Field Test: KRK V8 Series II Active Near-Field MonitorsUPGRADE OFFERS IMPROVED DRIVERS, FUNCTIONALITY AND IMAGING 8/01/2005 8:00 AM Eastern
For some audio engineers, choosing the right monitor can be a never-ending quest. To most, it's all about accuracy, flat response and translation at the right price. Running with that idea, KRK launched a new wave of V Series monitors that improve the V4, V6, V8 and the V12S with a newly upgraded woofer, tweeter and crossover. I welcomed the opportunity to review the V8 Series II two-way, 8-inch active monitors.
A NEW SLANT ON A V8
It's hard to re-invent the wheel in this product category, but KRK has done it with a couple of interesting features. The first is the auto-on/off function. After 20 minutes of silence, the V8 II automatically shuts off. New LEDs on the front end display activity for the peak indicator and a new limiter circuit. A three-position switch gives the user control over the LED's action. You can set it to Off for no clip or limiting activity, On for a flashing red LED when approaching distortion and Limit to route the signal through the limiter circuit (flashing green LED). Running your mix through the Limit position protects the monitors from level abuse caused by level spikes from unplugging instruments, etc. KRK does not recommend using this limiter while mixing.
Input is derived through a Neutrik Combo connector; sensitivity is variable between -30 dB and +6 dB via a recessed screw adjustment on the back. The frequency response of 42 to 20k Hz is projected through an 8-inch Kevlar LFE and a 1-inch soft-dome HFE, sorted out with a three-filter active crossover situated at 2.18 kHz (altered from the 1.66kHz point in the original V8s).
For those who like it loud, level is not a problem. The high and low transducers are powered by 60- and 120-watt amplifiers, respectively, and are capable of putting out a healthy 111 dB. High- and low-frequency manipulation is possible with a pair of three-position switches. High-frequency adjustments include ±1dB shelving curves at 1 kHz and a flat position. Low-frequency tweaks are made with an identical toggle switch that dips 3 dB at 45 Hz, 50 Hz or 65 Hz. Consider the 45Hz dip is flat as the monitors reach down to 42 Hz. It's not a huge deal, but a flat position would have been more user-friendly.
I took the V8 IIs home for two days of burn-in before I made any critical decisions. I ran pink noise through them for about five hours at 85dB SPL. In doing so, driver suspensions will loosen up and, sometimes, tweeter harshness diminishes. Interestingly, another monitor company, B&W, recommends a break-in period of up to a month for Kevlar drivers! In my test, the V8 IIs started warming up, especially the tweeter.
My critical test took place back at the studio with the V8 IIs traditionally mounted on top of a large-format console alongside a pair of Genelec 1032As. At first hearing, the monitors seemed hyped in the low end. The previous model, the V8, was criticized for a lack of bottom, but this is not the case with the V8 II. The new 8-inch woofer was upgraded with a larger voice coil and a lighter, stiffer cone. The V8 IIs actually projected more low end than the 1032As' bigger 10-inch drivers. Using the -3dB setting at 50 Hz, I was able to even out the lows nicely. The kick was tight, punchy and provided a good translation for the pop/rock tune I was mixing.
I did perceive a slight deficiency in the low mids, which presented a challenge for bass and some electric guitar tracks. I occasionally reached for the EQ to correct mix problems that were not there when auditioned on the Genelecs. (Keep in mind the $3,500 price difference.) Higher mids remained detailed and concise. Acoustic guitars maintained all of the string nuances in the upper-mids to high frequencies. Blending of the top and bottom snare drum was also effortless.
With the new tweeter design, highs were pleasant and had the detail I expected (an excellent upgrade from the original V8, which was a little harsh to some). The cymbals were smooth and natural, but they didn't have that expensive, silky top end. As for image, when angled to the equidistant triangle, the V8 IIs have better spatial imaging and expressed a larger sweet spot, as compared to the previous model.
A SPEAKER YOU CAN WORK WITH
Quite honestly, the original V8s remind me of active Yamaha NS-10s. The V8s lacked lows, had a midrange bump and possessed uninspiring highs. Now, with new tweeters, woofers and crossovers, the V8 II is completely improved over its predecessor. A colleague of mine put it succinctly when she said, “Wow, I can really work with these.”
However, for this test, there were some adjustments to be made to the low end, but once that was tamed with the low-frequency dip switches, the bottom was very good. Mids to high-mids were also well-represented. As for the highs, the new tweeter design is a big positive.
Overall, my biggest beef was the slight dip in lower mids, but at this price, it is something I could live with. The KRK V8 IIs should be the first stop for anyone searching in the $999 price range and could even give some more expensive monitors a run for their money.
KRK Systems, 818/534-1580, www.krksys.com.
Tony Nunes is an audio engineer and educator in Phoenix.