RCF HD12-A: The Best Live Sound Speakers You’ve Never Heard Of

hd12a

Last year, I was in the market for some compact, lightweight, loud PA speakers for my own live sound system. I considered the Yamaha DSR112–a favorite in the powered speaker market, and one of the loudest in its class. But I was somewhat put off by the heavier weight and relatively high price compared to other similar speakers. Then I discovered the RCF HD12-A. The HD12-A seemed to fit the bill for what I was looking for. It’s a compact, lightweight, powered speaker that has excellent sound quality and can go really loud–some say on the order of the DSR112.

I wasn’t all that familiar with RCF as a company, so I decided to read up on them a bit. RCF was founded in Italy, and it has office worldwide. They’ve been in the speaker business since 1949, and have also provided transducers to other speaker manufacturers over the years (including Yorkville, among others). At one point back in the 1990’s, they were bought out by Mackie, and the engineers at RCF designed the original Mackie SRM450, which dominated the powered PA speaker market in the U.S. for several years thereafter. The original owners of RCF bought the company back a few years later, and it has been going strong ever since.

In any case, I scored one heck of a deal on a pair of HD12-A’s, and I’ve been blown away by them. In fact, if these speakers were to be stolen or destroyed, I would buy them again without flinching. They’re worth every penny. They have a very hi-fi sound to be pro audio speakers, and sound about as good as any 12″ PA speaker that I’ve ever heard. They can go very loud and still sound great doing it. They can also take a lot of input signal. In fact, when playing program material through them, I’ve had to drive them fairly hard to even get the Signal Present LED to light up! That’s a common complaint with many powered PA speakers: the onboard limiter engages very quickly, when you still need more volume out of the cabinet. That’s definitely not the case here. The max SPL rating for these speakers is stated to be 130 dB, and I believe it. I’ve heard other speakers that go loud, but the sound quality begins to fall apart pretty quickly when they’re pushed. But not these. They continue to sound great, even at very loud levels.

RCF seems to be making an in-roads into the U.S. market lately, with more and more retailers beginning to sell their products. So if you’re in the market for a powered compact loudspeaker, consider some of the offerings from RCF. I’ve been thoroughly impressed, and I’m sure you will be too.

HD12-A Features and Specs:
• 600 watts RMS/1200 watts peak
• Max SPL: 130 dB
• Digital bi-amp w/ built-in DSP processing
• XLR & 1/4″ line inputs
• XLR through jack for daisy-chaining
• Mic/Line input switch
• Flat/Boost switch (Boost is for playing the speakers at low volumes for background music)
• Input level knob
• Power Status, Signal Present, and Limiter LED’s
• Convection cooled (no noisy fans)
• 3 handles: 1 in the top and 2 on the sides
• Molded polypropylene cabinets
• 40 lbs weight
• Pole socket for stand/pole mounting
• Built in fly points for suspending from a ceiling
• Rubber feet on bottom
• Rubber skids on one side for use as a monitor wedge
• On/Off Switch
• IEC socket for standard power cable

Pros:
• Light weight, compact cabinet
• Sound quality is stellar
• Can go very loud and still sound great

Cons:
• Input/mixer section is limited compared to some active speakers with multiple inputs for both mic and line signals
• Only one monitor angle

Update: RCF have now released the updated MK4 versions of the HD12-A and other “D-Line” series speakers (including the 10″ HD10-A), with more power, new transducers, improved FiRPHASE DSP processing, and an even more attractive price tag. Be sure to check them out.

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