Harman for the Holidays: Give the Gift of Amazing Sound with Something for Every Budget!

Everyone enjoys good music, and with a little bit of help from our favorite Harman brands, you can stay within your budget and brighten someone’s holidays. Take a look at these items from Harman, JBL, and AKG …

JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Canceling

With all the headphones that come across Dan’s and my desks, we can afford to be picky, and the JBL Everest Elite 700 have held up as one of my all-time favorites. They are perfect for travel because they have active noise canceling with battery life that will last for up to 15 hours when you are using both Bluetooth and noise cancellation and up to 19 hours when you have the noise cancellation off and are only using Bluetooth.

As I noted when I reviewed them:

Using the JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless Headphones is a fully immersive audio experience. Your music will sound deep, and you’ll get sound that seems as if it should be coming from a much more expensive pair of headphones. If you’re looking for a fantastic pair of comfortable and reasonably priced noise canceling headphones that also happen to sound properly amazing, these are the ones to buy.

Best of all, “the JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless Headphones have the same TruNote Auto Sound Calibration found in the [$1500] AKG N90Qs with the more budget friendly price of $249.99.”

You can find them for as low as $199.95 on Amazon [affiliate link].

JBL’s Reflect Aware Lightning Cable In-Ear Headphones

If you bought an iPhone 7, then you are well aware than headphones with a 3.5mm jack are no longer an option. Sure, you can go wireless with Bluetooth, but sometimes a cable is just easier. Take a look at the JBL Reflect Aware In-Ear Headphones with Lightning Cable adapter which Greg recently reviewed.

The in-line controls are actually really nice and sturdy, and they sit between each headphone square in the center of the cable, which I love. Too many headphone companies have their in-line control sitting on the right side of the headphones, and for someone like me who likes to be able to quickly change a track while on a run, the way the Reflect Aware controls sit close to the collar of my shirt is excellent. There are four buttons in total that help to change tracks as well as manage the volume.

The noise cancellation feature is simply marvelous when you have that annoying person on the elliptical beside you grunting and attempting to get through their workout with their headphones blasting. The Reflect Aware, even at the most moderate volume with the noise cancellation feature on, no outside sound interfered with me getting my daily workout in. Coupled with JBL’s music app, I can actually set my noise cancellation as well as set a particular ambient awareness to EACH ear individually, which is ideal if you are a fan of running without background noise, but only in one particular ear. So GREAT job, JBL, for thinking of this in particular.

You can find the JBL Reflect Aware In-Ear Headphones for $199.95 on Amazon [affiliate link].

JBL Charge 3 Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

The JBL Charge 3 is described as a “waterproof portable Bluetooth speaker with a high-capacity battery to charge your portable devices.” Available in black, blue, gray, red, and teal, the speaker puts out serious sound, can go pretty much anywhere you want to go, and it doubles as an external battery for your smartphone. As Dan noted when he reviewed it, “at $149.95 it’s a bargain.”

The JBL Charge 3 features:

  • IPX7 Waterproof: No more worrying about rain or spills; you can even submerge the speaker in water.
  • Bluetooth Connectivity: Allows you to wirelessly stream music through any Bluetooth enabled device.
  • Built-in Microphone: The built-in microphone allows you to answer calls without skipping a beat.
  • Passive Radiators: Passive radiators field enough bass for you to actually see them trembling from the outside.
  • Rechargeable Battery: Features a rechargeable battery for convenient portability and extended playback time.
  • Recharges your Media Device: This speaker charges your device so you can listen longer and be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
  • JBL Connect: Build your own ecosystem by connecting multiple JBL Connect enabled speakers together to amplify the listening experience.

You can find the JBL Charge 3 for as low as $126 on Amazon [affiliate link].

Harman Kardon Go + Play

Harman Kardon makes refined audio products that not only look beautiful, they work beautifully. Sure to look great on a bookshelf or on a coffee table, the portable Harman Go + Play features wireless Bluetooth streaming, up to 8 hours playback on its Li-Ion battery, a dual microphone conferencing feature (so you can use it as a speakerphone), and wireless dual sound so you can connect two together for a huge stereo sound.

Harman Kardon’s iconic design meets superior function in this high-performance, full-featured, portable Bluetooth speaker: the Harman Kardon Go + Play. It fills your room with a full spectrum of sound powered by its quad drivers. Thanks to the rechargeable battery, you can enjoy up to 8 hours of playtime and charge your smartphones and tablets via USB. Wirelessly connect two Harman Kardon Wireless Dual Sound enabled speakers together to elevate your music listening experience. The Go + Play is also crafted with premium materials – its stainless steel handle and fabric grill add a stylish touch to your home décor or when you are on-the-go.

The Harman Go + Play is available directly from Harman for $399.95; we’ll have a full review soon.

AKG N60NC On-Ear Headphones with NC

True story: this was Kev’s favorite pair of earphones until he accidentally left them on an airplane. 🙁 He loved their noise canceling feature, how comfortable they were to wear, and how compact they were. When Dan reviewed them, he had this to say:

I don’t expect on-ear headphones to offer the same degree of cancelation as their over-the-ear cousins. After all, over-the-ear headphones tend to block out a good bit of sound even before the electronic are turned on. In the case of the N60NC however the cancelation is superb. When my plane was taking off from Atlanta yesterday after a lovely weekend with Raina’s parents I was struck by how loud this particular plane was. I pulled out the N60NC headphones and switched them on and it became an entirely different experience. I can’t see not traveling with NC headphones even on a short trip. On a longer trip, however, they are a must-have since it not only makes the flight more enjoyable but it also means you will arrive more rested. These fit that bill quite nicely.

Also from Dan’s review:

The 3D folding mechanism allows the headphones to curl up into an oh-so-small package. This is ideal since travelers want to not only pack light but also don’t want travel headphones taking up a ton of space in a carry on. These don’t. And while the folding mechanism is plastic, the design seems to be sturdy enough that these will put up with a good bit of use.

You can find the AKG N60NC On-Ear Headphones with NC for as low as $199.95 on Amazon [affiliate link].

Harman Kardon Esquire Mini Bluetooth Portable Speaker

This is the one Harman Speaker that I don’t yet own that I would really like to own! Dan reviewed the Esquire Mini Bluetooth Portable Speaker when it first came out, and he said it was “the most gorgeous, most refined, and most substantial mini Bluetooth speaker for under $150. It looks like something that costs much more. Oh, and yes, it sounds great too!”

I’ve held one in my hands multiple times, and the best way for me to describe this speaker is that it feels substantial without being heavy; it’s beautifully made like a fine piece of jewelry.

Also from Dan’s review:

The speaker puts out excellent sound that is bigger … and better … than one would expect from something this small and inexpensive. Add in the dual-microphone conferencing system and its echo and noise cancellation, and you realize that this is a rare animal indeed. Yes, this small Bluetooth speaker was designed for adults!

Could someone please give me one of these for Christmas? Or do I have to buy my own?  😉

You can find the Harman Kardon Esquire Mini Bluetooth Portable Speaker for as low as $109.80 on Amazon [affiliate link].

JBL Clip+ Bluetooth Speaker 

As Dan said in his review, “Small and simple to use, the speaker has a built-in 3.5mm cable for those times when you want to make a wired connection and, of course, it has a clip built into the design so you can connect it to a bag or pretty much anything else you might want. This is one speaker that truly lives up to its name.”

As far as sound goes this speaker holds its own quite nicely. No, it doesn’t get as loud as some other portable speakers, and the sound is a bit thinner than some of the larger offerings currently available, but this speaker is under $60 and is designed for a specific purpose- to let you take and enjoy your music anywhere. As such it needs to be small and light-it is-and able to be kept close at hand. (It is that as well thanks to the inclusion of the clip.)

You can find the JBL Clip+ Speaker for as little as $49.95 on Amazon [affiliate link].

Harman Onyx Mini Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Available in black, gray, or blue, the Harman Onyx Mini Portable Bluetooth Speaker is brand new, just in time for the Holidays. The round shape is aesthetically pleasing, and if you pair two of them together you’ve got a sharp-looking alternative to the classic shelf speaker system. The sound produced by this little guy’s 16-watt speakers is surprisingly deep, and it can even double as a speakerphone. Used as a portable speaker, you can get up to 10 hours playback.

Crafted from premium materials, the Onyx Mini is a full-featured, portable Bluetooth speaker that delivers signature Harman Kardon sound and design. Its rechargeable battery plays for ten hours while the compact form allows you to take it from room to room. The Wireless Dual Sound feature allows you to connect wirelessly with another Onyx Mini or Wireless Dual Sound compatible speaker which will double the sound output and elevate your music listening experience. Users will be able to make clear phone calls with the speaker from its built-in microphone which is powered by noise and echo cancelling technology.

You can find the Harman Onyx Mini Portable Bluetooth on the Harman site for $199.95.

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct smaller.com; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.