It was right around a decade ago when QSC unleashed its now-legendary KW181 active subwoofer on the market. And 10 years down the line, to my ears, very few subs have been able to best their sound-quality-to-price recipe.
But now that the KW181 has been discontinued, the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based manufacturer has delivered its long-awaited replacement, the massively impressive KS118 sub. Stout, well-made and unsuspecting – the KS118 is the perfect fit in almost any subwoofer application.
Sound & Image: First off, the subwoofer looks as good as it sounds. With a more upright design (vs. the KW181), the unit allows mobile DJs to get their tops on poles and up over the heads of their dancers. Add in some impressive processing, including cardioid settings (like the single-box cardioid KS212C, which I reviewed in early 2019), allows the DJs to direct the bass toward the dancefloor and away from the rear of the sub. Finally, you can be assured the bass sweet spot will be on the dancefloor, not in the DJ booth behind the subs.
QSC’s KS118 ($1,499 MAP) is a beautiful wood enclosure delivering clean, clear, bass blasting through a 3,600-watt, Class D amplifier. The 18-inch driver humbles the low frequencies and provides constant and precise bass. QSC provided me with a pair of the new K.2 Series loudspeakers – but with its highly adjustable crossover, the KS118 can be dialed in to complement whatever top units you pair it with.
In Practice: Playing in a relatively big room, with a crowd of over 250, my pair of KS118 subs handled everything I could throw at them – from dancehall and reggaeton to classic house and modern EDM – without breaking a sweat. At another show, I set up my subs back-to-back in a configuration that QSC claims will deliver the best bass SPLs, and the results were stunning – almost too much for a crowd of 200.
Certainly, the KS118’s low-frequency performance is plenty impressive. But if you’re looking for that extra bottom for EDM tunes, for example, just activate the unit’s DEEP mode and you’ll rock the joint. And, again, if you add that second sub unit, you can very effectively run the pair in cardioid mode (advantages include feedback control), keeping the low frequencies in check.
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