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Harman Kardon CL Review (Updated after burn Review)

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hello, guys. Originaly I was going to buy some AKG K550, Sennheiser Momentum or Sony's MDR-1R... Unfortunately this weekend was "El Buen Fin" (the equivalent to US Black Friday in Mexico) and, when I went on Sunday to buy my headphones On Bestbuy the AKGs K550 were Out of stock </3. So I had to buy something else... After try many headphones, including: Sennheiser's Momentum, Sony's MDR-1R, Sennheiser's HD25, Pioneer's HDJ1500, some Dennons and other headphones. I Ended up buying the Harman/Kardon CL, Now I'll tell my first impressions after a full day of usage.

 

(Update)

After some use of full usage for a Couple of hours every day, they finally burned. Now I have a different opinion overall.

 

Update: I forgot to mention, most of the albums are mp3 320KB, except Erotic Cakes and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulance, these are Flac 24/44KHZ
Presentation:
 

This is the kind of Headphones you either love or hate aesthetically, and I gotta say it... I Love their style, very retro-ish mature style (IMO).
Inside the box you'll get a pretty nice packing, it feels pretty "Premium". It doesn't have "premium" Accesories Though. You'll get the headphones itself (Dah), an Apple compatible cable of 1.4M long, and a secundary nice aluminion headbang for bigger than averange head and a nice synthetic leather carrying case (but is not on the "Portable" side of the spectrum).
As I said, the packing feels kind of premium, but doesn't have quit the accesories to make it premium.

 

Comfort:

 

This is where I have really strong feeling agains this Cans... For one, they are Really confortable for like the first 3 hours of use (in my case)... Now, if you wear glasses -like me-... Well, welcome to the mot%&fu&()& Hell!!. This headphones are really confortable with a really nice and strong grip to the head, BUT!! if you use glasses, prepare for a world of pain after the the first half an hour. They hurt me really bad after that, I hope that the time change that; I don't want to  chose between wearing glasses or headphones 7-7

 

(Update)
After 2 weeks of agony, they become heavenly confortable, no more pain, no more "Take off your glasses off if you will spend more than an hour with the headphones". They're just wonderful comfortable and I can wear them for HOURS without feeling uncomfortable


Build Quality:
 

Here's the Deal, guys... It kind of have "Premium" material, the aluminion build feel quite nice and not cheap at all, but!... little things, like the plastic back side of the headphones and a pretty light weight, doesn't make headphones feel that they're "build like a tank". They doesn't really feel cheap, but doesn't feel premium either.
 

Sound:

 

I bought the headphones for this other than the awesome looking style. I'll break this section into the kind of music I listen to, and then a general comparison against the headphones I tried.

Well, I my listening goes something like this: 50% Metal! (especially progresive), 30% Jazz, 10% Classical music and 10% Hip-hop and Electro.

 

Metal:

 

I have a very mixup opinion with this headphones and metal related music.

 

...And Jutice For All by Metallica: Here's the deal, I love ...And Justice For All, but the Engineer that mixed the album didn't quite  love it, otherwise, this wouldn't be one of the worst mixed albums on the metal (mainstream) history. I mean the mix totally suck, the bass is unadible, the drums are so low you can barely heard them at all!, but that happens with every single headphone I've owned... The problem comes when You realize that, the CLs, Make it a lot worst!!. the strong and robust bass on the CL makes the Awful bass, even more awful. The tendency of the headphones for having recessed mids, makes even harder to listen to James's voice. Although, the crispy and granular highs that the CLs have, gives the guitar a nice little snappy/crispy tone is just not good in any other thing.

Unfortunately this headphones makes me don't want to liste to ...And Justice For All ever again. I don't know if the headphones really bring the bad mix on the album to show, or if the flaws within the respone of the headphones are to blame.

 

Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence by Dream Theater: Man... This album really shows how good this cans are on a more modern production environment. I heard synth, reverbs, overdubs were I didn't heard them before. With a more modern production with lots of overdubs, synth everywhere and the guitar amplifier without the bass and trebles cranked up to 11, this cans really shine. You can really appreciate Myung's awesome bass, the strong yet no lossy bass of the cans really brings a new level of "Heavyness" to this whole album, all without overtaking the mix. However, The recessed mids and crispy highs make LaBrie's voice more annoying than ever before. Aside from that minor issue, this headphones really brings a lot of life to this album, with all the synth sounding very granular and with character and the guitar having a nice snappy tone thanks to the crispy highs.
 

Overall the big bass, recessed mids and crispy highs on this headphones DOESN'T HELP THE 80'S/EARLY 90'S METAL MIXES AT ALL, in exchange the more modern stuff and some old stuff with tons of synth and tenor singer really benefits from this cans. I have to add: Baritone singer such as Phil Asselmo, James Hetfield are really affected by the recessed mids. the kind of loss a little bit into the bass.

 

(Update)

Honestly, this pair being my first "good" headphones (I do not count Beats as "Good"),so I was unfamiliar with the burn process. The burn process took sometime, something among 100 to 150 hours. I thought it would take like 30 hours.

The first think I noticed the changes was the bass, it became tighter and roll off a little bit. Then the mids...Man, this is actually a big noticeable change; the recessed mid are gone, they become full bright, clear cristal and bright mid, so different from the first time I listened to the headphones. I didn't think a simple burn could change the sound that much; is not huge, but it's really noticeable. The treble roll off quit a bit, making the headphone a little bit "Treble shy", but  I mainly listen to Early Thrash Metal... This is actually a plus for Early Metal.

Overall, the after burn it's quite noticeable and makes the Early Thrash Metal a lot more enjoyable and fun to listen. Now I can listen to thinks like Anthrax, Exodus And Testament without the bassy guitar tones overtaking the entire mix and making everythings almost unaudible

 


Jazz:

 

Erotic Cakes by Guthrie Govan: I cried when I first listen to this Album for the first time with this headphones, It already was my favorite album, but... This headphones makes never want to stop listen to it.
It's awesome how great the CLs are with anything jazz related. The big and clear bass really help to listen to the BEAUTIFUL bass that the Jazz music usually have, the recessed mids really accentuated the jazzy cleans that otherwise would sound muddy and the crispy highs gives another dimension to the incredible beatiful solos of the entire album. Without vocals (This album it's instrumental) The recessed mids seems more like an advantage rather than a disadvantage.

Metal Fatigue by Allan Holdsworth: Contrary to "Erotic Cakes" This have tons of synths. Basically, everything I said about "Erotic Cakes" but even better. The Crispy highs gives the Synth a very granular texture to the synths, some may say it's " a Nasal sound", but IMHO it gives them Character, a strong one :).

 

Classical:

 

Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi: This!! this is where this headphones really shine! I don't have anything bad to say on this department. The low brass sounds outstandig, robust, strong with tons of presens. The Stringed intruments doesn't lost any clarity even with outstanding huge sound that the low frequencies have on this headphones.

If you ever have the chance to try this heaphones, please try them with classical music, then compare to 300$ headphones and you'll see how close this headphones are to many 300$ headphones :).

 

Hip-Hop:

Methaphorical Music by Nujabes:
I'm kind of cheating here, because this album it's pretty jazz oriented and more than half of the entire album it's instrumental, but whatever.

Again, like the Jazz section, the instrumental-chillax-Jazzy song sounds beatiful... However, the ones that are not instrumental suffer a lot; Nujabes was the kind of musician that used to put a lot of emphasis on the intrumental section and turn out the voice a little bit, this among the sound signature of the CLs, really make a bad, bad, bad mix for the rapping, the recessed mids (Again!) make the low-male voices dull and lossy, the bass take over the voice a lot...

 

(update)

 

This implies another big improvement from the burn. The bass is not that strong and wild anymore and the mids are clearer, so basically, the bass doesn't overtakes the voices anymore. Just like Metal section, this is a big improve for the headphones after they burned


Electro:

 

Discovery by Daft Punk: Just like the Jazz and instrumental music in general, this is where the sound signature of the CLs make them worth the try at least. It totally blows out the water things like the Beat solo, Monster inspiration and even the Beats Pro (I used to own the beats solo,Pro and Tour... they all broke up in less than a year...).

The all migthy, yet no lossy bass shines perfectly here, without taking away any other frecuencies, the bass it's might, robust and strong. This kind of music it's "the matchup" for this Headphones, no doubt about it. It has about everything a Electro lover likes: Style, great bass, and clear and balanced signature for other high frecuencies samples.

 

Overall the bass on this headphones is big, strong and robust (You can quot me on this one :P) without being lossy and/or boosted the SH!$ out of it (I'm looking at you beats ¬_¬). The Recessed mid, however, CAN totally affect a whole spectrum of music, especially the kind of music that has a lot of low end (something among 80-240HZ), wich unfortunaly for me, was the favorite sprectrum for the 80's Metalheads to crank up to eleven, making the guitars sound really bassy and sometimes dull and lossy. The sightly boosted and crispy highs of the CLs could be either Awesome or disgusting, that's really a personal preference, some people might is "Nasal" and "Too Edgy", but I consider it Snappy and crispy with a unique character; it also favors A LOT Female singers and more modern guitar tones :).

 

Overall:

 

Overall, This headphones are on the "funny" side of the Headphones spectrum. They're flat enough to me to track things like guitars, bass, drums and vocals for my projects. but I wouldn't ever dare to mix something with this headphones. CLs are deafinetly not as good as something as the Momentum, yet they're close enough to make me belive the 150$+ that the Momentums are, are not worth it. if it was something amoung 30-50$ then, yeah... just get the Momentum. Everything else I tried yesterday (Aside from the Momentums) Were not better than the CLs IMHO, some were differents, others were worst. I tried some Dennons (I don't remember the model) that were like 350$ and they actually sounded worst, yeah the bass was huge and whatever, but they didn't have nearly as good clarity as the CLs

IMHO this headphones deserve AT LEAST a try. I'm really liking this headphones and if Harman Kardon ever decides to get up something among 300$ to the market, I'll definetly give them a try :)

(Update)

 

So... The nasal treble is gone, instead becoming somewhat treble shy. The mids had the greatest improvement overall, becoming stronger and clearer. The awesome bass just became a little bit tighter and less wild.

The confort it's so much better now, the headphones doesn't hurt me anymore...

Overall the burn took a lot longer than what I expected, but it's so worth. It basically took away my two biggest complains with this headphones, making them so awesome and really high rated on my Price/Performance Ratio list :P

 

My score in general for this headphones is 8/10... Now if I put a Score refering what I paid and what I get... It'd be: 9/10

 

PS: I Hope that my "Spanglish" is good enough to make this pseudo-Review readable


Edited by ixampano - 12/2/13 at 10:02am
post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 

Updated bump :P

post #3 of 5
I picked up a pair of CL on sale for $99 after seeing some good reviews and after 70+ hours for burn they are warm and balanced the cable not the best but $12 and eBay took care of that. The comfort is OK but when you are working with on ear its what it is.
In short I agree 8 of 10 all things considered.
post #4 of 5

Just wanted to point out that I bought the Harman Kardon CL tonight for $89, it's on sale at Amazon and this feels like I've stolen from Harman Kardon!

I also bought a pair of Harman Kardon AE for $50.... I really feel like a thief lol

If you want the deal for AE go here: http://slickdeals.net/permadeal/115224/harman---harman-kardon-ae-earphones-with-mic-controls

 

I can't wait to try them both out... My Sennheiser HD25-1 II hurts my ears too much after a while(I wear glasses). Hopefully I'll have the same experience with CL as ixampano

post #5 of 5

Deal of the Day (3/14/2014) at Amazon for $64.99.

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