QSC HPR Powered Loudspeakers

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When I first saw the QSC boxes at the NAMM show I thought to myself “Those are some handsome speaker enclosures, I wonder how they sound?” That may seem backwards, but think about it: If you are a musician providing your own sound gear on a gig, you start at a perceptual disadvantage.

A client who is accustomed to hiring out a sound company will be LOOKING for something to be wrong, and ugly gear is the first slip down a slope that leads to never getting another gig from that person. QSC is offering up 5 good-looking boxes in their HPR line: the HPR122i (12” 2-way); the HPR152i (15” 2-way); the HPR153i (15” 3-way); the HPR151i (15” sub); and the HPR181i (18” sub). All the cabinets are rugged birch plywood and have a textured black paint covering. In addition, all models sport ergonomic handles and heavy duty grills. Power amps are QSC and matched to the various speaker and driver components.

On-board electronics include: active EQ; electronic crossovers; limiting; and thermal overload protection. These are the standard fare in the powered speaker biz so QSC has added a couple of very smart features. On all 2- and 3- way units, there is a 100Hz low-cut filter. If you are using the boxes with the subs, engage the switch. If you are going sans subs, forget the switch and let the enclosures drop down a little lower. The subs also have a full range and 100Hz hi-cut outputs. Another brilliant little feature is an LED on/off switch. If you don’t like your LED, turn it off! The rubber feet offered on the 2 and 3-way models are actually low profile rubber strips. Another very handy feature. The HPR181i sub has four beefy casters bolted to it’s back. At 127 lbs, you will obviously need them when moving these babies around. QSC was gracious enough to load their toys into some really nice road cases for me but I did wheel the subs over grass (the sound guys nemesis) and they rolled along just fine.


On The Gigs

Three shows in three days with gear that I had zero experience with. That was my mission and I jumped into it feet first. The first gig was at a big church in LA with a sixpiece gospel band and a five-piece choir. I decided to use the HPR122i boxes as monitors for the choir. This 2-way enclosure features a 12” woofer with a neodymium speaker and 3” voice coil, powered by 400 watts and a 1.4 “ diaphragm neodymium compression driver pushed by another 100watts. The box weighs in at 60lbs and is suitable for monitor or front of house applications.

As monitors they worked beautifully. They have plenty of power and are tuned so nicely I needed very little EQ on the overall mix. This model was my favorite of the ones I tested. The choir has very happy with what they heard and, as you know, good monitors make the performers happy and that makes for a good show.

The following day I took the 122i’s to a very upscale golf awards dinner in the Santa Clarita valley (about 50 miles from L.A.). I was servicing about 200 bodies with light background music, and for the M.C and an auctioneer. I set the QSCs up on sticks at F.O.H. and added two other powered bins as side fills. Once again the 122i’s sounded smooth and rich with very little EQ. I used the boxes full range, which gave me a little more punch in the low end, and I turned off the LEDs. The M.C. even commented on how good the speakers looked. That’s pretty rare in the business. The main thing was the coordinator was satisfied, which means I’ll be back next year.

Next day, next gig, and this time with the 181i subs and the 153i mains. The subs are loaded with one 18” speaker featuring a 4” voice coil and 700watts of power. The 153i’s are 3-way boxes with a 15” speaker and 3” voice coil backed by 400watts, a 6.5” horn loaded midrange powered by 100watts and a 1.4” diaphragm compression driver also powered by 100watts.

I was doing a little Sunday in the park gig in Sierra Madre, California. It was a beautiful afternoon for some rockin’ blues and I was hoping I wasn’t underpowered for the show. I had about 500 bodies and I wanted to rock them. I was thrilled to hear the subs slugging out some real bass. Nice, tight and precise these bins sound bigger than they are. The 153i 3-way boxes also felt and sounded like they had more energy than their 600watts. They emit a very smooth hi fidelity sound from low to mids to highs. I successfully blanketed the audience with some very nice blues. The show ended and I couldn’t have been happier. Every event went well and QSCs were a big part of my success. SM MSRPs range from $1,199 for the HPR122i to $1,849 for the HPR181i.