Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 Review

Onyx Studio 3

Class-leading Bluetooth Speaker

Harman Kardon signifies luxury in a sweet design package but without the unnecessary frills of similar sound systems. Their standalone portable speaker Onyx Studio 3 is no exception and delivers fantastic sound at the same time as being a beautiful ornament.

Onyx Studio 3 Black Frontside

The rounded speaker complements any room and livens up any living area with a deep bass and rich mid-tones. Cranking up the volume easily makes this speaker a party-booster as the built-in amplifier gives your music that extra oomph! One speaker is enough to turn your living room into a concert hall however; pair two speakers over Bluetooth for an even richer, synchronized sound experience.

The speaker conveniently switches audio source depending on which device streams to it. With its built-in microphone, answering calls is a breeze even with your phone not in the same room. However, the caller can sometimes hear you as a bit distant and we recommend switching to your phone’s built in microphone if possible. Apart from Bluetooth, the speaker comes with a built-in 3.5mm stereo AUX input. So, any old iPod can also shine with your new luxury speaker.

Onyx Studio 3 Black Backside

A 2600 mAh battery gives you about 5 hours of continuous music streaming when on the go. However, this speaker is definitely not made for a mobile life style. Weighing about 2 kgs and is easily scratched or dirtied; it sits best inside, next to your leather sofa or your mahogany dining room table. Plus for the small handle on the back though, allowing you to move it between one room and the other. If we could have wished for something, that would be a longer and more discreet charger cord so we truly can permanently integrate the speaker into a bookshelf or something. The current charger cord is a bit short, and comes with those usual bulky AC/DC converters half-way through. Something else that we noticed is a difference in the power of the amp whether or not running on battery. Plugging in the charger ups the decibels notably, even though we didn’t touch the volume controls.

Speaking of controls, the speaker come with five basic integrated-button controls at the top. On/off/sleep button, volume up, volume down, answer/end call button and Bluetooth pairing. If you’re hooking up a Bluetooth device, these controls can mostly be controlled directly from it, rather than the speaker. From our experience, there’s no need to turn the speaker off as it detects inactivity and goes into a highly-effective sleep mode; only to wake next time you stream music to it. That said, if you hook it to a computer, all system notification sounds will be sent through the speaker as well, not really allowing the speaker to sleep.

Do not be put off by the size of this speaker, this thing has such great power! Bought one speaker initially and bought another one a week later because of great it was. The bass is incredible and vocals are very clear. One very happy customer!

If we were to compare it to other speakers in its class like the Bose SoundTouch 30, the sound of the Onyx Studio 3 is way better. Is it because it is round, or because of the rich-without-overwhelming bass of the Onyx? We don’t really know. One will not be hard-pressed to find the design of the Onyx with its fabric finish more pleasing compared to the SoundTouch’s bulky square design either. To the SoundTouch’s advantage however is Bose’s propriety app that allow you to connect your smart devices via Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth. This allows many more devices to compete with streaming to the speaker instead of Onyx’s limit of 3. Though, how many real user-case scenarios involves 20 people simultaneously queuing music? There won’t be much of a party if everyone’s staring at their smartphone, hoping to be able to hear their one song they entered before the night is over.

At this price tag, one’s hard pressed at finding a greater experience with a Bluetooth speaker. Originally priced at USD $449.99, currently there’s a 43% off-while-supplies-last sale. Fetch your speaker today for USD $132 at Amazon. Or why not buy two when you’re at it, so you can synchronize the two? Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to test this feature ourselves but it is supposedly great. Knowing how great one speaker sounds, it wouldn’t be that surprising that two is better. The speaker comes in one of three colors; white, blue or black. The blue one sure looks fancy but it would be hard to make it match any room. However, from what we’ve seen during sales, it may be the only color option left.

Onyx Studio 3 Blue

If you think the speaker’s┬ádimensions of (H x W x D) 278.0 x 162.8 x 258.0mm are too big, then you might consider its sibling, the Onyx Mini? Though we find it lacking in the sound department, it’s still a decent speaker. At 587 grams, its also easier to carry around so, if you’re looking for portability this might be the one to go. A 10-hour battery life makes it even more suitable for those picnic outings in the summer. It mostly shares the same design as the Onyx Studio 3 and sits neatly on your night stand or wherever else you might place it. It also comes with the same features for answering calls as its bigger sibling.

Onyx Mini
The Onyx Mini

In summary

All in all, the Onyx Studio 3 is the speaker of choice for rich, wireless sound experience. Be it in your living room, castle, garden or at the beach, the Onyx Studio 3 heightens the sense of luxury while at the same time delivering un-rivalled sound for its class. Conference calls may be a bit lacking but is a nice added feature. Though not durable enough to be called portable, the handle in the back and 5-hour playback on battery powers makes it more than able to be brought to a party.

So what do you guys think? Have you bought this speaker or do you know of better ones in this price-range and class? Leave a comment below!