My Misadventures with the KRK Rokit 10-3

So before I tell this story, know that I’m not trashing KRK. I bought a set of gen 1 KRK Rokit 5’s back in 2005. I’ve had them for over 11 years now, have beat the shit out of them, and have had zero issues. I love them. They sound great, have been super reliable, and I’ve gotten much more enjoyment out of them than what they cost ($149/ea. at the time).

When it came time to fill more space with more sound, naturally I looked to KRK. The Rokit 5’s have been so reliable and great, and I decided not to look elsewhere. I started looking at reviews for Rokit 8’s, which are larger monitors comprised of an 8″ driver along with a tweeter, and decided that they’d make an excellent compliment to the Rokit 5’s if somehow I could run them simultaneously. At the time, I didn’t have a sub, and by themselves the Rokit 5’s really lack low end. I decided on the gen 3 Rokit 8’s at the beginning of 2016 and put them in my cart on Guitar Center, checking daily for a sale there, or elsewhere.

The problem with “pro audio” equipment is that it doesn’t really ever go on sale, and when it does, the sales aren’t great. They aren’t typically even able to stock a lot of this stuff in stores, let alone have enough of it to sell at heavily discounted rates. The companies who make it are typically small enough to where they don’t want excess inventory just sitting on store shelves, so they make only enough to satisfy demand and no more.

Eventually I stumbled upon a used pair of Rokit 10-3’s at an approximate 40% discount (for a pair, these are typically sold individually). They were on Guitar Center’s site, in Texas, listed in excellent condition. These monitors are typically $500 each, so getting a pair of them for $600 was a steal. Add in free shipping, and I couldn’t pass it up. I ordered them, had them shipped to my house, and was amazed when they arrived. These suckers are HUGE, and they weigh about 65 lbs each.

I was stoked. These are the mack-daddy of monitors from KRK, and I got them for a steal. I needed to run to the store to pick up some cables when I hooked everything up, but they sounded amazing. I eventually ended up complimenting the whole setup with a Rokit 10S sub, which I had also been eyeing, but waited until the latest generation was released before I pulled the trigger. I was able to utilize the 2-channel balanced output of my Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 in to a Mackie MIX8 mixer to drive it all, and with that mixer, even got the ability to adjust a 3-band EQ (which is SUPER sensitive and works very well), and the ability to independently attenuate levels to the sub and Rokit 5’s (which are sometimes much brighter on certain things than the 10-3’s).

Everything was great in the world, until one day I came down and turned everything on and one of the 10-3’s was dead. The power LED came on, but the speaker had no output. To troubleshot, I plugged the input of the working Rokit 5 sitting next to it in and there was still no audio. That ruled basically everything else out – amp in the speaker was dead. This made me sad.

I found the part number for the amp board and called Guitar Center… $170. Ouch. I’d rather not pay that if I didn’t have to. I decided I didn’t have much to lose anyway and that I’d have to tear the speaker apart to replace that anyway, so why not tear it down and see if I couldn’t find anything obvious that had failed.

Luckily “pro audio” stuff is actually designed to be taken apart and repaired/serviced, so it wasn’t a big deal getting the thing apart. My only lead on the amp board was a capacitor that looked slightly swollen. I’m no electronics expert, a tinkerer at best, so I posted a picture of it on Facebook to ask my EE friends if they though it looked bad. The scientific answer was “unless you test it you can’t really be sure if it’s bad or not” but the consensus among the replies was “I’d probably replace that and see what happens.” $5 later and some waiting on Amazon shipping and I had 5 of them.

In the picture above you can see the cap near the center of the image with a slightly pointed top. It’s the same specs as the cap behind it. I should have replaced them both while I had everything apart but for some reason only replaced the one in the foreground. I didn’t think it was going to work, and was prepared to pay GC $170 for a new board. I buttoned everything back up, powered up the speaker, and thankfully it worked…

…for a month.

Came down today and turned everything on to listen to some music, and it was dead again. I was frustrated. I called Guitar Center again to see if they could order a new board. At this point I was fed up and didn’t trust the board anymore. At the same time, I still didn’t want to spend $170. They confirmed that they could order it and have it within a few days. I thought for a minute and told them that I’d call back in the morning if I needed the board. It’s a special order item, so once they order it they can’t cancel the order (it’s pre-pay only) and you can’t return the item.

I figured I didn’t have much to lose, I’d pull the thing apart again and see if maybe the cap that I had installed had failed, or maybe the cap next to it with the same ratings was now swelling… or maybe another cap on the board was swelling. I checked all of the caps, and none of them looked bad. At this point I had 4 unused caps so I figured what the hell, and replaced the one that I had previously replaced (just because it was in the way of replacing the one behind it more than any other reason), and replaced the one I suspected – the one behind it. Now both of those caps are new, so if it was either of them that failed (I suspected the one in back), all should be fixed.

I powered the speaker up with little hope, and turned the volume up. Holy shit, it worked.

Then a weird thing happened. My buddy Jeff called me, so I turned the volume on the MIX8 all the way down, talked to him for a few minutes, explained to him what I was in the process of doing since he’s in the process of completing an EE degree right now, and went and turned the volume back up – and the speaker was dead again. “What the hell!?” I power-cycled the speaker, and then it started working, and it’s been working for over an hour now.

At this point I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to get a board for these new, from the manufacturer, since the new generation of these monitors has been released and these are discontinued. I don’t want it to work for a while and then die again, if it’s indeed something else on the board, and then not be able to get a new replacement and instead rely on a used board that could have been abused or may have the same problem. I’m thinking I might just order the board for peace of mind and have a spare.

Friggin electronics. It’s only frustrating because the Rokit 5’s have been flawless for over a decade. Granted the 10-3’s were used when I bought them, but they’ve performed flawlessly all year, show no signs of abuse, and I haven’t been able to find anyone else online that’s had the same issue with them. Maybe they just got a batch of bad caps, who knows.


Updated – 2017-01-18: As of 1/12 the 10-3 stopped producing sound yet again. This basically tells me that replacing the caps probably had little/nothing to do with actually fixing the speaker, as it’s dead again and unless there’s something else wrong with it there’s NO way the new caps just went bad on their own. On 1/12 I ordered a new backplane/amp/power supply from Guitar Center for $170 after shipping and tax, so I’m hoping that a new board fixes everything.

The other 10-3 works perfect, and both of my Rokit 5’s are working perfect after 15+ years. I don’t want to lose faith in KRK, and I bought the 10-3’s used so I don’t know how they were treated in a prior life so I’m giving KRK the benefit of the doubt. I will make a separate post with updates to the situation after my 10-3 board comes in.

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