Here’s one of the most common features of your typical home studio – KRK Rokit monitors. I’m honestly shocked that no one has reviewed these yet, since you could walk into almost any home studio in the world and have a 1 in 2 chance of finding them. Anyway…
I purchased these from B&H back in September 2008; I believe I paid $250 each, or $500 for the pair – a quick price search confirms that this is still the going rate. I’m not sure if KRK has updated these since I bought them, but I haven’t heard anything to the contrary so we’ll just assume the ones I have are identical to the ones you can buy today.
A little about myself: I’ve been engineering and musician-ing for north of a decade. It was only recently I put 2 and 2 together and figured I may as well start producing my own tracks as well. I first purchased these for video post, and while I still do that, they are primarily used for music production, specifically dance music - everything from funk and disco to trance and house, with a little rock and hip hop thrown in for good measure.
I opted for the 8-inch model, partially because I was 18 and thought it would eliminate my need for a subwoofer (more on that later), and partially because I was 18 and thought big speakers looked cool (also more on that later).
In my time as an engineer, I’ve mixed on everything from 40,000-watt PA’s to fancy studio monitors from brands such as Adams, Genelec, and PMC. I’d have to say that these KRK’s, while certainly not “boutique” in any way, sit squarely in the middle of the field – there’s really nothing outstanding about them, but they get the job done. No, the detail isn’t as earth shattering as some of the high-end brands that charge twice as much (or more) for a single monitor as what a pair of these go for, but they allow you to hear your mixes reliably, and can get pretty loud if you need them to (I’ve since learned to be more careful with my listening levels than I was in my college days).
As with any studio monitor, we’re looking for “truthful” sound reproduction, not enhancement, and the KRK’s deliver with a pretty flat response across the board. My only beef is the bass.
KRK says these go down to 44Hz – that might be true, but even if it is, it’s not a useful 44Hz, meaning that I can’t hear the low end of my mixes accurately on these monitors alone (I took a mix from my room, which sounded fine, to my school’s studio with a dedicated sub and heard nothing but bass). For more modern styles, especially dance music, you’re going to need a dedicated sub, which, if you buy the matching KRK, will also handle crossover duties. I’m going to be getting one ASAP, and I suspect it’ll make these monitors much more useful than they already are. If bass is important to the music you’re making, I would recommend you budget for a sub right off the bat.
I’m giving these a 7, an above-average rating for an above-average monitor given the price range, with a point knocked off because I think KRK is lying about bass response.
Ease Of Use
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET A SOUND CARD! When I got these in 2008, I hooked them up with a 1/8th inch to stereo RCA cable from my computer’s headphone out, because I didn’t have a soundcard. Though it could have been due to crappy unshielded outlets in college dorm rooms, I could hear my computer “thinking” through the monitors – even worse, when I plugged in an external hard drive I could actually hear the plate spinning, typically louder than whatever I was actually trying to listen to! I quickly shaped up and bought a card (at the time, an MBOX 2, but that’s a story for another review), which completely eliminated the problem. I’m now onto a MOTU Ultralite mk3, and haven’t noticed this problem since.
Another thing that could be considered “ease of use,” it’s a bit hard to position such large monitors correctly in the sort of cramped studio environments people typically buy these for, so I might suggest going for one of the smaller models if space is at a premium – and use the extra money to get a subwoofer!
These seem to run somewhat loud, so much that I rarely turn the volume up past -6db (fine tuning is handled by my sound card, I would suggest you operate in the same way). I suppose there are scenarios where cranking things past 0 might be called for, but I haven’t encountered any of them yet. The MOTU cards seem prone to hot signals, so I wouldn’t blame the monitors on this entirely (I do remember keeping them closer to -3 when I had my mbox).
9, because if these monitors are too hard to figure out, I’d recommend a new passion.
KRK’s website has all the info. Reproduction is handled by (in this case) the 8” driver and 1” tweeter, and you’ll find more or less what you’d expect on the back side – RCA, XLR, and balanced ¼” inputs, a volume knob, HF attenuation, a power switch, and an AC socket.
The color is also a feature – either you like it or you don’t, but bear in mind that you don’t buy a statue to listen to it. If it bugs you that much, there are at least 2 other color schemes available, but I think the classic bumble bee looks best, and they go quite nicely with my MoPho.
8, because I like having 3 different input options, minus a point for size and the fact that some people might not like yellow.
Bang for buck
I don’t think you’re going to do much better for $500, or even less if you buy used. They’ve been nothing but reliable so far, and after having been moved a whopping 4 times in the past 2 years, I think that says something.
If you’re a demanding audio perfectionist, used to mixing on monitors that cost as much as a fancy Italian sports car, these aren’t the monitors for you. If you’re working on a new genre of music that requires accurately reproducing flea farts recorded 4 miles away, these aren’t the monitors for you. But if you’re a new producer who is tired of mixing on headphones and wants a well-built, faithful monitor that will help you make better music without breaking the bank, these might just be the monitors you’re looking for.
As a closing thought, I’ll compare these to some of the other monitors I see in the home studios I frequent. I personally think these are better than the other big-name “budget” monitors they’re typically pitted against (Yamaha and m-audio come to mind), but there are a lot of factors in that equation, and I admittedly haven’t spent as much time with those as I have with my trusty KRK’s, so I’ll just say what I know for sure – these reproduce sound better than any other $250 speaker I’ve heard.
I used to own a pair of RP8G2's a few years ago, and now I have a pair of RP5G2's as secondary speakers. I like both of them, but there are a number of caveats.
First of all, the RP8G2's are incredibly bassy, and this is greatly augmented when you place them on resonant surfaces (like a desk). When you have them on proper speaker stands away from the wall, it is not so bad and you could actually mix on them if you take the time to get to know them. But they are still bass-heavy and you have to allow for that when making mix decisions, which is -of course- not ideal. When placed on a desk and/or near a wall, they are only good for non-critical listening. But they are great for parties, as they go loud and sound good for most modern music.
I like the RP5G2's much better. When used as nearfields they have enough low end for most styles except for really bass-heavy styles like Hiphop/R&B or EDM. They are also not as sensitive to placement as the 8's. Downside of the smaller woofers is that they start to choke when pushed, they don’t go very loud. But you could get a reasonable mix balance on these, provided you listen at moderate levels and have something else to check the lowest octave or so with.
I would not call either of them neutral sounding. They actually sound a little polished and they are somewhat short on detail. My biggest beef with them (more so with the 8's than the 5's) is that they are a little fatiguing, especially over prolonged periods of time and louder levels. The 5's do not go that loud so this is not as much of a problem with them, but it is definitely a part of the series’ character.
I somehow wonder whether the RP6G2 would be the sweet spot of the series? The 8?s are too bassy, the 5's are too light and don’t go loud enough…
But with all that said, I think they are as good as it gets at their respective price points. The obvious competitors are the Yamaha HS and M-Audio BX series. Between these series it is really just a matter of taste as they are all competent stuff for the money. I went with the KRK’s because they sound a little more hi-fi. The Yamahas have a more forward “monitor” sound but lack depth. the M-Audio BX8 sounds similar to the KRK RP8G2 whereas the BX5 is -oddly- closer to the Yamaha HS50.
If you are looking for something on a budget, they are all good choices, so check them out (preferably in your own room) and get whatever works best for you. I do recommend to upgrade to better (but pricier) speakers as soon as you can afford it, though. These speakers do the job, but none of them will give you enough detail.
I do music and sound design for a small video game company (plus some film and animation projects) in a very small home studio. I’ve been mixing on some Celestion home stereo speakers and using the Focusrite VRM box, to try and approximate what a proper mix might sound like. And this week I graduated up a step, to a pair of KRK Rokit 8s, which is a noticeable improvement. I don’t have a ton of experience listening to good quality monitors, and our local stores (a cross-Canada chain) don’t have many options on site. I was looking for monitors that fit a certain price range ($1000/pair absolute max) and had the ability to represent bass down into the 40-50 Hz area (my Celestions could only go down to ~65-70 Hz, plus they had the trademark Celestion “jangle”, with lots of highs being accentuated).
The only monitor options I was able to test (with a woofer ? 5”) were the Yorkville Sound YSM6 ($460/pair), which had pretty crisp and clear sound, but lacked a bit in the lower frequencies, the Yamaha HS50M ($398/pair) which lacked bass punch and their big brother HS80M ($700/pair), which were definitely powerful enough, but their mids and highs felt abrasive to listen to at regular listening levels. Maybe in a well-treated room they might have worked, but not in the store, and - I assumed - surely not in my untreated and asymmetrical apartment space.
So the KRKs won on the floor, and I was very happy to find they suited my ears once I got them set up. I’ve been listening to my own mixes and music in my collection, at levels which are slightly quieter than many mixers’ preferred levels. On electronic music, they give me an idea of what a kick should be doing alongside those deep wobbly synth basses, and on acoustic stuff, they seem to give lots of definition to each instrument or vocal. I guess now I just have to put in some more time getting to know their sound, and being able to adapt my mixes to what I’m hearing. From the dozens of reviews I’ve read, I need to be aware of some bass boosting, so I’ll have to wrap my head around how to deal with that. There is a High Frequency adjustment knob that goes from -2dB to +1dB, but for now, I'll try the flat position.
All in all, I'm quite happy with these, but I've only had them a few days, so give it time - I know I'll yearn for better once I understand any inherent flaws in the KRKs....
I work in my small all in one home studio. I was able to test these against the yamaha hs80 and the maudio bx8a. In the store these clearly won. Now I am not very experience I have been doing this for less than a year. I have minimal treatment in my room and get decent mixes (clients have been happy).
There are times that I do find myself overcompensating the low end but I believe it is not the monitors faults but my minimalist treatment ( super chunk and first reflection points) as well as myself being a new mixer. Regardless, it is nothing that can't be fixed after I listen to the mix on a second or third audio source as I am sure many people find themselves doing.
I find these speakers to be fairly uncolored especially for their price range. I am sure it is possible to get much better money but for what I use them for and my lack of experience and not having the proper treatment I am sure it would not have been a night and day difference regardless.
Overall, these monitors are nice and though I am sure I will eventually upgrade they will definitely stick around for a while! I do not think I could have asked for a better sounding unit in that price range. Regardless, the best thing is to go listen in the store! Everyone has different ears and you may be able to pick up on something different that I can't!
First off let me say that I use these monitors in a 12' x 22' room with 9' ceilings. My room is treated with 6 bass traps and a mix of mineral wool and foam. Its been professionally tuned and paneled. This review is from the perspective of someone who spent more on treating their room than on monitors.
Sound Quality - KRKs have a front firing bass port which definitely helps with bass imaging and overall tonality for your mix. I was using Yamaha HS80s before this, and while they are great monitors as well, I enjoy tracking on the rockits even more. The KRKs are not totally flat but are well balanced and have knobs on the back to tune the monitors to your environment.
Ease of use - Plug them in. I use Mogami XLR cables out of my interface and into the monitors. Very easy. Power button is on the back. I don't like that but isn't that where its usually placed?
Features - well, they say its engineered to get rid of phase issues that box monitors had in the past, I think thats marketing bs. They do look very stylish in my studio and the yellow cones are hard to ignore. They share the same features physically that a lot of other monitors enjoy that cost as much or more. Nothing truly special here.
Bang for the buck - Here is where they shine. The low end is ferocious on these monitors because of the woofer size. At 8" the bass rolloff is somewhere around 40 - 50hz. I ran a signal generator on these monitors at -36dB and bass response was stellar and not "hyped" like some on the forums say. If they think the monitor sounds hyped, its because they are listening in an untreated room. In a well treated room, these monitors are just as good or better than anything else in the $600 per pair range. If you have a larger or longer room like I do, the bass ports make a huge difference. (50hz bass waves are about 11 feet long I think).
If they broke I would replace them with something better but for your first or second pair of monitors they are a great buy.