Review of KRK RP 5 G2 & AudioEngine A5

Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 & 12.2 Speakers

ramkumar

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Hi all,

I have seen many reviews about speakers in this forum and elsewere which requires separate gear (amplifiers, receivers, sources, etc), but for some people and somebody like me who are on a budget and space / money constraints, a good nearfield active (powered) speaker can do the trick without really spending a whole lot of money and especially useful for an HTPC or Laptop setup.

So I thought that why not share my experience (I am not an audiophile, so please correct my mistakes), with these two very good speakers which are very good for an HTPC or Laptop (atleast in my experience) setup.

And I am not at all comparing the above speakers to an Hifi setup at all, but these can be reasonable midfi solutions, if you really need to get a good sound out of an HTPC (although they are not comparable to a separate speaker and amp).

And lastly I will try to compare without any bias to the given speakers. I have listened to both these speakers extensively (spent around 4 months with each of them), although I couldn't do a side by side comparision.

I have listened to old Rock, Soft Rock, Hard Rock, Dance, Pop, old Hindi, new Hindi, and everything I could throw at them. Both of them were connected to a Creative X-Fi sound card and were run in stereo mode. Also most of the songs were in FLAC format, and few mp3s.

The two speakers I am comparing are :

1) KRK Rokit 5 G2 (read Generation 2).
2) AudioEngine A5.

1) KRK Rokit 5 G2 - Many people would not have heard of the KRK brand (even I didn't knew until I bumped into some forum discussing these). They are called studio monitors which are used for making the re-mixes of the songs and for recording purposes. But they can be used as a good alternative for general listening purposes also. Following are its features:

a) Speaker configuration - Each speaker contains one 5" glass aramid woofer and one 1" silk dome tweeter. Each speaker is bi-amplified, means that there are 2 separate amps driving the woofer and the tweeter. Also the x-over is an active one and it separates the woofer and tweeter frequencies before they get amplified. Woofer amplifier is a rated at 30W RMS and the tweeter amplifier is rated at 15 W RMS, so the total RMS is 45W. So in total there are 4 amplifiers for a pair. Also each speaker has a power cord attached (so you need to have two power sources instead of one for driving one pair).
b) Sound - First, these speakers shine only when the volume is turned up and specially in the bass department. At lower volumes you hardly hear the thump, and its very weak compared to the mid and high frequencies. And because they have the silk dome tweeters they are very smooth and non-fatiguing for hours of listening and they are crystal clear. But the main strength of these speakers is the mid-range, voices come out as if the singer is singing in front of you. They have good separation of instruments and you can hear different instruments individually. The speaker is slightly on the warm side (I didn't get any other word). The only main drawback that I feel is the bass (don't expect much from a 5" woofer), which is good, but can be a little undefined at times. But in its favour the bass is tight and fast. And if you want real bass, then you need to get a good subwoofer for sure. And at loud volume (nearly full at source and on the speaker) it starts to distort as if the singer has started shouting instead of singing.
c) Cost - These can be had for around Rs.19-23K (approx, not sure of the current prices as it depends on the stocks and exchange rates).
d) Build Quality - These speakers are built like a tank for their size. The the finishing is also pretty good. The yellow cone woofer looks attractive (maybe not everybody will like) and to my eyes it looks cool. Also the rectangular front bass port is nice, as it decouples the speakers from the walls.

2) AudioEngine A5 - These speakers are a little different than the Rokits as they are mainly marketed for iPod and PCs. But to my surprise, I found them very similar sounding the KRK rokits. Following are its features:

a) Speaker Configuration : The speaker drivers are very similar to the KRK rokits, consisting of a 5" Kevlar woofer and a 1" silk dome tweeter. But the difference is that they have the normal amplifier setup (which is common in powered speakers), one amplifier driving both the speakers with a passive x-over network. But the quality of the components is top notch which is proved once you hear them.
b) Sound - As like the KRK rokits these have only a 5" woofer and at lower volumes the bass is lacking. The highs are very good and non-fatiguing for extended listening. But as with KRK the mids are where these speakers shine. They differ from the KRK by having a more neutral sound, means a little cooler sound (I didn't get any other words to describe, so hope you get what I mean). Also the bass definition is a bit better than the KRK rokits, (but still lacking). At turning them up to full volume (on source and on the speakers) start to distort (as with KRK)as if the singer has started shouting instead of singing. But really I could not listen at that volume for long.
c) Price - Its available for around Rs.19~21K.
d) Build quality - The build quality is very similar to KRK but the finishing is very different. The KRKs have a matte finish, while these have a shining Piano finish. Also these have the round ports at the back instead of the front, so its important to maintain some distance from the back wall.

I hope that the above review has given some insights to the readers. All your suggestions / corrections are welcome.

- Ram.
 

gopi

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Ram,
You have compared 2 nice speakers and definitely presented a different option which most don't look into. I also think that for a computer based setup this seems to be an equally viable approach. Infact, I am there almost in a similar setup. Just a couple of more days for my setup to be up an running. Will post my thoughts then.

There are 2 things I would like you to add to your review. Your review gives an impression that both the speakers are very similar. I would like to know if you noticed any differences - like a genre that sounded better in one than the other, the tonality of the instruments etc; Also, have your heard any typical hifi stuff like NAD etc and how will you compare this setup of yours with it.
 

ramkumar

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Hi Gopi,
Thanks for your inputs. Actually sometime ago I was looking for some nice sounding speakers that I could use for my Laptop with and external Creative Card and bumped into these two brands.

Well I did try to give the difference in my previous post, but let me give it one more try:

KRK Rokit - These are warm sounding speakers. The midrange is razor sharp, what I mean is, the voices are almost exact as if you are hearing them live (this is totally my personal thinking). The instruments are well separated, and I listened to almost all the genres of music I could collect / borrow. As I mentioned the bass is where they fell a little short and this is where the A5s are marginally better. But you will only feel the difference in some songs, especially in Hard Rock (Linking park, Avril, etc) and some new hindi songs, where there a lot of instruments playing and speakers try very hard to reproduce everything. The upper mid-range is very very good, plus the highs are smooth and silky and with any negligible sibilance.

AudioEngine A5 - As I said, these are less warmer than the KRKs, I mean they are more neutral in tonality. The mid-range is not as razor sharp as the KRKs but still very good. The instrument separation is also similar to KRKs, although they are more neutral. But the real difference (atleast to my ear) is the bass definition, they don't try to produce the bass that they can't and here's where the available bass content becomes more clear (whatever the speakers are producing).

I did hear stereo bookshelves (but my music memory is weak) for around 2-3 hrs, the speakers were Wharfedale 9.1 (which have very similar driver configuration) with a CA amp (forgot the model no.) and I don't think they really compare with these and these speakers fell a little short, especially in the bass department. But whatever your choice may be, both are excellent speakers and you can enjoy your music until you go for a serious hifi setup.

Also remember that these are marketed as nearfield speakers while the other normal bookshelves should be at a certain distance from us (atleast from what I know), so I really can't compare the sound. But for PC, well I don't think you will get much better , unless you invest in a separate amp / speaker arrangement.

Also if you like bass, then you need a separate subwoofer for sure for either.

I hope that the above answers your queries. Feel free to give more suggestions.
 

audiodelic

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I'm in the market for a similar setup. I have a Dell Studio 17 with a Creative Audigy 2 ZS Notebook to drive them.

I was almost convinced on buying the Audio Engine A5. Im going to look into the other speaker pairs you've mentioned.
My head is swaying sometimes i think maybe a norge amp with a pair of bookshelves might be better then again i lose some portability.

So still in two minds are there more powered monitor options in the 20 - 25k range ?
P.S - I listen to psy trance which is electronic music has constant bass beats so i need speakers that can handle the bass well.
 
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ramkumar

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Previously I too thought that for a PC only Multimedia speakers exist from Creative, Logitech, Altec Lansing, Bose, etc. I didn't include Audioengine in the above list, as its above par to all of them.

But then I explored the Powered speaker world and found that the Active Studio monitors can also be doubled up for listening purposes (they r mainly used for recording purposes). I then auditioned many Studio Monitor brands, namely Mackie, Events, KRK, etc. Although our listening preferences are different, still I think that Studio monitors are a good alternative to other Multimedia speakers, atleast the cheaper ones.

So coming back to your questions, I didn't see any other brands which have models in that price range. I only found the KRKs in that price range and this too is their lowest priced speaker.

But if you need bass, then you will definitely have to go for a subwoofer if you are going to purchase any of the speakers that I mentioned. This is totally my personal experience, but what I felt is, that the bass is a little too quick, means u will hear it, but it will be so fast that u may not enjoy it from either speaker brands.

I didn't feel that you can really choose between the two (KRK & Audioengine), simply because there are only subte differences between them and its much better if you can audition them before buying. Then you will be able to make a clear judgement. The surprising thing for me is that both have more similarities than differences.

I think I should mention this, there is one drawback in using a Studio monitor, and that is lack of connections to PC. They typically don't have RCAs or 1/8" Stereo mini jacks (KRK has RCA but no Stereo jack). Audioengine has all of the connections you will possibly need (it recharges you iPod too).

And for the amp / speaker combo, personally i feel, nothing beats them for the sound and for the options that you get (ofcrs you should have a decent source).
 

ramkumar

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No, the KRKs only have an RCA, 1/4" and an XLR input, but no outputs. If you want to connect a subwoofer, then make sure that the subwoofer has RCA outputs (most subwoofers have them).

Then you can make a series connection by connecting the output of your source to the subwoofer's RCA input and then connecting the subwoofer's RCA output to the KRKs.
 

audiodelic

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No, the KRKs only have an RCA, 1/4" and an XLR input, but no outputs. If you want to connect a subwoofer, then make sure that the subwoofer has RCA outputs (most subwoofers have them).

Then you can make a series connection by connecting the output of your source to the subwoofer's RCA input and then connecting the subwoofer's RCA output to the KRKs.

So if you had to pick one between the AE A5 and KRK's.
Since you say both sound similar if you had to pick one majorly based on good bass performance..... you would pick which ?
 

ramkumar

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Well thats a difficult question to answer. But anyways let me give it a try.

I own the KRKs, simply because I found the midrange a little more involving than the A5s. I am not saying A5s are bad (far from it), but what I found was, with A5s when you are listening to say some slow emotional song, it doesn't really touch you the way the KRK does.

And if you are looking for bass definition then I would go with A5s as they are marginally better (you won't know it until you listen to them side by side and play the same song). Also don't expect big boom from either as they won't do that, but you will definitely hear the bass (upto around 60Hz) clearly.

The above are purely my opinions. And I will suggest that you listen to both of them first if you are in a delima, as your preferences might be different than mine. And its definitely your preference that counts.

And if I had the money and space then I would pick both (one pair each) of them, but I cannot do that due to money / space constraints.

I hope I was able to answer your question.

Also if you are really need some hifi listening, then I would say go for a separate amp / bookshelves setup. There are many experts in this forum who will guide you with your setup.
 
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siva2886

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Any idea, where can I find KRK monitors in chennai? or anywhere in india who can ship to chennai?

Or, my budget is 30k, can anyone suggest a 2.1 monitoring system?
 

ramkumar

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The dealers are only in Mumbai as far as KRK site is concerned. I don't know any dealers are there in mumbai.

You can visit the krk site (Untitled Document) and then find out the dealer's name in India...

And about monitoring, I will suggest, listen to Genelec monitors. They are pretty gud and may fit in your budget. KRK RP 5 alone will cost you around Rs.22K and their subwoofer costs somewhere around Rs.30K, so i think it would be out of your range (IMHO)...

Generally studio monitors are pretty costly in India as they are not so popular as the hi-fi products... so you may have to pay a small premium if you are buying in India.
 

ramkumar

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I have not listened to m-audio, but have heard good things about them. But from what I have heard, although they are marketed as pro monitors, people prefer them for hi-fi more.... don't know why...

i think you should take a listen to genelec. i have heard them, and they are pretty gud.
 
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