From the jump, KRK’s S12.4 powered, studio subwoofer gets your attention.
Weighing in at a hefty 62.5 pounds, the unit stands 16.375-inches tall, and stretches 23.875-inches wide. It’s a beastly box – but, as you’ll soon find out, the S12.4 is a standout offering from KRK.
Being a brand known for its heavy bass, it makes sense that KRK would produce such a subwoofer. But it may be a surprise just how clean the bass on this sub would be coming out of the gate. Armed with many features, a solid design, all the inputs and outputs you could desire, plus so much more, the S12.4 is certainly a product that should make some best-of lists in this product category.
With a list price of $949 (and a less-expensive street price), it is cheaper than most other 12-inch studio subwoofers on the market, minus a few outliers that do share similar features and builds. Coming out with 220 watts and a frequency response that goes all the way down to 26Hz and up to 97Hz, the S12.4 has more than enough power than you would need for its size.
One of the key features is the 12-inch Kevlar woofer. And for good reason, because the beauty of a Kevlar woofer is that the sound quality and the representation of the sound is more consistent than you’ll find with other materials. Also, you see that the material is much more durable than paper cones. With that being said, I’ve found that the woofer depicts a very strong and full sound. It’s not overpowering at a low volume, but it still makes you feel the bass as strong as it should right in front of you. Even with changing the crossover settings to go all the way down to 50Hz and up to 80Hz, you can hear and feel a great sound and strong bass – and that’s the case at a low volume. If you push the volume any farther than halfway, you’ll find it extremely loud, much more so than would be needed in most studio environments.
Now, let’s dig into some of the other features packed in this thing. One that I am fond of is the optional footswitch (not included) that you can plug in and toggle the subwoofer on and off at any given moment so that you can hear what you’re playing with or without the sub. It’s very helpful to see the A and B of what you’re producing/playing, so you can make changes needed and, for example, see how the low end is affected.
Another feature worth mentioning is the front-firing bass port, the kind that you are seeing more frequently on newer studio monitors and subs. It’s a much better design, in my opinion, because, honestly, what benefit do you receive from your bass pushing out the back of your speaker into a wall, for example? I think this feature helps the sound a lot, but it’s also part of the next feature I would like to talk about.
The speaker itself is built inside an extremely sturdy MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) enclosure that separates itself from the front-firing bass port to ensure it’s completely isolated and limits any kind of rattle or vibration issues. The reason that MDF is the correct way to go, in my opinion, is because, with this being made out of wood, you gain an ability to dampen sound and vibrations that other materials would not be so good at doing (i.e., aluminum, plastic, etc.).
Now, on the back you will find your usual inputs/outputs (XLR, ¼-inch, RCA, and TRS), a ground-lift switch to eliminate any ground loops/unwanted buzz, a polarity switch (which is a fantastic option to have in certain situations), a standby switch, and, finally, an input-sensitivity switch to help tailor this sub to your monitors in conjunction with the other options on the back. With all of that, I can see that this isn’t just your basic studio subwoofer. It’s much more, and it brings some fantastic features and a solid sound – a great product.
Overall, the KRK S12.4 boasts a good score sheet for producers, mixing/mastering engineers, and others seeking a full-featured studio subwoofer that delivers an extremely strong (and sometimes loud) sound. It may not be the flattest sound, but the overall bass is very clean and I think KRK has done a good job with all of the other aspects of the product.
Personally, I think if you used something like Sonarworks Reference 4 software to calibrate this sub and reign it in a bit with your studio monitors, you’d have a fantastic system for any production-related mixing and mastering environments. Just a bit of fine-tuning.
One point to mention again is the sheer size and weight of this thing. It’s 62.5 pounds, so take note – it’s a chore to move. If that’s an issue, or if you’re looking for a smaller, active sub, KRK does offer other the S8.4 – a 26.5-pound, 8-inch unit – and the S10.4 – a 35-pound, 10-inch unit. (KRK also goes bigger with the 12sHO, a 109-pound, 12-inch, “high-performance” unit.) The S8.4 and the S10.4 may be a lot more manageable, but they also offer smaller wattage and use different materials inside, among other differences.
Bottom Line: If you are seeking a powered, studio subwoofer, I would certainly put KRK’s S12.4 on your list for consideration. KRK has made quality products for many years and the S12.4 Powered Studio Subwoofer is another winner – in fact, it’s a whopper.
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