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October 2014
Issue: January 1, 2012

Review: KRK Rokit monitors

By: Luke Harper
Hey, wanna beat up some air for cheapsies? Wow, does KRK have the monitor for you! Aaaand now you see why they don’t let me write the product literature. 

Anyway, KRK has a line of monitors for the more reasonable of pocket known as the Rokits. Up until now you’ve had your pick of the Rokits 5, 6 and 8, depending on your room size, wallet size, and program material needs. The RP10-3 is the latest and largest incarnation — and I do mean large. Wow. They call them mid-fields, but frankly I’m getting a little lost on the whole field thing. I feel like at this point I could theoretically have a speaker spaced out in one foot intervals from 2-50 feet, had I the room, cash reserves and gumption. It’d be fun... Anyway, KRK recommends between 5-13 feet. I had’ em at 7 feet, and they were fine.

As you may have guessed, the first number corresponds with the woofer size, and the second with driver count. The RP 10-3 is a three-way active monitor that, as previously mentioned, is an air pugilist. It positively fans you with deep, deep lows. You don’t currently have a dedicated sub, you say? Well, these can and will cover your low-end spread in most rooms with their ported 10s. My low-end translations improved immediately.

Since the specs are available right now on the webbernets at www.krksys.com, I’ll just throw some of the more salient ones: 
There’s one amplifier per speaker, crossed over at 400Hz and 3.75 kHz. It drives a 10-inch woofer at 80W and a 4-inch mid and a 1-inch tweeter both at 30W for a grand total of 140W per side. Officially their frequency response is 31Hz to 20 kHz, YMMV depending on a few factors like room layout and listening position. We ran a signal generator through it at 20Hz though, and everyone in the room could feel it nicely. Good times. I didn’t dare push anything above 11 kHz through it at any extended volume for reasons that I’ll get into in a sec.

The joy of these monitors is that they’re massive. They’re imposing. They look impressive and sound huge, so in a small- to small-mid-sized room, they fill it both sonically and aesthetically. Clients walk in and immediately react to the bulk and bright fun yellowness of the KRK look. They also have a nice illuminated KRK light on the front that tells you they’re on and ready. The light will turn red to indicate trouble, although I never managed that. You can even spin the mid/tweet section horizontally with a minimum of fuss and put them on their sides, which I thought to be a nice touch. The astounding part is the pair can be had for around $1K on your average street. Yup. $499 for a 21-inch high 46-pound speaker. That’s a LOT of speaker for the money. 



Speaking of a lot of speaker for the money, the control/input section on the back of these is great. Input-wise, you are given the option of XLR, TRS or RCA. You also have three pots that give you the option of tweaking your low frequency level, high frequency level, and overall volume. I had them snuggled up against a wall, so I pulled the low down a little to compensate. Worked like a charm. Ameliorating some of the highs was more of a challenge, although I’m not entirely convinced that the age of the speakers didn’t play a role. This set tended toward a tad harsh from 3 kHz to 8 kHz. My current daily monitors took a good three months of constant use before they broke in and mellowed, though, and I can’t reliably report on any long-term sonic settling for the KRKs.

We all have those “Yo turn that sh*t up son!” clients, right? These things will scratch every itch they have. You can push people back in their seats and enjoy the vaguely stunned yet impressed looks they give you. Did I mention they’re exceedingly good at being loud? Not sloppy loud either. I don’t know what you expect from a $500 speaker anyway, but it’s a drastically different ball game than anything available even five years ago. The cost of design and manufacture has plummeted, and we’re all winners.

So what’s the problem? Well, life being a pretty equal thing regarding the inevitability of sacrifice, the problem is that of nuanced subtlety.
The imaging is there, but it’s not surgical. The frequencies are all there, but not in perfectly equal amounts. The high end is fine, but again: not surgical. These aren’t the monitors for hyper-dynamic and minute detail work. 

But you aren’t buying them for that. You have other speakers for that. These are the client thrilling bangers that are fun to throw big pop mixes on, and listen to them hum. 

The bottom line is really that you can now afford to put mains in ALL of your rooms. To put mains in your project studios. To put mains in your Prius. Seriously, buy five for your house and watch the Ride of the Valkeries scene from “Apocalypse Now” at apocalyptic volumes (this is not not technically recommended). I can see a lot of studios benefiting from being able to offer this expansive flavor of monitoring, so if you have the room and inclination, you should really track down a set and give them a go!  

Luke Harper is the Owner of Audio Altimeter (www.audioaltimeter.com) in Minneapolis, MN.