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KRK ROKIT RP8G2 - AudioTechnology

By

April 30, 2009

KRK rp8_g2_front

They’re divisive speakers that illicit strong opinions but do KRK monitors get a raw deal?

Text: Michael Carpenter

The second generation KRK ‘Rokit’ series is a relatively recent update to the mid-priced powered nearfield monitor range for which KRK is well known. There are three new Rokits, numbered according to the diameter of their glass aramid composite low-frequency ‘kevlar’ driver: the compact RP5G2, the mid-sized RP6G2, and the Rokit under scrutiny here, the eight-inch RP8G2.

OUT OF THE BOX

Right out of the box the speakers look good; their rounded edges and soft contours well proportioned and their trademark yellow woofers branding them unequivocally. Their styling is similar, though not as ‘expensive’ looking, as the higher priced flagship Exposé series.

Full marks to KRK for making connectivity as simple as possible. On the rear panel, unbalanced RCA as well as balanced 1/4-inch jack and XLR inputs provide easy connection to virtually anyone’s system. The speakers are also equipped on the rear with an excellent gain control that adjusts from –30 to +6dB (making it easy to match volumes in multi-speaker studio scenarios), and a high-frequency level adjustment from –2 to +1dB (in 1dB steps).

Apart from the eight-inch driver, the RP8G2s have a specially designed one-inch soft-dome tweeter that’s recessed into the cabinet to improve the imaging and widen the sweet spot. There’s also a front-firing port on each model in the range, to avoid “bass coupling with walls and corners” (according to the simple manual). This port is now also wider and more curvaceous than its predecessor.

LET’S ROKIT

With the speakers placed beside my trusty Yamaha NS-10Ms (with subwoofer), I plugged into the Rokits’ balanced inputs and adjusted my gains so both sets of speakers were about the same level. My first test was to play one of my trusted studio ‘soundcheck’ CDs of commercially released tracks, to get an initial impression of their overall tone.

Initially, I was confounded. The Rokit RP8s seemed to project an enormous bottom end, making them sound a little dull overall. So I gave the stepped high-frequency level control of each speaker a little nudge to +1dB. At this point the monitors felt a little too bright, so I reverted back to the unity setting and spent some time getting used to their tone before diving into the next batch of mixing for an album I was part way through.

In this situation, while comparing them to the NS-10/subwoofer combo, I found the bottom end of the RP8s a tad confusing – bottom heavy, with the low mids projecting forward in a way my NS-10s never could. In the speaker’s defense, the low midrange was detailed and excellent sounding, there simply seemed to be a little too much of it, especially alongside the NS-10s. The difference between the two systems was quite pronounced and in some ways they were the tonal inverse of one another: the Rokit 8s strong in the lower mids down to about 80Hz and the NS-10/subwoofer system weak in the lower mids yet stronger in the sub-harmonics (courtesy of the sub). Recognising this, I decided to turn the subwoofer off, but bizarrely this just seemed to make an unbalanced situation worse. Hmmm…

Despite all this, the quality of the tones from the KRKs was excellent. The top-end was clear and unflattering. Pinpointing frequencies from the high mids right through to the top of the speaker’s range was a piece of cake. Likewise, the large low midrange was excellent sounding, and having worked on the ‘harsh’ NS-10s for so long, it was nice to be able to focus on this troublesome area and clear out offending frequencies from instrument to instrument.

PENNING A NEW SIGNATURE

After a few days mixing with the KRKs, I certainly became more accustomed to their sonic signature. While I was still a little unnerved by the projection of their low midrange, I eventually got used to it and began to enjoy the quality of the sound they offered. The stereo image was represented extremely well, and though these are nearfields, they seemed significantly more forgiving to directionality than my current combination. They also exhibited a lovely depth to the sonic picture. My mixes translated well, but I will re-state that I didn’t implicitly trust what these speakers alone were telling me below 100Hz. For that, I enlisted my other speaker combo to fine tune what was going on down there.

BACK ON TRACK

In the final few days of our relationship, the KRKs and I moved into another control room for a drum tracking session. This room is equipped with the ubiquitous Mackie HR824s – excellent sounding, but slightly flattering speakers. Compared to these, the KRKs again exhibited their larger-than-life lower midrange (as expected), while the Mackies seemed to reveal a deeper, more detailed bottom end.

I initially struggled once again to understand exactly what the KRKs were telling me. I spent the first half of day one sticking to the Mackies while I established the sounds for the session, flicking only occasionally to the KRKs. But as the sessions progressed, I spent more and more time on the KRKs until finally things clicked between us. The tracking session also revealed something else about the 8s; they’re loud – easily up to the task of energising a band fresh from a take. These monitors translate a level of excitement and wallop that NS-10s and Mackie HR824s simply cannot match.

THE BOTTOM LINE

There’s no doubting the quality of these monitors, especially for their relatively modest price. Any project or commercial studios looking for a more serious monitoring option would do well to check these out. They’re a very competitively priced powered monitor.
As I’ve revealed in this review, I struggled at first with the RP8’s low midrange but there’s no arguing that it was this very characteristic that helped me, in the end, pay more attention to this difficult area of the audio spectrum. What’s more, many contemporary styles of music are spending a lot more time focusing on the low midrange these days, so owning speakers that highlights this region is probably a good thing. I did yearn for some sort of manual bottom-end trim to go with the top-end controls of the RP8s and I had some reservations about the lack of bottom end extension, but a properly setup subwoofer to supplement the ‘ground floor’ would make this a non-issue. At $1500 a pair (recommended retail), these speakers represent excellent value for money for those looking for a step up in their monitoring.

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RIDING THE TRIPLE J WAVE

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Issue 59