The Harman Kardon Go+Play Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review: It’s Hard to Believe It’s Portable!

If you’ve been searching for a Bluetooth speaker that looks great and puts out magnificent sound — whether plugged in or on the go — look no further than the Harman Kardon Go+Play Portable Bluetooth Speaker. With its comfortable metal handle and ~8 hours of play time, the Go+Play is made to bring along when you want impressive sound.

The Harman Kardon Go+Play Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review

The Go+Play has two 9-mm woofers and two 20mm tweeters, and it streams music from your phone using Bluetooth 4.1. Some might be disappointed that it doesn’t have any extra gimmicks like Airplay or NFC, but I don’t think it’s a big deal.

The Harman Kardon Go+Play:

  • Streams music wirelessly via Bluetooth to enjoy room-filling sound
  • Has built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery which supports up to 8 hours of playtime and charges your smartphones and tablets via USB
  • Has a Dual Microphone Conferencing System with Harman noise and echo canceling technology delivers crystal clear conference calls
  • You can wirelessly connect two Harman Kardon Wireless Dual Sound enabled speakers together to elevate your music listening experience
  • Has a premium fabric finishing and a stainless steel handle

Measuring approximately 16.5″ long (on the bottom) by 7.5″ deep (on the bottom) and 8.5″ tall (including the handle); it weighs almost 7.5 pounds. The body is predominantly wrapped in black fabric with a matte black top and bottom (there is also a white version available). There is a wide stainless steel arch on the top that looks great if it’s sitting on a shelf, but it becomes a comfortable and functional handle if you decide to take this large-ish speaker along with you as a portable.

Included in the box are a two-part power cable, the speaker, and paperwork that includes a quick start guide, safety information, and warranty information.

The Harman Kardon Go+Play Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review

The only branding on the device is the distinctive harman/kardon logo in silver.

The Harman Kardon Go+Play Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review

On the top of the speaker, you’ll see a Bluetooth button, a volume down button, a power button, a volume up button, and a play/pause button. I should mention that you can connect up to three devices at a time via Bluetooth, which means you can swap between your phone, your spouse’s phone, and your computer (for instance). There are also five LED lights that will pulse while charging and glow solid once fully charged. They indicate battery life remaining by 20% increments when you are using the speaker as a portable.

The Go+Play has speakerphone capability; it can operate as a dual microphone conferencing system, and “Harman’s noise and canceling technology delivers crystal clear conference calls.” I can attest to that.

The Harman Kardon Go+Play Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review

The sides have a nice tapered design.

On the back, there is a rubber panel that covers the various ports.

The Harman Kardon Go+Play Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review

Under the rubber cover, you’ll find a USB port (for charging your streaming music player), a microUSB port (for firmware upgrades), an Aux-in port, and the power port.

The bottom has four rubber feet that will help stabilize and hold the speaker when it’s thumping along.

The Harman Kardon Go+Play Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review

Here’s the thing: of all the portable and non-portable speakers I’ve ever reviewed, this one is by far my favorite. The sound it produces is, in a word, outstanding.

Bass is rich and strong, yet not overwhelmingly thumpy. Highs are clear and pure, and the mids are not muddy in the slightest; everything is just so well-balanced! Music played over the Go+Play is exactly how I imagine the artists playing intended it to sound; it is that exceptional.

I have tested plenty of larger and more expensive speakers, but the Go+Play is my absolute favorite. The fact that it can go cordless and be portable is a bonus, but where I think it will really shine is sitting on the shelf in my office — putting out much more sound than is needed in that small of a room. The Go+Play is loud enough to fill an outdoor patio or a large studio with incredible sounding music. On the most bass-heavy rap songs, turned up to full volume, the bass never bottomed out or started crackling. Listening to music on the Go+Play is immersive and completely pleasurable … this speaker has absolutely amazed me. The sound that comes out of it seems like it should come from a much bigger speaker, yet the Go+Play is basically a compact shelf speaker.

The Harman Kardon Go+Play Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review

If you want an exceptional speaker that looks good, sounds fantastic, and can also be used as a portable speaker, then you should look no further than the Harman Kardon Go+Play.

The Harman Kardon Go+Play Portable Bluetooth Speaker is available in black or white, and it retails for $399. It is available directly from the manufacturer as well as from other retailers including Amazon [affiliate link].

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Beautiful and simple design; Integrated stainless steel handle in top of speaker; ~8 hours battery life; Can be used as a speakerphone; Magnificent Sound; You can link two together for HUGE sound; Ability to connect up to three Bluetooth devices at a time so you can switch between players

What Needs Improvement: Almost too large to call portable, but it can be if you need it to be; Expensive

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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; 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.