July 25, 2014

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio speaker review

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Up for review today is the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio, a Bluetooth speaker exclusively offered through Sprint. Priced at $399.99, we had high hopes for the device, especially after having recently tested out the NYNE Bass at less than half the cost.

Measuring 11 inches in diameter, the Onyx Studio is a giant convex disc that sits at an angle upon two metal legs. It takes up more space on a shelf than we expected but it looks great in any environment.

Accessories Details PageAround the outer edge of the speaker are four buttons: power, Bluetooth, and volume up and down.You don’t see them from the front but you’ll figure out the placement in no time. What’s more, they have a slight indentation and respond easily to pressing so you can even fumble with them in the dark. Our sits higher up on a mantle; we can’t see the buttons at all yet we don’t have issues.

The speaker itself weighs around 4.5 pounds and is rather portable thanks to the handle. Unlike other models at lower price, this one is neither rugged nor does it have any special coating to keep the face from tearing or getting dirty. Suffice it to say, we’re a tad reluctant to take it outside. Not that we haven’t mind you, because it’s a perfect for barbecues and relaxing in the yard. It’s not portable in the sense that it travels easy or fits in a bag however it’s not stuck in one spot.

The battery life is rated at five hours, or roughly half of what we’d expect for the price. Other models we’ve tested offer anywhere between 10-20 hours playback, sure, but they don’t have the quality or projection of the the Onyx Studio. Still, we would have liked to see something closer to 10 hours of playback.

Turning the speaker around you’ll notice there’s no auxiliary input. Common for portable speakers, this feature would be nice to have for times we’d rather plug in a media player. It’s not a deal-breaker, though, as just about anything and everything we own today offers Bluetooth. As for the micro USB port on the back, well that’s reserved for firmware updates. And, for those wondering whether you can take calls through the speaker, that’s a definite no.

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Pictured with Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

The first few times we played music on the Onyx Studio we were blown away at how loud it gets. But, as many of you know, loud does not always mean clear. Featuring two 3-inch woofers and two 3/4-inch tweeters, the speaker boasts 60 watts of power. We found the unit delivered consistently rich, warm tones across all genres of music. Bass response was excellent and the Onyx Studio provided enough rumble to fill any room. Outside in the yard, and with room to breathe, the speaker sounded even better. Switching from electronic to acoustic, rock, and hip hop, this guy was able to pick up highs and lows with ease and sound never came across cluttered or stacked.

Our biggest gripe with the Onyx Studio comes in the price. At $400 it’s about twice what we imagine our average reader would spend. It’s a premium device in every sense of the word; built materials and craftsmanship are wonderful. The problem, however, is knowing that we’re able to satisfy our needs at a fraction of the cost. It’s not as rugged as others and it’s missing a couple of features we can get in other products. Still, we can’t knock the product…just the price.

Sprint