Alex Wilson investigates the latest iteration of these common, low-budget studio monitors to see if they deliver the goods.
If you’ve spent any amount of time in small project studios, you’ve likely come across a pair of KRK Rokits. Their astoundingly low price has made them mainstays for upcoming producers, and the bright yellow branding means they stick out like a sore thumb (but, like, in a totally good way).
Since their initial release 25 years ago, the KRK Rokits been one of the highest selling and most consistently popular sets of speakers out there. Not only will you find the monitors in studio environments, but they are finding their way more and more into the DJ booth as well. This is largely due to their famously pronounced low frequency response, which makes them a go-to option for those who want to mix contemporary styles that need the sub to be hyped.
The Rokit 5 G3 pair is the latest set of speakers in this product line and size. And despite having a commercial winner on their hands, KRK seem keen on continually optimising and refining this design, as they’ve done here.
For five-inch near-field monitors, they sound quite good. While certainly not providing the world’s most accurate listening experience, they’re capable of helping you pull a great mix – of course, that is provided you know what you’re listening out for.
The Rokit 5 G3s provide a relatively flat response in the midrange and treble frequencies. I feel as though there’s some degree of top-end attenuation happening here, but it’s nothing too bad. They just sound a little darker than other speakers, while still providing enough clarity in the ever-important high mids to represent a mix the way it deserves to be.
The characteristic Rokit sound comes from the speakers’ exaggerated lower frequencies. This is a bit of a double-edged sword. It certainly makes them exciting to listen to – the hefty lows in the mix increase the perceived loudness of the sound, and also makes mixing and producing an enjoyable experience. Those big lows mean that your mix is going to sound fat and punchy without too much trouble.
There’s definitely a welcome gratification factor here – even after long hours holed up in the mixing booth, these monitors are still going to pump out your song in a way that makes it sound good and stay fresh.
However, this is also where the potential problems start. There’s no getting around the fact that these hyped sub frequencies lead to a somewhat inaccurate representation of the sound you’re playing through the Rokits, and your mileage with these speakers will depend on how you approach this fact.
Certainly, mixing to reference tracks with great bass response or checking your mix on different speakers will go some way to managing and mitigating this aspect of the Rokits. At the very least, the user will need to ensure that their critical listening skills are in play to get the most value out of the Rokits’ low price.
In a recent issue, we reviewed a pair of KRK’s V4 monitors, which came as the company’s attempt to make a cheap set of monitors with a more accurate response. Comparing the Rokits with the V4s in a brick and mortar store would be a good way to decide which one is more worth your purchase.
In terms of the specs making this sound, each pair has a high quality one-inch soft‑dome tweeter that can reproduce sound up to 35 kilohertz, passing well beyond the average human’s upper hearing limit; if you like your music loud, this will surely be a lucrative feature. The larger woofer is made of a glass-Aramid composite designed to provide a clear response in both the mids and lows.
The overall size of the speaker is 246-by‑188‑by-284 millimetres, and it weighs in at a very light 5.9 kilograms. When switched on, the KRK logo on the front lights up in white and yellow, which we must admit looks pretty damn cool – as does the stylish curved port sitting between the woofer and the base.
In fact, a few clever design choices regarding the ports mean the Rokits are optimised for smaller studio spaces. The speaker’s front‑facing ports reduce noise from diffraction, air turbulence, and bass issues caused by close placement to walls. A factory-installed foam pad helps minimise vibration, and the enclosure itself is designed to reduce resonances caused by similar vibrations.
In terms of controls, volume can be tailored between -30 decibels and +6 decibels. Low and high frequencies can be boost or cut independently, at settings of -2 decibels, -1 decibel, 0 decibels and +2 decibels. There’s capacity for connections via balanced XLR, balanced ¼” TRS and unbalanced RCA. Power comes from a standard IEC kettle cable.
All in all, its specs feature nothing that reinvents the wheel, but a lot of welcome flexibility nonetheless.
THE BOTTOM LINE
When all is said and done, the KRK Rokit monitors are some of the most popular in their class for a reason: they provide a tremendous amount of value for a tremendously small amount of money.
The combination of an incredibly low price point with the generally good frequency response makes the Rokits ideal for someone just starting out in the world of near-field studio monitors, either as a producer or listener. In fact, anyone in this position would be remiss not to at least check them out in person.
While their particular frequency response won’t be suited to all tastes, the overall quality of this product means it remains a serious contender.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Switchable boost and cut on bass and treble frequencies
• Foam base padding
• Front-facing ports to reduce noise and resonance
• Stylish curved port between the woofer and base
• One-inch soft-dome tweeter
• Fun and punchy when mixing
• Incredibly affordable
• A great introductory product
• Pronounced bass will not be to everyone’s taste
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