Review: QSC CP8 Speaker – A DJ’s lil best bud?

Angelic glow and loud as…

Late last year QSC revealed a new series of speaker, the “CP” series, which touted the same QSC signature sound we would expect, in a more affordable and lighter incarnation. Now, plenty was written in anticipation but not many reviews have surfaced out there. Particularly, for my intended purpose, which is how does it perform as a speaker monitor for DJing (for mobile set ups) and maybe as a secondary solution to a full rig?

Now, I should not have to explain why a speaker monitor for djing is important, but I find I have to all the time (lol) to: wedding planners, restaurant owners,  brides and grooms, my girlfriend, sound-techs, and even other DJs (I thought we were in this together). The answer is simple: DJ’s need to hear what is going on, more than anyone else in the room in order to perform. It is not unlike any other type of musician/performer. Timing, volume, pitch, tempo are all factors that are important to DJs or at least should be. Digital djing is definitely more forgiving in that respect, you can almost dj with your eyes now but ultimately we need to hear what we are doing, no interpretation.  That is why any DJ mixer worth its salt has at least one “booth out” output. Now, there are some cases, as a dj, where you are positioned close enough to a speaker where you are, more or less, hearing it the same way your audience is. More often, however, you may not be near a speaker, it may be positioned away from you or perhaps you are isolated from your audience almost altogether. I remember playing a early gig with kQuattro (1/2 of the duo was Egyptrixx, now ACT!) and Crystal Castles (RIP) and I was playing in a closet (pretty much) before the kitchen with the speakers and audience in another room. Every time someone would come out of the kitchen I would get hit with the swinging door: how am I sounding? In a more recent example, I played the Design Exchange in downtown Toronto. Huge space! However, the audio vendor would not provide stage monitors. We are talking $100,000+ worth of equipment, but fair enough. Furthermore, the reality is DJs are often an afterthought to establishments. Their makeshift booths don’t consider the things that DJs need, including an adequate amount of space and a speaker close enough to hear what you are doing. In some cases, you may need to hear the music louder than your audience does to get the mix right, for example in a restaurant or playing a wedding reception.

So, having a monitor for djing is invaluable. Personally, I kept holding out for a 8″ to 10″ speaker that was lightweight and could wedge (perfect for the urban DJ to jump in your car service with). You would be surprised how little options there are. For example, the Yamaha DBR10 and Yamaha DXR8 which sound great, albeit a more flatter response, do not set up as a wedge, otherwise they would have been a contender. The JBL EON610 is kind of ugly, if you want to use as a secondary p.a., and JBLs sound (in my experience) is just ok: loud but can get brash (convince me otherwise in comments). There is of course the QSC K8, which is not a bad option but because it is discontinued you may have to go secondhand (i.e. no warranty for an expensive item).  Its newer replacement the K8.2 are a good option, but they are for some a rather expensive indulgence for the main purpose of a dj monitor at almost double the cost of the CP8s. However, even in a city as “world class” as Toronto, being able to hear them in the flesh is tough, no floor models anywhere. So, I decided to take the plunge so you don’t have to.

Comparatively, almost under the size of a crate (the universal ruler for djs)

First Impressions

It is of small stature and width but has a good weight to it. That is, enough weight to feel substantial but an easy pick up. There is no side handle but a top handle. Although it should be relatively easy to take on an off a speaker pole. The hard plastic (Polypropylene) outer shell feels nice and solid. When you hear “plastic” you fear the worst but it feels solid, hopefully it withstands the test of time and doesn’t scratch easily. It is the perfect size for a booth speaker where space is often limited. Being able to set up 5 ways is nice: vertically on a tabletop; horizontally flat on one side or as a wedge on the other; on a speaker pole (35mm); or they have a yoke / wallmount to install it. For the audio we have 3 inputs: two (x2) mic / line inputs; one (x1) 3.5mm input for a mp3 player and one (x1) xlr output to link the signal (post gain) to additional speakers. That is enough inputs to do smaller demo size setups or perhaps for weddings, small ceremony or reception. Is it enough power though?

The QSC CP9 has lots of inputs: TRS 1/4″, XLR, even a 1/8″ 3.5mm input.

The QSC C9 boasts a 1000 Watt Class D Amplifier the same as its larger version the CP12. It does not have full control of the eq rather it has six (x6) different EQ presets. On first power up I would say it definitely met my expectations and surpassed them! This thing is loud with good clarity! As a monitor, placed facing towards me, I put the CP8’s volume at 8 o’clock (2 clicks) and 9 o’clock (2 clicks) on my booth output from the Pioneer S9 and it was comfortable room listening and it only went up from there.

As far as the eq setting I preferred the default setting. I got really good clarity (highs, mid, lows) testing a vinyl record. The more I turned it up, in the confines of my small studio, the more it scared me how loud it got (hello neighbours). The dance setting added more bass but I felt it was a little bit muddled (your audience will probably not know). However, I don’t really see that as its purpose, as full p.a. solution. I think this is best suited as a monitor;  an additional speaker for filling up a room; or as tops with the addition of a sub (there are eq settings to accommodate a sub). However, if your client is on a budge maybe 2 of these in a small setting would be adequate.

As a speaker wedge, it performed well. It has a 90 degrees of sound dispersion, which makes it ideal for this use. I had this placed maybe a foot away from me and could hear it no problem. The speaker was more or less pointing at my lower torso but could still hear it. I would say ideally at around 2-3 feet it would be pointing directly at your ear.

So, thus far really happy with the purchase. I am going to record a mix using it and I have weddings lined up where it will be used and tested in different live setting so I will post updates.

TBC…

Pros:

  • A more affordable QSC speaker that does not sacrifice sound.
  • Compact design that will fit most dj booths.
  • Has a 90 degrees of sound dispersion, which makes it ideal for a wedge by your feet. Even at a foot away I could hear what I was doing.
  • Loud enough for small crowds.

Cons:

  • Very little
  • Warranty is only 3 years compared to their usual 6 for other speakers. *Be sure to register online to qualify, otherwise its only 1 year.

 

 

 

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