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At home or on the go, you'll want a pair close at hand


We're certainly not suffering from a lack of studio monitor options - name your size, speaker, and price point, and some manufacturer somewhere probably makes something that fits your description. So how do you choose the right one?

 

A major reason for all this variety is because no single monitor is ideal for all situations. Some users may prioritize portability, while those who work primarily from one large, fixed studio location may not care about that at all. So let's look at new monitors from KRK (full disclosure: like Harmony Central, KRK is a Gibson Brand) that definitely fit into the mobile-friendly category - the ROKIT 4 G3, which are an addition to KRK's updated ROKIT G3 series of studio monitors. How do they perform, but more importantly,  what sort of task suits them best? Let's find out.  






What You Need To Know

  • The KRK ROKIT line is now on its third revision or "generation," and comprises several models. The ROKIT 4 G3 the smallest model in the current lineup, measuring only 8.31" H x 6.09" W x 8.82" D and weighing a very reasonable 8.67 pounds. Frequency response is rated at 51 Hz - 35 kHz.

  • The two-way design features a yellow 4" Aramid glass composite woofer (it's KRK - of course it's yellow!) and a 1" soft dome tweeter. The crossover frequency is 2.3 kHz.

  • The cabinets are made of MDF, and the units I reviewed are wrapped in what KRK calls a black vinyl wrap; white and silver color options are also available. The silver version reminds me a lot of Apple's silver products such as the Macbook Pro on which I'm writing this review - so if you like to color-coordinate everything on your desktop, KRK has you covered.

  • The front edges of the monitor faces are curved to reduce edge diffraction. The cabinets are ported, and feature front firing "slot" ports below the woofers. Front-firing ports do not suffer from the placement issues associated with rearward-firing ports; furthermore, I noticed no bothersome "wind blasts" from the ports.

  • Class AB amps drive the ROKIT 4 G3 with 30 W total per enclosure - a 20 W amp for the woofer and a 10 W amp for the tweeter. Maximum peak SPL is 100 dB.

  • There's plenty of connectivity, with an unbalanced RCA input as well as 1/4" TRS and XLR balanced inputs located on the rear panel. Whether you want to hook them up to your mobile audio player or tablet, a DJ rig in your hotel room to prep for the evening's show, or your high-end audio interface at home, you're set.




  • In addition to the connections, rear panel controls can tailor the sound to your personal preferences and listening environment. A Volume control trims the level from -30 dB to +6 dB, and there are two four-position rotaty switches for EQ: the HF Level Adjust knob provides +1 dB, 0 dB, -1 dB and -2 dB options for tailoring the highs, while the LF Level Adjust knob offers +2 dB, 0 dB, -1 dB and -2 dB settings.
     
  • The rear panel sports a fused IEC power receptacle and power on/off switch. When powered on, the front panel KRK logo illuminates.

  • The ROKIT 4 G3 is designed for vertical orientation, and features a rubberized pad on the bottom to decouple the speakers from the surface they're sitting on and help reduce unwanted vibrations.


Limitations

  • The speakers don't have grilles. Since most people tend to remove grilles from their studio monitors, chances are you won't miss them. But on speakers like these that practically beg to go along with you on your mobile musical adventures, a protective grille might come in handy.

  • While mixing on the ROKIT 4 G3 is certainly possible, as with any small monitor speaker you may want to check your mixes occasionally on other/larger speakers to get a better idea of what's happening in the lowest octave or two. This of course will be more important if you're recording and mixing bass-heavy dance music, and less so if you're editing and mixing dialog for a corporate video project. However, there's certainly enough low end that you can do credible mixes once you "learn" the speakers.

  • While they deliver decent maximum SPL performance considering their small size, those who like things ridiculously loud may wish for a bit "more." 


Conclusions

The ROKIT 4 G3 offers professional level performance and very high value. While not as authoritative in the low end as as some of the larger KRK monitors, the lows are more present and detailed than I anticipated from such a compact and portable enclosure, and the midrange is revealing without being unbalanced. The ROKIT 4 G3's have excellent transient response, and their smooth high frequency reproduction is similar to that of KRK's higher-end speakers.

 

For those who need solid-sounding speakers that perform well above their weight division, give these a listen. For musicians and producers on the go, or who need something they can take on the tour bus or use in their hotel rooms, they're ideal. They also make excellent desktop speakers for casual listening and for desktop production suites. They're small enough that you can take them with you reasonably easily, without feeling like you're making the kind of compromises that often come along with mobile computer speakers.


Resources

KRK ROKIT 4 G3 ($240.00 MSRP each, $139.50 "street")

Buy at B&H

KRK's product web page

 

KRK Rokit 4 G3 specifications:

  • Configuration: 2-Way
  • System type: Active Studio Monitor
  • MF/HF Cone Material: Aramid Glass Composite Woofer
  • LF Transducer: 4" Aramid Glass Composite Woofer
  • Frequency Range (-10dB):51Hz - 35kHz
  • Crossover Frequency: 2.3kHz
  • Total Power: 30 Watts
  • HF Power: 10 Watts
  • LF Power: 20 Watts
  • Peak SPL: 100 Watts
  • Auto-Standby: 30 Minutes
  • Cabinet Material: MDF
  • Input Connectors:
    • Unbalanced 7kΩ RCA
    • Balanced 10kΩ ¼" TRS and XLR. Pin 2 & Tip = Hot\Positive, Pin 3 & Ring = Cold\Negative
    • Pin 1 & Sleeve = Ground
  • Controls:
    • HF Level Adjust (-2dB, -1dB, 0, +1dB)
    • LF Level Adjust (-2dB, -1dB, 0, +2dB)
    • System Volume (-30dB to +6dB)
  • Magnetic Shielding: Yes
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 8.31" (211mm) x 6.09" (155mm) x 8.82" (238mm)
  • Product Net Weight: 8.67 Lbs. (3.93 Kg.)
  • Fuse Rating: Slow Blow Type, 5mm x 20mm

 

 





__________________________________________________




Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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