Hi folks. This question may seem a bit off topic, (but it's sound designy, I promise!) I value the opinions here, and I wonder if anyone with a background in sound reinforcement has any advice.

I want to start performing music with laptop: live processing, acoustic guitar and vocals. Think folk-tronica. (Shudder. I love genre labels.)

I've played a couple of times recently, accompanying a friend, where I took a split from her keyboard, ran it through my effects, and then gave a line straight to FOH. But it's really really tricky to play with live feedback loops when I'm sharing the monitor with the singer.

So I've decided that I should invest in an amp. I want something that I can use as a monitor, and send a stereo signal to the board, OR use it alone in places without a PA such as a café or living room party/concert. It will be for a spectrum of sound, from raw acoustic guitar and vocals, to atmospheric/noise, and electronic percussion and bass.

Do you have any suggestions? I considered a small PA (which would give me the advantage of a wide stereo field.) But I think I'm leaning more towards a keyboard amp, such as the Traynor K4.


My price range is $500 - $1000. And I do have a little Mackie 1202, if I need it.


4 Answers 4


A friend of mine had a Roland Jazz Chorus which was awesome for that kinda stuff. A keyboard amp is probably the way to go though.

Not to go all salesman on you, but I've got a Fender Blues Deluxe (tweed) that I need to get rid of before I move to Scotland. I'd like to see it go to a good home. You're welcome to come over and try it to see if it'll do the job.

  • Hey! Thanks for the advice. And re: the amp, I seem to have a Fender Deluxe buried somewhere around here... yup. There it is. I should plug it in and see if/how buzzy it is. When do you leave? Even though I can't buy your amp, can I take you up on the invite?
    – MtL
    Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 21:12
  • I leave in early September. I've really got nothing to do but hang out right now. Shoot me an email [email protected]
    – g.a.harry
    Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 21:50
  • @Joel, I replied to your email, didn't I? I can't seem to find it.
    – g.a.harry
    Commented Jul 22, 2011 at 18:49
  • I'm terrible at remembering these things.
    – g.a.harry
    Commented Jul 22, 2011 at 18:49
  • Sorry, I didn't see these responses until now. I'll pm you.
    – MtL
    Commented Aug 7, 2011 at 16:54

A Mackie SRM150s would be a safe bet you can get a pair for $500.


If you want more power you can get a pair SRM 350v2s for $1000.


These are not studio monitors, but they are robust, reliable and easy to sell on again if you change your mind.

  • Thanks for the suggestions. I wasn't sure what to look at for PA speakers. I think the 150s are smaller than I'd like. But I'll keep the 350s in mind. I am very enticed by the idea of being able to perform with a stereo field. Is that naive? I'm pretty sure most live sound is hard-on for mono.
    – MtL
    Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 21:15
  • I've never mixed a gig, or been to a gig that wasn't at least stereo.
    – user80
    Commented Jul 9, 2011 at 7:10

The Roland keys amps are definitely the way to go... they don't distort easily, accept stereo input (though it's only going to come out mono), and are made for road use.

Another option is to use a portable, self-powered, PA as an amp.

Finally, if you go for guitar amps, go for high wattage and solid state because they don't distort as easily as low wattage amps or tube amps.

  • Thanks, Dave. I'm nearly convinced with what I'm going to do. I think I'll buy a powered PA. But then the question... do I blow my budget on a higher end SINGLE PA speaker. And then upgrade down the line? Or do I buy a pair of cheaper speakers? And then upgrade by adding a sub? Is showing up at a gig with my own sub RIDICULOUS. Yes. Is the idea of having a sound system that I practice on and am completely familiar with, ridiculously awesome? Yes.
    – MtL
    Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 21:05

For versatile, neutral, portable amps you should check out Acoustic Image.


Perhaps only just it your price range and not good if you want to be really loud, but they're more portable than a PA speaker and sound good.

Read the "our approach" bit on their website.

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