Speakers for live piano performance

Does anyone know about speakers for live music?

I'm an amateur jazz pianist, and I want to be able to perform high-quality acoustic jazz using a portable keyboard. For example, I'd like to be able to play at local coffee houses and restaurants, most of which don't own a piano but would love to have live music. The keyboard I'm using is a Kawai MP8, which I think has an excellent "acoustic grand piano" sound (when I listen to it through headphones).

My question is, what speakers should I use for performing?

I've tried the typical keyboard amps that rock bands use (Hartke KM series, Roland KC series), but they don't come close to achieving the warm, realistic piano sound I'm looking for.

I'm sure I could get more accurate sound reproduction using home/studio monitors, but I'm worried that those will be (1) too near-field (not intended to be heard more than ~20 feet away) and (2) too fragile (not intended for being bumped into and tripped over and transported around).

So I think that leaves PA speakers. I just bought a pair of QSC K8 speakers, and they sound excellent above middle C but rather thin and muddled below middle C.

How can I do better?
Merlins would be great.I wish you could hear it right now.Playing Miles Davis"Kind of Blue".Not sure who the PP is but its like he's in the room,good luck,Bob
I use a Kawai digital piano at home and found that a sub/sat works best. My set-up wouldn't be appropriate for your needs, but a smallish sub and your pair of (I assume) powered monitors might do the trick.

Good Luck


PS Try to demo Ivory or Virtual Steinway or similar software. As much as you like the acoustic grand sound that you're getting now, you might be surprised at just how good these hypersampled emulation packages sound.
ATC PA 65's will do the job but you are talking mega-bucks and back breaking work to move them.

I would be cautious about using home hi-fi speakers or studio mini-monitors for this task - if you happened to get aggresive on the keyboard then you might blow them up real easy - anyway they will distort so easily that you are unlikely to impress anyone.

A cheap alternative (with lots of bass power and a nice portable package) might be a Roland PM30 drum monitor - it will certainly get you loads of room filling bass and dynamics - enough for small venues. However the sound is nothing like the quality you can expect from the PA65 which is installed in high end venues often along with a bunch of subwoofers for dance and jazz clubs.

If you want "realistic" grand piano sound then you you'll need 110 db SPL capability and I am not aware of any portable home hi-fi speakers that can do that.
I am a keyboard player in NYC -
Check out the Motion Sound stuff-
It is a cut above- (made here as well).
Sorry for not reading your post through properly.Forget what I said.There are some good idea's being mentioned by those who know,good luck,Bob
Conventional home audio speakers do not work well for prosound. One problem is the radiation pattern; in a pro audio setting most of the listeners are in the farfield, where the "power response" (summed omnidirectional response) of the speaker dominates the perceived tonal balance. Relatively few home audio speakers are designed to give high priority to the power response, so they don't sound very good in a sound reinforcement or musical instrument speaker application.

Also, the piano is a percussion instrument and relatively few home audio speakers can really convey that at prosound volume levels. There are exceptions of course, but in general those are home audio speakers that use prosound-type drivers.

Following up on Audiokinesis, take a look at Meyersound dot com.
They make excellent spkrs, mostly pro. They are expensive -- but you can easily rent them in the beginning. As Audio- notes above, percussion is difficult to reproduce well, let alone loud!
Here's a better website to ask this question. From the few threads I've read it seems like they know what they're talking about.
I would add that if this were at all easy or cheap to achieve in a realistic manner then there would be no need to buy grand pianos (except for their aesthetic beauty).
Danley makes some excellent loudspeakers and they are well versed in directivity.

I would also seriously consider Pi Speakers. The 4pi would be phenomenal for piano and they can be made to be as robust as you want for gigging. Plus, directivity is his modus operandi. You could even make them yourself and paint them to match your keyboard or have them covered with something durable like Rhino Lining or something along those lines. They would be an excellent setup with a small rack to hold your power amp or a small powered mixer.
Good Luck!
Check out Westlake audio or Pmc professioal. westlake would be my first choice
I paid a quick visit to their website and it looks like QSC has a subwoofer designed to mate with your K8s. Unless your issues extend upward beyond the lowest full octave on the keyboard, this is the first fix I would try.

The Barbetta keyboard amps sound like studio monitors. In my youth, I actually used them for a hifi system, albeit augmented by a Yorkville sub. The trick to really getting the sound is to use two of them in stereo. I promise you will be satisfied. As an added bonus, they are compact and relatively light.
Playing Miles Davis"Kind of Blue".Not sure who the PP is but its like he's in the room

Not sure if you said this is jest but, if not, the PP is the great Bill Evans. You should explore his vast library was well as Miles'. Oh yeah, the sax player on Kind of Blue is somewhat famous too :).
Yes,somewhat famous too!Didnt want to hijack but wanted to respond lightly,what a crew!!Cheers,Bob I guess I could add I've used KRK System speakers to good effect,good luck.
Thanks for the link to gearslutz.com, Timrhu. Asking there is a good idea.

Martykl's suggestion to try the QSC KSub sounds very reasonable, but I'm wondering --- since my K8 speakers start to sound thin and muddled below 440 Hz, and the KSub has a frequency range (-10 dB) of 44-148 Hz, doesn't that mean adding that sub (or any sub) won't improve the 150-440 Hz range by much? If so, then I need to try something else.

Could EQing help improve that low-mid range? Or do I need to return/sell the K8s and explore other options (like the ones suggested above)?
Following up on Audiokinesis, take a look at Meyersound dot com.
They make excellent spkrs, mostly pro

I second the Meyer idea - a friend of mine has them in his studio - awesome speakers.

If your issue really extends up into the octave below middle c (when you said below middle c, you didn't specify how far below), then I doubt that the sub is the answer.

In my case, the issues were more centralized in/below the lowest full octave on the keyboard. One idea:

Make sure you've tried your existing set-up in several different environments before concluding that you've nailed the specific characteristics of the problem. In this frequency range, the room is (almost) everything.

Good Luck,

I do piano gigs with my roland rd-700, and get great sound with a pair of Mackie SRM-450's. These have loads of very clean power, and simulate, in a large room, the sound you can get on your headphones. Their weakness is probably the low bass--they have quite a bit of bass but it doesn't extend quite as low as an acoustic grand piano. Still I find them sufficient. They are easy to carry around, can be positioned in multiple ways depending on your setup. With two, it is easy to use one as a monitor and the other facing out into the room. If you want to go smaller for a gig, you can get by with one. You probably need quarter-inch to XLR adapter cables. If you also want to use a mic or another keyboard, you need to add a small mixer as the Mackie's only have one input. At that point you basically have a PA system.
I have a very good hi-fi stereo setup at home, and when I play recorded music through the Mackie's the sound quality compares well to the stereo (and they were much less expensive). Most dedicated keyboard amps, in my opinion, are not worth considering. They just don't sound that good, are heavy and clunky, and not as flexible.
Yorkville Sound in Toronto. The Unity speakers would probably give you what you're looking for. Size and price might be an issue but they are pro sound gear and there may be a powered version. Your keyboard carries the potential to spike any driver so a limiter of some sort would be a good call.