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Road Test: New QSC K.2 Series Loudspeakers In Review

An overview of the latest portable powered loudspeaker portfolio from QSC and evaluating it in live applications

The menu is very well laid out, and scrolling through it is intuitive. In addition to the loudspeaker voicings and EQ, the software also contains a delay of 100 milliseconds that reads out in feet and meters, and a basic crossover of 80 Hz, 100 Hz or 125 Hz to make integration with various subwoofers easy. Users can also save and recall scenes, turn the front LED on, adjust the screen contrast, and do a factory reset.

I like how the mixer’s second channel has a high-impedance setting so an instrument can be plugged into the loudspeaker directly.

I also like that there are a few voicings so that these loudspeakers can also be used as instrument amplifiers, complete with “through” jacks like a DI so that they can feed a PA as well. More than once I’ve had to employ a powered loudspeaker as an instrument amp because a musician’s personal amp has malfunctioned, so I’m especially keen about this aspect.

In the shop, the K8.2 sounded great in the Default setting. I like the factory voicings; however, at higher volume, the Dance setting might be a bit extreme for the 8-inch woofer.

Curious as to how the 12-inch model would perform with extended low end, I cracked open the box of the K12.2, and as expected, the Dance setting sounded excellent due to the larger woofer, ranging up to significant volume levels. I also fired up the K10.2, and it handled the low end quite well. Listening to my standard test tracks through all of these loudspeakers was a joy.

The cabinets also provide an optimized monitor angle; there are also dual cup mounts for added flexibility.

Next up was finding out how well the full-range boxes worked with subs, so I set up the KW181s. While not “new,” these single 18-inch loaded boxes rock, offering DSP, a mixer, a staged frequency range of 40 to 122 Hz (-6 dB) and maximum SPL of 135 dB peak. The provided pole reaches a height of 36 inches for mounting a full-range box above these subs, and the company also offers a pole extension accessory for those wanting their boxes higher.

A pair of K8.2 loudspeakers with dual KW181 subs makes for a compact, high-test portable system, one that inspires confidence to handle even some medium-sized shows and events. Satisfied that everything was working as it should, it was time to roll them out on a few gigs.

Fitting Like A Glove

The first stop was a government meeting that my company serves several times a year. Normally it’s held in a meeting room measuring about 100 by 50 feet, and we primarily reinforce speech and play walk-in/out music. I figured that the K8.2, without subs, would prove a perfect fit for this application, and I wasn’t disappointed. I set the stand-mounted left/right pair to the Default voicing and then did some light EQ to ring out the room.

The wide coverage pattern made it easy to locate the loudspeakers well out of the way of a projection screen, and the system had no trouble completely covering the audience and participants. Spoken word intelligibility was very high. I also like that the series offers a variety of coverage patterns, so you can pick the one that best fits the specific application. The presenters sounded even better than usual with the K8.2s and the gig went off without a hitch.

Next up was reinforcing the praise band at an area church, where Gary, the sound operator, was particularly eager to hear the K.2 Series. We deployed a pair of K12.2s, with no subs, for the Wednesday youth service. Next we utilized the K8.2s with the KW181s as the main system for another performance, with Gary and the band blown away by this setup. We also employed the K12.2s as stage monitors and the band really liked them; better, in fact, than their usual wedges (12-inch and horn-loaded boxes).

A closer look at the K8.2, which carries an 8-inch woofer and provides 105-degree axisymetric coverage.

Gary was quite impressed with the new DSP as well as the many more features and voicings that the new K.2 Series offers. On another day, we tried the K8.2s as monitors with the band and found they had plenty of volume in that role as well while sounding great.

Hitting The Marks

From there we moved on to a big outdoor show featuring several bands where the configuration had me mixing from the side of the stage.

We set up the K8.2s as my board monitors and once I got the balance between them and the main system’s subwoofers dialed in, I mixed the show on them, with occasional trips away from the console with a tablet to check out the sound in the audience. Mixing all day on these loudspeakers was a pleasure.

In fact, I’m listening to Steely Dan (what else?) on them in the Default mode right now in my office as I write this. They sound great with everything, performing consistently well from low to high volume levels and with enough output to handle larger gigs than one might expect. The DSP is excellent, and the ability to store scenes will come in handy for users who work the same venues multiple times.

The bottom line is that the audio quality, exceptional output for their size and built-in monitor angle coupled with light weight make the new K.2 Series a great choice for rental and production companies who could employ them in situations such as mains, delays, stage monitors, front fills, etc. I also like that they can be yoke-mounted and flown in addition to pole- and stand-mounted.

So if you’re in the market for portable powered loudspeakers, the K.2 Series needs to be on your short list. I certainly put it on mine.

U.S. estimated street prices: K8.2 – $649; K10.2 – $699; K12.2 – $799

Find out more about the new K.2 Series here.

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