KRK ROKIT G4 monitors have landed, and we have been asked one question a lot lately: “What’s the difference between the KRK ROKIT G3 and the KRK ROKIT G4 monitors?” In this article, with the help of the KRK Product Development Team’s inside insight (The ROKIT Scientists), we list the main features and then break down the differences both technically and sonically.
The all-new ROKIT G4 (Generation 4) monitors are starting to land in stores worldwide and are already quickly gaining mass popularity from those who are comparing them to the competition. The new lineup consists of the Bi-amped RP5G4 (5″), RP7G4 (7″) RP8G4 (8″) and the thunderous RP103G4 (10″ Tri-amp midfield). Since 2003, the popular ROKIT line (including G3) had essentially been the same design birthed from those early KRK monitors. The new G4 is not a refresh, but a complete re-engineering exercise that brings the true pro sound and experience of monitors found at a much higher price-level. In fact, many features found in the KRK V Series 4 monitors have been incorporated into the new ROKIT G4 line.
If you are reading this, you are most likely somewhat familiar with the world-wide popularity of the ROKIT Generation 3 monitors. If you are in the market for new monitors, or upgrading your existing monitors, you may be wondering what the main differences are between the two generations. Our ROKIT product “Scientists” break it down:
Q: How is the low end different on the KRK ROKIT G4 from the G3 line?
On the new G4 line, we worked hard at making the low end truly accurate with clarity so that your mixes really translate when played on different systems and devices. With the G3 series set to “0,” the low end was great for “producing.” Most pros that used them to make commercial records (specifically with “mixing”) would set the low end switch back a notch to get a more flat response. The G4 line is completely different. Because of the new design and construction, there is amazing clarity in the low end and you don’t need to boost it to “feel” it. The “FLAT” setting in general is thoroughly accurate, but if you want an added bass bump when you are producing or “creating,” you have the option to pump it up 2dB. In our research, we have found that most likely you won’t need to raise the low end because the G4 has deeper low end “extension,” and by design you will hear lower frequencies than you could with the G3 line.
Q: What is the actual sound difference when using “matching” Kevlar® for both drivers?
The G3 line had a much different sound. The matching Kevlar® brings a level of clarity and truth to what you are listening to. Kevlar® is a very tightly wound, high-quality rigid fiber material. There is a consistent sonic quality throughout the entire freq spectrum. With matching Kevlar® , you lose that feeling of various frequencies coming from different places—and sometimes you don’t realize this is happening when your mixing on other monitors—but it is. This causes instability in what you are hearing as well as ear fatigue. When you get in front of ROKIT G4 monitors, you instantly here and “feel” the solid nature of the system. Many of our beta-testers described it as hearing and feeling sonic definition. The low-end of the spectrum is also tighter and more accurate.
Q: Do speakers with matching Kevlar® generally cost more?
Kevlar® is a more expensive material to use for the drivers, so we had to work hard at making it a totally professional monitor at this price point. We used an LCD and one encoder to make adjustments to the Volume, EQ and Settings. There were no compromises in any of the form-factors, components or build quality—we were able to make this new ROKIT G4 line affordable but totally pro for any user.
Q: Why is Kevlar® a good material for THE KRK ROKIT G4 MONITORS?
Kevlar® has inherently good damping, which helps to reduce resonances or ringing. When it’s designed into a woven pattern, it also has the added benefit of non-modal diaphragm breakup. This means that any peaks and nulls in magnitude created by diaphragm breakup, is pushed beyond the pass-band of the driver. The result is a “solid” and “true” sound.
A simpler way of saying it is that this leads to a massive soundscape. You do not lose the kick drum attack when the bass comes in, because the speaker gives you the attack of the kick and is then ready for the attack of the bass milliseconds later. This is the same throughout the frequency spectrum, so it feels almost as if each instrument and voice has its own little speaker, and yet they are all together in one. This helps you dial in great tones as you are producing and recording, and helps you make great decisions when you mix and master.
Q: Are there any specific design elements of the KRK ROKIT G4 system that offer benefit, and how does that apply to the difference in sound from the G3 line?
The G4 line is a completely “new” product from conception to manufacturing. All of the new designs and components were meticulously thought out so that they all work harmoniously together. The matching Kevlar® , the DSP driven EQ, the actual sound-cavern and new front-firing port design, etc.—they all work together to benefit the listener’s experience. G3 was designed to be a good sounding speaker system that could be used as a tool for monitoring. G4 is designed as a tool for “studio monitoring” and “studio-grade applications” with the benefit of being a great sounding speaker system.
In terms of the sound, in a nutshell users will hear the KRK ROKIT G4 as punchier and clearer with a much wider and deeper stereo image. The low-end still has great extension, but it’s more accurate for mixing and mastering. As one of our reviewers said, G3 was a good sounding budget monitor, but G4 is a “great affordable studio monitor.” We took the best of what made G3 a great budget monitor and improved it to be a very professional affordable studio monitor.
Q: How is the voicing different from G3 to KRK ROKIT G4?
The voicing of a studio monitor, to put it simply, is the tone and vibe of the sound coming from the drivers (speakers). It truly is part science—and part art. Because we are using DSP for the voicing and crossover, we were able to make the G4 incredibly flat without sounding harsh or nasally. This helps make them great for getting the job done as an audio professional, while also enjoying the experience without ear-fatigue (also known as listening fatigue—a phenomenon that occurs after prolonged mixing or working with audio).
Q: What’s the purpose of the LCD DSP EQ on the KRK ROKIT G4 opposed to the switches on the G3?
The EQ on G3 and ROKIT G4 basically achieve the same purpose, but the G4 offers more options. The main difference is that on the G4 there are 5 choices each of low end and high end adjustments that are not only shelving EQs, but also peak EQs. This gives a much bigger range of possibilities and can also help with room anomalies.
Also noteworthy is that the “Flat” setting will work well in most rooms regardless of the environment, but the DSP-driven EQ offers 25 different voicing possibilities, if and when desired. That sounds confusing but it is just 5 low end and 5 high end settings (5×5=25 settings). Listen to some of your favorite sounding tracks and adjust the monitors to what you like.
Here are a couple examples of how you would use the EQ.
- -2db at 200Hz is called a desk filter. It is an EQ setting that helps you if you have a large flat surface in front of your monitors, such as a big desk or big mixing board. It causes you to get a build up of frequencies in the low mids due to these frequencies bouncing off these surfaces and adding to what is coming from the monitor. You engage this and it “cleans up” those freq.
- If you are in the production phase of a project and you are recording or making beats, etc. you can engage the +2db at 60Hz to bring a more creative vibe to the studio. When you begin to mix, then you take it back to FLAT so you make accurate mixing decisions.
- If you have hard surfaces in your studio, your monitors may feel bright. If this is the case you can engage -1dB at 3.5kHz and 10kHz.
Q: How will the KRK Audio Tools App work to help condition an environment?
The KRK Audio Tools App is close to the final stage of development. It’s a is a simple, yet useful, pink noise generator and Real Time Analyzer that will suggest the best presets for your monitor in relation to your environment. It is not meant to be an ultimate solution, but it will help you get into a better place for producing, mixing and mastering your work.
In the past, pro studios were multi-million dollar facilities that were built around making “the monitor” sound precise. Monitors did not have EQ control and the corrections in sound had to be made to the actual room. In general, a studio design engineer would have a room built, install the monitors, and then they would play pink noise through those monitors to see where there was a build up or deficiency in the frequency spectrum. Incredibly, they would then often correct this by reconstruction of the room. If there were big dips in the low end they would put in bass traps. If there was too much of a certain high frequency, they would put up diffusers in specific areas.
In today’s modern studio, many pros are working in home-studios and project-studios of all kinds which can cause EQ issues. While we cannot correct every issue you may encounter, the G4 line will give you more EQ choices than most monitors to help you get into a better sonic environment. The app will give suggestions of things to try, but ultimately we recommend using your own ears to decide if you like the suggestions. One thing we have discovered with the V Series 4 and now ROKIT G4 is that the Kevlar® drivers and voicing really help them work in most situations just set to “FLAT”. The App will be available soon and will work not only with the G4 line but with other KRK monitors as well.
Q: How does the power amp in the KRK ROKIT G4 differ from that in the G3?
The power amp(s) in the KRK ROKIT G4 are new and completely different. Class D power has come a long way in the last 5 years. In fact up until recently, it would not have been classified as a “feature.” Our new custom Class D power runs cooler and is a bit more punchy than the Class A/B amps in the G3 line. They are also lighter in general, so if you travel with your monitors, they are easy to transport. The amps take up less space in the cabinet as well, so there’s more room for design elements inside the cabinet to benefit the listener’s experience.
Q: Why is the front slotted port on the KRK ROKIT G4 more flexible (better) for room positioning?
In general, front ported monitors don’t suffer if you need to position them close to a wall or corner. In some cases from different manufacturers, monitors that are rear-ported can have their frequency responses change if they are too close to a wall. The G4 line has a new proprietary front-firing port that systematically manages the airflow in a way that makes it conducive to virtually any configuration. This system starts from the inside of the monitor itself and continues through the port and speakers.
Q: How is the listening sweet-spot different on the KRK ROKIT G4 from the G3?
The ROKIT G4’s new Kevlar® tweeter and scientifically designed waveguide give the system a very wide sweet spot without sacrificing precision or clarity. We have conducted many blind tests with other monitors in our facility and the difference is considerable even to those who are not mixing engineers. Participants found our G4 line to have a much wider and open sound compared to other monitors in their price range. The sound has also been noted as “solid” in a “wide range” when moving around the mix position compared to other monitors.
Q: Are the acoustic pads on the KRK ROKIT G4 the same as the G3?
Yes, they are exactly the same and we kept them the same for a reason—they work very well. Most monitors at this price point to not have them. They isolate the vibrations from the cabinet so they don’t travel into your desk or monitor stands. The result is tighter and clearer low end. We have tested measurements on this concept. At one point we were going to eliminate them, but then when we did the tests and we didn’t want to cut any corners.
The new KRK ROKIT G4 monitors are now in retail stores worldwide. We highly recommend you visit your local dealer to compare and hear the difference yourself. Please visit the following sites for more information:
*DuPont™ and Kevlar® are trademarks or registered trademarks of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company