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Review: KRK Systems Rokit RP10-3G2

Those distinctive yellow-coned speakers make KRK System’s monitors easily identifiable, but when they’re as big as the RP10-3G2 3-ways, they really stand out.

By

19 February 2012

KRK’s RP10-3G2 3-way speakers are the largest of the RoKit range, and due to their size (check out those measurements) and power they are intended for use as mid-field monitors in studios that have the room and need higher volumes and deeper bass than those available from smaller near-fields.

The RP10-3G2s retain the KRK family look but they are much bigger and heavier (21kg) than the others in the RoKit range and while KRK recommends them for use as either near-field or mid-field monitoring I think they’re too big for most near-field applications. For a start you’d need a big desk with a big, deep ledge to be able to mount them in the normal near-field position and they’re too big for most speaker stands. Also if you’re listening closer than about 1m you need to ensure you’re in the right position as small head movements produce noticeable changes to the balance between the drivers. Another issue with near-field use is the noticeable amount of hiss when idling; a common problem with powered speakers. Moving the speakers out to around 2m sees the sensitivity to the position of the listeners head diminish, as does the hiss, and the sound arrives as a more coherent whole. Moved out to beyond 3m they still sound good but you need to be in a fairly neutral sounding room to avoid room irregularities affecting the sound at the listening position — the middle ground seems to be where these big boys shine.

HIGH ROTATION

What they seem to lack in positioning flexibility, the monitors more than make up for with their most outstanding feature — the mid driver and tweeter are mounted together on a panel that can be released and rotated through 360 degrees. This enables the speakers to be used either vertically or horizontally with the position of the drivers optimised for specific situations. In the vertical position it gives the user the option of having the tweeter above or below the mid driver. In the horizontal position the panel can be rotated freely to allow the speakers to be used with the woofers on the inside or the outside, with the tweeter above or below the mid driver. KRK recommends the speakers be placed so the user’s ears are between the mid driver and the tweeter.

Sound-wise the RP10-3G2s feature a wide frequency response, good detail and the ability to fill a bigger space with sound than near-fields could. One of the problems with near-fields is the need to be in the right position to hear the whole sound but with mid-fields the whole band gets a better idea of what’s going on without sitting on top of each other…or the engineer. The RP10-3G2s are also loud if you want them to be. I do a lot of live sound and get my volume kicks that way, but when I’m recording I generally keep the volume down to save wear and tear on the ears and brain. However, there are times during recording when loud is good; for example getting kick drum sounds, hearing where the bass is at in a track, changing the mood when mixing or simply giving heavy rock customers a blast of what their songs will sound like up loud. Users who record hip-hop or dance music will no doubt appreciate being able to get close to club levels in their control room.

NEED TO KNOW

KRK Systems Rokit RP10-3G2
Mid-Field Monitors
  • PRICE

    $799 each

  • CONTACT

    Musiclink
    (03) 9765 6565
    atdept@musiclink.com.au
    www.musiclink.com.au

  • PROS

    • Value for money
    • 360-rotatable mid/high
    • Loads of level

  • CONS

    • Noticeable hiss at idle
    • Hard to find suitable possie as near-fields

  • SUMMARY

    For the price, these big 3-way, tri-amped mid-field monitors prove to be a great deal. Heaps of level, backed by a reasonably flat response that extends deep. While they may be unwieldy for some, there’s enough flexibility in the rotatable mid-high to fit them into most applications.

AMP IT UP

The RP10-3G2 monitor speakers are a 3-way tri-amped design with a 10-inch woofer powered by an 80W amp, a 4-inch mid driver with 30W behind it and a 1-inch neodymium soft dome tweeter, again driven by 30W, with crossover points are at 350Hz and 3.5kHz.

DRIVING ON GLASS

The woofer and the mid driver feature cones made from aramid glass fibre chosen for its rigidity and light weight.

LOUD RESPONSE

Of course the main job of any monitor is to help produce a recording that sounds good on CD and radio as well as during the recording process. Translation is everything and I’ve had monitors that have involved all sorts of workarounds, mainly performed in my head, to ensure the finished product is what I intended. This is where the speaker’s voicing is important. Live speakers sound best with a bit of the old rock ‘n’ roll smile EQ but the frequency response of studio monitors needs to be ruler flat at all volumes so that what you hear is what you get. I found the RP10-3G2s to be largely neutral in tone and the supplied frequency response plot confirms this impression. To my ear they are a little too bright with the tweeter level set to 0dB. In every position I tried I preferred the tweeter running at –2dB. This flattened the response nicely but didn’t completely eliminate a certain whistle-y quality that tends to emphasize vocal sibilance. The positive side of this is it makes you aware of the sibilance so you’re more likely to address it during recording and mixing.

I liked the slightly subdued mid-range response on vocals and one of the virtues of this sort of 3-way system is that the crossover point is not right in the middle of the vocal range. The low-mids sounded a little bit scooped but not enough to cause problems or make me want to start adding them in the mix. The bass is very good, not hugely loud (I preferred the +2dB position even with the speakers mounted close to a wall) but it’s tight and deep with usable level well below 40Hz. The quoted frequency response is –3dB at 31Hz so you won’t need a sub unless you really like the floor shaking. Maximum volume is quoted at 113dB and I don’t doubt its accuracy. They run as loud as I would want, and they have a limiter built-in for overload protection, but I would like some sort of visual indication that the limiter is working so you know when you’ve hit ‘full’.

The sound of the RP10-3G2s is very impressive, especially considering the low retail price, and it’s combined with high visual appeal and solid construction quality. The rotating mid/tweeter panel is a clever feature that helps with positioning these quite large speakers. Professional applications would include studios looking for mid-field monitors, radio stations, educational facilities or mobile recording/broadcast set-ups. They are cheap enough for home or project studios to use as main monitors and they would be awesome for home cinema systems. I don’t know any other speakers in this price range that come close to the bang-for-the-buck on offer here — $799RRP each.

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