Next, let’s listen to “O Vazio” from the Jim Brock Ensemble. The track opens with a delicious mix of low and middle frequency percussion instruments played off against one another. Then, at about 40 seconds in to the track an extremely powerful low bass drum is struck. As I listened to the opening minute or so of the track, the KRK’s strengths and drawbacks were presented in stark contrast. The open percussion notes sounded for the most part terrific—clear, delicate, and articulate with plenty of inner detail. The lower percussion at first sounded good, too, though perhaps a bit down on “oomph.” But when the really big bass drum came along, things went off track. That drum should be almost overpowering when it is first struck, but through the KRK’s a drum that should sound like real thunder instead sounded like, well, comparatively distant thunder. Later, as more midrange instruments join the mix, I was struck by how midrange timbres were pushed forward to a point where they sometimes took on a subtle steely edge that, while increasing perceived clarity in a sense, had the effect of making some instruments sound “overstated” and thus not quite natural.
Consider this headphone if: you want a relatively low-cost headphone that could be useful for monitoring recordings in the making, and that offers a very high degree of articulacy and clarity for the money. Consider this headphone if you favor transducers with a slightly midrange-forward tonal balance.
Look further if: you prize headphones with strictly neutral tonal balance; there are others in or near this price class that do better in this respect.
Ratings (relative to comparably priced headphones):
Tonal Balance: 7
Noise Isolation: 9
The KRK KNS-8400 does many things well and offers very high degrees of clarity, detail and definition for the money. One drawback, however, is that the headphone offers a midrange-forward sound, with particular emphasis in the upper midrange region, which can make bass seem as if it is shelved downward somewhat in level, at least by comparison to the midrange.
KRK Systems KNS 8400 Professional Monitoring Headphones
Frequency Response: 5Hz – 23kHz
Drivers: 40mm aperture drivers
Impedance: 36 Ohms
Weight: 8 oz.
Warranty: Three years, parts and labor
KRK Systems, LLC.
(954) 949-9600 Option 1, Sales; Option 3, Support)