It's 5:00pm, I'm in Frankfurt at the Musikmesse trade show, and I am stood next to an escalator ready to be escorted to a secret room. All I know is that I need to be up on level 4.2 and I will be met by a guy who will take me to a very special private demo. After about five minutes, a door opens and out pour half a dozen people followed by a tall handsome man (not too dissimilar to myself) wearing clothing emblazoned with the hallmark of the brand in question… QSC.
Prior to arriving, I had already signed away my life in the form of an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) so I knew it was going to be something secretive – I just didn't know what!
I was met by Matthijs, the QSC brand manager for Europe, and led in to an ‘off show-floor’ room. It was a dark, draped environment with several speakers on poles (I think eight in total) and one bass bin in the centre of the room, then the secret presentation began…
For around half an hour I was treated to an exclusive viewing (and listening) of the new K Series from QSC, aptly called K.2. For those who aren’t aware of the original K range, it is realistically one of the best-selling speaker ranges globally, from any brand. The numbers are just staggering; around 1 MILLION units have been sold worldwide. They are workhorse loudspeakers, with a reputation for a good sound, and have proved tremendously reliable for DJs and musicians all over the globe.
Now, I have attended several ‘secret’ presentations in my time. Usually you are sold the dream from the manufacturer, you get to hear the products, and you all walk out thinking they are great. However, you aren’t able to compare them to anything else. With this demo QSC really wanted us to know that they had upped their game and that the new K.2 range offers a distinct improvement on the original series. QSC had spent considerable time mulling this over and fine-tuning the new range – 8 years to be precise, since the original launch. At this demo, they took the bold move of pitching the new K.2 versions against the original models, and boy could you hear the difference! You have to think, the digital advancements alone, over the past 8 years, have been tremendous. It was abundantly clear that the K.2 versions were sonically better, not to mention incredibly feature-rich.
The new K.2 range features three active loudspeakers, the 8” K8.2, 10” K10.2, and 12” K12.2. Following the demo in Frankfurt, I was sent a pair of K12.2 speakers to test. I have taken them out on a few different gigs and can honestly say I love them; they sound great. Sound is a very personal thing, but I really like the punch and depth offered by the K12.2s. They are also speakers that keep on giving too; they are loud, like loud-loud! ‘2000w per cab’ boasts the sticker on the front, but I never believe stickers! As you will know from previous reviews, I am not exactly a stats man. So, if you fancy a geek-fest to work out how they have got to 2000w then head to the QSC website. However, from a practical DJ perspective, these could easily handle a 150/200 guest wedding without the need for an additional bass bin. However, if you do want a little extra ‘thump’ a K.2 Bass Bin is soon to be launched [review to follow].
Handle aficionados will be pleased to know there are both side and top handles integrated into the casing. This makes for easy handling and, at over 17kg, that really helps with sticking them up on stands. Top-hat fans will be over-the-moon as you get not one, but two glorious holes to choose from! The second being a tilted (7.5˚) option, which is particularly useful if you are working from a stage. The build quality is of a very high standard and is inoffensive to look at; the QSC designers have opted for a sleek design but haven’t tried too hard to do something different. The enclosure is also wedged, so the speaker can be used as a stage-monitor if required. It is also worth mentioning the wide sound dispersion – at 75˚ coverage this gives a nice room fill too.
I alluded to the ‘feature rich’ nature of the K.2 Series earlier. The back panel for the speakers in this range is a true leader in its class with a 3-channel mixer built-in that includes a 3.5mm stereo jack input with a dedicated gain control, which is handy. The other two channel inputs are provided with combination ¼” jack / XLR sockets, so this is a very flexible system that could easily be used for simple speech or background music applications without the need for a separate mixer.
Interestingly, the QSC team have not opted to add Bluetooth. I hear mixed reviews about Bluetooth usage and, at the end of the day, this is a model aimed at professional entertainers. Personally I don’t think it is needed, but for some it could be seen as a missing feature.
The back panel is really set apart when it comes to EQ and channel pre-sets. The internal DSP (Digital Signal Processor) – accessed via an LCD display – provides comprehensive individual EQ over channels one and two (labelled A and B). Channel A can be switched between Mic and Line level, while Channel B offers a choice between Line and a high-impedance Instrument setting. In addition, you can then select from several pre-defined channel EQ pre-sets that range from a bright ‘live’ setting to a ‘dance’ option that makes it sound like your graphic equaliser is smiling! There are also pre-sets for guitars, instruments, and a few stage-monitor settings too. The technology behind this EQ engine is lifted from the QSC Touchmix mixers, which offer loads of pre-sets, so you can easily achieve good EQ for a specific instrument or mic type at the touch of a button. Adding this in to the speakers is another great stand-out feature of the K.2 Series.
As with all speakers, it is best to hear them with your own ears either in-store or at an exhibition. Definitely worth a trip to a local store or BPM | PRO to have a listen. I haven’t personally pitched them side-by-side with another brand, but I can imagine they sit very well in this competitive field. One way that brands have tried to get a competitive advantage over each other recently is through ‘Warranty Wars’, offering increasingly longer manufacturer warranties with the purchase of new speakers. The K.2 Series speakers come with a whopping 6-year warranty, which is worth taking into account during the decision-making process when choosing a new sound system.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 84, Pages 76-78.