Busy producers and engineers know that the monitors you choose for audio work can have a profound impact on the quality of both your final product and your work experience. Without precise monitoring, there is no way of accurately telling what's really going on inside your mixes. For engineers and producers who hear the same sounds over and over again, listenable monitoring is truly the only way to survive the experience with any sanity; many producers even carry their favorite monitors with them from studio to studio. I wasn't sure what to expect from KRK's new series, but I am ultimately very pleased at how the VXT6 speaker pair treated my ears. While they are surprisingly heavy and look almost like someone inflated square monitors with a bike pump, KRK's new design is undeniably successful at delivering impressive clarity of stereo field, as well as noticeably even and defined frequency response, even down in the lower end. They captured me right away with crispness across the spectrum and clear imaging.
GET YOUR CURVE ON
The VXT series is definitely a descendent of KRK's popular Expose line; the relationship is clear, but the concept has been refined. Edges are curved, the sides are smoother and the entire faceplate is gently curved with no sharp lines or mirrored walls. The insides are filled with ABS structural foam for careful resonance control, and the lower transmitted noise means the outer shell can be thinner. This altered balance in body makeup definitely shows in the sound, reducing the internal standing waves and thus massively reducing internal distortion, allowing the system to operate at higher internal volume and thereby enhancing the low-end response. I personally noted that this design also provides less side noise and rear noise than other monitors I've used, and there is no doubt that the low end is deep yet clear.
KRK also redesigned the tweeter and woofer for more accuracy and better transient response. A custom-woven Kevlar woofer was designed for each of the VXT sizes (VXT4 and VXT8 for $399 and $799 each, respectively) to minimize axial breakup and extend the low-end range, and the tweeters are made of 100-percent pure silk that KRK claims provides the tightest transient response. I can't argue with the results. The imaging within the stereo field is crisp but never sonically unsettling, and the system reacts just as smoothly and evenly with sharp, uncompressed drum hits and pumping full mixes as it does with gentle, carefully recorded acoustic sounds. Warm analog tones and harsh digital sounds all come through sounding clear, even and realistic. One of the selling points of the VXT series is a wider sweet spot, and on this, the VXT6s definitely deliver. While mixing, I switched to the “secondary” chair and was pleasantly surprised how clearly I could still make out the stereo field. There was nearly no loss of high-end clarity or serious stereo-field distortion for a good 18 to 24 inches on either side of the center — impressive indeed.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS
Great sound aside, the VXT6s carry a bunch of smaller features that add flexibility, security and peace of mind. Omni Mount support means flexible placement options, and the -30 to +6 dB knob allows usage with a wide range of sources and in rooms of varying sizes. Five rocker switches include HF Adjust for setting the high end up or down by 1 dB; LF Adjust, which offers three slightly varied low-end curves for dialing in the room's response to the extended low frequencies; a ground lift switch; Auto-Mute, which will shut the power supply off after 20 minutes without a signal; and a switch to enable/disable an LED clipping light or an output limiter. The limiter isn't too useful during mixing, so it's nice that you can turn it off. However, it can be useful when tracking so that an unexpected volume surge won't harm the speaker.
The clip light is a nice touch, appearing underneath the logo on the front (although I think the glowing KRK logo itself is an eyesore). All five switches are covered with a plastic guard that I initially found annoying because I couldn't move the switches with my finger and was forced to improvise with a pen cap. However, as I more regularly switched the power on and off, I discovered that those were a perfect design element; without them, I would have accidentally changed settings numerous times when fumbling around the back for the power switch. Small details like that that really sold me on the VXT6s. Great sound plus several subtle and creative changes to the normal monitor paradigm add up to a noticeably nicer working experience.
VXT6 MONITORS > $599 EACH
Pros: Fast, tight transient response. Deep and clear low end. Wide sweet spot and defined stereo imaging. Omni Mount support.
Cons: Extremely heavy at 27 lb. each.