HK AUdio Lucas Nano compact PA reviewed

April 23, 2014
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For the keyboardist whose gigs frequent the solo, duo, or typical small venue setting, it’s exciting when a new portable sound system arrives on the scene. The HK Audio Lucas Nano 300 promises to be an attractive ultra-portable solution, but does it have the power, frequency range, and clarity to get the job done? Let’s take it to some gigs.

PROS: Exceptional portability. Powerful amp. Multiple setups. Expandable. Onboard mixer for mic, line, and stereo inputs. 

CONS: Can get pricey with add-on package. No master volume control.

Bottom Line: Delivers smart design and clear, powerful sound in a super-compact package, but we recommend budgeting for the add-on package to get the best results.

 $1,100 list | $700 street | Add-on Package One (speaker poles and cables in soft carry bag): $175 list | $130 street | hkaudio.com

 
The Lucas Nano 300 is a subwoofer-plus-satellites powered speaker system. The subwoofer base contains the amplifier, mixer, and a locking carry-cradle to store the satellites for transport. Pop it in the optional roller bag, and you’ve got the whole system in one package that weighs less than 25 pounds. We’re off to a great start as far as portability goes. 

Out of the box, you can set up the Lucas Nano in its stock mono configuration, where the satellites are fastened to the top of the subwoofer via mechanical couplers that also transmit audio. It’s a clever feature that saves on cables, clutter, and time. For an alternate mono configuration, attach the satellites to a speaker pole (mounted in the subwoofer) and connect the bottom speaker to the subwoofer via a cable.

Speaker poles and cables come in the “Add-on Package One,” which was supplied with our review unit. This lets you set up the Nano in stereo, which is how I ran it on my first gig test. The venue sat around 200 people, on a stage with a modest front-of-house P.A. I used the Nano as my sole monitor system, and my setup included stereo digital piano and synths, plus a vocal mic and some miked acoustic hand percussion. The system really comes alive in stereo—with each side about four feet away, slightly behind my piano bench, I could easily set the satellites to ear level. I was never at a loss for low end, and got clean, clear sound without pushing the levels over the halfway point.

The second gig test employed the Nano as a keyboard monitor with a medium-volume full band, in a same sized venue. Using the stock mono setup (and placing the entire system on a tabletop close to ear level), monitoring was again clean and clear, if not as warm and pleasing as the stereo setup. Note the that Nano has no master volume control, though there is a subwoofer level control. Instead, each input has its own level control and a mysterious “contour” knob (labeled with an eighth-note). For line-level signals, turning this knob up will boost high and low frequencies while reducing midrange. When input 1 is set to mic input, the contour knob adjusts an integrated filter “for speech.” That’s a bit vague, but any tone tweakability is welcome.

The Nano could very well pull off being your sole amplification system in a small venue, depending on how much you need to put through it. The stereo setup is where it’s at, so consider that when budgeting for the add-on package. While we didn’t have a second system to test, we were intruiged by the Nano’s ability to link a second sets of satellites to the subwoofer. There may be more powerful stage monitors out there for the money, but few can match the portability and gig-friendliness of the Lucas Nano 300.

 

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