Harmon Kardon has been at the cutting edge of Audio innovation for over 60 years now. They have two basic principles that they have stuck by over this time. The first, to recreate sound precisely as the artist envisioned it to be heard. The second, to make Hi-Fi equipment that looks as stunning as it sounds, through stylish and unique design concepts.
Their speakers are designed to faithfully recreate the kind of crystal clear and beautiful audio that you hear in professional studios. The Onyx Studio 3 is no exception to these lofty standards, as you’ll find out in this in-depth Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 Bluetooth Speakers review.
Part of their Onyx Studio range of Bluetooth speakers, this is the third of five in the line now. Put simply; the Onyx studio 3 offers sound quality that rivals the very best Bluetooth speakers. Whilst many modifications have been made from the first model, one thing that has remained constant throughout is the number of drivers used and their configuration.
Why is this?
Well, that’s because this needs no improvement. Sumptuous sound quality is consistent across the range, sure to please even the most ardent audiophile.
Couple that with the kind of elegant and unobtrusive design, we’ve come to expect from Harmon Kardon, and you have yourself a pretty unbeatable all round package worthy of further investigation. So let’s do just that…
- Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 Specifications
- First Impressions
- Style Points
- Bluetooth Performance
- Battery Performance
- Outdoor Use?
- Sound Quality
- How does the Onyx Studio 3 measure up?
- More Options
- Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 Bluetooth Speakers Review Pros and Cons
- Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 Bluetooth Speakers Review Conclusion
Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 Specifications
|Tweeters||2 x ¾ inch|
|Woofers||2 x 3 inch|
|Frequency range||50Hz – 20,000Hz|
|Max power output||60W|
|Loudness||95dB at a distance of 1 meter.|
|Time to recharge||5 hours|
|Type||Rechargeable Lithium Ion|
|Multi hosting||Yes. Three devices max.|
|Speaker pairing||Yes. Can pair Two Onyx speakers together.|
The Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 comes well packaged, including the basic cabling and power adapter, along with a manual and warranty. That’s about it. If you want any extras such as a carry case or any other add ons, you’ll have to pay for them separately.
Straight out of the box, you can’t help but be impressed by the sleek and sophisticated design.
The subtle and modern design will complement any room in the house. We particularly liked the stylish oval shape. No sharp angles here. This lends an air of quality to the whole build. It also helps enormously with acoustics.
Face on; it’s hard to create a cleaner looking finish than this. The Studio 3 comes in two colors, black and white. The front end is completely covered with an unpretentious, yet highly tasteful grille. It’s embossed in the center with the stamp of quality that is the Harmon Kardon logo.
Round the back things are equally clean cut…
You’ll find a built-in carrying handle, two sturdy rubber feet, and the input panel. This houses a 3.5mm input for your phone, MP3 player, or just about anything else, the power port, and a micro USB port, which can only be used for product updates.
The control panel buttons are nicely spread along the top of the speaker. Volume control is in the center, with Bluetooth and speakerphone buttons to the left and power to the right. Backlights help locate the power and Bluetooth buttons in the dark. If we’re being fussy, it would have been nice if all the buttons were backlit, but this is just a minor inconvenience.
Bluetooth receives an upgrade on the Onyx Studio 3, from 3.0 in the previous version to 4.1 now. This means a few improvements in connectivity options. The published range of 33ft is true to its word. We experienced no interference or disruption up to 35ft away. We also didn’t notice any drop in sound quality when streaming music, which is no mean achievement.
A multi hosting feature means that you can pair up to three devices with the speaker simultaneously. This is a fun and potentially peace making feature when you have two or three aspiring DJ’s fighting over control of the music. They can all take turns now.
Two is better (and louder!) than one…
Another excellent feature allows you to pair two sets of Studio 3 speakers together. This creates a far larger and more expansive sound, ideal for parties or listening in two different rooms. Unfortunately, you can’t create stereo doing this as both speakers will channel the same sound, but boy, what a sound it is!
Annoyingly, this is one area where the Harmon Kardon Onyx Studio 3 fails to deliver. Playback time is a rather average 5-hours at 50% volume, and it takes a 5-hours to recharge again fully. If you want to crank it up to 80% volume, then you’ll only get a mere 3-hours usage.
This really isn’t sufficient and is no better than the previous model in this line. This was an area that had a lot of room for improvement, yet none has been made.
As technically portable as the Studio 3 is, we don’t really think of these speakers as being rugged enough to take on camping trips and the like, especially as they’re not waterproof. They’re also a little on the bulky side to be carrying any long distances. The relatively short battery life will only give you a limited amount of playback anyway.
To be honest, it’s hard to see these going much further than the garden, especially as you have to buy a carrying case separately.
The exceptional sound quality is far and away the best reason to buy the Harmon Kardon Onyx Studio 3 speakers. When connected to the mains, this muscular speaker pumps out a decent 60W of sound that will serve the needs of any medium-sized room or patio area with ease.
Two 3-inch woofers, two ¾ inch tweeters, and two passive bass radiators complete a driver arrangement that has stayed the same since the Studio 1 model. As the old adage goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Performance across the frequencies…
Bass is perfectly weighted, packing a punch whilst staying firmly in control. It never threatens to overwhelm the mids and trebles. Mid-ranges are therefore allowed to occupy their fair share of the soundstage.
Vocal and individual instruments really stand out from the crowd allowing you to hear levels of detail that may previously have gone unnoticed. Treble frequencies also shine through with no hint of distortion even at high volumes.
Naturally, the Studio 3 makes quite an effective home cinema sound system when paired up with your TV. Having such a balanced range means dialogue is always clear, and explosions pack the punch they are meant to. It’s obviously not going to compete with the Best Wireless Home Cinema Systems, but it will be a lot better than the sound your TV produces by itself.
How does the Onyx Studio 3 measure up?
When compared with similarly priced products from two of the other big names in Audio production, Bose, and Marshall, the Onyx is a clear winner.
The Bose Soundlink Mini II may be priced at the same point, but that’s where the comparison ends. The difference in sound quality is immense. Whilst the Bose is more portable with a longer lasting battery, this doesn’t make up for such a gulf in listening pleasure.
The Marshall Kilburn has a cool design based on the look of their classic Marshall guitar amps. It also boasts a much longer lasting battery. But it too is on the large side and not really suitable to take on trips. Once again, the Onyx rises above when it comes to sound quality, producing a much louder and finely tuned audio experience.
If you’re not convinced that these Harman Kardon speakers are for you, then please check out our reviews of the Best Bluetooth Speakers with Radio, the Best Bass Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Bluetooth Ceiling Speakers, the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers, or even the Best Solar Powered Bluetooth Speakers currently available 2021.
Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 Bluetooth Speakers Review Pros and Cons
- Unrivaled style and design perfection.
- Unbeatable sound quality at this price point.
- Bluetooth features, including multi-host and extra speaker pairing.
- Built-in mic with active noise cancelling handles calls well.
- Fantastic value for money.
- Short battery life.
- Long recharge time.
- Although technically portable, it is quite bulky.
- Not built for rugged outdoor use.
Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 Bluetooth Speakers Review Conclusion
As you can probably tell by now, we absolutely loved the Harmon Kardon Onyx Studio 3 speakers. We can forgive the failings in the battery and portability departments. What you are really paying for here is a rare level of Audio quality that you’d normally associate with a much higher price point. At such an amazingly reasonable price, they are worth every cent.