Whether it’s down to space constraints or financial ones, small nearfield monitors are more popular than ever. KRK’s latest bi-amped baby, the VXT4, is the junior of its VXT range, and is built around a 4” woofer.
Designed to replace its V4 Series 2 monitors, the VXTs sport the yellow Kevlar cones we’ve come to expect from KRK. However, you’ll notice that the cabinets have a much softer profile, and the design has clearly been influenced by the company’s flagship Exposé E8B monitor.
Out of the box, the VXT4 is seriously weighty. At over six kilos, it’s not only heavier than its predecessor, but also feels more slick. Even so, a quick look at the spec reveals plenty of common ground with the V4 Series 2.
As mentioned, the cabinet is completely new, and the ABS structural foam walls and rubberised underside are both reworked designs from the E8B. So the cabinet is not only strong without being unnecessarily thick, but it also has no parallel internal walls so cabinet colouration is reduced.
As you would expect, all connections, switches and controls are round the back, leaving a tidy front panel with the illuminated KRK badge and LED indicators to the left. If you feel the need to physically protect the drivers, an optional metal front grill is available, though this will set you back an additional £20 per pair.
While we’re on the subject of protection, other features you need to know about include the back-panel selectors: three-position clip indicator, the auto mute circuit and ground lift option. The auto mute option switches the amps to standby after 20 minutes idle, which is handy. But the more significant feature is the clip indicator - with this engaged the red front-panel LED lets you know when amplifier clipping occurs.
Move the toggle switch over further and it engages the limiter circuit. This adds an extra line of defence should you unexpectedly encounter something very loud, and you’ll know it’s engaged when the green LED is on. Ultimately, though, if you see too much green you should trim the input gain accordingly.
KRK monitors have a reputation for combining up-front mid-range accuracy with the punchy sort of bass you associate with front-ported designs. The VXT4 certainly delivers with the former, and this aspect of the sound is particularly beneficial if you do a lot of mixing.
Even so, although we didn’t find the VXTs as top-end bright as we’d expected, the mid-range tonality can prove quite tiring over long spells, even at moderate listening levels.
Although there’s a reasonable amount of bass given this VXT4’s size, you don’t get the direct punch associated with bigger drivers. It’s an inherent problem with more compact monitors, and not exclusive to this particular model.
Furthermore, this shouldn’t detract from the fact that the overall balance is good - it’s simply that there’s always a nagging sense that you might be missing something in the low-frequency area. One of KRK’s subwoofers would be an obvious add-on solution, but could affect the frequency balance as the VXT isn’t calibrated for a 2.1 system.
KRK has produced a good, compact monitor with the VXT4. It looks good and sounds great, and isn’t as hampered by its diminutive size as you might imagine.
That said, if space and cost aren’t an issue for you and your studio, we’d advise you to audition the next size up.