
Behringer is the go-to brand if you want to get a decent product that gets the job done at an affordable price. And the Behringer Ultratone K450Fx (on Amazon) is no exception. Firstly, I decided to recommend this because many drummers actually vouch for this amp for electronic drums. And secondly, they are cheap.
It features a 45W power section and a 3-channel powerful Public Address system. Each of the channels features its own volume and frequency send controls. This amp is ideal for practicing at home or rehearsing with a band. You can also use them in small venues. But I wouldn’t recommend this for a medium to large venue gig.
Some extra features some of you may love is the effects section of this amp. It has built-in reverb, delay, chorus, and other modulation effects. And then there is a 5-band EQ for shaping your sound however you want it.
Can You Use Any Amp for Electronic Drums?
Technically, you can use any amp for electronic drums. However, not every amp will sound great for electronic drums.
Sure, you can use any Amp. However, a Bass Amp will not give you high-end sounds for the cymbals. Neither will the low and high-end of the kick be provided sufficiently by a guitar amp. The best alternative to a dedicated drum amp is definitely a keyboard amp.
Keyboard Amps can indeed be used for Electronic Drums. However, you must know the exact type you want to go in for. This is based on the use you have for it, compatibility, budget. However, in the perfect scenario (all things being equal), using an electronic drum amp is the best way to go.
And you are even more encouraged to get one from the same manufacturer as your electronic drum kit.