Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Beautiful sounds from Harman's wireless speakers

Harman, winner of several awards for its unique products and known for its wireless sound systems that make use of Bluetooth and Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, recently invited me to see their latest line of audio solutions bearing the Harman/Kardon and JBL brands.

Harman/Kardon lineup

JBL lineup

Great speakers have been around for decades but where brands like Harman excel is in the area of designing them like furniture accessories.They take on modern, fashionable shapes that fit right into any modern home without compromising on sound. Just take a look at some of the speakers they had on display at the event.

Harman Kardon Esquire Mini

At a glance, it looks almost like a formal clutch bag because it is actually that size. Made with real leather backing and brushed aluminum finish, the Esquire Mini exudes chic and elegance and is definitely portable. But don't be fooled by its size because it is big on sound. Mohit Parasher, Harman International Industries Vice President for Asia Pacific says of the Esquire Mini, "With its advanced features, big high-fidelity sound, unsurpassed portability, and its ability to serve as a charging center for your other mobile devices, it will easily become your favorite travel companion".

The Esquire Mini is blue-tooth enabled for full stereo streaming, doubles as a conference phone system with dual microphone and built-in echo- and noise-cancellation features for great sound and crystal clear conference calling.

Multi Room HD Surround: Harman Kardon Omni Wireless HD

This system consists of the Omni 10, the Omni 20 wireless HD speakers as well as the Adapt plug-in to upgrade your existing home stereo system -- all powered by Blackfire Research wireless media technology.

Omni 10

Omni 20

The Omni speakers can be used as standalone speakers or grouped into 2 or even 5 speakers, positioned in different areas of a room for that sensurround effect. They can also be placed in different rooms, controllable through a Harman app that is easily downloadable.

But that's not all. Things can get even better and I saw this when the Harman team did a demo.

You know how wireless works, right? It only works within a certain range. Once you step out of the range, the music stops streaming. According to the Harman team, Adapt connects the gap between your existing Hi-Fi gear and the wireless network to deliver clear, crisp sound at the touch of a button. Simply set up multiple speakers, Adapt audio adaptor, and download the Harman Kardon Controller app (available at Google Play). With the Adapt plug-in, one can enjoy uninterrupted streaming music even as one walks from room to room. Imagine hearing the same music playing even as you move around the house! Adapt also lets you play different music in each room for private listening.

JBL Pulse

JBL Pulse

This one is not just portable and it's not just great sounding. It's got LED colored lights that can be programmed; or select from customizable themes too. It gives you both a listening and visual experience as powerful stereo sounds stream from its all-around speakers while pulsing with vibrant colors to the beat. The JBL Pulse can deliver wireless sound up to 10 hours of pure music or 5 hours of music and light show combined, thanks to its rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

At the Harman event, I asked the staff to play me instrumental music instead of head-banging music. Audiophile can tell good speakers not based on loud, bass music but on how the soft timbre brings out each and every note and inflection being played. I'm not an audiophile, far from it. But this is how I try to check for great speakers. They had no classical music on hand but here's something from the movie Frozen. Listen!

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