HK Audio Linear 3 112FA – Simply Sonically Solid
By Jason Allen.
HK Audio’s new Linear 3 range of loudspeakers is designed to sit between their premium Linear 5 range and their Premium Pro range. Keeping the styling of the Linear 5, the Linear 3 range includes the L3112FA powered 12” with a 1” horn at 90° x 55°, L3112XA powered 12” with wedge profile, and L3115A powered 15”. There’s also two new Linear subs – the L SUB 1500 A and L SUB 1800 A, a 15” and 18” respectively. For this review, we put the L3112FA through its paces.
Construction is sturdy, with 16mm MDF, and the same metal front grille as the Linear 5. The handles are good, and the box weighs in at 21.5 kg. First impressions are of a serious black box that is made for rock’n’roll.
On the back, there’s three inputs – two combi jacks and stereo RCA, each with a dedicated gain pot. The combi jacks can run mic or line, and the addition of the stereo in means this box can do a solo performer gig as well as be part of a serious PA, offering rental flexibility. There are XLR thru’s under the combi jacks – A outputs A, and B can be switched between ‘B only’ and a mix of all ins.
HK have eschewed giving the end user fancy DSP settings to play with – it’s mostly locked down in the box. What you do get is two switches – one to set the LF to flat (for use with a sub) or boost, and one to set the HF to flat or ‘contour’. The ‘contour’ setting is recommended when using the L31112FA in smaller rooms to avoid fatigue – it rolls out some highs starting around 1kHz without decreasing overall volume.
Interestingly enough, though our room wasn’t that small, ‘contour’ proved extremely beneficial. While we were A/Bing a range of loudspeakers, we noticed the room was making the top end in all of them very dull. This was due to reflections and comb filtering issues caused by a low false ceiling. Switching in ‘contour’ took some of that energy off the ceiling, and counterintuitively actually boosted the HF in the room.
The lack of user control over the L31112FA’s DSP is one of its strengths – it’s hard to make this box sound bad unless you really try. It’s a well-made product tuned to sound good the moment you put it on a stick and turn it on.
Sonically, it’s a lot like its more expensive Linear 5 sibling, presenting with a reliable mid-range, detailed top-end and musical bass. All that’s missing is that it doesn’t quite have the laser-like accuracy from 1kHz to 6kHz that the Linear 5 has. Driven hard, it’s not painful, which is the biggest downfall of its competitors, and it punches above its weight for a 12”. On paper, its 1200W Class D amp produces 135 dB max SPL.
I really like what HK have hidden under the hood. Your investment is really well protected, with under-voltage, thermal, short circuit, and over-current protection, a subsonic filter, look-ahead temperature control, and peak, RMS and multiband limiters.
The crossover is at 2.3 kHz with a 72 dB/oct FIR filter. In addition to the pole mount, you get four rigging points for flying. Made in Germany, it comes with a five year warranty.
The L31112FA is a solid wooden contender in a market and price point which has a lot of plastic boxes in it. It avoids the hype, boom, tizz, and fancy menus and processing of some of its competitors and just gets on with being a decent, reliable loudspeaker.