Good sound, modest looks

September 16, 2008|By KEVIN HUNT | KEVIN HUNT,

So, rock star, you've got your own little recording studio and you're laying down some hot tracks while admiring how great you sound on tricked-out studio monitors.

Big deal. Anyone can bring home those studio monitors - in our world, they're known as powered loudspeakers - and create an instant sound system with an iPod, computer or even a television. Here are two reasons the nonmusician might like pro-type studio monitors in your home:

Imagine tossing your favorite stereo system in a trash compactor and out pop two bookshelf speakers, each with an amplifier, volume control, on-off switch and power cord, ready to play.

They're designed with the flattest-possible response, no colorations, so the music sounds as it was played.

The Rokit 5, from KRK Systems of Hollywood, Fla., might pass as a slightly undressed bookshelf speaker (there's no grille covering its frontal parts), but these $300-a-pair studio monitors outclass any similarly priced iPod speaker dock or desktop system I've heard.

You'll sacrifice some convenience, because each speaker must be plugged in and turned on, there's no iPod dock and the Rokit 5 - the smallest of the three-member Rokit family - is almost a foot tall, 9 inches deep and 13 pounds. The Rokits won't suit everyone. Aside from not having a dock, the studio monitors have separate volume controls and on-off switches. (The pros don't sit back on a couch with a remote control.) Sierra Sound, Audioengine, Samson and other manufacturers have adapted the studio-monitor concept for consumers - some adding an iPod dock, however awkwardly, into the top of one speaker - that people might find more welcoming.

Of course, if you're ready to strap on the Les Paul guitar, fire up the Pro Tools or GarageBand music-editing software and start recording, the Rokits can do that, too.

Kevin Hunt writes about

consumer electronics for the Hartford Courant.

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