Anyone who has read my previous reviews may know that two years ago, I left the comfort of my trusted Oakland studio to start mixing primarily in my apartment in Brooklyn. I started working right away with the speakers I happened to have with me — Rokit 5 G2 monitors — planning on upgrading them as soon as I got settled. I immediately (and surprisingly) felt very comfortable mixing on them, and managed to eventually completely forget that I wasn't supposed to use "cheap" speakers for professional mixing. Since then, I have auditioned about six or seven similarly- sized speakers of very varying prices, and the Rokit 5 G2 has held its own quite nicely, even against speakers three times its price. The most recent audition was for the next generation Rokit 5 G3.

Physically not a whole lot changed from G2 to G3; it still has the telltale yellow glass-aramid composite woofer cone, 1'' soft-dome tweeter, and slotted bass port on the bottom of the face. The outline of the box changed a bit, becoming slightly less rounded and more angular, with a trapezoidal bevel defining the shape of the faceplate. The back is also mostly unchanged, with the same I/O (balanced XLR and TRS, plus unbalanced RCA), and the same two controls the G2 had (volume as well as HF level adjustment), plus one more — a LF level adjustment with four positions (-2, -1, 0, and +2 dB). I'm glad the G3 has the extra control, and I'll tell you why in just a moment.

The first thing I encountered after plugging the Rokit 5 G3s into my speaker-switching matrix was that I thought they had arrived DOA. No sound came immediately out of them, although the logo on the front was glowing, and I was sure audio was passing down the line. Roughly a second later, though, I heard the audio gurgling up from the murky depths, and within another second, there was full-color audio blazing through the G3s. It turns out that the Rokit 5 G3 goes into an "Auto-Standby" mode when it hasn't been fed any audio for thirty minutes, unlike any other studio monitor I have come across in my 17-plus years of hanging around pro-audio equipment. I find this "feature" a little unsettling and rather odd, since I feel like any power saving during this sleeping is completely overshadowed by the likelihood of cranking up the volume of whatever is feeding the speakers during that second of silence, only to experience a loud surprise when it wakes up. Plus, there's that moment of "huh, what's going on?" when switching over to them for the first time in a half hour, and anything unexpected like that interrupts your mix flow, which ain't good.

Aside from that functional issue, I think this is a fine speaker. It's more different sonically from the G2 than I thought it'd be. I find the G3 warmer in the top, that is to say that I can hear more high-end detail on the G2. The G3 is also a little tubbier in the low and low-mids than the G2, which I already feel is a little on the boomy side. Even after notching the LF adjustment down a couple of dB, the G3 still has an ample amount of low-mid info, at least living a foot from the back wall in my small mix room. As for true low end, well, it is still just a 5'' woofer, so if you really want to hear subs clearly, you'll need a subwoofer — or full-bandwidth headphones — but that's the case with any speaker this size. As for the high end, even with the HF adjustment bumped up a dB, the G2 has a fair amount more sizzle, and I consider it to be dark speaker!

The takeaway is that the Rokit 5 G3 is really quite good for its extremely low price tag of $300 per pair. I've grown to like it more and more, as it burns in and I get used to its sound. I think I'll hold on to my G2 pair for now, but that has as much to do with familiarity as anything else. The G3 is warmer and "rounder," and therefore may sound better to some users, but I would definitely recommend coupling them (as with any small, affordable monitor) with some headphones that have both frequency extremes better covered (I rely heavily on my Audio-Technica ATH-M50 [Tape Op #63]), to make sure your subs and sibilance are both kept in check.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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