Reviewing studio monitors to me, is like reviewing food. What one person hates, another person loves, and there is plenty of mythology floating around in the audio world to keep everyone arguing about our likes and dislikes.
When powered monitors came along, things got even more complicated. For some, the lack of a separate power amp is just another thing to argue about, but, let's face it, those of us in small project and home studios are always looking to reduce the clutter, and if you don’t need a power amp, why have one?
More importantly, getting the most out of one pair of monitors can be difficult if you have to choose between near or midfields. Of course, it would be great to have the best of both worlds. And this is where the KRK Rokit 10-3 series really fills a need.
First, let’s get the nitty gritty details out of the way.
• 3 Way Active Monitor
• Frequency Response: 31Hz to 20.8kHz
• High Freq Driver: 1” silk Tweeter
• Mid Freq Driver: 4” Aramid Glass Fiber
• Low Freq Driver: 10” Aramid Glass Fiber
• Class A-B amplifiers, 30W each for the High and Mid, and 80W for the Low
• Cabinet Dimensions: 21.5” x 12.8” x 14.4”
• Weight (each): 46.5 lbs
• Crossover Freq: LF: 350Hz, MF: 350Hz-3.5kHz, HF: 3.5kHz
• Subsonic Filter: 30Hz
Probably the best feature about the RP-10-3—aside from the sound—is the ability to choose whether it will be functioning as a near-field or mid-field monitor in your studio. To me, this is a giant plus.
Why? Because it’s virtually impossible to get near fields to function as a good listening speaker and mid-fields to function as a decent mix reference monitor. Here, you have the choice - but you also have the flexibility to use it as either kind whenever you need to. So a listening session with your clients doesn’t need to turn into a tap dance about how things will sound beefier when you are on the proper speakers or a round robin of everyone on the team sitting in the small sweet spot.
You achieve the two different types in a couple of different ways. First, the 10-3’s can be set either on their side horizontally or positioned vertically. They come set for vertical mid-field use. But the upper driver assembly can be rotated, so when using them as either near fields or mid fields on their side with the tweeters facing inside or outside, the axis of the speakers is correct. This is a great feature. Changing the axis requires simple removal of the front baffle and six hex screws. Very easy.
The 10-3’s have a few other features that make it very flexible. On the back are a LF and HF level adjustment knobs that allow you to adjust low and high frequency response. And a input sensitivity knob that allows you to adjust the range between -30dB to +6db. You would use this to balance them in a surround sound situation, or if your monitor source level can’t be adjusted for some reason.
So...how do they sound? I found the 10-3’s to be exactly what they claim to be: accurate, with very good imaging, and very good clarity. The front firing bass port is a nice feature that offers up a solid amount of low end for small rooms without any back bass trapping issues. At near-field range, its even possible to feel the thud in your chest. You can certainly get away without a sub with these in a small studio or for a client listening station, and they are plenty powerful.
In truth, they offer up their best qualities at mid-field range - nice distinction between the low thud, mids, and very clear highs with a better blending of the midrange that is not as harsh as it is at near-field distance.
At near-field range, the mids are fairly crisp and you might want to watch your volume levels because they were a little fatiguing sitting right in front of them, but that’s also a feature my Yamaha NS10M’s share. All in all I was very impressed with the overall sound and accuracy.
The 10-3’s are quite large AND HEAVY, weighing in at a whopping 46 lbs each. So separate stands for them would be a good idea, as they aren’t easy to perch atop a producers station and they take up quite a lot of space. If you’re looking for a tidy small monitor that is easy to position on your desk or sits on your meter bridge, you would be better checking out a smaller Rokit version and maybe adding a sub.
But for a little less than a grand, KRK is offering a serious contender in dual-purpose monitoring that delivers both in sound quality and great features.
Online: $499/each ($998/pair)
KRK Rokit RP-10-3 Studio Monitors
By Andrea Bensmiller