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Roland KC-110 (or 220): Good for small keyboard/vocal gigs? #2753533
07/24/18 09:09 AM
07/24/18 09:09 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 30
Salem, MA
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AnalogJeff Offline OP
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There aren't many options for smaller, battery powered amps that sound really good. Roland has the stereo KC-220 (at $380), the new model based on the KC-110. There's also their stereo Cube Street, more of a guitar-based amp. And Bose has the mono S1 Pro powered speaker at $600.

I own a Cube Street. Never the clearest sounding amp, but even with using it with the batteries, it puts out a lot of volume. Using it with a ukulele, it sounds okay. It's fairly balanced, but sounds a bit muddy, and doesn't reveal a lot of instrumental texture. But with a keyboard, it sounds pretty bad. The midrange is bleached out from any complex, textural information. The high end lacks detail. And there's little bottom end. But it is loud.

The KC-220, which I'm auditioning, is a really nice sounding amp. I have actually been quite surprised . As long as you don't push it to its maximum loudness, it's quite impressive with a keyboard, possibly better than my KC-350 sheerly in terms of harmonic complexity and balance . It's clear, detailed, and the top end is smooth. The bottom end is present. Playing AP, it actually delivers well in the low end in terms of reasonable weight and tunefulness. And the midrange is rich with a lot of harmonic detail. The sound quality between the Cube Street and KC-220 is night and day. With the KC-220, you can easily hear the harmonic differences between the different ukuleles I have.

But the KC-220 reveals little power or volume. It's okay indoors. But crank the gain and volume to where it's decent and you can hear the lack of headroom. Outside on batteries, the amp acts more of an enhancement. It's certainly better than no amp. Within 12 feet or so outside, and it's okay.

I'm torn, because I REALLY appreciate how much better the quality of the sound is with the KC-220.

I haven't heard the Bose S1 Pro. I normally am not a fan of BOSE products. They're sort of anti-audiophile, but I have heard pretty good things about the S1 Pro. I also own a Roland KC-350 for heavier-duty gigging.

I'm more likely to use the battery powered aspect of the amp with a ukulele/vocal than with a piano. I really like it's much greater truthful presentation of the instruments, but the lack of power makes me hesitate. In contrast, the Cube Street can boom. It's MUCH louder. I'm wondering why Roland hasn't made a battery powered stereo keyboard amp that has the power of the Cube Street. (And the Cube Street EX, even more powerful, doesn't have the clarity of the KC-220 either.).

I'm wondering if there are those here who have experience using the KC-110 or 220 with their keyboards as well as with both keys and vocals can comment.

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Re: Roland KC-110 (or 220): Good for small keyboard/vocal gigs? [Re: AnalogJeff] #2753547
07/24/18 10:00 AM
07/24/18 10:00 AM
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 511
Virginia, USA
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Kbeaumont Offline
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Actually the Bose S1 doesn't sound too bad. A heck of a lot better than the KC-220. Roland makes a portable PA that is battery powered that is much better than the KC-220. Its the BA-330 and its is about the same price as the Bose S1. Mackie makes the FreePlay LIVE for $399 that is targeted for street performers mostly acoustic guitar. But its a full range system. Like piano, acoustic guitars need a full range system. I am not a big fan of Roland KC keyboard amps. While they are convenient, compared to even the cheapest powered speaker they sound like ass for acoustic piano. They are fine for EP's and other sounds but for piano not so much.


A long long time ago, I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile....
Re: Roland KC-110 (or 220): Good for small keyboard/vocal gigs? [Re: AnalogJeff] #2753599
07/24/18 01:50 PM
07/24/18 01:50 PM
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Posts: 30
Salem, MA
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AnalogJeff Offline OP
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Are you sure you have heard the KC-220?? Believe me, it doesn't sound like ass for acoustic piano. I have finely tuned ears. It's quite refined, moreso than the KC-350. If you haven't heard the KC-220, you ought to hear it for yourself.

I know that there are those who are not fans of Roland keyboard amps in general. Compared to the KC-350, the QSC k8.2 powered speaker provides a more natural sound. But I was and am truly surprised at the natural tonality of the KC-220. Roland seems to have gone for delicacy and natural sound over power, whereas the Cube Street is all brawn and no finesse.

I will check out the BA-330, however.

Re: Roland KC-110 (or 220): Good for small keyboard/vocal gigs? [Re: AnalogJeff] #2753689
07/24/18 09:17 PM
07/24/18 09:17 PM
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PossumES8Krome61 Offline
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I had tried it (KC-220) and returned it- I wasn't getting any volume out of it. Did you consider the ZXA1-90? It has both a 1/4" and Xlr input- you could probably do both vocals and keyboards on it- its only 18 pounds and not much more $.


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Re: Roland KC-110 (or 220): Good for small keyboard/vocal gigs? [Re: PossumES8Krome61] #2753962
07/26/18 10:08 AM
07/26/18 10:08 AM
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Salem, MA
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AnalogJeff Offline OP
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ZXA1-90? It's not battery powered, is it?

BTW, I tried the BOSE S1 Pro. VERY narrow beam of dispersion, and a hump in the lower midrange. Not a great speaker, in my opinion.

Re: Roland KC-110 (or 220): Good for small keyboard/vocal gigs? [Re: AnalogJeff] #2753977
07/26/18 11:38 AM
07/26/18 11:38 AM
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Los Angeles, California
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I've been using the Roland KC-110 for small solo piano gigs... even as much as 50 people! While most of Roland's KC line isn't that great compared to other products out there (ie: QSC), the KC-110's are actually very, very nice!

I have yet to find an equivalent in quality or versatility from another manufacturer. The built-in mixer and inputs are great!
Unlike the rest of the KC series, you'll find that almost all reviews for the KC-110 are (very) positive.
Someone also mentioned the Mackie Freeplay, which I think sounds horrible for piano.

Actually, I did a comparison video for the KC-110 vs the Mackie Freeplay:

https://youtu.be/z274UPmM3rQ

and another comparison video for the KC-110 vs the Cube Street Ex:

https://youtu.be/w5rZnAM1XVU

Personally, I can highly recommend the KC-110 (now the KC-220).


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Re: Roland KC-110 (or 220): Good for small keyboard/vocal gigs? [Re: AnalogJeff] #2754026
07/26/18 03:16 PM
07/26/18 03:16 PM
Joined: Dec 2012
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Richmond, BC, Canada
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Charles Cohen Offline
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Originally Posted by AnalogJeff
ZXA1-90? It's not battery powered, is it?

.


No. Perhaps you could run it with an inverter and large 12-volt battery, but it's designed for AC line power.

It's a great keyboard speaker, but not for you.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Roland KC-110 (or 220): Good for small keyboard/vocal gigs? [Re: AnalogJeff] #2754031
07/26/18 04:29 PM
07/26/18 04:29 PM
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Posts: 12,071
Georgia, USA
Rickster Offline
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Not sure about the Roland KC-110 or the KC-220, but I have a Roland KC-350 and it is a superb key-board. Plus, I've used it as a Key-board amp and a PA system before I bought my small PA system. Fantastic, deep, rich low bass with lots of volume and clarity. A fine key-board amp.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Roland KC-110 (or 220): Good for small keyboard/vocal gigs? [Re: AnalogJeff] #2754078
07/26/18 09:22 PM
07/26/18 09:22 PM
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PossumES8Krome61 Offline
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Originally Posted by AnalogJeff
ZXA1-90? It's not battery powered, is it?
.



No need to be snarky- I missed your first sentence about wanting something battery powered-good luck finding something powerful that runs on AA batteries though!


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Re: Roland KC-110 (or 220): Good for small keyboard/vocal gigs? [Re: PossumES8Krome61] #2754387
07/28/18 03:34 PM
07/28/18 03:34 PM
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Salem, MA
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AnalogJeff Offline OP
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Salem, MA
Truly, I wasn't trying to be snarky. Don't assume. I thought I might have missed something when I read its description and you knew something that I didn't, Possum. There ARE louder speakers, but they're not necessarily all that good. I haven't listened to the Roland BA-330 yet. But I have listened to the BOSE S1 Pro and wasn't all that impressed. It gets louder than the KC-220, but its dispersion pattern is close to zero. Astray of being straight in front and you lose the top end. The KC-220's dispersion pattern is pretty good.

Rickster, I do have the KC-350 already. It's a heavy beast. And recently comparing the QSC 8.2, 10.2, and 10, it made me realize that, tonally, the KC-350 is just okay. The KC-350 has great balance, power, and presence, but it doesn't sound as natural as what I heard through the QSC powered amps. There's something in the midrange of the KC-350 (and pretty much every dedicated keyboard amp) that washes out a bit of the harmonic texture and perhaps sounds a bit cupped. The QSC 10 is audibly not as good as the 10.2. Whatever they did to upgrade, the upgrades are significant. The latest incarnations are open, airy, natural, harmonically natural, and pretty powerful.

PianoManChuck, I love your videos. Very informative. While compared to the tonality of the QSCs, the KC-220 may not be quite as natural, but I think it's pretty good in that department, save for getting hard sounding in the top end when pushed. WAY more realistic and natural sounding for both AP and the ukuleles I plug into it. The limited volume of the KC-110 leaves me pause. I haven't had to chance to play out with it yet. The Roland Cube Street is capable of getting FAR louder, but without a lot of the natural sounding quality that the KC-220 brings.

The latest QSCs, though, seem to be creating their own benchmark when it comes to sound quality.

Last edited by AnalogJeff; 07/28/18 03:41 PM. Reason: More detail
Re: Roland KC-110 (or 220): Good for small keyboard/vocal gigs? [Re: AnalogJeff] #2754795
07/30/18 04:14 PM
07/30/18 04:14 PM
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Salem, MA
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AnalogJeff Offline OP
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I decided to return the KC-220. It just didn't put out enough volume where I could see it being used other than as a practice amp. If you were in a room not louder than 20x20 and had the audience at a rapt attention, perhaps it'd be passable. But raising the volume control beyond 6 results in pretty much only less headroom.

In contrast, the Cube Street sucks with a piano, but for using it with a ukulele and a vocal mic, it plays much louder, so it can be used in more situations.


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