Gadgets nova2

Published on April 19th, 2014 | by Greg


Harmon Kardon Nova: Wireless Speakers That Make You Go Ooh

Few audio products have had such a long lifespan as the classic SoundSticks. Every Apple fan has seen them- or had them- the transparent set of speakers that looked clear as glass but sounded pretty great. The model and style continues to be upgraded, but one of the only downsides to the 2.1 system was the fact that it had (an needed) an external subwoofer. Today, we’ve got a new twist on the formula, taking some of the design cues and adding plenty of bells, whistles, and offering better bass without the need for that sub.

The Harman Kardon Nova 2.0 Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Speaker System is a serious set of spheres. The clear plastic is still there, but highlighting a futuristic jet-engine turbine-like inner core. We liked the polished aluminum accent and clever touch-sensitive but tactile buttons, visible without standing out, a nice change from so many of the hidden buttons that have you playing “find the controls” or accidentally pressing the wrong ones. However, they still can be a bit sensitive. With Bluetooth support and NFC technology, you can tap your supported phone and instantly pair, or simply use any smartphone or device with Bluetooth to stream wirelessly. Everything, from the packaging to the globes themselves, screams sleek.

These do take up a lot more space on your desk than the SoundSticks, and they aren’t really portable though. They’re perfect conversation pieces, though, with far more presence than many 2.0 systems, suitable for bookshelf use, sitting on a bedroom table, or even using as part of your home entertainment system (mostly for music rather than cinema). There is a cute rubber stand of sorts, and the tilt of the speakers makes them easy to place. Analog 3.5 mm inputs are provided, but more unusual is the optical input, a nice bonus that we put to good use. At 40 watts of power, this isn’t a party box, but can belt out some tunes thanks to dual drivers, a 2.5-inch midrange cone and a 1.25-inch tweeter. Lest you think the package is somehow magically completely wireless, as with every system we’ve seen or tried you will need to string a wire between the speakers themselves, as well as supply them with power via the included cable.

Beyond the cool form factor and stylish design, the audio performance is great, but not quite as impressive as we wanted to hear for the price. They are quite good for their size, though, and offer a pretty solid amount of bass considering the passive radiators and materials (wood tends to add resonance, as you might expect, these sound a little less analog and more synthetic, better for modern than classical music in general). We never were transported with these, though they performed more than admirably on any rock or pop track we tried, and even the pretty tough new Highasakite song Soldiers sounded big, brash, and bold with clear vocals and a nice mid. Compared to other recent options, like the Luna Eclipse, they feel slightly classier and more compact but at a higher price and with a bit less richness to the sound. Of course, the Focal XS Wireless set is even pricier still, and we did like the white and black options that the Harmon Kardon Nova 2.0 brought to the table. Available now online and in stores for around $300, and perfect for anyone with a taste for modern looks.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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