KRK RP5 Rokit Powered 5 Studio Monitor Review

krk rp5 main KRK RP5 Rokit Powered 5 Studio Monitor Review

If you are looking for great sounding equipment a good place to turn to are recording studios since their everyday activities depends on high fidelity sound gear. Usually, studio monitors can cost an arm and a leg compared to most MP3 player docks or the cheap studio monitors don’t have a big sound advantage. But there is a little gem made by KRK that does fall into great sound quality at a reachable price.

The KRK RP5 was routinely popping up as a best buy studio monitor for under $300 so I wanted to see how these would translate into a consumer environment. This review is not geared towards music producers but towards the average MP3 player owners looking for a future proof way to “dock” their player to speakers. Additionally, it is geared towards computer user that has a little bit of extra desk real estate for great sounding speakers.

Update: Just after finishing this review KRK introduced the RP5G2′s which are the second generation to these. They say they are more accurate than gen one so the G2′s should be a welcome improvement for the same cost as the G1′s. I also mentioned previously that these were $200, but that was the old stock they were clearing out. I still stand by these opinions at the $300 price tag.

  • Specs
  • Tweeter: 1″ Neodymium Soft Dome
  • Woofer: 5″ Glass Aramid Composite Cone
  • Built in Amp: 45 watts Bi-amplified Design
  • Frequency Response: 53Hz to 20kHz
  • Peak SPL: 106dB
  • Dimensions: 10 7/8″ x 7 1/4″ x 8 7/8″ / 27.6cm x 18.5cm x 22.5cm
  • Weight: 16 lbs / 8 Kg
  • Product Page
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What’s the Difference Between a Studio Monitor and a Speaker?

A studio monitor is a speaker, but the characteristics of how they are built to sound differ. A studio monitor is typically tuned so that no frequency is more pronounced than another or in other words, they have a very flat response. This is not to say that one is better than the other but it is more of a personal preference. Some prefer the raw representation of music while others like their EQ to smile.

But KRK?

Unless you are familiar with music production or studio recording you probably have never heard of the KRK brand. The KRK brand is well known and revered as one of the top brands for inexpensive studio monitors. Even though you may be unfamiliar with this brand it is highly regarded not by their marketing but by the performance of their products.

Design / Build Quality

Weighing in at 16lbs each, these speakers are built like cinderblocks. The housing is made of a dense fiberboard wood material, but is finished with a very hard epoxy-like paint coating. They are finished with perfection appearing to be carved out of a single piece of material. The round corners and edges tie in the overall clean and modern appearance.

But also keep in mind that this heavy build quality and size are not exactly friendly to small to moderate desks and will take up more space than a typical set of speakers. So do realize you are sacrificing some desk of shelf real estate.

The tweeters are neodymium soft dome and the woofers are made of a glass Aramid composite. If this means nothing to you; don’t worry it means nothing to me as well. I don’t care what they are made of as long as they sound good.

Setup & Use

The main reason I wanted to review these speakers was to find a really great sounding universal setup for a portable MP3 player and to avoid the proprietary speaker dock. Your MP3 player (or any audio source for that matter) simply plugs into the back of the speakers though the headphone jack. If you wanted to you could also make your own speaker dock system by purchasing a standard dock for your particular player and running that dock into the speakers. It may not be the same compact setup as an all in one dock, but a far superior way to dock your MP3 player.

On the back there are three different inputs, balanced XLR, balanced TRS 1/4″, and RCA. Most likely you will only be using the RCA input since those cables are the cheapest and you may already have one. Likely a standard 3.5mm to dual RCA cable will suit you fine, but keep in mind that one RCA input is on each speaker so you may have to split the cable down the middle. Also each of these speakers will need to be plugged in since each of them has their own separate amp.

On the back you will also find two knobs. The HF Level will adjust the high frequencies (-2dB, -1dB, 0dB, or +1db) and the Volume knob will continuously adjust between -30dB to +6dB. For the beginners keep the HF knob on 0dB and adjust to your preference when they are all set up. With the volume knob, turn it down to -30dB and adjust from there. If this is set too high it will create a unwanted buzz from source.

Sound

Admittedly I have little experience with studio monitors. While I have been in a few studios and auditioned a few, I have only done critical listening to the KRK RP5. This is comparison to consumer products and not others intended for studio use.

The KRKs sound true to their marketing claims as coming across as a very flat across the spectrum. No one frequency is more pronounced than the other. This lends to a nice separation of each track on the song; no one instrument drowns another. The sound stage is fantastic and most of the time disappears especially with bi-aural recordings. I still get fooled into thinking someone is behind me or in the other room when listening to some recordings. I tend to enjoy this way to listen to music and typically stay away from the EQ – however, they do respond well to a proper EQ.

Bass?

If you want something with heavy bass, keep looking, these are not for you. The response range of the KRK RP5’s are rated at 53Hz – 20kHz. They are true to the specs with everything less than 50Hz is really lacking or inaudible. It is not that there is no bass, but you will not get that deep carrying bass. For my case, this works out well for me since I’m in an apartment where that kind of bass will do nothing but upset the neighbors. However, that deep bass can be added with one of KRK subs. The RP10 is a 10 inch subwoofer that retails for $300 and will match up nicely with these RP5’s. I do miss the bass, but I easily forget about it since everything above it sounds incredibly smooth. However, the RP10 is likely in my future.

Conclusion

Bottom line is you will not get that kind of clarity out of anything in the $300 price range. Yes, they lack
the low bass. Many will be dissuaded by this fact, but keep in mind that they can also be accompanied by the $300 RP10 10” subwoofer if dissatisfied. While $300 will buy you a pretty good sounding set of speakers plus a sub at your local big box retailer, but with the KRK RP5’s will show you things you may have never heard in your music before. Your ears will thank you.

Purchase

You can pick up a pair of these online for $300. I got mine with free shipping and no sales tax through Amazon. For the UK they sell for 230 on Amazon UK.




24 Comments

Martin Sägmüller on May 28, 2008 3:33 PM

A friend of mine has the bigger Rokit 6 – they definitely kick the stuffing out of most other speakers in that price range.

Slaughter on May 28, 2008 7:01 PM

I would bet the $90 Insignia NS-B2111 with a $70 Sonic Impact T-Amp would be a much better combo for DAP enthusists, and the Insignia’s look much better. This is the best budget combo out there.

Grahm on May 28, 2008 8:19 PM

I don’t think that’s much of a savings. speakes 90 + amp 70 + tax on speakers 5 + speaker wire $5 = $170 Plus from what dfkt tells me these speaks need to be modified in order to sound ‘outstanding’ as many people have said. so $180 + a few hours of your time compared to $200 for the RP5s that are plug and play.beauty is in the eye of the beholder so i cant really comment on which speaker looks better. but in addition to the insignia speakers, you need to set that ugly space craft amp somewhere and the speaker wired dangling from it.even if you are cool with saving $20-30 to put up with the amp and speaker wires. Eventhough i have not listened to the insignias i am confident that a that professional speaker with a custom tuned amp would sound noticeably better.so i respectfully dissagree =D

Slaughter on May 28, 2008 8:53 PM

Yes they do need to modded to sound outstanding, that would be better than $250+ speakers. The t-amp is the size of my hand, so thats easy to hide. And you still have RCAs and a power cord going to these speakers.Just on materials alone the Insignia wins, silk dome, carbon fiber cone, not to mention the binding posts alone are a $20 part, and a curved cabinet to reduce resonance.I got the insignias and t-amp for less than $100, if you shop around. You are calling these professional, but they are at the very very low end of professional.We can agree that the plug and play aspect is nice.

Mark Allen on May 29, 2008 1:44 AM

I wonder how these would work with KRK’s Ergo:http://www.krkergo.com/I can’t figure if the Ergo is supposed to supplant the acoustic treeatment for a room or augment it. I have a pair of KRK Series 2 V6 nearfield monitors which I love. I’m aboout to embark on a two-thousand dollar DIY treatment plan for my digital audio workstation/studio and I wonder how or where the Ergo is meant to fit in.

cobalt on May 29, 2008 6:54 AM

I own a pair of KRK V4 monitors, which are no longer available but really great. For a more computer or consumer-audio experience, I’d recommend that you check out the two sets of speakers from Audioengine. I have the A5s. They are surprisingly good for the price and have a bunch of nice features, like an extra electrical outlet, multiple inputs, USB power, etc. They are a good alternative to near-field studio monitors.

paul on May 30, 2008 7:36 AM

PSB alpha plus NAD 7125 or whatever, maybe equivalent Paradigms for a total of $300 or less with the used version of the amp, small and hideable but great sound.

kadajawi on May 30, 2008 2:55 PM

50 Hz is actually pretty good, sure it goes lower, but you will struggle to find speakers that can do that sort of bass without a subwoofer. And those cheaper Logitechs etc. with subwoofer should struggle as well, + the sound will be terrible, or not at least not as balanced. AFAIK the lowest frequencies that natural instruments can produce are 40 Hz, well, except maybe for an organ.Also keep in mind that these speakers will probably do REAL 53 Hz at -3 dB or so, not those numbers most companies give, at like -10 dB, which means the frequencies are barely audible.Those KRK look interesting, and the price is pretty low for what you probably get.@sigsegv0x0b: Are you serious? Bookshelves that are supposed to sound as good as studio monitors for $90 a pair? Either they are the bargain of the century or someone may overestimate them. Or the KRK are terrible. I wouldn’t really trust bookshelves under about $150 (for one speaker).

Skobbolop on May 30, 2008 3:45 PM

is it possible to buy the Insignias in europe?… or are they US only?

kadajawi on May 30, 2008 5:24 PM

Aren’t Insignia like the Best Buy brand? Yeah, they seem to make good MP3 players, but speakers require quite a lot of expertise, sorry, I just can’t believe that speakers of that price can sound good (maybe for the price good, but not good), by a brand that doesn’t appear experienced.

Slaughter on June 1, 2008 8:06 PM

Yes they are the house brand, but a similar driver is used in some high-end speakers. Im not going to justify how good these speakers are since you can search online and find out. As Grahm pointed out , these speakers are flat sounding, which is perfect for monitors and some people enjoy them for music listening as well, but most people prefer speakers with some musicality. I have not heard the above speakers, but I was just pointing out that these Insignias and a t-amp are an alternative that should sound better, but are obviously not plug ang play, but close enough. I am tempted to buy the monitors to compare, but my time is limited right now…maybe later.

Steve on June 2, 2008 3:11 PM

How about the RP-6 at $200:http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/KRK-RP6-Rokit-Powered-Reference-Studio-Monitor?sku=602313These look tempting, but I’d like to know if anyone has experience with them.

Slaughter on June 2, 2008 7:15 PM

Steve, like most monitors, that is only for 1. Monitor’s are mostly sold as individual speakers.

Steve on June 4, 2008 2:47 PM

Slaughter,Yeah, I figured that out after the fact. Silly me.

AntiM on June 5, 2008 11:26 PM

I have a pair of the Rokit RP-5′s I picked up for $99 each at Guitar Center, which is a bargain. Fortuitous timing I guess, old stock or not, nothing else in that price range could touch them for the price. Not M-Audio, not Behringer, not Yamaha or JBL. I agree, $300 is still a good price.They are magnetically shielded, unlike the Insignia’s which make them ideal for computer monitors. I’ve paired them with my old Yamaha sub when I upgraded my home theater’s sub. Excellent 2.1 for music and home studio work. I even kept my old Logitech 5.1 system hooked up as center, side and rear speakers for a nice 7.2 surround system for gaming.I reviewed a Razer Mako system a couple of months ago, it was very good, but not as good as the Rokit’s with a good sub.

Chris on June 6, 2008 1:01 PM

I have to say that I highly doubt that a house-branded setup will have the same quality as nearly any studio monitor.There may be high quality drivers in play here, but the fact is that if your source is bad, it’s not going to help. The T-amp looks nice, however, it’s going to be susceptible to all sorts of interference from inside the computer, which can cause noise. The KRK’s are biamped, meaning each driver has it’s own amplifier. You have 2 of these on your desk, there’s 4 amplifiers. This helps out in maintaining the flat response.I used to use all sorts of cheap computer speaker setups, Altec Lansings in particular, which while nice, just don’t have that range. I got a pair of M-Audio StudioPro 4′s and I was hooked. The level of clarity that you get I have not heard in any other system. Since then i’ve moved up to Behringer B2031A’s, to provide a wider range of audio, and I’m extremely happy with them.I’d say that if you have never listened to studio monitors with good (read: not ipod/mp3/etc) source audio, you should give them a shot, because I really think you’re in for a nice surprise.

spamloaf on September 25, 2008 7:08 AM

If you haven’t tried the Mueller bookshelf speakers on EBAY, you really should. This is true audiophile-grade equipment, but they are just starting out, so it’s still affordable. They have a $200 model and $3-400 models a little higher grade with aluminum woofers. You can’t beat ribbon tweeters for imaging and detail. A $10 pair of Radio Shack ribbons paired to any decent bookshelf speakers will blow any $500 monitors out of the water. So you can just imagine what these can do. Price/performance of these is untouchable.

Rich – 1 on December 13, 2008 8:01 AM

A word about “Audiophile Grade” verses “Studio Accurate” monitors. There are “near field”, “medium field” & “far field” classes of speakers. So what’s the deal with this phrase “near-field ? What does it really mean? and how does that listening experience relate to “audiophile speakers?”A pair of speakers classified as “near field” are designed to create the entire soundstage “in front of your face! It’s as though you take on a kind of “god-like” listening point of view “outside of and over” the mix. Audiophile speakers, on the other hand usually are mid-field ; which means they are designed to totally fill up the space of the room you are in which will cause you to loose quite a bit of your “god-like” point of view listening experience. You are now “among the trees” as opposed to being able to see the entire forest from a far and be aware that it is in fact a forest you’re in – acoustically speaking. Far-field speakers tend to be the ones used in very large club settings or more appropriately – outdoor concerts.The second issue is that while “Audiphile” speakers are generally made of superior materials, superior strict performance standards (and sometimes even superior “marketing alliances”) they generally don’t present and accurate sonic image of the mix. They usually have the high and low end of the EQ jazzed up to grab your ear. A “studio accurate” monitor’s purpose is not to “grab your ear” it’s to tell you what’s really on the vinyl record, CD or digital audio file recording for what ever portable media player you’re using which would then empower you (if your were an audio engineer or music producer) to judge correctly what adjustments you would have to make to the various elements of your mix to make it sound the best it could be.If you try to use “audiophile monitors” to do mix adjustments, then reduce that multi-track recording down to just to regular “two-channel stereo” for your normal two speakers or head phones and burn that mix to a CD and go around playing it on all your friend’s audio systems – you will discover that your recording play-back quality keeps changing as you change the play back systems. In other words – it doesn’t translate well across all those systems. Why? Because you were never hearing accurately what the mix sounded like from the very beginning – instead, you were being jazzed-up (even by the marketing hype).

Rich – 1 on December 13, 2008 3:15 PM

Just wanted to add that there are three other factors that will affect your listening experience:1. How you hear things. Has anyone gone lately for a hearing test? Each person will have a problem hearing a different set of frequencies than the other. This will of course get people into arguments about this speaker is better than that one, etc.2. The sound treatment (or lack of) for your listening space. Some rooms absorb too much or reflect too much either of the High, Mid & Low audio information of the particular songs being played at that moment. So you’ll have to move the speakers around, the furniture around and maybe even install various specific frequency deadening materials on the walls, ceiling, floor and corners of that room too. Decoupling the speakers from table tops (with special materials) and moving them away from the rear wall is another good move.3. The experience and caring in preparing the sound tracks of the “mixing” and “mastering” engineers. Some don’t care and they just rush the process along and on to the next project for more money – asap.

Jan on December 19, 2008 6:03 PM

Check out this well written article on Studio Monitors.http://www.tweakheadz.com/studio_monitors.htmHate to say it but the review of the monitors above sure sounds like a commercial for KRK. The article spends all its time describing the monitors and only a small paragraph reviewing the sound. How does the sound compare to a good quality sound system? Does it lead to listener fatigue on long listen sessions like some “I can hear everything in the mix” speakers can do?

The One In Yellow on August 5, 2009 6:48 AM

Nice review, well done!May I suggest the wonderful ‘JohnBlue AudioArt JB3′ loudspeakers as for comparison?I own a pair after heavy reading and searching on what passive speakers I wanted to go along with my NuForce Icon desktop amp and my Asus Xonar D2X PCI-E soundcard.There are many, many desktop loudspeakers and mini-monitors out there, such as the NuForce S1, Paradigm Atom Monitor v.5, and AudioEngine A2/A5. But after the 6moons.com review (and then, all the other big audio review sites), I picked the JB3′s simply because they really do push a higher state of audio quality (mainly, that of clarity), with only a 3″ driver, which has a huge double magnet that is about half the depth of the speaker enclosure, and a wonderful bass ports. I like to point out that the drivers are not OEM; they are original, in-house designed with a paper whizzer cone, extremely unusual to find on such small drivers.To say that I am a huge fan of bass is an understatement; my last speakers were Logitech Z-4′s, and my headphones have centred on bass (Sony EX-71SLB).Yet, after buying the AKG K 701′s circumaural headphones and pairing it with my NuForce Icon, and listening to both my Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 5 Pro and Etymotic ER-6i headphones paired with my iPod Classic 160GB with LOD and JDSLabs.com cMoy BB v2.00 (as of recent, a custom v2.02), I realised that bass is not the only measure of quality, but can be part of the bigger sound of music.To have the right amount of bass is hard, but having a decent overall sound is better, and for that, the JB3′s certainly fills that role.Most of my friends thought I was crazy to by the small JB3 at £250. When I played them my music, some swore that I lied and had a subwoofer, somewhere, but after realising where the bass was coming from, were simply astounded. In fact, virtually all have spoke about the clarity and detail that my speakers gave, and more so, the beautiful soundstage and depth. I explained that quality and performance are attributed to price, and that although getting huge hi-fi speakers can fill rooms with club like sound, you can miss much of the music.The JB3′s can fill a good sized room with sound, but will not break windows (actually, at very high volumes, you would have disturbed the neighbours, but it is not necessary).When I played some Nightwish and Within Temptation to some friends, they said that the JB3′s basically replicated the bands as if they were there being played live. And my friends did see them live. I was flattered.To another friend, he simply relived Jools Holland’s ‘That Velvet Dress’. Kent Poon’s Audiophile Jazz Prologue Part 03 is simply amazing at high resolution, and so are all my other genres of music, from hard metal to electronica dance.I do not dismiss the review of the KRK RP5 Rokit Powered 5 Studio Monitor (or the Gen 2′s), but I say that at its price point, the JB3′s might be a better choice. Alas, everyone has a different opinion, and only by demoing both these speakers, or any others you fancy, will one know what they prefer. I bought my JB3’s based on the massive amount of literature on the net, but I will say that brick-and-mortar store is far better, so try to find a dealer.I just wanted to let others know about the JB3, as they really are worth your time. Just remember to get good speaker stands, and really good amplifiers. The KingRex range of amps, preamps, and PSU or the SLAP! battery are good. That is, if you have the cash. But the NuForce Icon’s are nothing to sniff at (just see if you can get the 42W PSU upgrade for the Icon, as that will give better headroom for your headphones and better room from your speakers to breathe).As a final word, the price for the JB3 has increased due to reviews, so I would say getting ones at about $350 is a good deal. Just have a good look around.Cheers!^_^http://www.johnblue-audio.com/[Click on JB3]http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/johnblue/jb3.htmlhttp://stereophile.com/integratedamps/nuforce_icon_usb-input_integrated_amplifier/index.htmlhttp://www.tnt-audio.com/casse/jb3_e.htmlhttp://www.stereomojo.com/JohnBlueJB3Speakerreview/JohnBlueJB3Speakerreview.htmhttp://www.head-fi.org/forums/blogs/sasaki/500-near-field-heaven-johnblue-jb3.htmlhttp://www.goodgearguide.com.au/review/home_entertainment/johnblue/jb3/254249

John on September 20, 2009 10:54 PM

The reason they are buzzing at higher gains is that you are using an unbalanced audio source. I was finding this with my RP6s and i have since pulled out the grounding pin for them and it is much cleaner even at high gain setttings. It also sounds a lot better when the gain is at 0 with lower output volume on my sound card. I recently swapped for a set of JBL monitors (for the same purpose as you use your RP5s) and love them, though, they are definately much more pricey

Vans on November 7, 2009 11:39 PM

Behringer makes a USB adapter for RCA cables so you can connect via USB (Much better quality than most sound cards) and you can buy it for about $30-$40

Mike on February 18, 2010 5:52 PM

I’ve owned a pair of these speakers (accompanied with the RP10 sub mentioned in this article) for several years now. I use this setup with my gaming computer, and I have to say it is a great combo. I love the sound quality of these studio monitors and the extra bass provided by the powered 10″. These speakers can really put out, and shouldn’t be overlooked for lack of power unless you intend to use them for more than personal use. The sub is a little lacking in power and fails to hit some lower frequencies. In my opinion, I would pass on the sub and go with a different one. I recommend these speakers to anyone who can’t stand poor sound quality. Once you’ve heard studio monitors compared to regular computer speakers, you won’t be able to go back. I am in no way an expert on the subject, nor do I know much about speakers. I am just sharing my experience with these speakers.

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