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February 2014

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Page 48 of 51 Post • January 2014 47 review KRK's Rokit bi-amplified speakers O ne goal of any recording engineer is to make audio mixes that are some- thing I call "as transparent as possi- ble," meaning they will play back correctly on any speaker system. That means anything from a laptop speaker to a 5.1 home theater sys- tem, and everything in between. That's why it's so important to work on a speaker that is above all accurate, rather than something that may color or "hype" the sound. KRK has long understood this with their very successful line of Rokit bi-amped speakers. The third-gener- ation Rokit series has raised the bar and made some noteworthy improvements from past versions. KRK offers three models in the series: the Rokit 5 G3, Rokit 6 G3 and Rokit 8 G3, based on their respective woofer size of five, six or eight inches in diameter. Pricing is $250, $339, and $419 respectively. I chose the eight-inch model because they are similar in size and weight to most of the near-field monitors I use in various studios here in New York City. In addition, I wanted to hear KRK's largest woofer in this series since I know how difficult judging bass frequencies can be. Not only is judging bass a subjective matter, but it also relates to certain variables in the studio, such as room size, speaker placement, etc. I wanted to hear for myself the largest frequency range of 35Hz to 35kHz offered by the eight-inch model. This is the largest near-field monitor frequency range I have ever worked on. I find KRK's overall design and signature yel- low woofers to be simply beautiful. The Rokit series woofers are made out of a glass-Aramid composite, offering a clear mid- range and a tight bass response. In addition, there are front facing bass ports, which are superb at channeling bass waves to the center or sweet spot. The sweet spot is noticeably wider due to their physical design, with round- ed edges, front facing bass ports, and foam padding on the bottom of the speakers for isolation. This is ideal for anyone like me, who is often mixing for a client not seated next to me, but behind me, when I am working. One of the biggest upgrades I found was the newly-added 35kHz tweeter compared to the 20kHz tweeter of past series. This is significant in many ways. I have heard of stud- ies done to illustrate how people may per- ceive frequencies above 20kHz. Years ago, I was told of one experiment, where people listened to a tone that cut off at 20kHz. The same tone was played with higher frequencies added (most likely based on the overtone series or harmonics) above 20kHz. As a result, people could sense a difference between the two tones, even if they could not hear the additional higher frequencies directly. KRK supports my experience and states that any device that can go above 20kHz typically reduces the amount of frequency and phase distortions back down into the audible range of 20kHz and below. Now this is a blessing and a curse. When I first fired up the Rokit 8 G3s, I immediately noticed how much brighter my mixes were. The benefit is that I am able to scrutinize the high-end more precisely, particularly on vocals. Digital clicks and pops, sloppy Pro Tools edit regions and the like are all very obvious, and removing them leads to much cleaner mixes overall. However, there is a downside that many novices or even professionals like me can fall victim to. That is, to assume the amount of high-end you are hearing will play- back the same on any other speaker. That is often not the case. Why is this an important issue? The prob- lem I've been faced with for years now is not how bright my mixes are but how bright other people's mixes are. When mixing commercials or records, I am always aware of how bright a commercial or song is that plays before and after my mix. I hate the so-called "loudness wars" and now I have seen it morph into brightness wars too. What was deemed too brittle or harsh years ago, is often deemed acceptable or maybe even too dull nowadays. The extended tweeter range is a good tool to help you if you know how to use it correctly. Interestingly, I find the backs of the Rokit speakers to be just as important as the fronts. Each speaker offers a series of controls includ- ing -2, -1, flat, and +1dB HF and LF level adjust- ments. I found I needed to dip the highs -2dB, but that's just my preference. In addition, they have three sets of inputs: standard XLR, bal- anced quarter-inch, and the welcome addition of RCA jacks, making this a very versatile speaker for the home studio or video edit suite. One important item to mention is how well the Rokit speakers are shielded against interference from computer monitors and mobile devices. In the past, I have had prob- lems with RF with a different KRK series. And I temporarily experienced an audible com- puter processing sound during Pro Tools imports with the Rokit 8 G3s. However, after contacting KRK, I was able to determine the RF interference was due to one of my audio cables and not the speakers them- selves. KRK confirmed that the Rokit speakers are factory tested against all of the typical devices and scenarios one may find in a home or professional studio. In fact, most of the techni- cal support issues come from users experienc- ing interference problems related to grounding issues, outboard gear, or cabling issues, and not from the speakers themselves. When connected properly, these speakers are as quiet as a mouse, and KRK support will help you troubleshoot if you experience any problems. I've been a fan of KRK speakers for many years and the third generation Rokit series con- firms everything I like about KRK: a high-quality monitor at an amazing price. I would expect to pay thousand of dollars more for a pair of eight- inch monitors this good. By Ron DiCesaRe Audio Engineer New York City KRK continues to improve compact monitors. ViTaL sTaTs MANUFACTURER: KRK PRODUCT: Rokit series PRICE: (Per speaker) Rokit 5 G3: $250; Rokit 6 G3: $339; Rokit 8 G3: $419 WEBSITE: · 35kHz tweeter · three input options · wide sweet spot; superb bass channeling The Rokit series features a higher-frequency tweeter than in past models. Post • February 2014 47

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