We have been using the Fluid Audio FPX7s for a long time, and we still love them, but as more and more bottom-heavy music was coming out of the studio, we needed some monitors with a little more oomph. Ideally, one day we will have both set up in the studio to run A/B testing on, which is in the works.
The KRK V8 S4s are the top-of-the-line reference monitor and the largest in the V serie lineup. The V8s come in at roughly $800 apiece. It is reasonable considering how good they sound, with a consistent response, full and rich low end without being colored. These are not the vibey sound of the ROKIT series, which many DJs love for their punch bass. So it's important to note that the V series is made to sound on the flatter side for music production and mixing.
We got a hold of the V8 S4s, but they also make a V6 and V4, simply meaning 6" and 4" woofer models. The V series models all feature the same 1" Kevlar tweeter, with varying Kevlar woofers as you go up the line and the same inputs and controls on the back.
The control switches on the back can be a little confusing at first, but once you study the manual and read up on them a bit, it starts to make more sense and give you a lot of control over the sound and simple functionality like logo glowing, standby, etc.
The inputs are a balanced 10k ohm XLR / 1/4" combo, standard IEC power, along with multiple switches allowing for up to 49 set-up options, including system modes, low and high EQ, and dB level. Here is where the customization for your room comes into play and will require a little time to get it perfect for your tastes.
The low and high controls let you choose from 1 of 7 options to match your room settings. So find the sweet spot in your studio and put on a variety of your songs you know well, dial the low and high EQs until it sounds flat. It's also good to listen to stuff you are working on to get a better feel for the monitors. The process can be a little time-consuming and irritating at times, but it's worth doing it right. After all, you just spent almost two grand on a pair of monitors; you should want them to sound as perfect as possible.
The V8s are beefier than the FXP7s, so we had to remove the isolators from our speaker stands and rely on the rubberish pad on the bottom of the V8s. So before buying them, make sure that your speaker stands and the room will be big enough to warrant them (full specs below).
So again, if you are only a DJ and just looking for some monitors to play your music through, even though the V8s are monsters, you are better off with the ROKITS. If you happen to both DJ and produce, the V8s will suffice for DJing (as we route our Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ through to them), and we are happy with them, but turn our sub on when playing DJ sets. So while we often think bigger is more bangin, this is only true to a certain point with the V8s as they were built to be flat, accurate, and responsive - not punch you in the face with bass.
The sound profile that you do get from the V8s sounds frankly like a more expensive speaker. While they fill the room, the sweet spot reveals a great separation across the lower and upper ranges, giving you that ability to be precise even when making minor adjustments. These make mixing a lot easier as they allow you to zero in on frequencies with pinpoint accuracy sometimes.
We will often mix with a variety of headphones as well, to make sure we are getting it right in the mix and for some variety - either the V-Moda M-200, the Audeze LCD-1s, or the high-end LCD-3s, and even when we come out of the cans the V8s are sound accurate.
The V8s shine for us is the bass response, especially when working with hip hop or lofi beats that bring in some sub-bass frequencies or multiple bass lines, which can sometimes sound muddy on lesser monitors when they overlap.
As you would expect, you need to be hyper-aware of the mids when mixing with these monitors so you don't lose the balance of your sound. It's easy to hear this when you are using headphones, so make sure to check your mix in the cans, and you will learn how to mess with the gains to make sure you are keeping that mid-range present.
- 1" KRK custom designed Kevlar® tweeter
- 8" KRK custom designed Woven Kevlar® woofer
- Optimized front-ported bass reflex enclosure design
- Bi-amped Class-D amplification
- Acoustic and desk loading condition correction Low Frequency EQ's
- Mid and High Frequency EQ's
- 49 different DSP driven EQ presets give you superior control for room/desk correction as well as personal taste
- Precise input level attenuation switch
- Standby, ground lift, input sensitivity, and logo LED selectors
- Optional protective grille included for mobile broadcast applications
- Friction lock, Neutrik combo (XLR and TRS) connector
- Robust EVA foam pad for non-skid and acoustic isolation
- Universal threaded mounting bracket points
KRK offers up a great line of professional-grade studio monitors for smaller to medium-sized studios and different budgets. If you are in the $1000 - $2000 price range for a pair, then the V S4 range is worth your consideration. If you can add one of their new subwoofers to your studio, it's even better. (more on that below). They produce a flat yet still rich and accurate sound that is perfect for intermediate to semi-pro producers with a limited budget. Especially if you are making hip hop or electronic music, these will stoke you out on the bass response alone. We like ours with the grilles off, but you do get a set if you want to cover up that bad-ass yellow cone - which you can still see with them on, just not as well.
The New KRK S10.4 Subwoofer
So you want a subwoofer? Magnetic Studios is not a huge room, and frankly, a sub was the last thing on our mind when we first started kitting it out a couple of years ago. Then we started making more music with bottom-heavy sub-bass, like lofi hip hop and minimal techno and tech-house. So it was time to start thinking about the low end in the studio.
KRK was releasing their new line of subs, and we were lucky enough to get our hands on the S10.4, which is, yes, a 10" inch woofer. The other sizes in the new rage are the S8.4 and the monster S12.4.
The new design changed the speaker cabinet from a cube to a rectangular configuration and employ Class D power amplifiers to deliver more responsive, tighter, and, yes, our favorite word, accurate bass.
These new subs work fantastic with the V8 S4s, giving us that low end when we need it. They feature combo XLR/1/4-inch TRS ins and outs, as well as RCA ins and outs, and will work with any set-up. We routed our DJ set up through the sub, and needless to say, it was too much for the neighbors to deal with.
A fantastic feature, dare we say a must-have, is the bypass switch we control with a foot pedal. This switch allows you to quickly turn the sub on and off because it's just not something we would want on all the time in the studio - it would probably drive you crazy.
It also allows you to compare audio with and without the sub fired up and features reverse polarity and input sensitivity adjustment to get things just right.
The standard setting keeps your Sub's polarity the same compared to the rest of your speakers; the reverse setting flips it and puts your sub 180 degrees out of phase. So you are going to need to experiment with these settings to get your room sounding just right. The four-position crossover frequency switch allows you to match the sub to your monitors (especially the KRK Vs).
The new design has improved on low-frequency extension and better porting, giving it better phase response and less port noise. The smaller size of the sub with the front-firing ports works nicely in smaller to medium-sized studios and is a perfect fit for Magnetic Studios, fitting perfectly under our production desk.
The bottom line is that if you make electronic music and have the extra cash (and the room) to put in a sub, you should. The sub lets you hear that sub-bass in harmony with your monitors and genuinely understand how it might sound on a bigger sound system.
MSRP $449 | More Info at KRK Site
- 10" glass aramid composite woofer
- Bass extension to 27Hz with a max SPL of 117.2 dB
- Footswitch control enables/disables sub and crossover filter (footswitch not included)
- Redesigned cabinet with a lower profile and front-firing bass port
- Powerful, lightweight Class D amplification
- Optimized four-position crossover control
- Universal connectivity: XLR, 1/4" TRS, and RCA inputs and outputs
- Polarity and input sensitivity controls
- Ground lift switch prevents ground loops