Harman Kardon is a company that is renowned for its mid to high end audio equipment which often combines both unusual aesthetics with innovative features. Among the companies Bluetooth speaker range there are a couple of series that follow this tradition, namely the Aura Studio range, and the Onyx Studio range.
What are the Best Harman Kardon Speakers?
Aura Studio 3
On of the best Harman Kardon Speakers is the Aura Studio 3. This modern looking speaker is dome shaped with a transparent top to showcase its built-in ambient light effects. Made of premium materials this device would look iconic in any modern environment at is something of a showpiece in its design.
- 6 mid- to high-range
- 1.5" transducers for accurate
This speaker is capable of producing a 360-degree sound with powerful bass due to its dedicated down-firing subwoofer with a 100W RMS output. To complement the subwoofer are two 15W RMS mid to high range drivers.
Bluetooth specifications are slightly outdated however, with only Bluetooth version 4.2 support and A2DP 1.3. This speaker is mains powered only so there is limited portability. For direct cable connectivity there is a 3.5mm input socket. Controls are simple with just a power button, Bluetooth connection button and volume controls, together with a switch to toggle the lighting effects. The controls are touch sensitive rather than push buttons.
This unit produces a powerful sound considering its compact dimensions. Bass is present in abundance and higher frequencies are clear with just a hint of sibilance. Stereo separation is good due to the directional positioning of the drivers and there is a wide soundstage and good frequency separation.
The highlight of this unit is the ambient lighting which produces a wave / water ripple effect with dimming, however this does not react to the music that you are playing but is controlled by some pre-defined algorithm and can be turned off if required. There is also a companion app called “Harman Kardon Remote” but it has limited functionality (volume and bass adjustment) and some users report that it is problematic with frequent failure to connect and an outdated design.
If you are looking for an elegant speaker with therapeutic light effects that is capable of a huge sound output when required, then this is one to consider.
Onyx Studio 4
The Onyx Studio 4 is an oval shaped Bluetooth speaker with a built-in battery capable of powering it for a claimed 8 hours. This unit is renowned for its bass output and impressive volume, however, despite having a built-in battery, this unit is far too cumbersome and heavy to be truly portable. Yes, if you want to have a party in the garden then this can be accommodated, however, when in battery mode reports suggest that the quality and volume of the audio deteriorates. Battery life is around 8 hours of average use.
- Stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth to enjoy room-filling sound. Connect up to 2 smart devices at the same time and take turns playing music.
- The rechargeable battery supports up to 8 hours of playtime
- Amplify your listening experience by wirelessly connecting more than 100 HK Connect+ enabled speakers
- Built-in Microphone Conferencing System
- Access Siri or Google Now from the speaker with a simple button press. This can be easily configured via the HK Connect App.
This type of speaker is best suited for modern music with a bass heavy sound where loud playback is required and when used for hip-hop and dance music it performed well. Frequency separation is very good and the mid-range frequencies are clear and forward of the instrumentation, however some high frequencies lack clarity when pushed. Controls are intuitive and there is a 3.5mm external input socket on the rear for connecting non-Bluetooth enabled devices.
This unit is often available for a significant saving off its original retail price so may be something of a bargain if bought at the right time, but not if portability is a must.
The Onyx Mini is similar in design to the Onyx Studio 3 but at a much smaller scale. This portable unit has a built-in battery however the extent of its portability is again hampered by the shape and size of the design – it is oval, lacks any carrying handles and does not come with a case. The built-in battery can power the unit for around 10 hours. This speaker has two driver units of 8W each and a passive bass radiator.
- Battery Powered
- Frequency response is 75 Hertz to 20 kiloHertz (minus 6 decibel)
- Signal to noise ratio is 80 decibel A-weighted
- Power supply is 5 Voltage 2.3 Ampere
This unit also produces an excellent sound with good bass, clear high frequencies, high output volume. The directional positioning of the speakers when used on a tabletop or desk channels the sound directly to the ears, however due to the proximity of each driver unit to the other the spatial separation is more limited than Harman Kardons other offerings.
Controls consist of power, Bluetooth and volume controls together with a telephone control for utilizing the speakerphone functions. Microphones perform well when used in speakerphone mode and users report that they can hear the caller clearly and the caller can hear them with no notable interference. An external 3.5mm input is available on the rear of the unit.
An innovative feature of these speakers is that if you have two Onyx Mini units, they can be linked so that one acts as a left speaker and the other as a right speaker. This means that if the speakers are spaced far enough apart the sound separation and spatial effect of the units will be enhanced, however this may be cost prohibitive and other options may offer better performance when used in this way, such as some of the units from Ultimate Ears which are also bass heavy.
There are other options available in the Harman Kardon range of Bluetooth speakers, however these three units offer something for everyone – a standalone home unit with exceptional sound and light effects, a large portable unit with big sound and an eye-catching design, and a smaller unit for true portability, although it must be said that if portability is the primary consideration both the portable units fall somewhat short of expectations.
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