Bear in mind, studio monitors and home theater speakers, while similar, are very different products. Whereas traditional speakers are tuned for the best sound while viewing a movie, studio monitors typically produce a very flat response and seek to provide clarity over pleasing sound.
The RP5s are powered near field monitors, meaning firstly that they’re meant to be listened to at close range, between 3 and 5 feet. It also means that each speaker needs to be plugged into a electrical outlet.
The speakers feature a 5” glass paramid composite woofer powered by a 30w amp and a 1” neodymium soft dome tweeter powered by a 15w amp. Measuring 7-1/4"W x 10-7/8"H x 8-7/8"D, they take up a fairly small amount of real estate, and XLR, RCA and ¼” unbalanced inputs make the monitors adaptable to any setup. At an average price of $225 a pair, the RP5s can be easily squeezed into any budget.Set-up
While probably not practical for a large room setup, these near field monitors perform their best at a 3 to 5 foot range, making them entirely logical for use as computer speakers. Setup was quite simple as I ran directly from my Soundblaster X-Fi sound card to each speaker’s RCA input. Power cords simply ran down into a surge protector. The speakers sit roughly 30” apart on either side of my 24” Sony GDM-FW900 CRT monitor.Music
After working the speakers in a bit, it was time to put them through their paces musically. In the spirit of the recent holiday, I began with Christmas Eve and Other Stories, the breakout album of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. “Christmas Eve in Sarajevo”, their most oft heard song is recreated beautifully by these speakers. The sound is very rich, and each instrument, no matter how nuanced is clearly audible. The crunch of the electric guitars especially has a great sound coming through the RP5s.
While I listened to a great deal of music through these speakers, perhaps the album that showed their capability best is Coheed and Cambria’s Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow. Produced by the great Rick Rubin, the album is a sonic adventure of heavy progressive rock.
The RP5s were easily able to handle the subtlety of the intro song; a melody carried by piano and a small string section, and let each instrument breathe on its own. The second track, Always and Never fared beautifully as well. Acoustic guitar, vocals, and ambient noises all came through clearly and with an excellent quality.
The third song, Welcome Home finally gets into the heavier parts of the CD, starting with a riff played by a nylon stringed guitar before bringing in distorted electric guitars, a heavy bass presence, as well as an emphasis on drum patterns. While at lower volumes everything sounds fine, once the levels go up, the bass seems to go down. The bass guitar feels a bit lost in the mix and the rhythm guitars start to feel a bit too mid heavy.Movies
The first movie put through these speakers was Jurassic Park, one of my personal favorites, and a great showpiece for speakers. The KRK RP5s fared very well with the film’s mid and high range, again letting even the most subtle of sounds be heard. From the rustling of leaves to the guttural snarl of a velociraptor, nothing was buried in the mix. The lack of any serious amount of bass though, made the audio feel a bit empty.
Zack Snyder’s epic 300 was next, and produced many of the same results. Small pieces of audio that I hadn’t heard before, flies buzzing over bodies, the detail of the breathing of the Persian Immortals, all crystal clear, and with nothing left behind. But again, the lack of bass really lessened the enjoyment of the experience.The Downside
While the clarity and flatness of the sound certainly makes these ideal for a home recording studio or as a lower end solution for a listening room setup, they certainly aren’t capable of handling movies all on their own, even in a smaller room.
The clarity can also create a bit of a distraction for albums with poorer production. Flaws are unmasked, and every small mistake or badly mixed track is even more evident. While this may not bother most people, some find it to be a bit of a nuisance.Conclusion
KRK’s Rokit Powered 5 speakers are great performers for the price. At less than $250 for the pair, they perform just as strongly as speakers double the price. Even with a decent subwoofer, the RP5s just don’t seem to pack enough punch. I’d highly recommend upgrading to the RP8s or even just the RP6s for the larger woofer and stronger bass response. A little bass can go a long way.