When it comes to listening to this speaker, the experience reminds you of some of the older and bigger brothers of this model. It has a powerful and well-saturated sound, and that is why it allows for loud listening without noticeable distortion. What is very impressive about the speaker is the low tones that it can deliver – they are massive, well-defined, and still maintaining the pleasant warmth characteristic of Harman Kardon speakers.
In terms of mid frequencies, they are still full of detail and sound musical enough, and that is why they are able to properly convey the energy and message of the music you are listening to. What’s more, the sound width is much wider compared to similar devices of this type, and that is thanks to the design and the fact that the speakers are placed on a spherical surface.
All of this is enhanced by the Hk Connect application that, although not required for listening to music, can bring in a lot of detail and many functions. With this app, you can connect multiple speakers to a stereo mode, use voice commands with the help of Siri and Google Now, and you get control over the speaker.
This is not the kind of device that comes with a lot of features. Although capable of having Bluetooth connectivity, it doesn’t come with something like near field communication, which would have made it a lot easier to use. It also doesn’t have an indicator that shows how much battery it has left.
Connecting to other devices is a tough task and it requires some work with the HK Connect which isn’t the easiest to use. It would have been nicer if the whole device was made easier to use, even by those that aren’t so used to modern devices.
Main features explained
Right off the bat, you can see that this device is a modern-looking, sleek one. Its all-black design and smooth curved lines give it a contemporary feel. The front grill is made of quality fabric and it can be seen that no compromise has been made neither to the material used or the craftsmanship. There are no speakers exposed or anything like that.
When looking at the back of the device, you can see a hard plastic shell covering it, and a silicone rubberized band that goes all the way around it. This band is useful when you grab the device, so you have some texture to latch onto. If the same texture continued all around the back it would have given the speaker a more premium feel, but that’s how it is.
Looking at the device straight on, the layout is a simple one. The Bluetooth pairing button appears on the left. This is a useful feature, but you can’t get the device to pair with some other similar speakers if you wish to make a bigger set. If you want that to happen you will need another Harman Kardon device that comes with the connect PLus feature – that is how you will manage to play them simultaneously. You could theoretically pair more than 100 speakers and have them all play at the same time.
Moving forward to the next buttons, there is a button for audio down, one for audio up, the phone call button, and right on the very right the on and off button. In total, this speaker weighs about four and a half pounds, and that’s not too much taking into account all the things it can do. Despite coming with a small built-in handle, it’s the kind of speaker that you will want to keep at home.
Now, looking on the bottom side you can see a micro-USB port for service, a small 3.5mm port for connections, and for the supplied wall adapter, a power port. Unfortunately, the device doesn’t charge using the micro-USB port. Offering an improvement over previous Onyx models, the battery lasts for 8 hours, which should be enough for most uses.
Even if you have the Bluetooth and all the features activated, it should still run for 6 hours minimum, or close to that. While not always close to the claimed 8 hours, it still does better than previous generations. It would have been nicer if the device came with near field communication for easy pairing, but given that it has Bluetooth functionality, it can work well without NFC.
Furthermore, in terms of durability, it is unfortunately not waterproof, or drop-resistant, and while the plastic and the design is a pretty sturdy one, it’s not meant to withstand heavy blows. One more thing that could have made this product a better one is an indicator for battery, and no voice prompts for when the Bluetooth pairing is activated or deactivated.
However, it compensates for these things with the Siri or Google Assistant modes. When pressing down the Phone button you can set these up through the Harman Kardon app. Given that it’s not that packed with features, it has a decent weight and it’s easy to carry downstairs or place in your office if you suddenly have to change the room you are working in.
It’s a fairly portable device, but it comes with legs that are not removable. They may appear to be at first, because they have the circular indentation on them, but they aren’t for the purpose of making the speaker a more stable device.
When using this device in small or medium-sized rooms, you will feel its power, and things will get loud. Even in larger rooms, or outdoors, this device does really well. One main reason why you would want to purchase this particular model over some of its competitors is the bass frequencies and how well it does there.
This is a speaker that excels when it comes to bass response, as it hits deeper, resonates with more power and thumps harder than similar models. Thanks to this, you can feel more immersion being added to the music. It is observable that this is a bass-focused speaker, and for that reason, it wouldn’t be a good choice for accurate listening for studio purposes, but that is not its purpose anyway.
If you value a bass-heavy speaker you will find good things coming out of it, especially if the bass is as clean as the one coming out of this device. It won’t sound like a muddy speaker and most importantly, it will not distort the mid frequencies. Speaking about the mid-range, compared to some competitors that are straightforward when it comes to the brightness of their sound, this one doesn’t bring that much of the voice to the front and prefers to focus more on the lower, bass notes.
However, it’s not a sound that’s too heavy, it’s just more of a neutral frequency. While you won’t hear the vocalist stand out too much, this is not a bad speaker for listening to bands play. If you’re the kind of person that likes to listen to solos, there are other and better alternatives out there.
The high notes won’t tingle your ear, and won’t feel like they have much detail, but they provide enough definition for the high-end cymbal crashes and snares to sound natural.
Constructed using some premium materials, the Onyx Studio 4 can give you the feel of a performant device when you hold it in your hand. It’s a bit heavy for what it can provide, but that can also mean sturdiness. Made of plastic, it doesn’t inspire too much strength, but this is a thick and hard plastic that shouldn’t break.
However, the device is not waterproof, neither shockproof, and that is why it’s not made for outdoor use (it’s more of a speaker that’s good for a desktop). On the other hand, it’s a portable device, as it comes with a built-in battery, and is not that heavy to carry around. If you wish, you could use it outside.
It’s not that rugged and the battery has a capacity of 3,000mAh which is not that bad but it’s not the best either. Because there are 2 powerful woofers and 2 equally impressive tweeters inside, these are going to drain a lot of power.
Wireless capabilities are offered by the incorporated Bluetooth 4.2 that has a 33 feet range. The multi-host feature will allow you to pair 2 Bluetooth devices at the same time with the speaker, and the device is also capable of memorizing up to 8 separate previous pairing partners. Android users will have more work to do to accomplish the pairing process as the device doesn’t have Near Field Communication.
If you prefer the classical way of pairing, you can also use the AUX input for that. There is also a microphone built into the speaker that has a nice piece of software allowing you to give voice commands. To configure these commands, however, you will have to access the Google Now or Siri with the help of the HK Connect app, but this is a nice added feature.