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Author Topic: JBL vs QSC for a Newbie Engineer  (Read 1201 times)

Connor Nygaard

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JBL vs QSC for a Newbie Engineer
« on: January 05, 2020, 02:54:03 am »

Hey folks. I'm a newbie who has been working as an assistant for medium to larger sized shows for a couple years, and I'm looking to buy my first system. The majority of what I've heard in my time is JBL, typically VRX/VTX systems with SRX728 subs in varying quantities. Thus I'm quite a fan of JBL. I've loved them for years.

As for my needs, I sincerely doubt I would need anything for more than 100 people considering I'm just beginning to branch out. My venues would be all over the place; anywhere from bars, clubs, even small to medium sized breakout rooms in hotels. I've narrowed my selection down to two systems. One from JBL, consisting of two PRX812W tops and a single SRX818SP sub. The other would be from QSC, consisting of two K12.2 tops and a single KS118 sub. I've heard the PRX818XLFW, and considering I can only transport one single 18" sub, I was hideously underwhelmed by it considering the price. It just doesn't have the output I'd want. I would be piping everything between hard hitting EDM to vocal-only shows to possibly bands through this system. For reference, my console is a Behringer XR18 to start with.

I'm a firm believer in hearing a system and drawing my own conclusion from there, but I am unable to find anyone in the Rocky Mountain region that has an SRX818SP out on demo, and I haven't had a chance to hear anything from QSC just yet. I've heard the PRXs, and they were alright, but with that PRX sub, it just didn't do it for me.

What I'm looking for in a system is simple: as much output as possible from the low end, since both sets of tops are likely going to be more than enough for what I need, and as clean of a low end as possible. I'm used to feeling it in my chest from the subs given the shows I help out with here and there, so I want as much of that as I can from my own system, while being as clean as possible as well. The PRX sub was really boomy, and I was not fond of it. I want my mids to be clearly defined, and I'd like crystal clear highs without being crackly.

I'm not sure if the material of cabinets would make a difference in sound quality, since the JBL are wooden and the QSC are plastic. I know the QSCs would be a tad smaller and a tad lighter, but the QSC sub is quite a bit bigger and heavier than the SRX, despite the former coming with casters. If the QSC was just as much louder and better than the SRX for how much heavier it is, I'm perfectly fine with that. I'll tolerate weight for output.

The only other thing I'd like to have is emotional satisfaction. As I said earlier, I've loved JBL for years, since I was a kid. Having JBL would fulfill an emotional need as well, like buying that sports car you always wanted. It's healthy, I feel. So while I would like the winner to be from Harman, I am willing to put that behind me and go towards someone else if they have a superior product. Just a small detail worth mentioning.

Thanks to anyone who throws their two cents in here, and if anyone knows of stores in the Rocky Mountain region that have any of these products, I'd also appreciate the hint.

- Connor N
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Tim Weaver

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Re: JBL vs QSC for a Newbie Engineer
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2020, 11:16:30 am »

I would suggest using the SRX subs. Even if it means getting some used tops instead of new. SRX is kind of the minimum of what is "usable" in JBL's lineup. And truthfully they work really well.

Right now if I was buying a little system like this it would be SRX subs with Yamaha DZR 12's for tops. Those Yamaha's seem to never run out of gas. Or, if you can find them the former DSR12 which are recently discontinued are almost as good. Search around here to read about how these plain-brown-wrapper speakers became the best of the bunch of anything buyable at guitar center. You really can't beat them until you start talking to dealers of higher-end brands.

Another great option is SRX subs with the SRX835P. The 3-way 835 is a really good sounding speaker that gets loud enough for most bar bands. They are popular and JBL has sold thousands of them so you might be able to find some used. This 3-way is not terribly heavy and has a pole cup so it can be put on a (sturdy) stand.
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Luke Geis

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Re: JBL vs QSC for a Newbie Engineer
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2020, 03:42:25 pm »

I can say for fact that the SRX will outrun the K series stuff without breaking a sweat. I would put the PRX to be equal to the K series in terms of output and performance. For a few dollars more the SRX line is still the speaker to beat right now. The Yamaha DZR stuff is gaining traction, but I have not yet worked with it. What I didn't like about the Yamaha DSR series is that it did use multiband compression to get its level of performance up, you could hear it when you were asking a lot of them. The SRX limiters are damn near invisible and it doesn't have a multiband thing going on. If the DZR does what the DSR did, that would be what annoys me about them ( They do say D-Contour in the literature, so I would bet they do ). I still feel that the JBL SRX line is the end all be all for those that don't have the money to step into the big leagues but can't afford to be caught playing with toys either. The SRX is as close as you can get and not spend twice as much to get it.

RCF is also a very good option, but more expensive. I am not sold on Yamaha DZR yet as I know I didn't like the D-contour thing with the DSR and it is a little more expensive than the SRX ( on average ). Another thing to consider is that the SRX has a 3" HF driver whereas the DZR has a 2" HF driver. And when you do the math, the SRX has a slightly more reasonable number than the DZR. For the DZR output the peak SPL it says it does, it would have to have a speaker sensitivity of 106db 1w - 1m!!!! Bullshit..... The SRX would have to have a 103db 1w - 1m sensitivity ( also bullshit, but at least not an outright blasphemous lie ). The 103db number is at least semi possible at the cost point, 106db is an outright, 100% BS marketing lie and for Yamaha to even suggest the DZR will hit 139db in a way that is usable is misleading. Anyway, I digress.

My vote goes for SRX.
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: JBL vs QSC for a Newbie Engineer
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2020, 09:07:39 pm »

I own/have owned pretty much everything you have listed. The KW181 were not mine but I used them for a while. The PRX subs I have are the 700 series - not the 800.

I agree with the others that the SRX series is unbeatable until you start spend a lot more money.
The PRX818 you heard - it surprises me you were not happy with it. I use mine (PRX718) all the time for the smaller shows and they sound great - not as musical or defined as the SRX subs but I wouldn't describe them as boomy.
As Luke said, the PRX series is the equivalent to the QSC K/KW series so if you didn't like the PRX, you might not like the KW either - especially for EDM.  The SRX828sp would be the sub(s) for that.
I recently sold my whole SRX system - not because I didn't like it - FAR from it , but to invest in a Danley system - a lot more money but a lot more system in less quantity of pieces.
If I had not taken the leap, I would still have the SRX system today and still get compliments all the time.
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Connor Nygaard

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Re: JBL vs QSC for a Newbie Engineer
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2020, 10:21:54 pm »

I own/have owned pretty much everything you have listed. The KW181 were not mine but I used them for a while. The PRX subs I have are the 700 series - not the 800.

I agree with the others that the SRX series is unbeatable until you start spend a lot more money.
The PRX818 you heard - it surprises me you were not happy with it. I use mine (PRX718) all the time for the smaller shows and they sound great - not as musical or defined as the SRX subs but I wouldn't describe them as boomy.
As Luke said, the PRX series is the equivalent to the QSC K/KW series so if you didn't like the PRX, you might not like the KW either - especially for EDM.  The SRX828sp would be the sub(s) for that.
I recently sold my whole SRX system - not because I didn't like it - FAR from it , but to invest in a Danley system - a lot more money but a lot more system in less quantity of pieces.
If I had not taken the leap, I would still have the SRX system today and still get compliments all the time.

Thanks everyone for the input.

I actually found the only brick and mortar store in the region that seems to stock anything SRX, let alone the whole damn lineup. So I went to listen to the 828SPs today, and also the new KS118 since they had that as well.

The long story made short is I have now decided on a system; PRX812w tops with a KS118 sub. Here's my reasoning.

The SRX828SP I listened to today was fantastic. Definitely the best, cleanest, nicest sub to my ears. But I simply cannot ignore that KS118. The amount of output that single 18" had was nearly identical to the dual 18" JBL, if not slightly more at times. I was in awe of that thing when it was cranked. The SRX was very pleasing to listen to as well, even when maxed out, and I would say the QSC was 95% as good. I hit them both with as loud a signal as I could with both up at +12dB, and neither one even considered blinking the limiter light, as the store was audibly shaking, from the *opposite* end.

As for the tops, I knew the PRXs would have plenty of puff in them to keep up with even two 828SPs, so I wasn't worried about output on those. But while the K12.2 was very similar sounding to the 812w, I preferred the sound of the JBL more. Specs be damned, it seemed to project sound a little wider than the K12.2, and also felt more "musical" if that makes any sense. The JBL was just more satisfying to listen to, but I can't explain why. I'm a cinematographer when I'm not doing A/V, and I can tell you that the images you get between an ARRI camera and a Sony/Canon/Panasonic camera are very similar, but the former just has that special ingredient that makes it much more satisfying an experience, hence why 90% of major motion pictures are shot with ARRI cameras. That's the best way I can explain what's going on with these speakers.


I don't know if I stated this originally, but I am unable to carry a dual 18" right now. I simply cannot transport it. So if I am getting similar levels out output and cleanliness as an SRX828SP in a much smaller and lighter package, which unless my ears were drunk, was definitely happening, then that's my decision right there.

So there it is. That shall be my system moving forward. Thanks a lot folks!
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: JBL vs QSC for a Newbie Engineer
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2020, 01:43:12 pm »

Thanks everyone for the input.

I actually found the only brick and mortar store in the region that seems to stock anything SRX, let alone the whole damn lineup. So I went to listen to the 828SPs today, and also the new KS118 since they had that as well.

The long story made short is I have now decided on a system; PRX812w tops with a KS118 sub. Here's my reasoning.

The SRX828SP I listened to today was fantastic. Definitely the best, cleanest, nicest sub to my ears. But I simply cannot ignore that KS118. The amount of output that single 18" had was nearly identical to the dual 18" JBL, if not slightly more at times. I was in awe of that thing when it was cranked. The SRX was very pleasing to listen to as well, even when maxed out, and I would say the QSC was 95% as good. I hit them both with as loud a signal as I could with both up at +12dB, and neither one even considered blinking the limiter light, as the store was audibly shaking, from the *opposite* end.

As for the tops, I knew the PRXs would have plenty of puff in them to keep up with even two 828SPs, so I wasn't worried about output on those. But while the K12.2 was very similar sounding to the 812w, I preferred the sound of the JBL more. Specs be damned, it seemed to project sound a little wider than the K12.2, and also felt more "musical" if that makes any sense. The JBL was just more satisfying to listen to, but I can't explain why. I'm a cinematographer when I'm not doing A/V, and I can tell you that the images you get between an ARRI camera and a Sony/Canon/Panasonic camera are very similar, but the former just has that special ingredient that makes it much more satisfying an experience, hence why 90% of major motion pictures are shot with ARRI cameras. That's the best way I can explain what's going on with these speakers.


I don't know if I stated this originally, but I am unable to carry a dual 18" right now. I simply cannot transport it. So if I am getting similar levels out output and cleanliness as an SRX828SP in a much smaller and lighter package, which unless my ears were drunk, was definitely happening, then that's my decision right there.

So there it is. That shall be my system moving forward. Thanks a lot folks!

How are you going to deal with the QSC expects the crossover to be in the mains while the JBL in the subs?  You need to use an external crossover.
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Steve-White

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Re: JBL vs QSC for a Newbie Engineer
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2020, 01:56:29 pm »

Connor, it's been mentioned - but to reiterate, buy used gear when you can.  Especially in the early days.  Also, find a local shop that's reputable and can advise you.  Get a rapport with a good sales engineer.

Most of the gear at the professional level will last a long long long time - generally becomes obsolete way before it wears out unless it's really abused.
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: JBL vs QSC for a Newbie Engineer
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2020, 02:06:48 pm »

The amount of output that single 18" had was nearly identical to the dual 18" JBL, if not slightly more at times.

I find this VERY hard to believe unless you were relying on the input gains 'appearing' to be the same. The sensitivity input on the SRX series is lower than the usual consumer grade stuff so you have to increase that for fair comparison.
That SRX828sp is a BEAST!...
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Tim Weaver

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Re: JBL vs QSC for a Newbie Engineer
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2020, 02:58:03 pm »

How are you going to deal with the QSC expects the crossover to be in the mains while the JBL in the subs?  You need to use an external crossover.

He mentioned using an XR18 for a mixer. He can drive the sub off an aux and the XR has HP and LP filters in the output EQ. I have done this a lot. It really is an amazing little bit of kit, especially when you came from the "bad old days".
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Connor Nygaard

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Re: JBL vs QSC for a Newbie Engineer
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2020, 06:20:44 pm »

I find this VERY hard to believe unless you were relying on the input gains 'appearing' to be the same. The sensitivity input on the SRX series is lower than the usual consumer grade stuff so you have to increase that for fair comparison.
That SRX828sp is a BEAST!...

I 100% agree, the 828 *is* a beast, and if I was able to transport a dual 18", I would buy it without thinking. And I will admit, I was likely limited by my signal gain coming from my phone to both subwoofers. But the fact that I was able to hear as little difference between the two of them to begin with is enough for me to drool over the QSC like I am. Both subs were set to +12dB when I heard them, and I had my phone set to max volume going into them one at a time. Neither hit limiter.
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Re: JBL vs QSC for a Newbie Engineer
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2020, 06:20:44 pm »


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