Hands-On Review:QSC Audio HPR Powered Speakers

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Power, performance, and reliability

By Trent DeWitt


QSC Audio HPR Powered Speakers

Any performer who has looked at powered PA speakers as a live sound  option knows the importance of the amplification system used. Although  the speakers themselves might boast high-performance specs, the power  amplifiers within can be a good place for a manufacturer to cut a few  corners and increase the profit margin. When Musician’s Friend asked me  to review QSC’s HPR powered speakers, I jumped at the chance to see how they incorporated the power amps they’re renowned for into the mix.


Internal affairs


The HPR Series consists of the HPR152F two-way cabinet, the HPR153F three-way cabinet, and two subwoofers—the HPR151W 15" and the HPR181W 18" model. Using their supreme knowledge of amplification, QSC  perfectly matched each amplifier’s output and class to its corresponding  speaker component for optimal sound. The amps in HPR speakers are QSC  all the way—discrete component designs are used in every one along with  the same standards and elements used in any QSC amp.


The HPR152F boasts 500W of biamplified output—a 400W class H  amplifier for the 15" low-frequency driver and a 100W class AB+B amp for  the 1-3/4" diaphragm compression driver. The three-way, triamplified  HRP153F cabinet ups the power level with a 400W LF class H amplifier, a  100W MF class AB+B amp, and a 100W HF Class AB+B amplifier. Each  subwoofer cranks out an impressive 700W of pure QSC power from a class H  amp.


Having such high-quality amplifiers means little if that power isn’t  distributed effectively. Active crossovers in the HPR152F and HPR153F  speakers ensure a smooth transition between frequencies, eliminating any  overlap that can muddy up your sound. Large aluminum heatsinks keep the  amplifiers from overheating no matter how hard you’re driving them.


To match these professional components, QSC used 13-ply birch for the  enclosures with specially designed bracing to make them road-ready and  free from rattles and other unwanted noise. A 16-gauge steel grille  protects the drivers and adds to the pro look of the HPR Series.


Professional performance


Now that you’ve got an idea of what’s on the inside of the HPR line, let’s get into their performance. First up was a wedding gig with  my cover band. Because we employ a lot of percussion, keyboard lines,  and other mid- and high-range instruments, I set up the three-way  HPR153Fs as our front-of-house mains, and their two-way counterparts as  side-stage monitors.


From the first guitar riff of our standard opener, "You Really Got  Me," to the last piano tinkles of Billy Joel's "I Love You Just The Way  You Are," plus all "Tequila" and "YMCA" points in-between, the mix was  outstanding from both the monitors and the mains. The reception hall was  quite large and filled with nearly 300 people, but there were no shouts  to "Turn it up!" and the dance floor was full all night.


Both the HPR153Fs and HPR152Fs delivered superb, punchy low-end  response. The chick of the hi-hat and our guitarist’s subtle harmonic  work shimmered from the three-way mains, with impeccable separation and  no audible distortion whatsoever. The mix in the HPR152Fs was equally  admirable, allowing me to stay on top of everything the band was doing.  We typically skate by with a less-than-optimal monitoring setup, which  leaves me worrying more about the sound than concentrating on my  performance. With the HPR152Fs as monitors, I had none of these  problems.


Sublime subs


In order to properly test the HPR181W subwoofer, I offered to do  sound for a friend of mine who DJs at a popular local club. We ran the  mixer’s signal into the stereo XLR inputs on the subwoofer, then hooked  up the HPR153Fs using the subwoofer’s handy 100Hz low-cut XLR outputs.


As the evening progressed, I was floored by the sheer output of the  HPR181W and its incredible clarity. The combination of the HPR153Fs and  the sub proved to be a setup any DJ can count on. Whether my friend was  spinning retro tracks from Depeche Mode, rock tunes, or booty-shaking  house music, the low end was never boomy or distorted and the mids and  highs cut right through just as they had at the wedding gig.


A new legend is born


The HPR Series takes powered speaker performance and sound to exciting new levels. Now  musicians can count on powered speakers to deliver like traditional  power amp/passive speaker combinations. With fully discrete QSC amps  built right in and speaker components perfectly matched to them, HPR  speakers are a no-brainer. Given the selection, there’s an HPR setup for  everyone from the local bar band to touring professionals.


Series features:

  • Painted birch plywood enclosures
  • Power, Signal, Limit LEDs
  • Convection cooling
  • Thermal/power limiting amp protection
  • Powder-coated, 16-gauge steel grilles


  • 400W LF Class H amplifier
  • 100W HF Class AB+B amplifier
  • 15" woofer with 3" voice coil
  • 1-3/4" diaphragm compression driver
  • Balanced XLR Line In/Out jacks
  • 53Hz-18kHz frequency response
  • Gain, low-cut filter controls
  • 19"W x 32"H x 18"D
  • 100 lbs.


  • 400W LF Class H amplifier
  • 100W MF Class AB+B amplifier
  • 100W HF Class AB+B amplifier
  • 15" woofer with 3" voice coil
  • 6-1/2" horn
  • 1-2/5" diaphragm compression driver
  • Balanced XLR Line In/Out jacks
  • 42Hz-19kHz frequency response
  • Gain, low-cut filter controls
  • 19"W x 44-3/4"H x 18"D
  • 118 lbs.


  • 15"/18" woofer with 3"/4" voice coil
  • 700W Class H amplifier
  • Gain, phase controls
  • Balanced XLR line in, out, throughputs (2 each)
  • 47Hz-110Hz frequency response (HPR151W)
  • 42Hz-110Hz frequency response (HPR181W)
  • 22"W x 25"H x 20-3/4"D, 98 lbs. (HPR151W)
  • 23-1/2"W x 28"H x 23"D, 127 lbs. (HPR181W)