Review: KRK ROKIT 4 & 10-3 G3 Studio Monitors

If you're on the lookout for large or tiny studio monitors, KRK have two new ROKIT's out in the form of the solid and clear 10-3 G3 and ROKIT 4 G3 (which is super compact). We put both to the test.  

KRK has been providing high-quality monitors to large and small studios alike for many years—I relied on a pair of 7000s for many years in the studio, and have a pair of 6000s at home, which are still my main mix speakers there. So I was pleased to receive review copies of not one, but two of KRK’s newest additions to their ROKIT line—the 2-way sub-compact ROKIT 4 G3, and the new top-of-the-line 3-way ROKIT 10-3 G3.

The ROKIT series is KRK’s most affordable monitor line, suitable for both commercial and project studio use. With these two latest additions, the line now consists of models with woofer sizes of 4”, 5”, 6”, 8”, and 10”. All are powered speakers, and with the exception of the 3-way 10-3, all are 2-way ported designs, pairing KRK’s trademark yellow-coned woofers with their 1” soft-dome tweeter for extended high-end response. 

KRK monitors have enjoyed a reputation for clear highs, and especially for transparent midrange that can reveal—for better and worse—all the detail in a mix that you need to hear. The ROKIT series has proved to be a popular line, particularly with small studios. So how do these latest models stack up?

The ROKIT 10-3 G3

I’ll start with the 10-3, the new top of the ROKIT line. This is the first 3-way design for the ROKIT series, adding a dedicated midrange driver to the series’ 1” tweeter, along with a 10” woofer. The midrange is handled by a 4” driver, and it appears to be the same driver used in the 2-way ROKIT 4. The 10-3 is intended for Midfield use, which usually means positioned on stands, tweeters at ear level, several feet (~ 3’-12’ or so) from the sweet spot (the primary monitoring position). At 46 lbs each and 21.5” x 12.8” x 14.4” (HWD), these are imposing speakers—with their sleek black surfaces and eye-catching yellow mid-and-low-frequency drivers, they definitely make a visual statement.

 

 

KRK ROKIT 10-3 G3 3-way monitors

KRK ROKIT 10-3 G3 3-way monitors

As I mentioned earlier, the 10-3 is a ported design, with a front-firing slot-style port at the bottom, which helps account for the solid extended low end these speakers deliver. Their frequency response is spec’d at 31 Hz–30 kHz (-10dB), and a glance at the supplied frequency response graph (Fig 4, below, from the comprehensive printed manual) shows that this low end is real—something your ears will confirm at first listen to full-range program material.

The 3-way design is tri-amp’d—power output is spec’d at 140W, with 30W each for the mids and highs, and 80W for the 10” woofer. Maximum Peak SPL is given simply as “113 dB”—however, after auditioning them, I don’t doubt the ability of these speakers to rise to the occasion when artists and producers want to crank them up.

Around the back is the usual power switch and voltage selector, along with several inputs, and level and balance controls.

The ROKIT 10-3 rear panel

The ROKIT 10-3 rear panel

There are balanced ins, on XLR and 1/4” TRS connections, and an unbalanced RCA input as well. A level control ranges from -30 to +6 dB, and there are HF and LF balance knobs; all the controls are stepped. The HF knob has settings for 0 dB, + 1dB, and -1 and -2 dB. The LF knob is similar—0 dB, +2 dB, and, again, -1 and -2 dB. The crossover points are 378 Hz (low-mid) and 3.3 kHz (mid-high)—the frequency response graph in the manual shows the range of control offered.

ROKIT 10-3 frequency response and control range for the HF and LF level knobs

ROKIT 10-3 frequency response and control range for the HF and LF level knobs

KRK suggests the 0dB LF setting for full-space placement (away from walls and off the floor, the best choice for the most balanced low-frequency response), with -1dB for half-space (wall placement) and -2dB for corners (usually avoided). 

The 10-3’s can be oriented either vertically (as shipped) or horizontally, without compromising mid/high-frequency performance. The mid and high-frequency drivers are mounted on a sub-baffle that can be unscrewed and re-positioned for different orientations, insuring the same clarity no matter how the monitors are set up.

The ROKIT 10-3’s mid and high-frequency driver baffle can be rotated for vertical or horizontal orientation.

The ROKIT 10-3’s mid and high-frequency driver baffle can be rotated for vertical or horizontal orientation.

In Use

So, specs aside, how do they sound? On first listen, clear and present with really solid bass was my initial impression. I auditioned them on a variety of commercial sources, plus a few mixes I’d done on my older KRKs. Everything sounded well-balanced—definitely very present in the upper mids, but never to the point of harshness. To evaluate the mid and high response, I compared the 10-3’s to my older (admittedly higher-priced) passive KRK 6000s. The 6000s have a broad, distinctly forward midrange—the opposite of many other monitors (like my alternate pair of Tannoys, with their characteristic scooped mids). The 10-3’s have that forward midrange, but mostly in the upper mids (around 2k and above—you can see it in the graph). That balance put them somewhere between the 6000s and the Tannoys—a little less lower midrange energy than the older KRKs, but definitely not as scooped as the Tannoys—similar, in fact, to the more extended response of my larger KRK 7000s (even more high-priced than the 10-3s). Dialing in the -1dB position on the 10-3’s back-panel HF knob very subtly softened the upper mids and highs, while preserving the speakers’ characteristic midrange clarity—I settled on this as my preferred setting.

The low end was solid and extended. I had the 10-3s set up in a full-space placement—away from the side and back walls, and raised up on (makeshift) stands. With the LF knob at 0dB, the bass was all there, but without any sense of tubbiness or unwanted boom. Even with the LF knob at the +2dB position, the bass still remained tight, though that extra boost was really not needed. I didn’t have a chance to experiment with a wall placement, but if that was necessary, I’d be careful about it—the 10-3s have more than enough low-end without giving room acoustics any more of a chance to mess with the nice, tight character of the bass they provide.

The ROKIT 4 G3

Also on test was the 10-3s baby brother, the 2-way ROKIT 4 G3. This incorporates the same sized tweeter and 4” driver, but that’s where the similarity ends as its been constructed in a completely different way to its larger sibling. 

KRK ROKIT 4 G3 2-way monitors

KRK ROKIT 4 G3 2-way monitors

Obviously intended for smaller/home studios, and probably nearfield use, the ROKIT 4 shares most of the 10-3’s basic specs. Once again, it’s a ported design, this time bi-amp’d, with 30W total power—10W for the highs, and 20W for the lows—with the crossover at 2.3kHz. KRK specs Max Peak SPL as 100W (compared with the 10-3’s rating of 110W).

The ROKIT 4 rear panel

The ROKIT 4 rear panel

The ROKIT 4’s rear panel is identical to the 10-3’s—three inputs (balanced XLR & TRS + unbalanced RCA), and three knobs—Volume, HF, and LF, with the same ranges as on the larger model. The ROKIT 4’s frequency response is spec’d as 51-35 kHz (-10dB)—as expected, significantly less low end extension from a 4” driver serving as a woofer, though what low end is there feels solid (see below). 

The speakers have a conveniently small footprint at 8.31” x 6.09” x 8.82” (HWD), but have a nice solid feel, at 8.67 lbs. Just like the larger model, the bottom has a soft rubber pad, to protect surfaces (and possibly, help minimize the transfer of vibrations?). 

In Use

I auditioned the ROKIT 4’s in a full-space, near-field configuration, next to my regular monitors (the 6000s). They shared the same pleasing forward quality of all the KRK models—mid and high-frequency balance had the same overall character as the 10-3. Naturally, the lack of low-frequency extension meant that, as expected, compared with the 6” woofers in the 6000s (and the Tannoys), the 4s lacked the heft of those slightly larger tabletop/nearfield designs. However, the low end didn’t feel lacking—for my room/placement, dialing up the +2dB LF boost and the -1dB HF cut (as I preferred with the10-3’s) provided a balance that I thought would be well-suited to both listening and (more critical) mixing. With the nearfield placement, the ROKIT 4’s revealed a good sense of depth and clarity with background tracks and busy arrangements, though perhaps not quite as much as the (larger and more expensive) KRK 6000s—an unfair comparison, really, but even so, the ROKIT 4’s acquitted themselves admirably.

Wrap-up

It’s worth mentioning that both the 10-3s and the 4s come with a very nice printed manual, full of useful information on monitor placement, near-field vs. mid-field setup, adding a subwoofer, and, in the case of the 10-3, surround sound configurations. Both manuals also include a thorough troubleshooting guide, which could be very helpful for less-experienced users.

The ROKIT manuals include configuration advice and a helpful troubleshooting guide

The ROKIT manuals include configuration advice and a helpful troubleshooting guide

Both the KRK ROKIT 4 and 10-3 monitors are welcome additions to the ROKIT line, though serving different users. The 10-3s would make a fine pair of main monitors for a medium-sized studio with the space to configure them optimally, while the 4s could be just the ticket for small/home studio operators with budget and space constraints, providing high-quality sound at an especially attractive price. It seems KRK continues to strike a good balance between performance and cost with these latest additions to the ROKIT family. 

Price: ROKIT 10-3 G3: $499.50 each (Street); ROKIT 4 G3: $139.50 each (Street);

Pros: Clear, transparent sound; solid construction; ROKIT 10-3: extended low end; ROKIT 4: conveniently small footprint

Cons: Perhaps not as open as more expensive models, but at these prices, none, really.

Web:

ROKIT 10-3http://www.krksys.com/krk-studio-monitor-speakers/rokit/rokit-10-3.html

ROKIT 4: http://www.krksys.com/krk-studio-monitor-speakers/rokit/rokit-4.html

Joe is a musician, engineer, and producer in NYC. Over the years, as a small studio operator and freelance engineer, he's made recordings of all types from music & album production to v/o & post. He's also taught all aspects of recording and music technology at several NY audio schools, and has been writing articles for Recording magaz... Read More

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