Cons - not very lively, somehow bulky, proprietary charging cable
When I have found these Harman Kardon for a ridiculously cheap price, I had already decided that I would have kept the Fidelio M2BT, the best of all those I have tested (obviously).
But given the price I said to myself that I could try them and eventually keep them as second pair at home if they where good enough.
Well, they very good, but I will not keep them because they do not add anything to what the Fidelio has to offer.
I would say they reach the 75% of what the M2BT can give. But, hey, that is VERY GOOD!!! The Fidelio are just wonderful! 75% of wonderful is very good
Plus, they are more comfortable and have a better BT Range than the Fidelio (which is a reason why I was tempted to keep them. With the Fidelio I have a blind spot in my kitchen, with the HK not).
They need some EQ to sound more lively. A bit more Sub Bass, a bit more upper mid, a bit more highs, et voilá, they are amazing.
The detail is very good, the sound stage is actually not so great for an Over the Ear (the Fidelio actually sometimes beat them here) but is decent.
The bass is VERY good. It is rich and has body and it is strong enough without being too much. It also improves notably with some EQ.
It never reaches the level of the Fidelio M2BT, not in quantity and not in quality. Not even with the EQ. But, attention attention, the fact is that the Fidelio have just the best bass of all the BT Headphones I have tested [EDIT: I have now tried the UE9000. They are on par with the Fidelio].
The Upper-Mids are a bit lacking for my tastes, so I perceive the sound as not particularly warm and lively. But they improve with EQ.
The highs are very nice, present, clear, not harsh.
Yes, they look strange but once you have them in your hands you like them more than in internet. I did. I actually like how they look on my head, they do not protrude ridiculously like some headphones do. They have just some quite big speakers with that rectangular form, and that is what they wanted to look like, so, I like their stubbornness.
The finishing is just VERY good, the impression is of a very high class headphone. There even is a second Headband, bigger, for bigger heads, and instructions on how to change it. Strange decision, compared to the most headphones which just telescopically adjust to the head. But probably this allow them a more precise fit.
Even the packaging is top class. And the synthetic leather carrying bag is also very nice.
These headphones are clearly not directed to very young people, or at least not to the kind of people who buy Beats or Skullcandy or JBL.
These are classy headphones, they look different, they sound excellent, they have that kind of "Dell Latitude" business touch, if you know what I mean.
Business high class kind of people. Or people who just have refined tastes.
A couple of negative aspects which I have noticed in these days:
- they do not make any bip when you turn them on, and considering their little on/off button sometimes I cover the button with my finger and I cannot see when it blinks, so I press it too long and instead of turning on they go in pairing mode.
But in change they have a unique feature, the LED blinks differently according to which Codec is in use. SO you can confirm if your source (smartphone, notebook, etc) is streaming in Aptx.
- if you wear some pullover with tall neck or something else around your neck, the lower part of the speakers will touch it when you move your head a lot, and the metal construction will quirk a bit
I could not notice any other negative aspects.
Cons - shallow padding, horrible standard bluetooth performance, thin cups
people **** all over the cup shape but i think it's great, especially since it seems to displace a lot of bulk and make them pretty flush with your head. they only stick out like half an inch, it's pretty future. the headband is cool too, it's solid metal with a thin yet soft strip of classy leather underneath. normally that'd be uncomfortable but the cans themselves take on just enough weight to make it fine for a few hours. pressure distribution on these things was pretty well thought-out for the most part but you kinda need to keep them stretched out over something for a few nights to get rid of the initial clamping force. the only consistent discomfort i experience is my ears touching the drivers because of the just-too-thin padding. otherwise they feel great. i love how they fold flat too, it looks cool and puts up with more than headphones that fold inward.
now for the sound.
wired and with aptx, they're great. bass-heavy with slightly recessed mids but otherwise really clear. kinda like a combo of beats and bose but way better.
with normal bluetooth, they suck. it's like listening to a ham radio in stereo, so basically like every other bluetooth set. don't bother using these with an iphone unless you wanna use them for calls or something.
isolation is pretty meh. the outer plastic on the cups is solid but thin, so a lot gets through, especially direct contact.
these are pretty damn good headphones. i got mine for $105 through shophq a while back but you can find them [refurbished] for $99 right now through harmon kardon's ebay page. good buy, especially if you use stuff aptx stuff.
Cons - Bit too much clamping, microphonics when using as standard headphones
I just took back the ClarityOne W102's and got these. I decided to go Bluetooth to avoid cable damage (ClarityOne's gave me a bad vibe about the cable). I was not aware that the cable comes off of the Classics as well, until now, but no cable is great. Of course Bluetooth sounds worse than cabled...and cabled sounds worse than cabled with an amp, but plenty good for on the go. I was looking at various bluetooth capable headphones, including the Beats, not sure what model, as I didn't look much into them. I wasn't overly impressed with the sound of any of the Beats. This time I had my amp and I listened to them all. Beats was just bass, and bass that muddled into the mids. And the mids and highs were just there, nothing nice about them really. The UE 9000 were $399. For $399, they are really still a better value than the Beats. Issue is, I found the 6000's that were on display to be too large and cheap looking, and the 9000's look to be simply in design. Logitech doesn't give the best vibe for sound quality or quality in general. I did have a pair of UE 600's which were okay, but cheaply built. Sorry Logitech, but when I hear your name, I think mice, keyboards and other various computer products. I was still thinking about the Logitech 9000's however. I was originally going to go with regular non-bluetooth headphones, and the Classics were that, but after Bluetooth was gaining my interest, Harman Kardon was forgotten about, until I realized the store (Apple Store) stocked the bluetooth versions, and for just $50 more than the Classics, $150 less than the UE 9000's. I gave no second thought after that, and I bought the HK's
My first listen was with a FIIO E07K and wow, the sound is amazing. The bass sounds true, with a slight emphasis. The bass does not bleed into the mids and it extends deep with no distortion. It can be felt The mids and highs are clear, not shrill, and the soundstage amazing. Clearly they are meant to sound warmer and not analyitic sound, but they are the perfect sound for me. I enjoyed the W102's but found there to be silibance, and a slight lack of bass with easy distortion. These phone take care of all of that. They sound like open headphones, although there is zero leakage. And I mean zero. They don't look like they would isolate sound well, but the Harman Kardon's leave the music in and keep the sound out. Zero is of course not true, for I can hear the music when I my dad is listening to the headphones, but this is at a listening to music volume, not a background music volume. What is amazing is how they manage to achieve isolation and have a great soundstage. I will burn them in a bit to see what happens, but they actually sound as if the drivers are already loosened up and there are no places in the music that sound like the driver hits a wall where it has trouble moving, which is something I find with most phones until I break them in. WIth just being plugged into the iPod, the volume is still great and they still sound great too. Both decrease, but not a huge amount, considering these are 32ohms (not that that always detemines the volume). An amp brings out more depth and soundstage. With bluetooth, the headphones sound good, just it sounds like the recording quality of the music is slightly worse. For having no wire to play around with, this is not a bad sacrifice for on the go. With bluetooth, volume is not great for all albums, specifically older albums which are rendered quieter than new ones. With new stuff, bluetooth is plenty loud.
The comfort of the Harman Kardon's is great, although a little bit of clamping, which will take some getting used to. The are secure, don't move and the pads are nice feeling, and are soft enough to feel nice, but hard enough to not compress too much.
Build quality is spectacular. Everything feels well put together, looks sturdy, yet is easily to use and not bulky. I won't be using the larger headband likely, but I can see it being annoying to put on. It's not something that concerns me however.
I love the looks of these headphones. The two other reviews on this site seem to attack the looks, but I like the looks a lot. Simplistic, elegant, non-offensive. And I have always liked the style that the name is written: harman/kardon. No capitals just says that they are good, they don't need to prove anything, it's the name, not how it's written. Even the packaging is like that. Actually, even their full sized speakers give off the same aura of stateliness not that many speakers have fancy shapes and colors. This is the opposite stance of companies like Monster, who provide bright colors, odd shapes that scream: "Look at me!! Buy me!!" I prefer the look doesn't need to stand out to look good. Also, I bet more people would rather try to steal a pair of Beats from me, because they are so noticable.
So far, my one issue is microphonics. The cable has high microphonics, but is not noticeable when listening to music.