Reviews

Strother Bullins on QSC Audio K Series Loudspeakers

1/20/2017 11:19 AM Eastern

After having reviewed numerous portable PA (PPA) enclosures over the years—most of which have been powered, two-way full-range speakers with at least a couple of input types available per cabinet—I thought it was due time to revisit QSC Audio’s impressive K Series; I requested a pair each of its three-model, full-range line-up. Though many newer competing models are on the market today, the K Series’ offerings—the K8, K10 and K12 featuring one 1.75-inch high-frequency driver and 8-, 10-, and 12-inch low frequency drivers, respectively—remain top contenders in an increasingly crowded powered PPA marketplace. Why? The series’ proprietary features and notably pro-grade build quality make it an overachieving live sound reinforcement bargain.

One of the earliest Class D-equipped portable PA lines delivering a truly impressive amount of power, QSC’s K Series—“K” for kilowatt—offers dual 500 W amplifiers; its high-frequency and low frequency dual amps both draw their current and voltage from a single switch-mode Class D, high output/low heat power supply that adds a mere 6 lbs. to the total K Series package. As such, the cabinets are more rigidly built with tour-quality handles, grilles, fittings and such yet are still reasonable in weight; the K8, K10 and K12 weight in at 27, 32, and 41 lbs., respectively. A light, comparably scratch-resistant surface made of a high-impact, low-vibration synthetic material is used for the K Series’ cabinet materials. The integral pole mount cup per cabinet, providing one of many QSC proprietary features called Tilt-Direct, offers a 7.5-degree angle tilt, and is also notably well designed and built. For permanent/semi-permanent install, the K Series provides a number of fly points per cabinet.

The K Series’ sound dispersion design—called DMT, or Directivity Matched Transition—varies per model; this matches each cabinet’s waveguide to the same coverage as the woofer for that box at the crossover frequency (2 kHz), which, by design, gives the K Series a smooth response in the frequencies around 2 kHz over the coverage area. Nominal coverages for the K8, K10 and K12 are 105, 90 and 75 degrees conical, respectively.

Also of note is the K Series’ EQ options, all of which work well in most appropriate settings: Vocal Boost for an attractive mid-frequency lift (great when the cabinets are primarily used for vocal-only reinforcement applications), and QSC’s trademarked DEEP curves providing tasteful low frequency extension. An “EXT SUB” setting is also provided for K Series use with a subwoofer, either the series’ own dual 12-inch driver-equipped KSub (also featuring 1000W of Class D power) or a third-party sub.

I/O is sufficient, if not extensive: dual balanced combo XLR/TRS inputs, with channel one switchable mic/line; dual RCA inputs; and a post-gain mix XLR line out. The rear panel is uniquely laid out but quite intuitive, featuring solid-feeling switches and knobs as I’ve come to expect from any product I’ve had the opportunity to use from QSC.

Overall, how does a K Series portable PA rig sound? It’s musical, comparably full, rich and widely flexible across a range of stylistic inputs—impressive considering its general lack of user-adjustable parameters, such as even fixed frequency gain/boost, etc. The K Series’ intrinsic sound qualities are perhaps due to the series’ aptly named Intrinsic Correction DSP; if so, as an end user, that’s fine with me if I don’t exactly know what’s going on inside the cabinet. Considering what the K Series offers in fidelity and build quality, its price points are bargains, as I’m confident the K Series will provide owners with years of regular, superb-sounding use.

PRODUCT SUMMARY

COMPANY: QSC Audio | www.qsc.com
PROS: Musical, well voiced sound; notable proprietary features and semi-fixed parameters; impressive build quality and components.
CONS: Lack of variable frequency adjustments
PRICE (STREET): $649, $699, $799, $1,079 (K8, K10, K12, KSub, respectively)

SPECIFICATIONS

FREQUENCY RANGE: 61 Hz-20 kHz, 56 Hz-20 kHz, 48 Hz-20 kHz (K8, K10, K12, respectively)
OUTPUT (PEAK SPL @ 1M): 127 dB, 129 dB, 131 dB (K8, K10, K12, respectively)
AMPLIFIER POWER (PER ENCLOSURE): 1000 W continuous Class D
LF DRIVER INFORMATION: LF: 8” cone transducer, 10” cone transducer, 12” cone transducer (K8, K10, K12, respectively)
INPUTS: Balanced combo XLR-1/4” mic/line, balanced combo XLR-1/4” line, 2 x RCA (phono)
NET WEIGHT: 27 lbs., 32 lbs., 41 lbs. (K8, K10, K12, respectively)

Strother Bullins is Technology Editor for NewBay Media’s AV/Pro Audio Group. sbullins@nbmedia.com

Want to read more stories like this?
Get our Free Newsletter Here!
Past Issues
October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017