You are here

Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

For fans of synths, pianos or keyboard instruments of any sort.

Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:41 am

The MX-88 keyboard I use for playing live and in the project studio has a considerably lower output level than many things.

Live I plug into a powered speaker as my own monitor. The powered speaker only has +10 dB of gain and this often gets cranked all the way up. Here is the speaker I use live: https://www.qsc.com/live-sound/products ... ries/cp12/

In the studio, the mixing board has to be set much higher for this keyboard's channel compared to everything else.

Yamaha says that it was designed for lots of layering of sounds so has lots of headroom when using one sound.

So I am looking for a preamp that will go between this keyboard and my powered speaker, and that can also be used to go between the keyboard and the Mackie mixer.

I will be recording with this too, so need something low noise and clean. Some EQ control would be nice when playing live too.

A/C powered ( I hate counting on batteries!)

Stereo

Output needs to plug into the TRS line-level inputs since all of my XLR mic inputs are busy!
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1148
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby Wonks » Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:36 am

The obvious solution would be a DI box, but you've ruled that out by not having and spare mic inputs (sounds like new main mixer time to me).

So a small sub-mixer is probably the lowest-cost solution that will provide both gain and EQ. Of course a SSL SiX would be nice and compact but you can probably get away with a $40 Behringer unit.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 8937
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:31 am

Why not use the mic level input into the QSC with the gain turned way down?
Otherwise I'd go with Wonks' suggestion but with the caveat that the Berry mixer may introduce extra noise.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9916
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby BillB » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:40 am

Just to discount the obvious - which I am sure you have already checked - you have got part volume and master volume maxed out, at least as far as different sounds for different songs will allow you?
BillB
Frequent Poster
Posts: 698
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2003 12:00 am
Location: East Yorkshire

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby James Perrett » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:48 am

There's nothing wrong with turning the gain up - that's why the control is there in the first place. In this case, the gain control is reducing the signal before it is amplified again so by using it at its highest setting you are simply using less attenuation. It only becomes an issue if the keyboard is too quiet with the gain at its loudest setting.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 8277
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 12:00 am
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:38 pm

BillB wrote:Just to discount the obvious - which I am sure you have already checked - you have got part volume and master volume maxed out, at least as far as different sounds for different songs will allow you?

Right. Master volume at max and the patch volume at max on the MX-88.

Some folks say they are going into the master eq and maxing out the three bands. This gives an extra +15 dB of gain but changes the tone considerably. So I don’t like this hack.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1148
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby ef37a » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:48 pm

+1 for the Berry mixer.

I would go for a 2 mic input job such as my old Xenyx 802.

Don't forget to pan the two channel hard left and right unless you WANT mono? You get the EQ you asked for plus a headphone feed for private listening.

Behringer gear often gets criticised for noise, can't think why, never been a bother to me. OK an SSL6 it won't be but amping up a bad'a kbd live? Fine.

If you are really bothered, both Soundcraft and Allen&Heath make nice wee mixers. I bought son an 8FX. It is great but the Berry is just as quiet. That is to say both are fine.

Dave.
ef37a
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10519
Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 12:00 am
Location: northampton uk

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:34 pm

Wonks wrote:The obvious solution would be a DI box, but you've ruled that out by not having and spare mic inputs (sounds like new main mixer time to me).

Ok this is the right answer I think. A DI box that lets me use the mic inputs on the QSC.

I just need to add a mic patch bay to my studio setup so I don’t run out of mic inputs that are connected. I don’t need them all at the same time.

Ive always planned to get a patch bay so here we go.

Thanks Wonks
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1148
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby Dan LB » Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:08 pm

The QSC speaker does not have phantom power so you would need to run an active DI box on batteries in a live situation and not all have that option. For this reason I’d use a passive DI - something like the Radial JDI Stereo would be a good choice.

How do you currently feed the FOH desk?

Dan
User avatar
Dan LB
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1293
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2006 1:00 am
Location: Wicklow, Ireland

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:35 pm

James Perrett wrote:There's nothing wrong with turning the gain up - that's why the control is there in the first place. In this case, the gain control is reducing the signal before it is amplified again so by using it at its highest setting you are simply using less attenuation. It only becomes an issue if the keyboard is too quiet with the gain at its loudest setting.

Keyboard is too low live and the folks ask me to turn it up on stage, but I'm out of juice.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1148
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:14 pm

OK, a problem is that my QSC speaker has only one mic level input, but two line inputs.

So I have been plugging the L/R out of the keyboard into the two line level inputs of the QSC. The speaker mixes them together.

The 'mix out' of the speaker is used to connect to the FOH board if that is being used. We play plenty of things where I am on my own though. Which is why I often need more juice!

But with a stero DI now out of the MX-88, I can't plug it into the speaker since I only have one mic input. Dang.

The problem is that some of the patches in the MX-88 (especially the swirly Rhodes patches) sound weird in mono. Sort of thin and all attack, not lush, scooped out a bit. There are only a few specific patches marked as 'mono'.

I wonder though if I can set the MX-88 to output mono since that is all I need live?
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1148
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby James Perrett » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:16 pm

DC-Choppah wrote:Keyboard is too low live and the folks ask me to turn it up on stage, but I'm out of juice.

In which case a passive DI box with an instrument level input is probably the best idea. I've used a Whirlwind IMP2 for many years although there are plenty of similar alternatives.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 8277
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 12:00 am
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:46 pm

James Perrett wrote:
DC-Choppah wrote:Keyboard is too low live and the folks ask me to turn it up on stage, but I'm out of juice.

In which case a passive DI box with an instrument level input is probably the best idea. I've used a Whirlwind IMP2 for many years although there are plenty of similar alternatives.

OK, but the DI box (like the IMP2) is going to be putting out a mic level signal, and I only have one mic level input on the QSC.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1148
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby DC-Choppah » Sun Aug 04, 2019 12:46 am

Plumbing the depths of the SOS forum I find that Hugh recommended this for a DI box that merges L/R together at the output.

https://www.radialeng.com/product/j48

Unfortunately it is active, which is not going to work for me.

And there is some reference to this passive one that has a mono switch: https://www.amazon.com/Stagg-SDI-ST-2-C ... B014QB4JIM

But I am not clear if it will work. Does it acually sum the left and right?
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1148
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby DC-Choppah » Sun Aug 04, 2019 12:50 am

User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1148
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby DC-Choppah » Sun Aug 04, 2019 2:38 am

Dan LB wrote:something like the Radial JDI Stereo would be a good choice.


Thank you kindly! I found a used one and is on order.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1148
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby DC-Choppah » Sun Aug 04, 2019 2:47 am

Wonks wrote:(sounds like new main mixer time to me).


Indeed.

So I decided to upgrade.

I am installing this 16 channel Yamaha mixer now!

https://www.guitarcenter.com/Yamaha/MG1 ... l-Mixer.gc

It fits in my 19” rack and gives me lots more channels than I had before!
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1148
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby ef37a » Sun Aug 04, 2019 6:52 am

You seem to be sorted now DC but for general I?

The left jack out delivers a mono sum signal if the right jack is not used. This is a pretty standard arrangement for keyboards I think?

Dave.
ef37a
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10519
Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 12:00 am
Location: northampton uk

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby blinddrew » Sun Aug 04, 2019 9:36 am

DC-Choppah wrote:I am installing this 16 channel Yamaha mixer now!

https://www.guitarcenter.com/Yamaha/MG1 ... l-Mixer.gc
Nice bits of kit those, very clean sound.
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7680
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Please recommend pre-amp for keyboard- MX88

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 04, 2019 9:50 am

DC-Choppah wrote:The problem is that some of the patches in the MX-88 (especially the swirly Rhodes patches) sound weird in mono. Sort of thin and all attack, not lush, scooped out a bit. There are only a few specific patches marked as 'mono'.

I wonder though if I can set the MX-88 to output mono since that is all I need live?

I don't know about the MX-88, not having used one, but it is very common for 'stereo' keyboards to sound pretty naff when summed to mono. This is especially true for sampled stereo piano sounds, synth sounds with lots of chorus and reverbs etc, and Leslie speaker effects.

You can sometimes reduce or remove the problem by editing the effects settings, or choosing a different source sample -- a lot of piano samples are provided in both mono and stereo versions, for example.

Personally, I have duplicate patch lists on my keyboards, one set or a mono connection, and another for stereo, and I just choose the appropriate set depending on what I'm doing or where I'm performing. It's more work to set up, manage, and tweak, but it makes life a lot simpler at the gig!

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 24106
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users