Review: KRK Rokit Powered 10-3 G2 Monitors

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KRK has scraped its way toward the top of the crowded studio monitor heap, due in no small part to the trusted Rokit G2 line of mid-priced monitors. Now, the big dog of the family, the tri-amped Rokit 10-3, is looking to have its day. An innovative design and versatile inputs and controls invite a closer look. But do their yellow speaker cones signal caution or pure audio gold?

Manufacturer: KRK Systems
Price:
$999.99 each (MSRP) $499.99 each (common retail price)
Availability: Now
Ships with: Standard AC power cable with the appropriate country: US three-prong, EU two-prong, AU big three-prong, etc.
Weight: 46 lbs. each
Dimensions: 21.2″ x 12.7″ x 14.3″ (540mm x 325mm x 365mm)
AC Power Input: Standard cable socket, selectable 110-120V / 220-240V
Audio Input Connectors: Unbalanced RCA, balanced 1/4″ TRS, balanced XLR
Frequency Response: 31Hz – 20kHz
Max Peak Sound Pressure Level: 113dB
Power Output: 140W — 30W high frequency, 30W mid frequency, 80W low frequency
High-Frequency Level Adjustment: -2dB, -1dB, 0, and +1dB settings
Speaker Volume Adjustment: -30dB to +6dB

The Good: Wide sweet spot. Three-way design provides detailed, balanced sound across the frequency range. Lots of inputs – XLR, TRS and RCA. High quality for the price. Plenty of SPL power.

The Bad: Large and heavy. Noisier than lesser-powered KRK Rokit monitors. No input selector switches. Hardcore bass junkies may want to add a subwoofer (KRK makes one: the Rokit 12.)

The Bottom Line: It’s not a beginner’s monitor setup, but if you’re looking to step up in power, versatility, and accurate sound, this jewel of the trusted mid-price Rokit G2 series deserves your consideration.

Clearly, not all speaker and monitor systems are created equal. From large, loud, and accurate monitors to tinny speakers that producers ironically seek out for their similarity to FM radio, monitors come in all varieties, and rating them is bound to involve a certain amount of personal preference.

While new arrivals seem to enter to the monitor market every year, KRK Systems has become one of the go-to names for affordable powered studio monitors, thanks to the Rokit series. Introduced in 2008, the Rokit Powered Generation 2 (G2) series further solidified that reputation.

The latest and largest of KRK’s Rokit G2s, the Rokit Powered 10-3 breaks the mold for the Rokit series, because it is a tri-amped system. This means that high, mid, and low frequencies all get their own speaker, whereas the other Rokits are bi-amped (two speakers) nearfield monitors. The 10-3’s three-way design, along with its size and power, make it suitable for midfield use, although it can be adjusted for nearfield use.

[Nearfield monitors are usually smaller in size and are ideal for a single person sitting in a small sweet spot close to the monitors, three to five feet away. Midfield monitors are larger, usually have three or more amplifiers and provide a larger sweet spot and listening range from five to 13 feet away, suitable for groups of listeners.]

OUT OF BOXY EXPERIENCE

Along with KRK’s signature yellow speaker cones, the Rokit 10-3 comes brandishing an enclosure that features a curved front baffle and curved edges that do more than just look stylish. KRK claims that rectangular monitor cabinets reflect sound coming out of the speaker back into the sound field at different time intervals, resulting in phase distortion that diffuses the sound and narrows the sweet spot. The Rokit G2s are designed to reduce or eliminate that diffraction and provide a wider sweet spot.

From the top down, a 1-inch neodymium silk soft dome tweeter handles the high frequencies, and the mid-range driver is a 4-inch aramid glass composite cone. Both of those are powered to 30W each. The 10-inch aramid glass composite cone for the woofer powers the low end with 80W, for a total output of 140W per monitor.

Another signature design trait of the Rokit G2 series is the almost rectangular front firing bass port at the bottom of the monitor. Whereas some monitors have rear ports, this front-firing port is intended to reduce bass coupling with walls and corners that can amplify low frequencies and affect the audio mix.

The Rokit 10-3s draw power from a standard three-pronged power cable (included), and there’s a voltage selector on the back to toggle between 110-120V and 220-240V. Flick on the power switch in the back, and the KRK logo on the front illuminates with a satisfying soft glow — a cheap thrill for the studio-tanned gear geek. If the logo is illuminated red, then a fault condition is present and must be solved.

Two back-panel controls are intended to give you some frequency-response options for your particular room acoustics. These include the HF Level Adjust, a 4-position rotary that shelves frequencies above 2kHz by -2dB, -1dB, 0dB (flat), or +1dB. The LF Level Adjust is also a 4-position rotary that shelves or boosts low frequencies by -2dB, -1dB, 0dB (flat), or +2dB. The graphic below from the 10-3 manual shows the frequency effects from the LF and HF Level Adjusts.

On the back there is also a notched volume encoder with a range of -30dB to +6dB, with 0dB sitting at the 12 o’ clock position. I definitely appreciated having a notched volume control, because it was easy to make the same adjustments to both monitors from the front, without even looking at the volume control.

Three analog inputs suit just about any setup: unbalanced RCA, balanced 1/4″ TRS and balanced XLR.

The monitors have a 1/4-inch foam pad on the bottom to cushion them against flat surfaces, they can be positioned horizontally, as well. If placing them horizontally, you need to rotate the tweeter and mid-range driver by removing the front baffle and then rotating the sub-baffle containing the tweeter and mid-range driver. The process requires removing 10 total hex screws and Phillips screws and only takes a few minutes to complete.

The way you should lay the speakers horizontally depends on whether you want to use the 10-3 montitors as nearfield (tweeters placed inward) or mid-field (tweeters placed outward). See the accompanying graphic for an illustration.

PERFORMANCE

Most, if not all, speakers and monitors emit some amount of hiss/noise even when they’re properly grounded and being fed clean power. When the Rokit 10-3’s powered on, they’re noisier than the KRK Rokit 6 monitors that I also use, which have a barely noticeable noise. But the Rokit 6’s have a total power output of 68W, compared to the 10-3’s 140W, so it stands to reason that 10-3’s would be noisier. Turning any of the back-panel controls up increases the noise level somewhat.

All-in-all, however, the noise is masked as soon as you play some music at anything but the lowest possible volumes, so this standing hiss is not a big deal in my opinion. If you’re not going to crank these up to at least a moderate volume, you should get a smaller pair, anyway.

Besides the smaller pair of Rokit 6’s, I compared the Rokit 10-3’s to a pair of Event 20/20 BAS powered monitors and a Blue Sky MediaDesk 2.1 subwoofer system. In comparison, KRK’s claims of a wider sweet spot were quickly confirmed. I could swing my office chair from side to side within my home studio and still feel like I was hearing an accurate mix. The ideal position, however, was still clearly in the centered sweet spot.

While other companies’ monitors have a tendency to color the sound — the Events with a bright sheen on the high end and the Blue Sky sub system excelling in bass — the Rokit 10-3s presented a pleasant, even-keeled sound that I could listen to pretty much all day without feeling ear fatigue. With a dedicated 10-inch cone driving the low-end, they were bassier than many non-subwoofer monitors I’ve come across, yet that bassiness did not get in the way of the other frequencies.

I experienced excellent stereo imaging and frequency separation across the 10-3’s tri-amped output, even when pumping the bassiest dubstep, hip-hop and tech house I could throw at it. Truly addicted bassaholics may still want to add a subwoofer, however, as the Rokit 10-3 goal is still frequency range accuracy, rather than face-melting thump.

Monitoring my own music, I felt confident that I was getting an accurate representation from the 10-3’s, and my tests listening to reference CDs, as well as Blu-ray movies and big-budget Playstation 3 games, bore out that feeling. The KRKs gave me crisp, accurate details across the frequency spectrum and what I judged to be a transparent mix between the lows, mids, and highs.

While I prefer to connect to monitors through XLR cables, when possible, the Rokit 10-3’s versatile triple analog inputs came in very handy, especially for DJ systems that only have RCA outputs. I was happy with each of the three analog input types, and just like with the Rokit 6’s, I used the monitors for so many different things that I really wished they had an input selector switch to toggle between active sound sources.

One look at the Rokit 10-3’s should give you some idea that these are about spitting out some sick volume. The maximum SPLs of 113dB are more than enough to abuse your tympanic membranes, and I didn’t even approach the maximum before I was convinced of the 10-3’s ability to at least mimic the kind of volumes you’ll find in a club.

I tested the 10-3’s with several soundcards, including the M-Audio Conectiv, Native Instruments Traktor Audio 10, and Stanton DJC.4. With my DAW or DJ software at half output, the soundcards at half output, and the 10-3’s volume set at 0dB, the 10-3’s loudness broke my personal pain threshold, with plenty of headroom to go louder. Even with the monitors’ volume cranked down to 9 o’ clock, the room was still booming. I really appreciate having plenty of headroom across the entire signal chain and still having more than enough volume.

To me, the even better advantage to the tri-amped Rokit 10-3’s was not the available power, but rather the consistent accuracy of the output regardless of the volume level. The sound stayed consistent whether monitoring at the lowest of levels or at ear-splitting loudness. The three separate speakers really did a remarkable job of sending out reliably transparent sound regardless of volume.

YELLOW FEVER

With its detailed reproductions, wide sweet spot, multiple inputs, ear-friendly sound, and mean output levels, the KRK Rokit 10-3 monitors stand out as a respectable option for anyone with the swagger to really warrant them. Small studio or bedroom/basement DJs probably don’t really need this much oomph, unless you plan on rocking frequent house parties with them as well. But if you’ve got a larger room you work in, and especially if you’re producing with guest vocalists or musicians, you might benefit from a pair.

KRK makes a pretty solid case that if you’d rather not get several sets of monitors for different uses like larger studios do, the Rokit 10-3’s make a good jack-of-all-trades system. Their versatile nearfield/mid-field adjustment, as well as consistent and accurate sound across all volumes help prove that point.

You’ll spend about $1000US for a pair, but compared to similarly-priced monitors of this type it’s a pretty solid value. Although there always seems to be a new player who wants to throw their hat into the monitor ring and compete for the most bargain-basement price, KRK is still a trusted source for affordable powered monitors for good reasons.

Think you’ll pick up a set of these? Interested in seeing them in the DJTT webstore? Let us know in the comments below.
Also, you can follow Markkus on Twitter

  • Kyle Ravv

    I know there are still people out there who still haven’t found the right studio monitors for them so I would like to help you guys by sharing this article that you might find useful. The article is about the best selling studio monitors on Amazon (and other sources). Not only does it have a list of the best selling studio monitors, it also provides a description for each entry. I know best selling studio monitors does not equate to top performing studio speakers, but it should give you an idea what monitors people are actually buying AND using.

  • Kyle Ravv

    I agree with Ryan; sound truly is subjective. No matter how much you try to make it objective, it’s still going to be subjective because of the reasons he mentioned (and not just because of the studio speakers you’re using). People always have something bad to say no matter how good the monitoring speakers are. I recently got the KRK Rokit 5 G3 studio monitors after learning about how good they are through review sites like this, and I don’t regret anything. I think they’re awesome, especially for the price. I don’t think any other studio monitors in this price range can beat the Rokit 5 G3. Sure, they’re not as good as the higher-end studio speakers but they still get the job done.

  • Nelly Jay

    i blew the 10 inch woofer i got a new one but cant take the bafel off or the little frame where the alen key screws are off. i took screws off but cant take the thing to replace my woofer
    Nelly

  • stocksy

    I have a pair of Rokit 10/3 in my 30 foot by 45 foot studio , I make tekno and these speakers , rock hard, very neutral love them.

  • I found this post useful.I was trying to find this. Really refreshing take on the information. Thanks a lot
    http://www.hyipworthy.com/

  • Anonymous

    As someone already noted tri-amped means 3 separate amplifiers, one per driver. Having 3 drivers per cabinet would more often be referred to as a 3 way design. I think you should update the article not just so you don’t look a little silly but more importantly not to misinform people. Not having a dig, I like your site just want the correct information for your audience.
    Thanks

  • drowland

    I have a pair of the yamaha hs80m. This is the best $500 ive spent in my life! I got a pair of them from a local place in Brooklyn brand new. Great bass nice highs, and theres some room control switches in the back to help tailor them to your room. They don’t sound like ns10s (i use them at work constantly) but for home i wanted something more round mainly bc i cant have 3 sets of monitors at home. The hs80s tho have a midrange bump that does give the midrange an extra bump like the ns10s. Adam a7s are nice, have them at work but waaaaay to expensive, I listen and can agree yea they sound better than my yamahas but hey not extra $1000 better. Like everyone else says buy a set of monitors that you like! not ones i like or say you should like.

    Theres a really cool company selling monitors Equator D5. Theyre $300 a pair and the best part….theyll let you try them for 60 days! and no questions asked on returns. No im not a sales rep for them I just know when I see somebody doing something cool, and I think theyre doing something pretty cool.

    I work in a studio in Manhattan, and listen to this shit everyday. Just dont buy genelecs, they make everything sound good. which is bad, very bad for your mix.

  • Mark

    stop deleting my replies!!!!

  • Mark

    KRK may have scraped it’s way “near” the top of the monitor market in terms of volume sold, but I don’t think they’re near the like of top-tier manufacturers such as: Dynaudio, Genelec, EVE Audio, ADAM Audio, PMC, Quested, Focal etc.

  • Play!Doh

    Does anyone know of an 8″ speaker for reference listening that is also <$500 each? The part about the KRKs putting out a lot of noise is troubling to me, but I don't want to spend $5k for an Adams 2.1 setup. I have a 5.1 M-Audio 4" setup now that's quite satisfactory, but I want some bigger speakers to pair with a Mackie 15" sub.

  • tony

    Its a bit sad but this site has got very boring of late,cant remember the last time there was a good video on technique/mixing programming etc.
    Of late its been products and very intricate stuff that probably is of no use to the working dj.I like this site hope it changes.

  • Mad Zach

    horizontal speaker placement seems a bit off, pretty sure they’re supposed to sit upright.

  • I have a pair of Rokit 5s and a matching 10S that I produce with. I’ve worked on Genelec 1032s, Genelec 8000 series (I think the 8050s? Not sure), and original Yamaha NS10s. Do my Rokit 5s come close to matching those monitors? Well, no. But having those as a reference, I certainly wouldn’t call my pair “muddy,” “flabby” or any other weirdly nauseating negative adjective.

    This is why I think hardcore audiophiles are crazy people. Sound is always subjective. It’s a product of your monitoring setup, the room, your position, the quality of your connections, your power source, your age, your hearing; and if you’re listening on digital, your interface, sample rate, bit depth, compression quality, and more. If you’re listening on vinyl, god help you. It’s your turntable, the way you balance your tone arm, your cartridge, your needle, your mats, the weight of the record, the vibrations in the room, and on and on and on and on.

    So reading the posts below, I could doubt my choice of monitors and start anxiously wondering how I’m going to afford different monitors that still others will undoubtedly call inferior, or I can remember that I like my monitors and, having listened to quite a bit of other people’s music on them, it’s really not that hard for me to tell when my mix sounds good. I’ve heard tracks mixed on my monitors in my untreated, 112 sf dorm room in headphones, in cars, on other people’s sound systems, on club systems, and they sound good! Other producers have listened to said mixes critically on their own systems and they approve. So like, get a good monitoring system, but really, don’t kill yourself, people.

  • I’ve heard KRK rokit 5’s against mackie HR824s MKIs and they don’t even come close to being a producers nearfield monitor. So so muddy and flabby. I really would not advise anyone to invest any reproduction faith in KRKs for the budget minded. Yes they are better than HiFi speakers but not by much. I’m of the opinion you should spend this kind of money on your first set but just not these, Adams, Mackies or almost anything classed as a monitor speaker for this money will beat these. Even the updated Yamaha NS10s would be better for most musical applications.

  • Anonymous

    DJTT is one of the best sites for DJ tech articles, but recently standards have slipped. Tri-amped doesn’t mean three speaker cones, it means three AMPlifier circuits, individually driving each cone. This is a pretty embarrassing error, as anyone who has bi-amped passive speakers will know. Compare this article with the equivalent one on digitaldjtips and you’ll see what I mean.

    Your expertise is far and away with controllerism. Stick with it. That subject offers plenty of scope for brilliant, creative articles, and on that subject you knock the socks off the competition.

    • What do you mean by “bi-amped passive speakers”? amped=active. Or do you mean bi-amped stereo speakers?

      Whatever, I always thought the KRK reputation was more on their looks than sound. You get a lot more bang4$ with M-Audio IMHO.

      Of course if you’re feeding them 192k mp3s, who cares (“but it says 320k”). Stop throwing your $ out the window and start training your ears.

      This ipod-generation-mastered-for-itunes crap has got to stop. I’ve even bought wav files where the samples used in the song is low rate. WTF, thanks for ruining your track.

      • Anonymous

        “bi-amped” = 2 amplifiers (per cabinet). How hard is that to get?

        • technicaltitch

          Thanks bart02, that’s why it is obvious if you’ve bi-amped passive speakers: because you have the same pair of speakers, but two boxes with lights on instead of one. Anyway reason I came here was to say that I sold DJTT short – not only are you incredibly inspiring in the field of DJ controllerism, but also DJ and synth etc culture – I love the occasional video articles for example. This greatly enhances your DJ interface reviews. Perhaps just be a bit more careful with the reviews involving sound engineering knowledge. I think this is important for DJTT as when I buy kit I often discover new sites, and if I see a good quality review I’ll come back. If it pales next to the other sites I’m looking at I’ll close the tab and never look back. I mean this as a committed fan of DJTT – absolutely love what you’re doing.

          • technicaltitch

            PS. I’ve got RKR 8s and I adore them. Just re-read your post Futureglue and not sure where to start – take a deep breath, find your neutral space, we’re all friends here.

          • Hey, I guess you’re taking my post WAY way too personal. I wasn’t attacking you personally AT ALL, just lamenting the fact that sound quality in general is going down the drain.

            I’m far from the only one saying it. I mean, if you buy a song from Beatport (Dinky – Take Me) and the drum sample sounds like a compressed 128k sound, what does that say about us as music creators & providers, that we don’t care?

            And yes I know what bi-amped speakers are & why you would do that, I just didn’t know they made passive studio monitors, so you had me confused for a second there.

            Peace out 🙂

  • Apobiosis

    KRK monitors are good…just not anything with “Rokit” on them. They’re muddy, and they’re targeted at DJs who don’t care too much about accurate reproduction and novice producers. Save up for their V or VXT series, or go with another company (Adam, Mackie, etc.). Be sure to listen to them to find the ones that work best for you.

  • Marvelous Mixin Miguel

    I don’t care for the KRK. For the amount of $ you’re spending you’re better off buying some adams. Way better quality then the KRK. http://www.adam-audio.com/

    • I agree. I started out on a pair of KRK Rokit 5’s many years ago, and had them for 3-4 years before I upgraded. They were decent entry level monitors, but they sounded way too muddy to accurately mix with. From that experience, I would never shell out $1000 for any set of monitors by KRK. I’m also not a fan of the black and yellow design, just messes up the Feng Shui of my studio, Why can’t they just stick to a more neutral color scheme? Adams are much better choice to spend your money on for sure. Considering DJTT only carries KRK monitors in their store, I wouldn’t place much value on this “review” and do your own independent research before you decide anything. The best way to do that is to test different monitors yourself at your local music gear shop.

    • Play!Doh

      Yeah, but the Adams A8X speakers are $900/each. Of course they’re going to sound better.

    • Eve Australia

      or EVE Audio 😉 http://www.eve-audio.com/

    • How do the old 20s stand up to these guys?

  • I always wanted a pair of KRK 6 or 8’s now that this has hit im saving my money.

  • I have the 6’s and love them. I would def get these if I was in the market for more sound.

    • PCuts

      Hi, thinking about getting the 6’s – do you use them without a sub and would you say they sound decent? I just wanna monitor my mixes,don’t produce really. But some more or less clear bass for dubstep and similar tunes would be still nice. Only have a 18m² room so hope they’ll sound well here.

      • I use them with out a sub with out any problems. I use them as DJ monitors and for producing deep house and tech house.

  • I may just get a pair of these. Good review.

  • KRK has done it again! i won a pair of Rokit 6’s and even in monitoring conditions that are unsuitable (i.e. in the corner of a room on a table about 2 feet away from my head…at least the room is fully insulated with Roxul and acoustic panels) i get very clean an accurate reproduction of the sound…. I would say this is definitely a company whose products i have grown an emotional attachment to, they’re just so awesome