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QSC CP8 PA Speaker vs. 8" Studio Monitors

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#1
First post here and looking for some expert opinions. On various pro and home audio forums (including this one) I've been researching for many months modestly priced 8" active studio monitors with a wide dynamic range suitable for higher SPL home theater and music listening. This has led me to the JBL 308P MkII and Kali LP-8 as the leading candidates with perhaps a slight edge to the LP-8 based on all the reviews, measurements and comments to date. Then on a pro forum I ran across a comment where someone said his QSC CP8 had "near" studio monitor audio quality while being able to play cleanly at much higher levels. Further research on pro forums showed consistently high ratings from touring musicians, DJs, etc., with many describing it as having an almost "hi-fi" sound.

When I looked at the dimensions of the CP8 I was surprised to see that it's very close in size and weight to the 308P and LP-8 studio monitors -- 16.2" × 10.7" × 10.1" and 21 lb. With much more powerful amplifiers and maximum SPL the CP8 would certainly have a greater dynamic range than the JBL and Kali. But what would the tradeoffs be? Background hiss is often mentioned as an issue with modestly priced active studio monitors. Yet one CP8 review said hiss could only be heard when the ear was almost touching the speaker.

The studio monitors definitely have an advantage in low end extension with the CP8 dropping like a rock below 60Hz. But the CP8 is designed with an internal high-pass filter of 80Hz suggesting it's designed for crossing to a sub at 80Hz where I'd be crossing the studio monitors anyway.

Certainly the studio monitors must have an edge in measured audio quality for a home setting. But how much of an edge and would the CP8's greater dynamic range and higher SPL be worth the tradeoff for someone prioritizing those qualities? Measurements of PA speakers are not very common but one German site did provide extensive measurements and the CP8 graphs looked pretty good to me for a relatively inexpensive ($400) active PA speaker.

So I am now really seriously looking at the QSC CP8 as an alternative to the Kali LP-8 or JBL 308P MkII and would really appreciate thoughts from anyone about the comparative merits. For your consideration I'm including three links below to the QSC website. The first is to the CP8 page, the second to the German Production Partner Magazine review with measurements and the third to the Sound On Sound review that mentions virtually inaudible hiss:

https://www.qsc.com/live-sound/products/loudspeakers/powered-loudspeakers/cp-series/cp8/

https://www.qsc.com/resource-files/articles/q_ar_livesound_prodpartnermag_cp8-ks112_review.pdf

https://www.qsc.com/resource-files/articles/q_ar_livesound_sosmag_cp_review.pdf
 

pozz

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#2
It looks really good. The only thing is that the on-axis response is somewhat uneven, with the bass being dominant. But all in all a really good and EQable offering. Welcome, and thanks for posting about it.
 

Trouble Maker

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#3
That's $400/each for that vs ~$400/pair for the Kali or JBL right?

Kind of hard to compare, I would want to cross-shop other $400/each speakers if I wanted to make that step up in price to get more SPLs.

Sorry, I don't know that market well enough to offer alternatives.
 
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Thread Starter #4
$400 per speaker was my budget limit when I began researching all available 8" active studio monitors. After extensive cross-shopping I really haven't found any 8" active studio monitor priced closer to $400 each that offered greater dynamic range and SPL than the $200 Kali LP-8 and JBL 308P MkII.

I really like that Kali rates the LP-8 to THX reference level of 85 dB continuously with 20 dB of dynamic headroom at a maximum listening distance of 2.8 meters (9.2 feet). That's slightly shorter than my current listening distance but I could probably live with it. The QSC CP8 maximum listening distance for 85 dB continuously with 20 dB of dynamic headroom would obviously far exceed 9.2 feet which would give me better performance in my current listening setup and more flexibility for a potential future larger space.
 

thewas

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#5
For $400 per speaker you can also get the Kali IN-8 which due to its 3-way and coaxial mid/tweeter offers very clean mids (low intermodulation) and also smooth horizontal and vertical directivity.
 
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Thread Starter #6
I've considered the Kali IN-8. However, it has no greater dynamic range and SPL than the LP-8. The increased dynamic range and SPL of a speaker like the QSC CP8 has more value to me at the $400 per speaker price point than the IN-8's audio quality improvement over the LP-8.
 
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#7
A cheaper PA option would be the JBL EON610. Currently available for $274/each.

eon610_duo_z_vert_medium.jpg

Screenshot_20201118-175227.png
Screenshot_20201117-141347.png
 
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thewas

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#8
I've considered the Kali IN-8. However, it has no greater dynamic range and SPL than the LP-8. The increased dynamic range and SPL of a speaker like the QSC CP8 has more value to me at the $400 per speaker price point than the IN-8's audio quality improvement over the LP-8.
Pure THD based SPL numbers don't show the cleanness (IMD) differences of a 2-way and 3-way design, if you ask Kali they will confirm that too.
 
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Thread Starter #9
I understand the sonic advantages of the 3-way Kali IN-8 over the 2-way Kali LP-8. I'm prioritizing dynamic range and SPL over those sonic advantages which is why the QSC CP8 makes more sense to me at the $400 per speaker price point. I realize this is not an intuitive choice for most home audio enthusiasts. But I'm looking for a reasonably accurate active speaker that will reach THX reference of 85 dB continuously with 20 dB of dynamic headroom at 12 feet or more which neither the Kali LP-8 nor IN-8 can do. I'm not aware of any $400 active studio monitor that can do this which is why I started looking at pro speaker options.

I've considered the JBL EON610. By all accounts I could find on different pro audio forums the QSC CP8 would provide enough noticeably superior performance in a home theater/music environment to make it worth the added cost over the EON610 for me.
 
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#10
I've considered the JBL EON610. By all accounts I could find on different pro audio forums the QSC CP8 would provide enough noticeably superior performance in a home theater/music environment to make it worth the added cost over the EON610 for me.
In what regards? The EON610 measurements look better to me. I also find it odd that QSC doesn't list the +- in their frequency response, where JBL clearly lists it as +-3dB. Also, QSC doesn't list the -3dB point, an industry standard. For some reason they only list -6db and -10dB.
 
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Thread Starter #11
Based on the independent measurements of the CP8's performance I'm not concerned about QSC not listing -3dB points. QSC has an excellent reputation in the pro speaker world. Beyond factory specifications I've read all the reviews on the CP8 and EON610 as well as many firsthand experiences on pro forums from touring musicians, DJs, etc., and believe based on that total body of data that the CP8 is the better choice for my purposes.
 
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#12
Based on the independent measurements of the CP8's performance I'm not concerned about QSC not listing -3dB points. QSC has an excellent reputation in the pro speaker world. Beyond factory specifications I've read all the reviews on the CP8 and EON610 as well as many firsthand experiences on pro forums from touring musicians, DJs, etc., and believe based on that total body of data that the CP8 is the better choice for my purposes.
I worked for an event production company for years and we used every brand in the game, JBL was always our go-to. The abuse they took was unrivaled. Most pro guys don't talk about their gear, they're busy doing gigs.
 

waynel

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#13
First post here and looking for some expert opinions. On various pro and home audio forums (including this one) I've been researching for many months modestly priced 8" active studio monitors with a wide dynamic range suitable for higher SPL home theater and music listening. This has led me to the JBL 308P MkII and Kali LP-8 as the leading candidates with perhaps a slight edge to the LP-8 based on all the reviews, measurements and comments to date. Then on a pro forum I ran across a comment where someone said his QSC CP8 had "near" studio monitor audio quality while being able to play cleanly at much higher levels. Further research on pro forums showed consistently high ratings from touring musicians, DJs, etc., with many describing it as having an almost "hi-fi" sound.

When I looked at the dimensions of the CP8 I was surprised to see that it's very close in size and weight to the 308P and LP-8 studio monitors -- 16.2" × 10.7" × 10.1" and 21 lb. With much more powerful amplifiers and maximum SPL the CP8 would certainly have a greater dynamic range than the JBL and Kali. But what would the tradeoffs be? Background hiss is often mentioned as an issue with modestly priced active studio monitors. Yet one CP8 review said hiss could only be heard when the ear was almost touching the speaker.

The studio monitors definitely have an advantage in low end extension with the CP8 dropping like a rock below 60Hz. But the CP8 is designed with an internal high-pass filter of 80Hz suggesting it's designed for crossing to a sub at 80Hz where I'd be crossing the studio monitors anyway.

Certainly the studio monitors must have an edge in measured audio quality for a home setting. But how much of an edge and would the CP8's greater dynamic range and higher SPL be worth the tradeoff for someone prioritizing those qualities? Measurements of PA speakers are not very common but one German site did provide extensive measurements and the CP8 graphs looked pretty good to me for a relatively inexpensive ($400) active PA speaker.

So I am now really seriously looking at the QSC CP8 as an alternative to the Kali LP-8 or JBL 308P MkII and would really appreciate thoughts from anyone about the comparative merits. For your consideration I'm including three links below to the QSC website. The first is to the CP8 page, the second to the German Production Partner Magazine review with measurements and the third to the Sound On Sound review that mentions virtually inaudible hiss:

https://www.qsc.com/live-sound/products/loudspeakers/powered-loudspeakers/cp-series/cp8/

https://www.qsc.com/resource-files/articles/q_ar_livesound_prodpartnermag_cp8-ks112_review.pdf

https://www.qsc.com/resource-files/articles/q_ar_livesound_sosmag_cp_review.pdf
I had a pair of QSC K12s that I bought for a rehearsal studio and I decided to try them in my main stereo. Not good...

Would much rather listen to my Neumann KH120s in near or mid field.
 
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#15
What I'd be interested in is what their optimal listening distance / environment is. Similar to how studio monitors are optimized and recommended for nearfield use. IIRC Genelec doesn't even have a monitor they recommend for over ~2.5m, despite SPL being sufficient. Unless I don't understand their chart properly.
 

Sancus

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#16
What I'd be interested in is what their optimal listening distance / environment is. Similar to how studio monitors are optimized and recommended for nearfield use. IIRC Genelec doesn't even have a monitor they recommend for over ~2.5m, despite SPL being sufficient. Unless I don't understand their chart properly.
If you're talking about the "direct sound dominance" chart, they have bookshelf sized monitors going up to 3m(S360A, 8361A), and main monitors going up to 5m(1236A).

Direct sound dominance is a studio monitoring preference for obvious reasons(you want to hear what you are putting on the track, not anything to do with your room), but that does not follow to it being a home listening preference. There it's really down to a matter of personal preference, room characteristics, etc.

There are very, very few speakers with narrow enough dispersion to be >3m on this chart. Most hi-fi floorstanders and bookshelves would not be.
 

HooStat

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#17
Are you using a sub? If so, that should allow all of your speaker options to play louder and cleaner if you set a cross-over somewhere. For the $400 difference between the Kali/JBL and the QSC you could buy most/all of a good sub, depending on your preferences.
 

andreasmaaan

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#18
QSC generally makes excellent speakers IMO, usually very competitive in any given price/class.

However, I would just question one starting assumption you've made here, i.e. that a speaker like e.g. 308P will not produce 85dB continuous with 20dB of headroom at a distance of 12 feet or more in-room.

According to the 308P manual, it's rated at 102dB continuous / 112dB peak @1m.

I assume that you've calculated your SPL requirements based on the inverse square law, which would give you approx. 91dB continuous / 101dB peak @12 feet for the 308P. Is that correct?

If so, I think your failure to take into account the effects of reflections on SPL level mean that you are significantly underestimating the SPL your these speakers will actually produce at a listening distance of 12 feet.

I explained the reasons for this in some detail here.

THX reference levels are based on the SPL at the listening position in-room, not on the anechoic SPL capability of the speakers.
 
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Thread Starter #19
I should have stated up front that over the years I've personally experienced both live and recorded music played through a variety of PA speakers in small venues. The best small venue pro sound I ever heard led me to walk up and ask the sound engineer what the tiny speakers were that were creating such a huge soundstage. He showed me that they were 8" active EV ZXA1-90 speakers and said they were his personal favorites. They had a clean, clear unstrained quality that I've never experienced with any of my home audio speakers.

I would be perfectly comfortable with EV ZXA1-90 speakers in my home. However, they cost $100 each more than the QSC CP8 and are an older design. Those who've compared the CP8 to the ZXA1-90 mostly agree that they are at least comparable in overall performance. That's why I'm comfortable with putting the CP8 at the top of my list. As previously mentioned every review I've read plus the independent measurements in the German publication reinforce this.

As for in room performance potentially extending the distance at which 85 dB continuously with 20 dB headroom can be achieved I had not previously seen this mentioned in any of my extensive reading so it doesn't seem to be a widely acknowledged feature. What I have seen documented on other AV forums is measured real world performance that LP-8/308P class 8" active studio monitors fall short of achieving THX reference beyond 10 feet and sound strained and compressed trying to achieve it whereas active PA speakers in the same environments have achieved measured THX reference beyond 10 feet with no sign of strain or compression.

So while I think I could be satisfied with something like the Kali or JBL 8" active studio monitors I believe the CP8 would come closer to capturing that special experience I had listening to the EV ZXA1-90 active PA speakers. My priority is effortlessly reaching THX reference at part throttle to use an automotive term. In either case I would be crossing at 80 Hz to a sub so bass performance is not an issue.
 
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#20
I should have stated up front that over the years I've personally experienced both live and recorded music played through a variety of PA speakers in small venues. The best small venue pro sound I ever heard led me to walk up and ask the sound engineer what the tiny speakers were that were creating such a huge soundstage. He showed me that they were 8" active EV ZXA1-90 speakers and said they were his personal favorites. They had a clean, clear unstrained quality that I've never experienced with any of my home audio speakers.
Screenshot_20201119-104104.png
 
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