Here is a tiny, powered monitor that is ideal for smaller environments such as voice tracking booths, DAW-based production spaces and on-air studios with limited dimensions.
Product CapsuleThumbs Up
Smooth and uncolored
Tight, full bass
Low distortion and listening fatigue
Lacks deep bass (normal for small speakers)
Slightly tubby near surfaces (but this is easy to get used to)
Price: $400 each
For more information call KRK in California at (714) 373-4600 or visit www.krksys.com.
A two-way active loudspeaker, the V4 is a new, smaller version of the KRK V Series that includes the KRK V8 and KRK V6.
A pair of these monitors also would be appropriate for mobile use, should your station be looking to create or refit a remote studio-on-wheels.
The V4 ($400 each) looks classy and has first-rate workmanship. The dense, solid MDF cabinet includes a 1-inch thick front baffle with a port for the woofer.
Cabinet dimensions are small: only 9.25 x 6 x 7.75 inches (H/W/D). Internally braced to reduce resonance, the cabinet is finished in dark gray Zolatone, and is smoothly rounded on the edges to reduce diffraction and port flutter.
As for drivers, the V4 uses a custom 4-inch woofer made of woven Kevlar, which is lightweight and rigid. The woofer crosses over at 1.7 kHz to a 1-inch fabric dome tweeter. The tweeter is recessed in a waveguide. Both drivers are magnetically shielded for use near computer monitors. A 12 dB/octave subsonic filter prevents extreme lows below 32 Hz from reaching the drivers.
On the back is a power switch, an AC connector, a fuse block/voltage selector, and a Neutrik combo connector that accepts an XLR, 1/4-inch TRS, and 1/4-inch TS phone connector. Also on the back is a gain control (+6 dB to -30 dB), which can be screwdriver-adjusted to match levels in a surround setup. There are no tone controls. A yellow LED on the front lights when the power is on.
KRK specs the frequency response as 65 Hz to 20 kHz ±2 dB. Claimed maximum SPL at 1 meter is 101 dB music, 104 dB peak. The woofer’s power amp provides 30 watts average while the tweeter amp puts out 15 watts. Amplifier S/N is claimed to be greater than 90 dB, and the amp uses no compression. Each V4 weighs less than 11 pounds.
(click thumbnail)Fig. 1 Anechoic Frequency Response, 1/3-Octave Smoothed
(click thumbnail)Fig. 2 Anechoic Frequency Response of the Other Monitor of the Pair
(click thumbnail)Fig. 3 Energy Time Curve
(click thumbnail)Fig. 4 Total Harmonic Distortion vs. Frequency at 90 dB SPL, 1 Meter
When used with the KRK S8 subwoofer, the V4 provides a low-cost surround monitoring system.
The V4 owner’s manual is clear and to the point. It covers connections, installation, placement for stereo and surround, features, specs and troubleshooting.
I placed the V-4s on stands behind my console, 1 foot from the rear of the speaker to an absorbent wall behind them.Here are my impressions of the V4 reproducing some musical instruments:
Drums: Powerful dynamics and natural sound.
Kick drum: Tight. Surprisingly deep for such a small speaker.
Cymbals and percussion: Delicate and smooth with extended highs. Not peaky or exaggerated.
Piano: Mostly uncolored. Slightly warm, not metallic or harsh.
Electric guitar: Slightly puffy in the lower mids. Good “bite” or edge.
Electric bass: Fairly deep and tight. Slightly tubby in the upper bass but well-defined. Full. Well balanced with the rest of the audio range. Deep notes are weak but are handled gracefully. A sub could help with the deep bass.
Acoustic bass: Full but not overwhelming. Tight and well-controlled.
Acoustic guitar: Gentle. Detailed but not “etched” in the highs.
Sax: Pleasantly warm and mellow.
Strings, brass and woodwinds: Natural timbres.
Flute: Natural, with a realistic amount of breathiness.
Voice: “Human” sounding. Not too much sibilance. Slightly chesty with some singers.
My own mixes: Originally done using NHT Pro A-20s, my mixes sound slightly tubbier and softer in the highs on the KRK V4s. The difference is subtle.
I did some mixes on the KRK V4s. The mixes translated well to other speakers. I got used to the sound of the KRK V4s quickly and enjoyed working with them.
Overall, the V4 monitors sound musical and pleasant and are easy to listen to. They have low distortion and low listening fatigue. Imaging is sharp and the sense of depth is impressive. Instruments stay separated in loud, complex mixes.
Fig. 1 shows the anechoic frequency response of the KRK V4 in a free field. It is quite flat, ±2 dB from 65 Hz to 20 kHz. If the speaker were placed near a wall or large console, the low end would come up about 4 to 6 dB.
That could account for the slightly tubby sound heard from the KRK V4 when placed just behind my console and a foot from the wall behind it. A monitor placement farther from surfaces would give a flatter response and a more natural low end.
Fig. 2 is the same but for the other monitor of the pair. In this case, the response is ±3 dB from 58 Hz to 20 kHz. There is some loss in the upper mids and highs with this unit.
Not shown is the response at 30 degrees off-axis. It is uniform, within 2.5 dB of the front response up to 10 kHz. A producer and engineer seated side by side will hear almost the same tonal balance from the KRK V4s (except for the usual phase cancellations of dual sound sources heard off-axis).
Fig. 3 shows the Energy Time Curve, which correlates with the transient response. The direct-sound spike is sharp, and delayed vibrations are down 22 dB or more. Apparently the stiff, rounded cabinet is doing its job. This sharp transient response contributes to the V4’s fine sense of detail in time and space.
Finally, in Fig. 4 we see the Total Harmonic Distortion vs. frequency at 90 dB SPL, 1 meter. As is normal for small speakers, THD exceeds 10 percent at and below 50 Hz, but is less than 3.2 percent above 80 Hz. This is excellent performance for a monitor of this size.
The KRK V4 is a serious contender where space is at a premium. In spite of its small size, it puts out a loud, clean sound with impressively full bass. A subtle emphasis in the upper bass is the speaker’s only coloration, and this occurs only when the speaker is near large surfaces. Although the deep bass notes lack weight – normal for small speakers – they can be enhanced with a sub such as the KRK S8.
Because the V4 is self-contained, easy to set up and compact, wiring a set to your Monitor Out jacks for in-studio use is a breeze.
Should your production room include surround sound capability, or might in the future, a group of V4s and a sub could make a great surround monitoring system.
NHT Pro A20 monitors; Sony PCM-R300 DAT recorder; Philips CD 910 compact disc player; Mackie 1604VLZ mixing console; TASCAM DA88 recorder; Goldline TEF-20 sound analyzer; Crown CM-150 measurement microphone.