Keyboard Amp vs Powered Speaker— Head-to-Head Comparison

Getting distortion-free keyboard sounds is like a dream come true for any keyboard player. Generally, keyboards are prone to sound distortions and regular hums, but investing in the right amplification will help ensure that your keyboard remains in tip-top performance. Keyboard amplification is especially helpful when you need to perform on a big stage as it helps boost the sound.

Keyboard amps and powered speakers are some of the most common options you can use to power your keyboard. Now you may want to ask, which is the best option between a powered speaker vs keyboard amp? Ideally, the two amplification methods are specially designed for use with just about any keyboard out there, and your keyboard is likely to accommodate either one or both amplification options.

For novice users, it can get quite overwhelming to choose between the two, considering that both methods are viable. If you’re in this kind of dilemma, we’ll help understand how the two differ to help you choose what’s best for your needs. Let’s get started!

Keyboard Power Amplifier

Overview of a Keyboard Amp

The design and working principle of a keyboard amplifier is almost identical to that of a standard amplifier. However, the former is specially designed to accommodate the unique challenges associated with keyboard sounds.

As we mentioned earlier, keyboards are susceptible to a plethora of sound issues that can prevent them from sounding their best on stage. In addition, keyboards often offer deeper bass notes than other musical instruments, and this can make them get lost, especially when combined with other instruments.

This is where the amplifier comes in to help your keyboard reproduce solid low frequencies notes, thereby resulting in crisps and accurate keyboard sounds. For this reason, keyboard amplifiers tend to be somewhat different from conventional home audio amplifiers, and they provide little to no distortion.

The best part about keyboard amps is that they provide several inputs, which allows you to use multiple devices using one amplifier. However, the amount of power delivered depends on the size of your amplifier and the number of instruments you need to power.

Powered Speakers

Understanding Powered Speakers

In the world of keyboard amplification, the term powered speaker is often confused with a conventional active speaker for obvious reasons. Just like a typical active speaker, a powered speaker features inbuilt amplification, meaning it does not require a separate amplifier.

In this particular scenario, a powered speaker act as an amplifier that you can use to amplify sounds coming from your keyboard. Generally, the entire process of sound amplification takes place inside the powered speaker, so you don’t need an external amplifier to run it. All you need to do is to connect the speaker directly to the keyboard, and you’re good to go.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of using powered speakers is their ability to run multiple devices at the same time. Most powered speakers come with several connection methods, including Bluetooth, USB ports, and other connection features that render them useful in multiple applications.

Keyboard Amp vs Powered Speaker- Differences and Similarities

While both powered speakers and keyboard amplifiers perform the same task of amplifying your keyboard signals, the two are miles apart when it comes to their design and functionality. In this section, we’ll delve deeper into the two audio devices to help you make an informed decision! Here are some of the important aspects you’ll need to consider;


Just as the name suggests, keyboard amps are specifically designed for use with keyboards. They are limited to keyboard applications, although you can use them to power similar musical devices such as mics, pianos, among others.

On the other hand, you can use powered speakers with just about any sound system as they are not limited to keyboard usage. Generally, powered speakers support typical sound reproduction applications, so you can connect them with any system to boost your sound.


Perhaps one of the biggest advantages that keyboard amplifiers have over their powered speakers counterparts is the ability to customize your performance. Most keyboard amps offer features such as voicing, tone control, and modeling, which help you perform at your best. Furthermore, with a keyboard amp, you can adjust the settings while performing, and at the same time, you can add more sounds as needed.

Feature-wise, there is very little you can do with a powered speaker without an audio interface. Although they do a great job when it comes to amplified signals, powered speakers tend to limit you, especially when you need to make some changes to the final sound output. So, if you need to play around with your keyboard sounds, a powered speaker may not be your ideal option.

Portability Aspect

Portability is an important consideration especially if you’re working with limited space. In general keyboard amps tend to be compact and lightweight, making them ideal for performers who are always on the move.

On the contrary, powered speakers are somewhat bulky since there’s a lot of engineering involved. Ideally, a powered speaker houses both speaker and amplifier system in one, so they are a bit on the heavier side.

Connectivity Options

On average, most keyboard amps come with between one to four channels to allow you to plug in several devices at a go. So apart from powering your keyboard, you run other small devices such as mics off the same amplifier.

Powered speakers, especially high-end models, remain undefeated when it comes to connectivity. A good number of powered speakers come with several ports that you can use to connect your keyboard, home theater systems, Karaoke speakers, PA systems, etc.

You’ll also like the idea that some speakers support wireless Bluetooth connectivity to help you minimize wire clutter. As such, if you’re after something that you can use for more than just keyboard applications, getting a powered speaker is worth your consideration.

Power handling capacity

The fact that powered speakers come with an inbuilt amplifier means that they are cable of delivering a large amount of power hassle-free. On average powered speakers can generate up to 1000 watts RMS or even more, which is more than enough to fill large spaces with sound.

On the flip side, keyboard amps are not the most powerful unit out there. In fact, it is not uncommon to find most keyboard amplifiers getting overshadowed by budget-powered speakers. That said, if you’re one of those people who enjoy playing loud or looking for something that can accommodate a huge crowd, a keyboard amplifier may not suit you.

Keyboard Amp vs Powered Speaker

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I require an amp if I have powered speakers?

No. Powered speakers come with an amplified installed already, so you don’t need to get an external one. You can connect your powered speaker directly to your keyboard player, piano, CD player, PC system, or even to a turntable.

Q: Can I connect multiple devices to a keyboard amp?

Yes. Some keyboard amps offer several channels to allow you to power several instruments simultaneously. This is especially useful for band performers who need to play similar instruments at the same time.

Parting Shot!

Ultimately, your final choice between a powered speaker vs keyboard amp will depend on several factors, including the number of instruments you need to power, desired features, and the type of function you need. If you’re looking for something versatile for your band performance, powered speakers are your best bet. Powered speakers support an array of musical instruments, and ultimately they are the perfect choice for large venues. On the other hand, if you’re after a customized experience or want something compact to use with your keyboard, buying a keyboard amp is the way to go.

Avatar for Jamie K. Martin

Jamie K. Martin holds a degree in Audio engineering from Husson University, Bangor. Martin spends most of his time testing and trying the technology he writes about to ensure that he provides first-hand information to our customers from all walks of life.

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