Review: QSC K Series Portable PA

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
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The K Series’ many proprietary features and notably pro-grade build quality make it an
overachieving portable live sound reinforcement bargain.

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, requesting 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—secure it as a most notable top consideration amongst an increasingly crowded powered PPA marketplace. Why? The series’ proprietary features and notably pro-grade build quality make it an overachieving portable live sound reinforcement bargain, priced at $649, $699, $799 and $1,079 street for the K8, K10, K12 and KSub, respectively.

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 highfrequency 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.

Further saving weight yet providing a comparably scratch-resistant surface, 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, 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 notably 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: 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 notably musical, comparably full, rich and widely flexible across a range of stylistic inputs—impressive considering its general lack of user-adjustable parameters, such as variable frequency adjustments. These qualities are perhaps due to the series’ Intrinsic Correction DSP; if so, as an end user, that’s fine with me if I don’t exactly know what’s going on. Considering what the K Series offers in fidelity and build quality, its price points—though not among the lowest in the marketplace—are still a bargain, as I’m confident the K Series will provide owners with years of regular use.

QSC Audio | http://www.qsc.com/live-sound/products/loudspeakers/powered-loudspeakers/k-series/