What We Like
- A decent audio performance under normal use conditions.
- Plenty of input options and USB audio interface.
What We Don’t Like
- Bass is lacking, and Bass Boost makes it much worse.
- They don’t handle volume very well.
Akai Professional first emerged onto the electronic music scene in 1984, and are most commonly known for controllers and samplers. More recently, they have delved into other areas of the consumer audio industry, and studio monitors are one such place.
As their name suggests, Akai Professional are largely in the business of dealing with professional rather than consumer applications. In such cases, great tech is crammed inside underwhelming and often bland externals, and that seems to largely be the case with the RPM3s.
They don’t look bad by any means, just broadly uninspiring. A simple, standard cabinet design finished in a matte black with a couple of red highlights. The drivers are placed behind metal grilles which, in our opinion, is always less visually interesting than letting us see them but can have some impact on the audio.
On the front of the cabinet, you’ll find a 3.5mm input for headphones and a single dial which controls both powering the device on and off and the volume level. There is also a single red status light which illuminates when the RPM3 is powered on.
So nothing too flashy design wise, but how about the feature list? Well, while relatively sparse also, it has just about everything you would expect for a pair of studio monitors at this price point. Most interestingly, the RPM3s feature a 2X2 USB audio interface which will enable you to simultaneously record audio into your PC whilst monitoring computer audio alongside it. The flexibility here cannot be overstated, and could definitely come in handy across a very wide range of potential use cases.
The speakers are magnetically shielded in order to reduce or outright cancel any interference when placed and used in proximity of monitors or other potentially magnetic media. This is a good feature, and enhances the versatility of the device in terms of placement options and use cases. Other than that, you have an RCA, quarter inch, and stereo eight-inch set of inputs. There’s also a switch enticingly labelled Bass Boost which we will discuss in the performance section.
Let’s start with the bad. The aforementioned Bass Boost does nothing to solve the problem that the RPM3s don’t output a whole lot of power in terms of bass response. In fact, flicking the Bass Boost switch to its on position is something that we would strongly advise against as it seems to just amplify the bass to the point of incoherence and muddiness rather than applying any other, more advanced algorithms to the process.
As for the rest of their performance, we’re pleased to report that it’s mostly pretty solid. The major caveat here is that these are still very much entry level studio monitors, and if your plan is to use them for mixing there will certainly be more accurate speakers available at just a small step upwards in terms of price. What we have read from other reviewers, however, is that Akai Professional have done a great job of making the RPM3s stand the test of time. They’re intensely durable, and their small form means that you can travel with them too.
Whilst they are not the most accurate or dynamic studio monitors on the market, Akai Professional’s RPM3s perform well as both listening speakers and studio monitors considering their price. The wide array of inputs is also a very welcome addition.