Fast FactsApplications: Sound reinforcement, live sound, installation
Key Features: Two-way; 15-inch cone woofer; coaxially-mounted 1.4-inch compression HF driver; 13-ply Baltic birch cabinet; steel grille.
Contact: L-Acoustics at 805-604-0577, www. l-acoustics.com
+ Cool handles on the front surface edges.
+ Good looking speaker.
+ Outstanding manual, explains everything.
– I could find NOTHING to complain about.
This one gets a 10.
Allen and Heath ML5000 48-channel console, Soundcraft SM20 48-channel monitor console; various Audix, Shure and Sennheiser mics; Klark-Teknik DN360 EQ, dbx 2231 EQ; Yorkville AP20 and AP800 power amps.L-Acoustics is a proven leader in the world of high-end speaker systems. They have had a strong presence in the concert touring industry with the V-DOSC line array system for more than 10 years. In fact, it is generally and widely accepted that L-Acoustics was the company that pioneered the contemporary line array, by taking little known technology, researching it, and ultimately developing the concept into a style of speaker system that has virtually revolutionized the modern concert sound industry.
L-Acoustics actually manufactures more than just a big line array speaker and a little line array speaker. They make conventional trapezoidal speaker cabinets, as well as the item that will be the focus of this review, a new monitor speaker, the 115XT HiQ.
The 115XT HiQ is part of the XT family of speakers from L-Acoustics. The 115XT is an 80 degree dispersion speaker and the HiQ version is a 50 degree dispersion speaker. The HiQ is a dual-element, biamped, coaxial system, featuring a 15-inch cone speaker and a three-inch voice coil with a 1.4-inch exit compression driver. The 15-inch cone speaker is a front-loaded reflex device and the compression driver is a titanium diaphragm device. The components are of a very high output, and the manufacturer recommends 450 watts rms at 8 ohms for the woofer and 125 watts rms at 8 ohms to the driver. In the owner’s manual, L-Acoustics goes into quite a bit of detail describing the appropriate powering structure and recommended processors/filters and their settings for optimum output of the 115XT; in fact, specific brands of processors have these settings incorporated in preset libraries available direct from the factory. L-Acoustics rates the operating frequency range as being 50 Hz to 20 kHz, with a 50 degree symmetrical radiating pattern, or 25 degrees either side of center.
The actual cabinet is comprised of 13-layer Baltic birch, finished in the classic L-Acoustics Brown, and has two angles for monitor use, a closefield angle of sixty degrees upward, and a not-so-closefield angle of 30 degrees upward. In addition, a steel insert is provided on both sides of the cabinet for tripod mounting the 115XT, or even using a proprietary attachment for rigging, making it a dual use speaker system with a most convenient size. The cabinet measures 22 inches wide, by 14 inches tall and 17 inches deep. The front grille is an epoxy-coated steel grille, formed over a protective foam insert, thus hiding the components from view. The connections to the speaker are made through dual Neutrik NL4 connectors, wired in parallel.
I have written about L-Acoustics products on a couple of prior occasions for Pro Audio Review, so I had very high expectations of this particular product.
On our first trial run with the HiQ, I employed it as a monitor speaker. In fact, I decided to really torture this product directly out of the box, by plugging it right in as a drum monitor. My company was providing audio production for Mickey Thomas and Starship at Harrah’s Casino.
At first, the drummer expressed trepidation about the relatively small size of the cabinet being indicative of the lack of oomph as a drum wedge. His trepidations were very soon dismissed, as were ours. We listened in amazement as the HiQ sounded absolutely wonderful as a drum wedge, replicating kick drum, snare and high hat with total clarity and power. As vocals and bass were added to the mix, we grew even more enamored with the HiQ. For the second show of the evening, we changed its location to being a keyboard monitor. The results were undeniable – this little wedge rocks.
The next evening with Starship, we employed the L-Acoustics speaker as a vocal wedge for Mickey Thomas, and we were quite knocked out with the vocal clarity and range of frequency response. The relative lack of radical EQ on that particular mix was noted as well, as the 115XT HiQ achieved a pretty good volume before even a hint of feedback.
We decided to try out this little gem a few more times, as a stage monitor speaker, a center fill, and a standalone speaker on a tripod stand. The results of testing this speaker as a tripod-mounted single speaker was most impressive, with clean, even coverage within the 50 degree HiQ pattern. But where this speaker really shines is as a front fill speaker. Using the 115XT as the top (mid and high) of a three-way system, picking up where the FOH mains left off, was possibly it’s most impressive test. The ability to blend with the mains was seamless and smooth. We had patched it directly from an auxiliary send on the FOH console and forgot to engage the insert for the EQ, and later found that we never needed the EQ at all. The sound quality of the 115XT HiQ as a front fill was never edgy or abrasive, even right up close to it.
The 115XT HiQ speaker is right at home in the L-Acoustics family of speakers, and would make a most suitable companion to the V-DOSC line array. The quality of workmanship is top-shelf stuff and makes the 115 a most roadworthy cabinet. If you are in the market for a high-end speaker system that can function in a variety of applications, this may be just the ticket for you. With its low profile, good looks, and wonderful sound, you will be most happy with this system as an investment into the high-end sound genre.