Oh man, another post about another pair of KRK monitors, when does it ends, You may ask. When does it end? Soon... Soon but not yet. Not until I'm done with KRK RP4 G3, newest and most compact monitor in KRK Rokit lineup.
What is KRK RP4 G3? It's basically shrunken down version of KIRK RP5 G3, the most popular and recognizable studio monitor available today. They are actually smaller than I thought they will be, with roughly the same dimensions as Mackie CR4, I tested not so long ago. Unlike the Mackies, KRK RP4's are built like tanks, and made of quality materials and components. They are also almost twice as expensive as Mackies, with price point very close to their bigger brothers - KRK RP5 G3's. Are they worth the money? Let's find out!
First let's check what can be seen. KRK RP4 G3 is very compact speaker. At 21cm deep, 15.5cm width and 24cm height, RP4 G3 is significantly smaller than RP5 G3. Design features are exactly the same as in bigger Rokit models. Thanks to it's compact form factor, RP4 is perfect solution for minimalistic desktop audio setup or tight spaces in small rooms. One speaker weighs almost 4kg, so they are also hefty and feel very dense. Build quality is impeccable, KRK style, and I have to admit that I really liked their premium quality feel and stylish looks.
Hidden from the eyes are two A/B class amplifiers, built inside each cabinet, make them bi-amped, fully active and fully independent units, with individual power supply and volume controls. Each yellow cone is powered by 20W amp, each 1inch soft dome tweeter (exactly the same as in other Rokit models) is powered by 10W amp. To feed the signal to the speakers, we can use RCA unbalanced inputs or one of two balanced inputs (TRS or XLR). To tailor the sound to our liking and our room acoustics, we have two tone controls, one for low frequencies and one for high frequencies. All the controls on the back give reassuring, high quality feel. Present on all other Rokit lineup models, and here as well, is also auto standby feature, that relieves the user from switching them on and off every time at the beginning or the end of usage. The downside of this solution is that if You listen to music quietly, they will turn off on You from time to time.
Now we come to the important part of every review, listening. When I saw those little boxes for the first time, I was a bit skeptical if they will be able to sound full and believable. Fortunately, it turned out, I was worried for no reason. KRK RP4 G3 sounds BIG, spacious, coherent and natural. Let's start from the bottom where most of my worries where focused. They look small, but they sure do not sound small at all.
KRK promises that RP4 is missing only 6Hz of bass extension compared to RP5, and around 10Hz I was missing in my space they are more or less right. Bass from RP4 is suprisingly full and strong, it belies what we see while looking at them. Nothing here is artificially boosted to sound bigger that it is, frequency response is flat and honest. Front placed ports helps bass to extend deep enough to sound convincing and punchy. Bass extension in my room, compared to RP5, was about 10Hz less extended, but it was only audible when You compared them side by side. On their own they were impressive, especially considering their size.
Rest of the spectrum is also natural and detailed. Midrange is present, clear and well stitched together with bass and high end. It is also expressive and smooth at the same time, just like the high end. In absolute terms, high end could be a more detailed but it is minor complain. Sound is well balanced and clear but does not fatigues Your hearing on long sessions. Being small, dense and active, RP4 G3 image like crazy. Soundstage, they throw, is big and three dimensional, completely detached from cabinets. Center image is strong and stable, images are nicely focused and the sweet spot for that is quite big. They are able play really loud with punch, drive and very little distortion as well. Actually they come especially alive when the volume is up. They will not make You deaf ofcorse, but they are really capable none the less.
Comparison with KRK RP5 G3
Things started to get even more interesting when I compared RP4 with it's bigger brother, KRK RP5 G3. The RP5 is considerably bigger and more powerful, it also costs a bit more. What is suspiring is how close they are together when comparing the sound quality. To illustrate how close they are, let me say that during comparisons sometimes I paired RP4 with RP5, and when they were level matched, they created good stable soundstage with nice center image! Ofcorse they do not sound identically. RP5 has around 10Hz of bass reach more than RP4, but the difference is audible mostly when I switched back to back. RP5 can hit harder and even massage my gut slightly, where RP4 lacked gut felling leaving me only with punch.
Metal and rock music sounded very comparable at RP4 and RP5. Both presented nice punch and good drive, both provided nice bite to guitars and "zing" to cymbals. RP5 was slightly more capable in reproducing big kick drum sounds, but RP4 was very close. In electronic music, where deep bass is needed, RP5 pulled ahead. RP4 could not reproduce synth bass with authority and neither RP5 could, but RP5 was more enjoyable and extended, it also was more detailed in upper bass. Suprisingly, smaller RP4 was my choice when it was time to listen closely to vocals. RP5 produced hint of coloration in lower midrange which resulted in slightly nasal vocals. RP4 was completely free of it. Overall sound signature of RP4 was balanced and neutral with clear midrange, RP5 was a bit darker in comparison. If You plan on using KRK Rokit speakers with subwoofer than forget about RP5, go for RP4 G3 save few bucks, as together with KRK 10s they work perfectly in nearfield.
Here's video comparison between KRK RP4 G3 and KRK RP5 G3. Please use headphones while watching:
My long time benchmark in desktop audio monitors are JBL's LSR305. They are much bigger and uglier, but they are also more powerful, and use cone that is almost 3cm bigger in diameter. LSR305 is also slightly cheaper than RP4 G3, which is nice for someone looking for the best audio quality in this price range. JBL is more natural sounding speaker, with deeper, more detailed bass range. Midrange is more pronounced, clearer and more detailed. Tweeter, recessed in waveguide, sounds sweeter and more airy at the same time. Also soundstaging is more focused and 3D compared to RP4. This differences are audible, when A/B testing, but not subtle at the same time, and that alone is very impressive for me regarding RP4's. Overall if You need ultimate quality at this price point, and do not care about their looks and size, than JBL LSR305 should be at the top of Your list. KRK RP4 G3 comes close in audio quality, but at the same time is more compact and looks much better. Choice is Yours.
Not so long ago I tested, very positively, small studio monitors from Presonus. Presonus Eris E4.5 is compact, well build, and suprisingly full sounding. Compared to RP4 G3 they have similar bass capabilities, both are suprisingly good in this department. Midrange is more foreword and "in Your face" in E4.5 and could tire some sensitive ears. RP4 is less foreword, smoother and bit more detailed here, it also produced slightly bigger soundstage with better focus. High end was more or less even. Taking price difference into consideration, I have to say that both Eris E4.5 and RP4 G3 offer similarly good value for money, but in absolute measures it is KRK RP4 G3 that sounds better.
Two other small speakers with 4 inch woofers I tested recently was Mackie CR4 and Edifier R1700BT, that cost around half of the RP4's price. Both also are at least class below KRK RP4 G3 in sound quality. Both are heavily boosted in upper bass to hide their inability to reproduce bass below 70Hz. RP4 goes down to around 60Hz with much more clarity and more natural tone, and without boosting upper bass. Midrange is where RP4 demolish cheaper solutions from Mackie and Edifier, KRK is crystal clear and natural in comparison. Same goes for high end and soundstaging. Overall, I think that quality of KRK RP4 G3 justifies higher price tag, for someone looking for highest quality in this price range. Cheaper setups, especially Edifier, are great for someone looking for good multimedia speaker with lost of features, and do not want to spend big in the process.
If You need compact speakers, but also expect top built quality and excellent sound, than KRK RP4 G3 is Your speaker. It is impressive how much sound KRK was able to squeeze out of these cute little boxes. Sound, they produce, is big, balanced, coherent, spacious, smooth and punchy. They are also built to last, they look great and eat up very little space on desk. What is not to like?? This is the best small speaker up to this price point. Recommended!