The smallest of KRK’s basic subwoofers, the 8S2 delivers the goods. Its 100W amplifier and 8” woofer speaker add the desired “thump”, making it a great pairing with, for instance, KRK’s classic 5 monitor speakers, for a cost-effective home studio system for DJs or budding producers.
First Impressions / Setting up
Stylistically, the KRK systems 8S2 subwoofer is the perfect match for the KRK Classic 5 monitor speakers. It has the same vinyl-covered MDF enclosure and curved plastic front. The speaker is, this time, behind a smart shaped black grille, and again there is a bass reflex port across the front bottom of the unit.
To add a subwoofer to your speaker set-up (and it would only be one – you only need one as bass is notoriously uni-directional), you feed the left and right inputs that would have gone to your existing monitor speakers instead to the left and right inputs on the back of the subwoofer. You then feed extra cables from the left and right outputs on the back of your subwoofer to your existing speakers. (None of these cables are provided, by the way.)
The 8S2s come with balanced XLR and TRS sockets if you want to use those instead of unbalanced RCA ins/outs, plus there’s a bypass switch socket for a footswitch to turn the sub on and off (useful for producers checking their sound).
When setting up, you’ll also want to set the crossover frequency to “tune” the subwoofer to your existing speakers – usually if using with small speakers you’ll set this high, to 90Hz or 100Hz, but there are 70Hz and 80Hz settings too.
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There is also a polarity switch to fix any phasing issues you may have; a “ground lift” switch to help with any mains hum; a stand-by switch to power down the speaker after a period with no input; and an input sensitivity switch, which is apparently useful if you’re feeding an unbalanced input to the subwoofer but then using balanced cables to your satellite speakers.
Apart from that, round the back is an IEC power-in socket for the supplied power cable, and an on/off switch – and that’s it.
With subwoofers, it’s all about set-up, to find the right place where there are no phasing issues and the bass sounds “right”. Often frankly, it is also about where you can put the thing – this is a pretty big enclosure. No surprise that many DJs end up just bunging it under their DJ workstation – which is exactly what we did.
We turned up the volume until it felt balanced with the KRK Classic 5 monitors we tested this with (see here for our KRK Classic 5 monitors review), checked the “polarity” settings to see if there were any audible phase issues (there weren’t), and got on with it – and we loved what we heard.
Crank it up and you get full, belly-thumping bass that transforms DJ practice into something visceral, rein it in a bit and instead you’ll experience smoothly extending bass right down to sub-bass levels.
We appreciated the auto standby to save having to get down on the floor and bend around the rear of the unit to turn it off at the end of our sessions.
One thing I can report is that as soon as you do turn this off, your original (and originally, fine!) monitors will sound terribly weedy…
For most DJs buying entry-level dedicated gear like studio monitors and subwoofers, it’s a case of getting what you can, when you can. We’d expect the purchase of a KRK 8S2 to follow the purchase of a pair of KRK’s smaller monitors, again, such as the Classic 5s that we used this with.
Do so, and you’ll never want to look back. You’ll add a whole new dimension of sound you can actually feel to your DJing – just be sure you’re in a place where the neighbours won’t mind, because they’ll definitely feel that bass if you crank it up loud enough.
For the money, we can’t fault the 8S2. Do be careful to spend some time experimenting with positioning, though, because as with all sub-woofers, that really can make a difference to perceived bass in your DJing position or your production chair.