Harman Kardon recently released their first line of headphones. The company has a long history of offering quality audio components and has now taken their experience and applied it to the burgeoning headphone market. As we recently brought word, their headphone line runs from in-ear to on-ear to over-ear styles. They were kind enough to send a pair of their BT Bluetooth over-ear headphones for review. Let’s take a look.
As we note in the video review, the packaging is impressive. The company clearly gave a great deal of thought to the entire experience when someone purchases the headphones and that starts with the box. It is big, thick, and offers…
…a box in a box. Yeah, the box screams “quality”. So do the headphones so… enough of the box… lets look at them.
From Harman Kardon:
Harman Kardon’s Bluetooth (BT) over-ear stereo headphones feature the latest in wireless Bluetooth connectivity for use with your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. This USB-rechargeable model has a battery that lasts up to 12 hours. Unlike competing Bluetooth headphones, it can continue to work even after the headphone battery dies with the use of the included bypass cable.
Superior Bluetooth technology: Advanced audio coding and apt-X coding ensures that you get the highest-quality wireless audio.
Excellent acoustic performance: The wide dynamic range reproduces music with realism, and the bass tube produces exceptional bass response.
Uninterrupted listening experience: You can charge the headphones on the go with a supplied USB cord, which eliminates the need for external batteries or an extra charger. And even if the charge should run out, you can still use the headphones with the included bypass cable.
Here’s our video review.
Now lets look a bit more closely at what the headphones offer and why they might, or might not, be a good option for you.
The company notes that the headphones offer “Easy-to-reach playback buttons on the earcup let you control its audio functions wirelessly”. I cannot agree. The controls sit behind a silver metal ring that runs the perimeter of each ear cup. It is a nice feature that not only adds to the looks of the headphones but adds to their strength and rigidity as well. The problem is, the controls sit behind and a bit recessed from the metal ring. This makes them a bit difficult to access. Don’t get me wrong, you can access them but we have seen easier, more comfortable designs elsewhere.
The company notes the headphones offer “self-adjusting housings that create a structure that maintains an ideal fit” and “exchangeable metal bows to provide optimal positioning of the ear cup on your head”. I couldn’t agree more, The design is brilliant. The headphones come with two metal bands. The one that ships connected to the ear cups is the smaller of the two. It was too small for me. Thanks to the design, however, I was able to quickly separate the ear cups and the “self-adjusting housing” from the metal band and attach the larger of the two bands. That made them fit far more comfortably.
And here is the thing, the metal band simply gives the headphones their general shape. It is the interior band of leather over thin metal that actually adjusts to your head… automatically. The result is a headphone “system” that is quite comfortable without your having to think about it.
The company notes the headphones also feature
Optimized driver and bass tube for accurate sound and boosted bass performance
“Closed back” design keeps outside noise out and your listening experience private
2D folding mechanism for portability
Premium carrying case that can slip easily into bags or briefcases
In a word they are… comfortable… and they sound great. And, despite their size, the headphones fold up and are easily thrown in your bag and taken from place to place.
What distinguishes these headphones from other Bluetooth offerings, besides the excellent audio quality, is the ability to use the headphones as both wireless AND wired headphones. Anyone who has had the juice in their wireless headphones run out in the middle of their favorite song or have brought their wireless headphones with them on a plane only to realize they can’t use them in flight will know that this is a terrific feature.
The included cable is 1.5m long. I do wish it had a standard 3.5mm plug at the point of connection with the headphones rather than the smaller size they actually sport since that would allow any number of different cables to work (the other end of the cord is the standard 3.5mm so it works with pretty much any music player) but they don’t Still, the cable seems to be of high quality and I don’t expect it to wear any time soon.
Finally, for those who like numbers…
Driver Size: 16 Hz – 20,000 Hz
Sound Pressure Level: 115 dB
Impedance: 32 ohms
I like these headphones a lot. At first I was concerned they were a bit too big, a bit too boxy and a bit too… big! Once I swapped out the small metal band for the larger one they were impressively comfortable. Good sound, comfortable, and they work as both wired and wireless headphones. That makes for a great pair of headphones. The Harman Kardon Bluetooth Wireless Over-Ear Headphones are available exclusively at the Apple Store.
What I Like: Comfortable; Sound great; Built-in microphone; Works as wired or wireless headphone
What Needs Improvement: You will either love or hate the look of the headphones; Buttons are difficult to access; Microphone is… functional