The new KRK ROKIT G4 series is the fourth generation of this popular family of studio monitors. G4 monitors incorporate many of the advanced features of KRK's professional grade V Series [Tape Op #118] and were designed with the intent of being "the perfect solution for turning project studios into professional music-creation environments." ROKIT G4s feature an onboard DSP-driven graphic EQ with 25 settings, an LCD EQ display with frequency analyzer, matched Kevlar drivers, custom designed Class D power amplifiers, and high-density ISO-foam pads attached to the bottom of the monitor. Other features include gain control, a standby mode, a Neutrik XLR combo input jack, a built-in automatic brickwall limiter, and integration with KRK's IOS/Android Audio Tools app.

I chose to review the 7-inch bi-amped model as they most closely resemble my current studio monitors in size. I've never monitored through KRK's before, which is odd considering that they can be found in almost every other studio I've stepped into in recent years, so was excited to check them out.

Upon opening the box, the documentation pointed me to the KRK Audio Tools app, which is a free suite of six analysis-based studio tools that can help setup any brand of monitors. The EQ Recommendation tool specifically helps tune the KRK ROKIT G4 monitors to your listening environment. I found the Monitor Align tool easy to use and useful for ensuring the speakers were physically aligned correctly. Other app tools aid in speaker placement, level matching, subwoofer calibration, and polarity control. Surprisingly, the EQ Recommendation tool told me to set the monitors flat for my environment.

I set the G4s up alongside my pair of monitors (that cost five times as much) for comparison. Both are bi-amped powered monitors with similar size drivers. While calibrating the ROKIT G4s, I had to turn them up one dB in order to volume match my current studio monitors. This is done via a scroll wheel located on the back of the monitor that also controls various functions of the ROKIT G4 such as EQ Preset, standby mode, gain adjustment, LCD brightness, and factory reset. I found the LCD menu to be slightly confusing at first, but after a little practice and hunting around got used to it quickly. A Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection would be a nice addition for remote controlled menu tweaks, and I would've preferred the LCD screen to be located on a different side of the monitor so I didn't have to go behind the enclosure in order to make an adjustment. But once the ROKIT G4s were set up for my room, I didn't need to tweak anything again.

From first listen, the low end of the ROKIT G4s sounded tight and punchy to my ear. This has pluses and minuses for me, as I often have to EQ bass and kick somewhat to define them in my room, so I was worried that I wouldn't get an accurate mix. However, the G4s seemed to bring clarity to the low end by using a front-firing port to provide accurate and tight bass reproduction. The High Mids sounded crispier than my regular monitors, especially electric guitar tones, but not offensive to the ear. The ROKIT G4s are designed with the intent of minimizing listening fatigue over long listening periods, and I was concerned that the brightness of them would tire me out fast, but that never happened. I did notice as I switched back and forth between the ROKIT G4s and my monitors how dark mine sounded in comparison (what I love about them), but the ROKIT G4s grew on me more over time. It's not a harsh high end – unlike some other brands out there – and I can see how this combined with the tight low end will make this generation of KRKs very popular.

For a second perspective, I lent the ROKIT G4s to my friend Michael Wilson (FOH engineer at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley) while his monitors were in the shop, so he could finish a mixing project. He said he liked them in general. During setup he had to gain them up considerably more than I did, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing. He found them easy on the ears, though a bit scooped and lacking in midrange detail at flat EQ settings.

I also found this to be true when referencing mixes I did on the ROKIT G4s in headphones and other environments, especially with vocal sibilance. While I didn't notice it on the monitors, esses seemed much more pronounced when I took my mixes out of the studio. I ended up with a perfectly fine master so definitely not a deal breaker, and adjusting the EQ on the ROKIT G4s could help tune them more accurately to reveal more midrange.

Overall, I found the ROKIT 7 G4 to be an excellent monitor at a killer price. It has bright highs with punchy low end but is pleasant to the ear, and as advertised, good for long listening sessions without causing ear fatigue. The ROKIT 7 G4 is a great entry level or upgrade studio monitor, and I found them useful as a second pair for my studio.

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

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