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Grant McK

What I did to get decent budget stage sound for a minimal price was to pick up a couple of Behringer B205d powered speakers and a 6 channel Peavey mixer. The B205d's have only a 5" speaker but I was surprised at how good they sounded and how much volume they put out. No problem hearing myself over the band volume. I have two keyboards (Motif XS & Korg Krome) so the Peavey mixer allows me to mix both the keys and send a separate left and right signal to each of the B205ds (using the mixer control room out with volume control) as well as left and right key signals to the FOH using the main out (with volume control). I also use a 1/4" stereo line from the mixer headphone jack to send a stereo signal to my small Rolls in-ear amp in order to add extra keys to my in-ear mix (using the Rolls in-ear mixer volume control). You need a couple of cheap straight mike stands to mount the B205d's on, I place mine in front of the keys. Cost around $600 bucks for everything - the speakers are robust, super light, and you can pack it all away in a small bag.


Very helpful, thank you so much. And at last somebody who knows about the problem to get a good acoustic piano sound on the stage.


Hi Chuck,

I really appreciate all your advice above. I use mainly a NS2 and I'm saving up for a powered speaker or two. Trying to decide which one and your thoughts are very helpful. Two questions: 1. when you resort to mono in a small venue, how di you avoid/minimize phase problems with acoustic piano samples, etc.? Do you use the mono setting on the Nord or sum the left and right signal or use just the left or right? 2. Do you have any optional setup with your powered speaker(s) that involves running your keys direct 1 channel of your K12 and using another channel of the K12 as a monitor from the main board so you can hear the house mix in your monitor? The K12 and the Yam Dxr12 both have 3 channels so I thought there may be some interesting options. Thanks!

Chuck Hollis

Hi Kevin

1. I don't resort to mono in small venues, really. I either use a pair of self-powered PAs, or the newer CPS SpaceStation v3 (mentioned elsewhere on this blog, or go see the monster thread at Keyboard Corner). All of the Nords have a mono setting, which I would presume mixes the L+R without phase issues.

But I don't like mono sounds :)

2. If I need to hear house sound, I simply add it as an input to my small mixer. A low-cost small mixer gives you all sorts of control and flexibility. A slightly more expensive mixer gives you an AUX send for your keys, so you can send your keyboard signals to FOH without re-sending the house mix.

However, if I didn't have a small mixer, then yes I could use the 2nd channel of the K series -- it'd work fine as both levels are adjustable.

If you play a lot smaller gigs, and like stereo, go check out the SpaceStation v3, either with or without a bass sub like the Behringer B1200-D. It's my new go-to rig for most of my gigs these days -- the self-powered PA units don't get a lot of use.

-- Chuck

Jason Hill

Wow, I did not know there was so much to performance sound, Chuck! Are you the guy in the first picture in this post? I'm an amateur singer and songwriter. I am putting on my first gig this summer. It'll be pretty low key; but, if I progress forward in skill and put on bigger shows in the future, I'll need to reference this article again, for sure.

Chuck Hollis

Hi Jason

No, the guy in the first picture is Keith Emerson of ELP fame. He was the first rock musician to feature stacks of synths and keyboards as part of his act.


thanks for this great advise. I play keys in a 6 piece party band. We play too loud imo on stage. I always struggle to hear myself over everyone else and prefer to just about hear my keys through the rest of the band. I use the L/MONO OUTPUT from my KRONOS2 direct into our P.A MIXER for FOH. I use the RIGHT LINE OUTPUT of the KRONOS2 into my YAMAHA DSR115 ACTIVE PA SPEAKER for my monitor needs. My DSR115 is usually positioned to my left side or out in front of me. I have a 2nd DSR115 but have never used 2. Why do i struggle to hear my keys? I have no problems at home practice. Any advise greatly appreciated.


Hello Chuck. Have you heard or tried the CPS Stereo amp?

Chuck Hollis

Hi Mark

I'm very familiar with the SpaceStation amp. See my review on this blog elsewhere. I now have two of them, and my other gear is feeling neglected.

-- Chuck

Guitar Sound Guru

Thanks for this blog! So many great ideas. Worth reading it.


I did not know there is so much work involved in sound design. Great tip for bands that are just starting out

Grant McK

I don't think it's great idea to send the keyboard left/mono output to the FOH while also using the keyboard right output for your monitor send. If you must go mono then it might be better to "tee off" and use only the keyboard left/mono output signal to both the FOH and monitor...do not use the right output! I believe most keyboards are designed to send a "summed" signal when they sense that only the left/mono output is active (1/4" plugged in). If the keyboard senses the right output is active (1/4" plugged in) as well, it will then send a "split' stereo signal to each output. In the example discussed, the keyboard would only be sending the left stereo signal to the FOH and not the summed mono signal (same goes for the right output to the monitor - it wouldn't be summed mono). That's my understanding of how the left/mono and right keyboard outputs work but maybe I'm just out to lunch on this one?

Guitar lover

Awesome post !! I read your article first time its informative.


This is the nice post regarding the keyboard. I like to play with the keyboard in the days of my holiday. This is one of the best musical instrument to pass the time and enjoy with it.


I hated my Roland KC 550, only kept using it because it was all I had money for at the time, then I had a QSC K-12 until my moog little phatty tore it apart, causing me to use the roland again. Then I got robbed. Looking into grabbing an RCF HD 32-A 12". Seen a few good deals on the here and there. Thoughts?

Chuck Hollis

Hi Joe.

I'm a little surprised that you were able to destroy a QSC K12 as I think they are built like tanks. Then again, I don't play a Moog Little Phatty.

I have never heard the RCF HD32A, but it has great-looking specs and RCF makes great products. One bit of concern is that RCF doesn't publish a frequency response curve for the unit, meaning it probably is honky in places.

At $999 MAP per unit, you've got a lot of great choices out there. What kind of music and situations do you play?

-- Chuck

David Foster

I have a powered DXR 10 that I use for keyboard monitors (not quite enough, I know, but light). I also have a small Yamaha MG10 mixing console that I often use because in addition to keys, I play acoustic guitar and fiddle on stage. I’ve been struggling to find the perfect set up where I can get adequate stage volume for each instrument and wrestle some of the control from
The sound guys who are all frustrated electric guitar player wannabee’s and therefore make sure my sounds only exist to provide some background fill in between guitar rifts ... but I digress. This system works well when my band sets up our own pa ... but I set it up in a room with an “expensive” house system and a sound guy. Everything sucked for the first set until I unplugged everything and just went through the house monitors. The sound guy kept saying my signal was too hot ... but nobody could hear it in the mains. I can’t imagine that the Preamp in the MG10 would overpower the house amps, but something weird was happening. The guy also said my stuff was somehow interfering with the vocal mics even though none of them were connected to anything I was running. Weird! Any thoughts on what might have been happening to interfere with the main board?

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