KRK Monitors: New ROKITs

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ROKIT 4: Great for portable or studio apps.

I’ve reviewed a lot of different studio monitors over the years, giving me a chance to sample and compare a wide range of options when it comes to one of the most essential ingredients for any home (or for that matter, professional) studio.

It was, in fact, back in early 2014 that for these pages I last looked at the offerings from KRK Systems, arguably one of the better-known and most-respected names in the space; I’ve spotted their distinctive, bumble-bee-yellow Aramid glass composite speaker cones in plenty of studios over the years, too.

KRK recently introduced a tiny new entry into their ROKIT product line—a little two-way monitor with a small 4-inch main driver. In addition, the ROKIT 10-3 has been updated to its 3rd generation edition (“G3”) with some minor tweaks. Representing two extreme ends of the monitor spectrum, I recently had a chance to look at both.

First Impressions: Both the ROKIT 4 and ROKIT 10-3 units are solidly built studio monitors that exude a certain satisfying aesthetic from the moment they’re unboxed. From the shape and location of the front firing port to the curves of the rest of the cabinet, there’s a rather distinct family resemblance. The only immediately apparent difference is the size—and the heft. Well, in my case, the color as well; reflecting their different potential applications, the ROKIT 4 is available in black, silver and, in the case of the pair I reviewed, white. (The ROKIT 10-3, like the rest of the series, is available only in black.) Also consistent across the ROCKIT line is an automatic standby that kicks in after 30 minutes of idle time. Nice touch.

Viewed from the back side, the family continuity continues. Both models have the flexibility of three different input choices: Unbalanced RCA, balanced XLR and balanced ¼-inch TRS. Both sport a continuously variable gain control (-30 dB to +6 dB), along with a range boost and cut options for HF and LF frequency response to tune the monitors to their environment (each with four positions). Given that smaller monitors sometimes dispense with some of these features, it was refreshing to see everything still available on the ROKIT 4s.

The ROKIT 4 features a 1-inch dome tweeter in addition to the 4-inch main driver. The 3-way 10-3 G3—technically a mid-field monitor, vs. near-field like the 4s—retains the 10-3 G2’s combination of a whopping 10-inch main driver, with a 4-inch midrange, and 1-inch tweeter—a combination that (vs. a two-way design) arguably delivers a more consistent overall sound for those with the room to accommodate them.

One of the changes in the G3 version of the 10-3 monitors is the switch to a Class D amplifier. The change results in noticeable weight reduction, making them easier to handle. Purists might argue about the differences in amplifier classes and the designs that implement them; most pros I’ve talked to say the difference is one more of perception than reality.

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