QSC's latest subwooder promises to be lightweight, but still legit with the low-end. Alex Wilson turns it up and gets ready to feel the rumble.
Note: This piece first appeared in Australian Guitar #133. Subscribe to our print edition here!
If you’re the kind of musician who needs to bring your own PA to a gig, you’ve traditionally been faced with a bit of a dilemma. As, say, a busker or a wedding performer, you need your rig to be portable. But to make the best impression, you also want it to sound fantastic. A speaker setup that won’t break your back risks breaking your audiences’ ears with the shrill sound that a smaller rig tends towards. Here’s where QSC step in. The KS112 Powered Subwoofer is designed to provide extra low-end, making your performance sound bigger and better without adding too much bulk in your boot.
IT’S APARTMENT FRIENDLY!
QSC have been at the live sound game for half a century at this point. Formed in the late ‘60s and hailing from California, they’ve traditionally focused on the big end of Live Sound Town. The KS112
forms part of a more recent bevy of products that are taking QSC’s reputation for exceptional sound and performance into a more consumer-friendly direction.
Accordingly, the KS112 is designed to be paired with another speaker (or two) so that the mids and highs are covered. QSC offers a small ecosystem of products that work together nicely in this fashion, but the KS112 can also be used with any speaker from any brand.
Measuring 622-by-394-by-616 (milimetres) and weighing in at 28.4 kilograms, the KS112 can be physically handled by one person. Its frame is wooden, but is finished in a sleek black design that is both professional and clean. There’s a lot of flexibility built into the design. It can be securely placed in either a vertical or horizontal orientation, and there’s two sockets to allow for pole-mounting. This would typically be used to sit the woofer on the ground and mount the other speaker on top.
Rounding out the versatility is a set of low-noise casters on the back of the unit, where the controls are. They were, indeed, quiet and smooth. Overall, getting the KS112 from my third-floor apartment, into my car and finally into the jam room for testing was pretty painless.
PACKING A PUNCH
The amp itself powers a 12-inch speaker, and is specified to provide 128 decibels of SPL measured at one metre, with a frequency response of 41-to-108-hertz. In layman’s terms, this means the KS112 is very loud and fat. This is all well and good, but what’s truly impressive is the definition and dynamics – thump, impact – imparted alongside the power.
I tested the KS112 with a diverse playlist of material and it handled each style with aplomb. On Rage Against The Machine’s “Take The Power Back”, for example, the introductory kick drums and slapped bass riffs were augmented by big, clean and pleasing sub frequencies. The KS112’s sound is clean and fast, able to handle relatively low-end content that moves quickly.
The amplifier module itself cranks out 2000 watts of Class D power. While audiophiles often extol the virtues of Class A and A/B designs, the size required and heat generated makes them quite unsuitable for a compact live subwoofer. Not to mention that the technology that powers Class D amps has been leaping and bounding in recent years, with once deal-breaking issues to do with distortion and noise now practically negligible. This is an interesting topic with plenty online to research, but suffice to say that the KS112 sounds incredibly loud, clean and dynamic for such a stocky little unit.
The final thing to outline here are the unit’s controls and connections, located on the back panel. Even this placement is well-considered. No matter whether the KS112 is lying horizontally or vertically, the controls are within reach. There are the standard XLR inputs and outputs; two of each.
In addition to these is a trim pot, a rotary selection knob, a couple of buttons and an LCD screen. Manipulating these enables the user to control a bunch of useful settings. There’s a switchable crossover frequency of 80 or 100 hertz, a three-way delay setting, and the ability to save these settings as ‘scenes’.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Overall, this is a great piece of kit that could certainly help travelling performers or small venues take their live sound to the next level. It’s not the cheapest option in its class, but there’s bang for buck in the quality on offer.
• 2000 watts of Class D power
• Well-designed profile with casters attached
• Multiple mounting options
• Scene saving
• 128 decibels of SPL at 41-hertz to 108-hertz
• Portable and lightweight
• High quality sound
• Reasonable price point
• Could potentially have more detailed controls