QSC is a brand who have solidified themselves in a market that features an overwhelming number of audio systems that are marketed as affordable yet high quality. With an ever increasing surge in OEM-esque products arriving from the East, do products developed with an apparent focus on higher quality assurance and built upon a legacy of research and development really come out on top? This is a fact that QSC make no shy statements about with their CP Series of powered loudspeakers, so we put the speakers through a testing process that, I think is more than fair to say, was suitably rigorous enough to uphold or argue with such a bold and impactful statement.
The CP Series is very much designed to fit in what could be considered to be the entry-level of the professional sector. This is an area of the market that QSC has not previously explored with its loudspeakers, with the title of the company’s most affordable product previously being held by the original K Series, now of course succeeded by the equally successful K.2 Series.
On initial inspections of the product, it is clear that QSC have not simply “stripped back” their previously existing lines of loudspeakers in order to create a cheaper and more accessible product. This would have been a foolish move for the company to make – anyone need only look at other companies, both in and out of the professional audio sector, who have devalued their brand and indeed their business by simply attempting to offer lesser quality products in order to compete with other “OEM” or budget brand competitors. Instead, what QSC have strived to create is a product that sits humbly, yet proudly, against the company’s other successful product ranges. It does so as a product that still delivers the expectations of value, quality and reliability that sit with QSC – within a package that is accessible to a wider demographic of users. The CP Series is currently available in 2 different models – the CP8 and CP12 – with 8” and 12” woofers respectively. Both feature the same connections, cabinet design and amplifiers, but with the differences in SPL and frequency response that you would expect between two cabinets with a LF driver size difference of 4”.
Turning the cabinet, we find a compliment of input options, made possible thanks to dual XLR/TRS combo inputs alongside a 3.5mm stereo aux input. Both combo inputs have separate gain control, though it is worth noting that the gain control for the first also controls the level of the stereo aux. There’s also a microphone boost option for the second combo input, which is a microphone and line input. In terms of output, we find a post gain mix out, which is a sum of all the inputs on the fixture.
Finally, we find something unexpected from such an affordable unit, in the form of a DSP control switch. Although a simple rotary switch, it’s interesting to see that the speaker temporarily mutes its output when transitioning from one setting to another, to avoid any nasty clicks or spikes. These EQ contours provide options such Default, Dance, Floor Monitor and Speech. It also has useful “external sub” high-pass options for the Default and Dance modes, which we can see as being incredibly useful when utilizing with a separate subwoofer.
Configuration Two-way active loudspeaker
LF Transducer: 12 in (305 mm), cone
HF Transducer: 1.4 in (35.6 mm) compression driver
Frequency Response (-6 dB) 49 – 20 kHz
Frequency Range (-10 dB) 47 – 20 kHz
Nominal Coverage Angle: 75° Axisymetric
Maximum Rated SPL1: 126 dB
Amplifier: Class D
Peak: 800 W (LF), 200 W (HF)
2 x Gain
Mic Boost Push Switch
6-way Contour Selection Switch
Indicators: Power LED
2 x Input Signal LED
Input B MIC selected LED
Limiter active LED
Connectors: 2 x locking XLR/F ¼” combo (Line Input and Mic/Line input)
1 x 3.5 mm TRS (Stereo Input)
1 x XLR/M (Mix Output)
1 x IEC power connector
AC Power Input: Universal power supply 100 – 240 VAC, 50 – 60 Hz
AC Power Consumption (1/8th Power): 100 VAC, 0.75A – 240VAC 0.31A
Enclosure Material: Polypropylene
Attachment Points: M10 threaded insert
Color: Black (RAL 9011)
Grille: 18 Gauge powder-coated steel
Dimensions (HxWxD): 20.3 x 13.8 x 12.7 in
516 x 350 x 323 mm
Net Weight: 30.3 lbs (13.7 kg)
Shipping Weight: 36.3 lbs (16.5 kg)
Regulatory: EMC, UL, CB
Optional Accessories: CP12 Tote, CP12 Outdoor Cover, CP12 Yoke
Although 8” and 12” models are fairly standard within the entry level market of loudspeakers, what isn’t the norm here is the size of the cabinets in their entirety. Looking at the CP12, it measures up at just 51.6cm tall by 35cm wide and 32cm deep. EV’s ELX200 measures up at 62.9cm in height by 36.3cm wide and 34.4cm deep. Although a height difference of just over 11cm may not seem like a huge amount, this arguable makes an enormous difference to the portability of the CP8 – a factor that makes a huge difference to the intended end-users of these products. This is seconded by the weight of the product, which comes in at 13.7kg, almost 2kg lighter than its Electrovoice counterpart. Despite this lightness, the speakers are of an incredibly solid build, no doubt cable of handling the rigours of life on the road. Indeed, we tested these fixtures across a range of different events (even utilising them for rehearsals whilst they were in my possession), and it is always an unexpected and additional pleasure to be able to quickly de-rig and load equipment after the end of a long evening.
Moving onto sonic quality, and the age old proverb of “size isn’t everything” certainly comes into play here. For such a compact speaker, the CP12 certainly does pack a punch. This is a box that arguably will be most popular with DJ’s and small performers, so the first port of call was to test the fixtures for these purposes. Without a doubt, these speakers did not disappoint here. The sound output is clear and precise, if not possibly a little too “digital” in its tonal qualities for some listeners. None the less, for the average DJ working in a small venue, perhaps with the accompaniment of a small subwoofer, these units are certainly good value for money. Electronic music playback is decidedly punch and well-defined, with sufficient impact and dynamic range. Aside from the loudness and sonic quality of the speakers, it’s also worth noting that there is very little background noise, even with the CPs ramped all the way up in volume. Although perhaps not the most important of factors for the average user of these speakers, this is certainly something that will make a difference to the more “discerning” of users.
Next up, it was time to test the CP12s within a live music environment, firstly as floor monitors for a vocalist. Suitably impressed by the units’ ability to cut through and provide clear and reliable vocal reproduction on a relatively large stage, I was keen to test them out as front of house speakers. Fortunately, an upcoming event with vocalist, pianist and guitarist gave me ample opportunity to do so. Here, the CP12s also performed well, catering for an audience of around 100. There was clarity and definition the mix, as well as sufficient low-end to carry the weight of the piano. If I had to be particularly critical, I would say that here is where the more “digital” sound of the speakers was most audible, perhaps with a lack of warmth that might have been achievable with a wood-enclosed cabinet. However, the ease of setup and the ability to single-handedly have the system up on stands and ready to go in less than 20 minutes far outweighed any “audiophile” concerns that may have been present, especially considering their subjectivity in this instance.
With the CP Series, QSC have excelled in creating a more affordable speaker without tarnishing the reputation of the brand, something which is often the downfall of companies within the industry. Conversely, what QSC have achieved here is to create a speaker range that doesn’t reflect of a cheaper, hurriedly produced model, but rather a speaker that meets the most essential requirements of portable and reliable sound, packaged within a convenient and well-priced unit. This, combined with the after-sale support that QSC are renowned for, solidify these speakers as a solid investment for DJs and musicians alike, as well as for smaller rental companies in need of a versatile and robust workhorse. Combined with QSC’s KS series subwoofer, we can see these as being a particularly well-rounded option for the markets mentioned above.
Tested by Adam Frost
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