With so many high-quality and affordable studio monitors available, choosing a pair can be difficult. Although personal preference can be a guide, the monitor must provide an accuracy that lets you see into your mixes and decide what will help them sound faithful when played back in different environments. Along with KRK Systems' new Rokit RP10S powered subwoofer, the company's new V8 powered near-field monitors make up a 2.1 system that offers accuracy and value.
FIG. 1: KRK''s updated V8 powered monitor features an 8-inch Kevlar woofer, a 1-inch domed tweeter, and a 180W amplifier.
The updated V8 (see Fig. 1) is one member of KRK's V Series 2 line of 2-way active powered monitors. The V8 features an 8-inch Kevlar woofer and a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter. (The other members of the V Series, the V4 and V6, offer 4-inch and 6-inch drivers, respectively.) KRK's speakers stand out in a crowd: the yellow Kevlar woofer cones of the V8s are instantly identifiable.
The V8s are large for close-field monitors, almost venturing into midfield territory. They have attractive, soft-looking beveled corners. The V8s are sturdily built, and each has a slotted port at the bottom of the front baffle. According to KRK, the slotted design is more effective than are round openings in reducing port turbulence (distortion). The V8's amplifier provides 120W to the woofer and 60W to the tweeter.
The V8s, available for a reasonable price (street price is around $500 each), are loaded with little extras that add value to the monitors. The power switch's Auto position detects audio passing through the speaker and turns on the integrated power amplifiers in each monitor. If the speaker sits idle for 20 minutes, it powers itself down. A yellow LED glows on the front of each monitor whenever the amplifiers are powered up. Other switches on the rear of the speaker include a high-frequency-adjust switch, which boosts or cuts highs by 1 dB at 1 kHz, which, in my opinion, is a low point for an HF adjustment. The low-frequency adjust switch has settings for the internal highpass filter, allowing you to roll off the low end at 45, 50, or 65 Hz with slightly different curves, which are indicated by a frequency graph next to the switch. Those two adjust switches give you minimal but effective ways of tuning the speaker to your room and setup.
A gain pot, adjustable only by screwdriver to prevent accidental tweaks, lets you set the sensitivity of each monitor independently (the default setting is +6 dB). The final control on the rear panel is the Clip Indicator/Limiter switch. With it, you can enable a red LED indicator on the front of the speaker. The LED glows when you have reached clipping levels or when the onboard limiter circuit is switched in. The circuit protects the speaker from damage caused by overloading. The limiter also reportedly activates a green LED when it kicks in, but I couldn't get either LED to light up, despite pushing my mixes up to face-melting levels. The amplifiers appeared to stay clean, even with signals way above my usual control-room working levels.
My first sonic impression of the V8s alone was a positive one. Words such as “meaty” and “thick” immediately came to mind, because these speakers have a healthy dose of mid-range in them. The 8-inch drivers are slightly larger than either of my own close-field pairs, so my perception of the hefty low mids is based partly on what I am used to hearing. KRK's V8 literature acknowledges that the speakers aren't flat and explains that a flat frequency response isn't what makes a good studio monitor. I agree with that assessment, and the V8's tuning was flattering to my trusty reference discs.
FIG. 2: The Rockit RP10S subwoofer uses a 10-inch composite driver with a 225W (peak) amp.
Adding the Rokit RP10S powered subwoofer (see Fig. 2), which was included in my review package, enhanced the sound substantially. The subwoofer features a 10-inch composite woofer with a 225W (peak) amp. The RP10S has an internal highpass filter set at 80 Hz. You can run your monitor mix through the RP10S's XLR, TRS, or RCA connections on its way to your stereo speakers, a common and convenient way to deal with the crossover frequencies between your subwoofer and your main monitors. The RP10S has two knobs: one for adjusting the subwoofer's lowpass filter to a value between 80 Hz (the correct setting for use with the V8s) and 130 Hz, and another for setting the gain of the subwoofer's integrated amplifier.
A Phase Switch is also included to help correct phase problems due to placement and room reflections. (The phase switch flips the polarity of the signal in the subwoofer 180 degrees; it doesn't alter the phase.) The manual gives some helpful hints for setting the three controls to get the best results from the subwoofer in your monitoring space. I found settings for the subwoofer that gave me the low frequencies to which I've grown accustomed, and the system didn't sound unnaturally woofy or sloppy. My only complaint with the subwoofer controls is the lack of any detents on the pots, which would greatly facilitate reproducing a previous setting.
Many engineers believe that the most important factor in choosing a monitoring system is how well their resulting mixes translate to the real world. Whether any one monitoring system can work well in every environment is doubtful; nonetheless, the environment in your control room should function so that your mixes sound good on various systems, such as audio in cars, boom boxes, and home stereos. My studio partner John Finkbeiner and I agreed that the combination of the V8s and the RP10S gave us an above-average representation of how our mixes would sound in those other environments. The KRK system sometimes even edged out the systems that we have used regularly and with which we have grown familiar over the years.
Overall, I like these speakers. They complement my other monitors in a way that I will miss when the KRK system is gone. If I were in the market for a new pair of close-field monitors, I would seriously consider buying them, especially because the entire 2.1 system costs about $1,300, which is about the same price as my main subwoofer alone. There is a slight emphasis in the low- and high mids compared with my other monitors, making the V8s a little tubby and somewhat harsh sounding on certain material. But I found those qualities helpful in making my mixes come across more smoothly on other systems. I recommend giving the V8s a listen if you are in search of a new monitoring system.
Eli Crews has his face melted off on a regular basis at his Oakland, California, recording studio, New Improved Recording,www.newimprovedrecording.com.
V8 SPECIFICATIONS Drivers 8" woven Kevlar woofer; 1" soft-dome tweeter Analog Inputs (1) balanced XLR/¼" TRS combo jack Input Impedance10 kΩInput Sensitivity +6 dB to -30 dB variable HF Adjust Control +1 dB, flat, or-1 dB LF Adjust Control -3 dB @ 42 Hz, 50 Hz, or 65 Hz Amplification LF: 120W; HF: 60W Frequency Response 42 Hz-20 kHz, ±1.5 dB Maximum SPL 109 dB average, 111 dB peak Dimensions 11" (W) × 16.7" (H) × 12" (D) Weight 35 lbs.
RP10S SPECIFICATIONS Driver 10" glass aramid composite woofer Analog Input (2) balanced XLR, (2) balanced ¼" TRS, (2) unbalanced RCA Analog Output (2) XLR, (2) balanced ¼" TRS Highpass Filter 80 Hz fixed Lowpass Filter 0-130 Hz variable Input Impedance 10 kΩ Power Rating 150W RMS, 225W peak Signal-to-Noise Ratio 98 dB Total Harmonic Distortion .05% Frequency Response 36 Hz-150 kHz, ±1.5dB Dimensions 14" (W) × 15" (H) × 15.7" (D) Weight 42 lbs.
V8 and Rokit RP10S powered monitors and subwoofer
Rokit PR10S subwoofer
OVERALL RATING (1 THROUGH 5): 4
PROS: Clean signal even at very loud levels. Subwoofer has flexible I/O. Mixes tend to translate well. Concise, informative manual.
CONS: No detents at landmark frequencies or levels on subwoofer controls.