Hands-On Review:Harbinger PA Speakers

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Live sound newcomers that outperform their price

By James Gault
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer


We spend a lot of our time here at the Friend trying out gear. We  plug it in, twist the knobs, and give a listen—especially new gear.  Often we compare new products head-to-head with similar established gear  to see how they measure up. That way we know what to recommend and to  whom. It’s all part of how we help our customers find the gear that best  suits their needs and budget. And when we find a product that we  especially like for one reason or another, we go a step further and  feature it in a Hands-On Review so anyone interested can learn about it.


When the new Harbinger PA speakers came in, we immediately tried them  out. They interested us because they were a new brand, looked good, and  were priced a meaningful notch lower than the economy speakers from the  established companies. We liked what we saw and what we heard, and felt  that the Harbinger speakers deserved to be talked up. They offer bands  on a budget a new option for getting together a low-cost yet solid  quality sound system.


The Harbinger line covers all the essentials for several  configurations of club band systems. It includes two types of main  speakers, a passive two-way with a single 15" woofer and the same in a  dual 15" model. There’s an 18" subwoofer and a floor monitor with a 12"  woofer. All are passive two-way systems (except for the subwoofer, of  course). All are built to be road rugged with heavy-gauge grilles, metal  recessed handles, metal corner protectors, 1/4" and Speakon inputs, and  a tough carpet covering.


All are solid cabs, which indicates that the speakers aren’t wimpy—  and indeed they’re not. All the woofers are cast frame speakers and  feature high-temperature, precision-wound polyamide voice coils (2-1/2"  across on the 12" and 15", and 3" across on the 18"). The 12" and 15"  have hunky 80-oz. magnets, and the 18" has a massive 180-oz. magnet.


For high frequencies, all of the two-ways have compression drivers  with 1-3/4" titanium diaphragms and a 1" throat coupled with a constant  directivity horn. A built-in heavy-duty crossover provides automatic  balance between the lows and highs. Both of the main cabs feature a  trapezoidal design and are well tuned for efficient operation.


Sound matters


Impressed with what we saw, we plugged in a pair of the HX151 speaker cabs and cranked them up. The sound immediately impressed us as being much  better than other speakers of the same price. The two-way single 15"  cabs would, by themselves, do for most bands playing smaller club gigs.  They got loud without difficulty. The highs were clear and defined, the  bass tones punchy without getting boomy. The cabs are solidly  constructed so you don’t hear any of the boxy sound to which lesser cabs  are prone.


The next test we put the Harbinger cabs through was a comparison with  three affordable models from the big name companies. These are popular  cabs—highly regarded for their performance and value. All three are  speakers that cost one to two hundred dollars more than the Harbingers;   but compared head-to-head, the Harbingers seemed very much in the same  league as the name-brand speakers. The biggest difference wasn’t sonic.  The Harbingers were a little heavier than any of the others, but given  their rugged cabs and lower price, you can forgive a little weightiness.


Three ways to get big


Two more Harbinger cabs in the line are the HX118 18" Passive Subwoofer and the HX152 Dual 15" 2-Way.  A pair of the latter, on their own, make a pretty strong system—a wall  of sound. The cabs are big but have handles in the right places and  tip-back wheels so they are actually relatively easy to move. The  subwoofer with its massive 18" driver can be added to the HX151 or the HX152 to make your club system capable of battering down the building.


Made to be heard


The final Harbinger speaker is a wedge floor monitor featuring a 12"  woofer and the same HF drivers as used in the 15" boxes. The 12" has the  same magnet structure as the 15" speakers, so it’s pretty beefy. As  floor monitors, the boxes are large and hefty but they are rock solid  and put out a lot of sound with tight lows. They can do their job as  monitors well and could easily serve as mains for many gigs. They even  come with polemounts for putting them up.


Summing ’em up


The new Harbinger PA speakers are for real—well-made and loaded with  heavy-duty speakers and hardware. Judging from their efficiency, the  cabs are well designed. They sound good and get loud without problems.  The cabs are a touch on the heavy side because of the MDF cab  construction and cast frame speakers with hunky magnets and big coils.  They compare well with better-known speakers that cost one to two  hundred dollars more, and they will make any club band a hefty system  for small outlay of cash. We look forward to more additions to the  Harbinger line.


Features & Specs

HX151 15" 2-Way:

  • 15" woofer with 2-1/2" high-temperature voice coil and 80-oz. magnet
  • 1-3/4" titanium diaphragm compression driver with 1" exit
  • 90° (horizontal) x 40° (vertical) horn
  • 1/4" and Speakon inputs
  • Onboard crossover that offers a 12dB/octave network
  • Mounting cup for speaker stand
  • Recessed handles
  • Heavy-duty metal grille
  • Carpet covering

HX152 Dual 15" 2-Way:

  • Same as the HX151 with 2 - 15" speakers
  • Tilt-back handle and casters

HX121M 12" Stage Monitor:

  • 12" woofer
  • 2-1/2" high-temperature precision edge-wound polyamide voice coil
  • 80-oz. magnet
  • 1-3/4" titanium diaphragm compression driver with 1" exit
  • 90° (horizontal) x 40° (vertical) horn
  • 1/4" and Speakon inputs
  • Heavy-duty metal grille
  • Carpet covering
  • Built-in crossover with a 12dB/octave network

HX118 18" Passive Subwoofer:

  • 18" cast-aluminum frame subwoofer
  • 3" high-temperature, precision wound polyamide voice coil
  • 180-oz. magnet
  • Steel input plate with 2 - 1/4" phone jacks and one Neutrik NL4 Speakon connector
  • 16-gauge perforated steel grille
  • Durable rubber feet