Review: KRK Rokit 6 Powered Monitor Speakers
KRK speakers seem to be everywhere, don’t they? Maybe it’s the distinctive yellow cones, or the rounded fronts, but when you see them you definitely notice them – and you seem to see them in more than their fair share of “here’s my DJ set-up” photos on Facebook and forums.
Today we’ve got the KRK Systems RP6 G2 (popularly and hereafter known as the “Rokit 6”) powered monitors to review, which are the middle model in a series that includes the Rokit 5 and Rokit 8 – differentiated by the size of the woofer in inches.
First impressions and setting up
They are heavy, and even for a 6″ woofered speaker, quite big. However, they’re also somehow not over-imposing, which is probably due to the fact that they taper quite aggressively on all front corners, to give an almost pebble-shaped appearance. Coupled with the aforementioned yellow cone and the cute little go-faster logo, they look great.
They come with large squares of thin adhesive-backed foam rubber for the bottoms, which not only means they have more grip on whatever surface you choose to put them on, but also that they’ll be more isolated, which should give an improved better sound. The speakers are front ported; that means that there is a slit in the front of them to fire the bass. Ported speakers are common, but there is debate over whether it’s better to have the bass port on the front or the back; KRK reckon that having it on the front results in a truer bass reproduction.
These are powered monitors, which means they have amplifiers built into them. They’re also “standalone”, in that unlike audiophile computer speakers or a traditional amp-plus-two-speakers set-up, you don’t have one or both speakers taking their signal from an amp outside of them; every Rockit 6 has its own amp built-in. In fact they are “bi-amped”, which means they have separate circuitry for the bass and treble response; again, this is a higher-end technique designed to provide truer response.
In practise, what the above means is that you need a separate, mono lead from your equipment to each of the left and the right speakers.
Each speaker therefore has its own power supply, a thick, kettle-type cable. There’s a big on/off switch, and a fuse behind a screw-down see-through plastic cover. KRK has included three separate inputs – two balanced (XLR and 1/4″ TRS) and an unbalanced (RCA), which should cover all your bases and means you can leave several sources permanently plugged in to them.
Each unit has a volume control, and there’s also an “HF level adjust” (HF standing for “high frequency”). Sounds like a treble control, right? Well it is, but a subtle one – KRK reckons that the single thing that varies across any range of listening rooms the most is how treble is perceived to the listener, so you get a kind of “fine adjust” over the treble response, with three settings to choose from.
We replaced our current speakers with the KRKs for two weeks prior to producing this review, and as we were in the middle of an office move, we got to try them in two different rooms too.
Our old workshop was a small, shallow room with lots of acoustic padding (mainly product boxes piled ceiling high!) and we had the speakers really close-field. Jammed out of necessity against a 27″ iMac, there was extremely low-level but nonetheless just noticeable interference from the computer circuitry – but it was no worse than any other speakers we’ve tried, and an unfair test of any monitor – they’re not designed to sit next to 27″ iMacs, it seems, even though they boast “video shielding”.
However, the music reproduction from all sources was excellent. Most noticeable was the bass – deep, stomach rumbling bass, but punchy and taut, with a lot of definition. There was no hint of harshness in the highs, and overall they sounded rounded and compelling.
Subjectively the best way to describe the sound is that on many an occasion, I found myself turning the volume right up, sitting back and closing my eyes, forgetting whatever else I was doing and just enjoying a minute or two of whatever bassline had just been dropped! Can’t really say more than that – top marks.
Our new workshop has completely different properties. Large and currently relatively empty, it has a separate equipment testing area with dedicated raised speaker platforms. L-shaped, the room is for the first time in years completely devoid of clutter (hurray!), but that also means that acoustically it’s very harsh – in oither words, it echoes a lot.
Here, the speakers are set up a foot or two from a DJ laptop rather than a big iMac, and this time there’s absolutely no interference, even with no music on and the speakers turned up to full power. This is a fairer test of how well shielded they are, and they pass.
Within their optimum listening field, (ie in front of the speakers, both speakers pointing roughly at you, pretty close to them) they again sounded great. Well away from them, the bass was pretty hopelessly boomy – a product of them room they are in, and a big fat “to do” on our list: Damp our workshop down a bit so those not stood in the “sweet spot” can enjoy the music more as well! The “turn them up and close your eyes” factor was still there; Maceo Plex’s “Under the Sheets” sounding particularly amazing as the bassline kicked in at the end of the break.
By the way, the spec says 18w treble, 50w bass output per speaker; trust us, they’re loud enough. You wouldn’t want to play a party with them (you should never play parties with your studio monitors anyway), but for their intended use, they’ve got volume to spare.
These speakers are sold as studio monitors: That means they attempt to provide “flat” (ie non-altered) reproduction of whatever music you throw at them. For producers this is vital as they want to hear the “truth” about what they’re working on – how it actually sounds, not some speaker designer’s idea of what sounds good.
However, at this price point (they’re low to mid-range in spec and price), and with their styling and branding, they are for me a speaker for DJ/producers – people who need good and trustworthy sound response, who probably do indeed have production aspirations, who already produce their own mixtapes, mashups and so on, but who share their home “studio” with maybe a computer, some DJ gear and even a family.
While being aimed at this target market, they nonetheless lack the high level of control of the otherwise similar Pioneer S-DJ range of speakers (see our Pioneer S-DJ08 review), which come with a clever and attractive wired desktop remote control for quick muting, input switching and volume changes. Also, the Pioneers have switchable EQ for a “best of both worlds” approach (bypass the EQ for hardcore production work, flick it on for rocking out in DJ practice when you just want to slam the bass up!) – but then again the KRKs don’t have anything like the Pioneers’ price tag, and you’re getting similar high sound quality.
Overall, they’re a winner. The combination of quality build, great sound, lots of inputs and “tweakable” treble mean that for all but truly serious DJ/producers, they’ve not only hit a sweet spot when it comes to sound quality, but also the price / practicality balance too.
If you’re a serious producer, you probably baulk at the price and spec (not high / good enough!), the tweakable treble and the range of inputs on offer (you’re only interested in one – from your studio mixer). But if you’re ready to move up from domestic speakers, want great sound, yet still need something that allows you to plug in a range of inputs, you should consider a pair of KRKs. We’ve yet to test the 5s and 8s, but if the 6s are anything to go by, it is a range of winners.
Do you own a pair of KRKs? What is your opinion of them? what monitors do you use – and what monitors do you wish you had? LEt us know your thoughts in the comments.