|MIX VERDICT: KRK GoAux 3 Portable Monitor System
|THE TAKEAWAY: “For content creators, musicians, students and audio pros who are both on-the-go and on a budget, the GoAux 3 system offers a good value for the money, providing solid audio in a very compact, movable form.”
|COMPANY: KRK • www.krkmusic.com
• Lightweight, intuitively designed, all-in-one system.
• Solid sound punches above its weight class.
• Simple, speedy set-up/tear-down.
• Exterior pockets on carrying case are too loose, allowing items to fall out.
• KRK Audio Tools app, though optional for using the speakers, needs a better user interface.
KRK has long made studio monitors that are a mainstay for certain genres, emerging audio pros and, in recent times, even the occasional professional Atmos mixing set-up. They’re adaptable speakers at attainable price points that can get the job done—but one thing they are not is easily portable. A pair of KRK ROCKIT 5 monitors is a hefty 22 lbs., and they’re not really made for getting carried around. For many audio pros, however, portability is a must-have feature—and for them, there’s the brand-new KRK GoAux Portable Monitor Systems, which debut today. There are two systems available—the GoAux 3 and GoAux 4—and we got our hands on the former so that we could put it through the paces.
Both the GoAux 3 and the GoAux 4 are all-in-one systems based around 3-inch and 4-inch speakers, respectively. Both systems come in well-constructed, padded cases that easily carry the speakers, their requisite power and connection cables, and collapsible isolating speaker stands. Pack all that up, and the GoAux 3 system still weighs in at under 7 lbs. while the GoAux 4 comes in at 9.5 lbs.—very portable indeed.
Connectivity is a key requirement for portable speakers—after all, if you’re taking them to a different working environment, they need to be able to tie into whatever gear awaits you. With that in mind, both GoAux systems offer Bluetooth, as well as RCA inputs and a 1/8” Aux In. The GoAux 4 system additionally sports 1/4” TRS Balanced and USB Type-B inputs.
Also on the back of each system’s left speaker is a pair of buttons that activate built-in LF and HF EQs, clicking through presets of +2 dB, Flat and -3 dB. Taking that a step further, the GoAux 4 system additionally has an Auto ARC (Automatic Room Correction) feature that uses an included measurement microphone to optimize the speakers’ sound for the room—useful if you’re setting up in new spaces regularly. On both systems, the front of the left speaker features a multi-function on/off/volume/mute knob, as well as a 1/8” stereo headphone output that automatically mutes the speakers when in use.
By necessity, GoAux systems are going to be working speakers that get bounced around a lot—they’re aimed at content creators who are playing back audio onsite at a shoot, students who don’t have space in a dorm room to leave their gear out, musicians who are setting up in a different hotel room every night and so on. Yes, those are all situations where you can make do with headphones, but cans get exhausting to use for long periods of time, and passing them around so that a group of people can hear something is a drag (not to mention unhygienic). Portable monitors like the GoAux systems let you handle these situations wherever they arise without having to use headphones, laptop speakers or something like a portable consumer speaker.
The GoAux 3 speakers each have a 3” glass aramid woofer and 1” soft textile dome tweeter (the GoAux 4 unsurprisingly has a 4″ woofer), and they punch above their weight class, offering good detail and respectable low-end for a speaker that size, with a frequency range of 60 Hz – 22 kHz. The sound quality is nice, and the EQ presets do a lot of heavy lifting; even at the most disadvantageous settings, the GoAux 3s still leave other comparable portable options like the portable consumer speakers we had nearby lying in the dust. In most of the system’s intended-use applications, more than a few users get by using a simple, portable solution that provides adequate sound in less-than-ideal environments; the GoAux 3 system is likewise simple and portable, but the sound quality far surpasses “adequate.”
Since the priority for the GoAux 3 user is going to be its portability, the top feature to consider is ‘ease of use,’ and that’s something the system excels at. Setting up and tearing down gear is always a nuisance, and getting these speakers up and running takes no time at all, thanks to their intuitive, plug-and-play nature. It’s a no-brainer to connect one cable for power, and another cable between the speakers to pass along power and audio. The collapsible stands are adjustable and screw onto the speakers easily, and due to their size, reaching the inputs on the back of one speaker is simple—pick it up and turn it around. Making a Bluetooth connection is fast and painless as well; while not all users will need (or are fans of) Bluetooth, its availability is a must for content-creation uses.
The speakers additionally work with the KRK Audio Tools smartphone app, which generally aids in monitor alignment, making EQ recommendations and so on. The app offers some nice tools and does a great job of explaining to the uninitiated how and why to use them, but it needs a far more user-friendly interface.
For content creators, musicians, students and audio pros who are both on-the-go and on a budget, the GoAux 3 system offers a good value for the money ($349), providing solid audio in a very compact, movable form. While we didn’t try the GoAux 4 system ($419), given the additional input options, larger woofer and Auto ARC feature, those extra features may well be worth the extra $70, depending on how you plan to use the speakers.