Review: Harman Kardon BT

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Harman Kardon | Over-Ear BlueTooth Headphones | $ 249.95
Harman Kardon may not be too well known in the headphone business, but its branches are: JBL, AKG, etc. They are legendary when it comes to speaker systems, but never really entered the headphone business too much themselves. Recently, they broke through offering a line of in-ears, over-ears, and an on-ear model. The BT, as the name could suggest, is their Bluetooth model that uses an over-ear design. 

Specifications

  • Driver: 40 mm Dynamic
  • Frequency Response: 16 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Impedance: N/A
  • Sensitivity: N/A

In the Box

  • Harman Kardon BT
  • Interchangeable headbands (S/L)
  • Audio Cable (For Passive Mode)
  • Leather Carrying Case
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Design

Harman Kardon decided to go with a specific look for their entire headphone series. The design itself is extremely unique, big, black rectangles surrounded by a sandblasted aluminum frame. They are really an odd-ball when it comes to the way they appear; it’s caught more than one person off guard. Despite all that, they are thin and don’t protrude too much. They’re a lot smaller than the pictures would have them when they are on.

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Design: ★★★★

Audio

The BT supports two different audio codecs when it comes to BT audio, APTX and AAC. The latter is supported by Apple, that said, the sound quality is barely affected when using BT mode, which is a pretty big feat. The main difference would be less mid-bass and a small bump in the upper midrange. The result is a little more clarity.

All that said, I feel the audio quality differences between wired and wireless won’t deter from the overall score, so these will be scored wireless (not wired like my other wireless headphones). This is the first wireless headphone I feel confidant enough scoring this way.

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The bass on the BT has a stronger focus on the lower, sub-bass. The composition of the two creates a bass response that has a very solid feel to it. Sub-bass textures are presented very well, but are shown in a less subtle way. Going up into the lower bass, it creates a well-defined impact that is strong with great presence. The punch takes a small step back and finds itself lost quite a bit being overrun by the lower octaves.

In regards to the mids, the BT presents them in a smooth manner. This smoothness is very relaxing and makes the headphones feel laid back in a non-offending manner. It also, however, takes a little away from the detail retrieval in the lower mids. Detailing itself is actually quite strong though. Upper midrange clarity isn’t the strongest, but is ample enough to hear the lucidness of the instrumentals. Vocals hold great dynamics overall allowing for a full range to be heard, from the lush lows to the energetic high notes; it’s all there.

Reaching up top, the treble continues this smooth manner that the bass and midrange setup. Overall, the signature works extremely well together. The lower-treble offers strong presence for the snaps. Overall, there is great detail up here as well. However, the extension can definitely use sprucing up in the lower and upper treble. The rest of the upper treble is presented beautifully though. It’s soft with good overall detailing and strong separation.

Audio: ★★★★½

Build

The build quality on the Harman Kardon BT headphones is actually quite exquisite overall. They do come bundled with a very nice leather carrying case to store the BT while they are not using them. It’ll do a good job protecting the headphones too. That’s not to say the headphones are delicate.

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The housings are made of plastic. The plastic, however, feels thick and robust with a nice texture to it to give it the feeling that it’s well built. Surrounding the plastic housings is a beautiful aluminum surrounding that is textured similar to the plastic. It connects the housings to the headband and seems strong.

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The headband is an older, more classic style double-layered headband. The outer band is replaceable and made of the same aluminum as found on the housings. It’s built beautifully in its own way and feels very strong. The lower headband is leather and stitched. It all just looks and feels great.

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The cable is detachable, and only used when in passive mode. The cable itself is a 2.5 mm to 3.5 mm cable. I do wish it was a 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm. This same jack is also used to charge the device, more on that later. The cable has an ample thickness to it and although it isn’t the strongest, it’ll do just fine for mobile use. The cable does become the weak spot of the build, but it’s a wireless headphone…

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Build: ★★★★½

Comfort

The headphones take quite a bit to get used to with the comfort. No, it’s not the soft, plush nature of the pads. Actually, first putting them on, they are quite comfortable. The pads are extremely supple and feel great on the head. It’s their thickness that causes problems. These pads are quite shallow which leads to discomfort quite quickly. With time, you do adjust to it though. Still, they can’t be worn more than a couple of hours without making your ears sore.

On the other end of it, the clamping force is a little strong, but not unbearable. Harman Kardon does offer the use of interchangeable headbands to help with this. There are two sizes of headbands included with the BT: a large and a small. The small is installed from the get-go, but the large should be able to suffice the bigger-headed humans of this earth.

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Comfort: ★★★★½

Value

The Harman Kardon BT pose a great value for the price regarding its sound. The 250 dollar price tag isn’t actually too far off when sonically compared to others in its price range. It’s definitely become some of my favorite headphones to listen to on the go. The wireless features work great and they aren’t entirely ugly, but are unique looking. A remote and mic work splendidly as well to control your music.

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Obviously there are some caveats with this headphone. I’ve talked about the shallow pads already, I do wish Harman Kardon included some thicker pads with the BT. The other main problem I had with the is that you can’t charge them and use them simultaneously. This becomes a huge downfall for the headphones. A 2.5 mm to USB cable is actually also quite rare as well, if it was 3.5 to USB, the older iPod Shuffle cable might be able to charge it.

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Value: ★★★★

Final Thoughts

I have to say that upon putting on the Harman Kardon BT headphones, the first impressions, despite being used wirelessly, were very positive. At first, everything seemed perfect. It, however, may not be perfect, but the positives really make it stand out from the rest. It stands as the first headphone I’m comfortable using in wireless mode without sacrificing audio quality; that’s a big step forward.

I’d like to thank Derrick for the product sample.

Overall Score

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Harman Kardon BT

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
This accessory, product, or app was received as a sample. Thanks Derrick for the product sample.

 

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