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It may be tiny, but it puts out

 

$1,100 MSRP, $699 street

www.hkaudio.com

 

by Craig Anderton

 

When UPS dropped off a box that said Lucas Nano 300, I waited patiently for the rest of the system to arrive. Eventually, I realized that single box was the system. Packed up and ready to transport (which is easy, thanks to two handles and extremely light weight of under 23 lbs.), the entire system is about 16.5" x 15.5" x 12"—including the woofer/base and two satellite speakers.

The satellites fit within the base and latch into place during transport. There are two carrying handles, although I found I could carry it easily by just one handle. Here’s what it would look like after carrying it to the gig and setting it down (Fig. 1).

SetDownatGig.jpg

Fig. 1: The satellite speakers are latched in place. Note that the handles provide protection from objects hitting the speakers.

 

The next step is to orient the unit so the woofer faces out, and the controls are easily accessible (Fig. 2). The speakers remain latched in place even if the unit is on its side, or upside down.

WooferForward.jpg

Fig. 2: The Lucas Nano 300 ready for setup.

 

Now that we have the Nano at the gig, let’s cover some of the details.

 

OVERVIEW

Physically the system’s heart is the subwoofer, which also holds all electronics and includes a global power supply (90-240V). The ported cabinet contains an 8" speaker, and the response goes down to a bass guitar’s lowest note. There’s 160W of Class D amplification for the woofer, and another 70W for the two satellite speakers (35W per satellite when running in a stereo configuration).

Each satellite contains a 3.5" speaker, but there are several ways to use these. The simplest is a mono setup where you snap one satellite on top of the other, then snap the pair’s base into a corresponding slot on the top of the woofer—no wires (Fig. 3).

Setup.jpg

Fig. 3: The Nano is set up and ready to go, using a mono configuration where the speakers mount securely on top of the base.

 

However, optional pole stands are available for the satellites. You can mount the pair as a single unit on one stand that inserts in the top of the woofer (Fig. 4) and connects to the base via a single cable, or go for stereo and mount one satellite using a stand on the woofer and the other satellite on its own floor-mounted stand (note that in this case, the woofer remains mono as bass frequencies are non-directional).

SpeakerSlot.jpg

Fig. 4: This close-up shows the slots where the satellites can slide into into the base and latch into place, as well as the slot for a satellite pole if you want to raise the satellite about the woofer.

 

Stereo requires running a cable from each speaker to the woofer base (Fig. 5).

SpeakerJacks.jpg

Fig. 5: Rear-mounted 1/4" jacks come into play when the satellites are mounted remotely from the base.

 

HK offers an add-on package with speaker cables, stands, and a tripod leg; furthermore, you can link two mono systems to create a higher-power stereo setup.

The satellites’ dispersion is around 60 degrees, and their small size simplifies setup for varying situations. For example, at a party you can use the basic setup with the satellites on top of the woofer, then put the system on a chair or table so the satellites are at ear level. For more coverage, you’d set up the two satellites individually, and aim them as needed.

 

THE ELECTRONICS AND CONTROLS

There are three input sections (Fig. 6).

Controls.jpg

Fig. 6: Despite its size, the Nano 300 has a decent selection of inputs and controls.

 

Input 1 has a combo XLR jack, with a mic/line switch, volume control, and “contour” tone control. The contour either “tunes” the mic setting for speech, or for line signals, boosts highs and lows while cutting mids (the famous “smile” EQ curve) as you turn up the knob. For the mic input, at one extreme you get a more “FM DJ” sound, while the other extreme gives more clarity in the upper mids. These are relatively subtle and useful changes. With stereo configurations, this input feeds both channels.

Input 2 is similar, but has two combo jacks for stereo line level signals (in mono setups, the inputs are summed). An instrument/line switch also allows plugging in an electric guitar or bass directly, and again, there’s a volume and contour control that works like the one for Input 1’s line-level setting.

Input 3 also has volume and contour controls, with your choice of plugging into dual RCA jacks or a 3.5mm stereo minijack. This is ideal for iPod backing tracks, a CD player, etc.

Although there are two 1/4" output jacks to connect the woofer base to the satellites, you use only one with a mono setup. There’s also a level control for the sub, left/right balance control for stereo, stereo/mono configuration switch, and a link jack for connecting two systems. Two additional 1/4" output jacks (left and right) are switch-selectable to either send a composite mix of all signals to a recorder, or pass through a stereo signal present at input 2. This way the Lucas Nano 300 can be used as a performer’s monitor system, while the output goes to a front of house mixer.

 

APPLICATIONS

The Nano 300 won’t fill a stadium, but that’s not the point. For parties, small clubs, restaurant and wedding gigs, background music at events, and similar applications, there’s a surprising amount of level (don’t be afraid to push it; there’s internal protection and limiting if you go too far). But it’s also highly appropriate for presentations, seminars, theater groups, worship, and the like—the fact that it’s so extremely portable encourages you to take it pretty much anywhere, because you can take it anywhere.

The Nano 300 is very much a personal PA in the sense that whenever you need more volume for voice, instruments, or playback systems, it’s a no-brainer to take it with you. Lots of portable PAs will fit in a car, but I think with a few bungee cords you could strap this on the back of a motorcycle.

I’m familiar with HK gear, which is pretty high-end. I expected the Nano would make some compromises, but the company has managed to create a downsized (with the emphasis on size) high-end product. It’s very well-constructed—classy wouldn’t be too strong a word—has a balanced tonality, offers multiple configurations to accommodate different setups, and includes sufficient inputs for singer/players, one-man-band keyboard setups, or basic DJing.

Overall, the stellar feature is that the amount of sound the Lucas Nano 300 produces is way out of proportion to its size and weight. It can indeed be a physically unobtrusive guest at a party—but a guest with a very loud voice.

 

CraigGuitarVertical.jpgCraig Anderton is Editor Emeritus of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.

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