Portable keyboard amps have come a long way over the years. When they first came out, they weren’t where they needed to be as far as quality goes. I tour in a band and the only other option to play keyboards on the road was to use either a MIDI controller with a laptop or a battery-powered keyboard.
I decided to get a portable amp and use it with a couple of my synths for writing sessions while traveling. You can use these amps, with guitar as well, I am just focusing on the keyboard because that is my instrument of choice.
A portable keyboard amp is an amp that musicians can use that is extremely light-weight and portable. They are usually battery powered and small enough to fit into a backpack for ease of use. I personally am a fan of them because I don’t see the need for a big bulky amp as I run my keyboards directly into the PA when performing live. These amps will provide the noise you need and portability for practicing on the go.
Things To Consider When Purchasing A Small Portable Amp
This is obviously the main reason that you would want a portable amp. Having the ability to use this in your dorm room or apartment or even on the beach if you really want to is a great thing to have.
If you are looking for portable options, check out my favorite mini MIDI controllers. These are great because they’re small and perfect for traveling.
Some of these amps will have a built-in power supply while some will be battery powered. Battery powered is my preference since I like to play in random places and not have to worry about power.
Wattage & Speaker Size:
When you look at an amp you will see a # and then watts. This refers to its power rating. If you’re not gigging with your portable amp, then you don’t really have to worry too much about this. If you are, I would recommend having over 100 watts.
The speaker size is what you really want to pay attention to with a portable amp as this is where will be able to make out the lower end frequencies. Smaller speakers have trouble producing low-end frequencies. This can make your amp sound thinner compared to other amps if you have smaller speaker cabinets.
5-inch speakers are what you will be looking for in a portable amp. These will get the job done and still give you a nice full sound.
Tone & Effects:
The tone from your portable amp will change depending on what kind of instrument you’re running through it. Be it guitar or keyboards. I will recommend to not push these speakers to their max volume with your instrument at max. You will most likely blow the speaker sooner than later.
I blew the speaker of my orange portable amp in a few weeks by doing this and it was entirely my own fault, so avoid doing that. You can set your amps to model different size amps depending on what you want. If you want more depth you can set it model 4×12 speakers and if you want it to be punchy you can have it model smaller.
Your amp will come with clean and distortion, different portable amps will vary on additional effects as well. You may also be able to adjust the treble and bass on them. Some amps will have fuzz, overdrive, chorus, reverb, flange, and delay options.
My Experience With Portable Amps
I have been touring in a band for 6 years now and I have used many of the amps that I am reviewing below. I am an avid gear junkie who loves to do research and try out new gear. My goal is to bring to you non-bias reviews to make it easier on you to decide what you need.
I started using a portable amp originally with my Microkorg because I didn’t need a power supply for my amp or my keyboard, I simply needed batteries. I love this and I think every musician should experience being able to have the freedom to play wherever and whenever they want.
The good thing about these amps is that you can use them for busking.
Best Portable Amps For Keyboard Players
Roland Micro Cube GX
- Power: 3WUltra-compact portable DSP guitar amp with 5-inch speakerRuns on battery or AC power (adapter supplied) and includes carry strapi-CUBE LINK jack provides simple audio interfacing with Apple's iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (interface cable included)8 COSM guitar amp models including JC-120 and a special mic preamp model8 DSP effects: chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo and separate Delay/ReverbBuilt-in chromatic tunerRecording/Headphones output and stereo Auxiliary input for CD players, etc.
The Roland Micro Cube GX is fantastic for musicians who are busking as well as for musicians who are just practicing. You can run this amp with batteries or with an AC cable, which it comes with.
The Roland Micro Cube GX can play up to 20 hours on just battery power. This is great if you don’t have a way to reach a power supply.
This amp is as portable as it gets and is easily my favorite on the market when it comes to the tone it gives you. It has an i-Cube link app where you access a lot of its features from and you do need iOS to access these.
Overall, the reason why I like this amp so much is that it has the most effects for a portable amp. It also comes with a chromatic tuner, the features can’t be matched in an amp for this price range. I also like Roland for keyboard amps as they make amps specifically for keyboards whereas a lot of the other options below are mainly guitar amps or they’re less portable.
- Power Rating: 3 Watts
- Battery Life: 20 hours
- Power Supply: 6 X AA batteries or AC included
- Speaker Size: 5 inches
- Effects: Amp Type, Memory, Tuner, Gain, Tone, EFX, Delay/Reverb, Master
- Input: ¼”, AUX-IN
- Weight: 6 pounds
- Dimensions: 9.7” x 6.7” x 9”
Blackstar Fly 3 Mini
Blackstar amps are commonly used on a lot of pop-punk band albums and for good reason. I think they sound really good, personally, and I like using them with my keyboards.
I really like this due to its weight and sound compared to some of the other mini amps on the market. It has 2 different channels being clean and overdrive. A cool feature is the digital tape effect on this amp.
There is an MP3 line in case you want to jam along to music while practicing. This amp has 3 watts which is pretty nice in terms of power ratings for a mini amp.
Overall I would recommend this amp to musicians, but mainly for guitarists.
- Power Rating: 3 watts
- Channels: Clean and overdrive
- Speaker Size: 3 inches
- Weight: 1.9 pounds
- Power Source: 6X AA or DC
Orange Crush 20RT
- Power: 20W (solid state)
- Two footswitchable channels
- Speaker: 1x8" Orange Voice of the World
- Controls: 3-band EQ, volume, gain, reverb
- Built-in reverb
The Orange Crush 20RT is probably the loudest portable amp that you can purchase. I personally do like Orange amps, but there are people who aren’t huge fans. The speaker is 8 inches on this amp and the power rating is 20 watts. This is not a mini amp so it a lot heavier than other options.
I use this amp with a synthesizer and I love how it sounds. It’s portable, yet it is still powerful. Be careful that you aren’t blasting this at full volume on both your keyboard and the amp as you can blow the speakers pretty easily. These aren’t meant to blow the world away so keep that in mind while practicing.
This is a solid state amp meaning it’s not a tube amp. The features on this amp are pretty minimal and that’s the reason why it’s not my personal favorite.
Overall I think this is a great amp to use for practicing and I think if you’re an Orange amp fan you will love this amp. Additionally, you can purchase a foot-switch for this amp to switch between clean and overdrive or distortion.
- Power Rating: 20 watts
- Speaker Size: 8 inches
- Effects: Distortion, reverb, dirty, bass, treble, gain, clean
- Input: AUX in
- Tuner: Yes
- Weight: 15,9 pounds
When it comes to portable amps for keyboard players I can’t recommend the Roland Micro Cube GX more than I already have. I have owned multiple Roland keyboard amps and I have been pleasantly surprised. I hope this list helped you break down which amp is right for you. Let me know any feedback below.