Harman Kardon has built a pretty good name for themselves and their latest portable Bluetooth speaker, the Harman Kardon Neo, is another good attempt at bringing their expertise with home speakers to something a little more portable and affordable.
While not yet available in Singapore, it retails at US$100, making it a pretty affordable option for people looking to get a speaker. Portability was definitely kept in mind when designing the Neo.
There’s a loop at the top for ease of carrying, allowing users to attach the speaker to bag straps or even belt loops without too much hassle. The front of the speaker is made of metal and is durable, while the bottom has four slightly raised feet as well as a rubberised synthetic plastic coasting that does seem to get a little shiny when skin oils rub off on it.
It’s a simple speaker, but it does offer USB-C charging and a 3.5mm line-in jack at the bottom. The button quality is a bit inconsistent though. The play/pause button and volume up buttons are nice and clicky, but the volume down button doesn’t have as noticeable a click. The power button is mushy and doesn’t offer any audible feedback, while the Bluetooth pairing button has the slightest tactile feedback that it’s being pressed.
There’s a built-in microphone that allows users to hold conference calls, and I’ve found that it works relatively well as long as the speaker is near whoever’s speaking. Once the person speaking is about one or two meters away, the mic doesn’t pick up voices as well anymore.
Moving on to the speaker’s sound quality, I have to say that I was blown away by how powerful it can get. Music playing at 100% is definitely louder than you would expect from a speaker of this size. I wouldn’t quite recommend 100% volume however, the mids and highs tend to get a bit distorted. 80% would be a safe limit.
There isn’t quite as much bass here as I expected, but the mids are definitely forward and detailed. Guitar strums are clear and the soundstage is relatively wide.
Vocals are nice and airy, with a slight sparkle in the higher registers. If the speaker is pushed above 80% volume, you do start to hear a bit of sibilance and the highs start getting a little sharp.
The speaker itself has an approximate 10-hour battery, and I’ve found continuous playback on around 60% volume to match that estimate. There’s also IPX7 waterproofing, so this speaker will be right at home when holding pool parties, or even just to use as a speaker in the kitchen.
Honestly, the best part of the speaker is actually the design. I much prefer this over other portable speakers due to how sleek and grown-up it looks. It definitely won’t look out of place in an office, home or even outdoors.
Availability for the Harman Kardon in Singapore is yet to be announced but has been slated for a 2020 release.