“Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 7 Review: A Blast from the Past”
Dollarsbag Rating: 3/5 (Fair)
Harman Kardon’s Onyx Studio 7 speaker feels like it’s been transported from a different era, failing to keep up with today’s standards despite its hefty price tag of $479.95. While it delivers potent bass performance that will satisfy bass enthusiasts, the speaker falls short in terms of modern features, lacks audio customization options, has outdated Bluetooth codec support, and is not water-resistant. In a market flooded with more competitively priced options, the Onyx Studio 7 struggles to justify its cost.
- Powerful, Bass-Forward Audio Performance: The Onyx Studio 7 impresses with its robust bass output, making it an appealing choice for those seeking thumping low-end frequencies.
- Interesting Portable Design: Departing from the conventional, the speaker boasts a distinctive design reminiscent of the planet Saturn. Its unique look sets it apart from the competition.
- Price is Too High for What You Get: With a price tag nearing $500, the Onyx Studio 7 fails to offer features and performance commensurate with its cost.
- Design Isn’t Water Resistant: Unlike many contemporary speakers, Studio 7 lacks any form of water resistance, limiting its suitability for outdoor use.
- Limited Bluetooth Codec Support: The speaker only supports the SBC Bluetooth codec, excluding AAC and AptX codecs, which are now standard on many competitors.
- No EQ for Sound Customization: The absence of an equalizer means users cannot tailor the audio signature to their preferences.
Unique Design That Doesn’t Quite Hit the Mark
The Onyx Studio 7’s design is a departure from its predecessor, resembling an homage to Saturn. Available in black, blue, or white cloth grilles, the speaker’s 12-by-10.6-by-6.3-inch frame is anchored by a ring-like handle that also functions as a stand. This unconventional design may not appeal to everyone, but it certainly sets the speaker apart from the crowd.
However, it’s worth noting that despite its portable nature, the Onyx Studio 7 is relatively heavy, limiting its portability for activities like camping. Additionally, the speaker’s lack of waterproofing or any IP rating makes it unsuitable for outdoor scenarios where it could be exposed to moisture.
Audio Performance and Connectivity
Beneath the grille, the speaker houses dual 1-inch tweeters and a single 4.8-inch woofer, delivering a total output of 50 watts with a frequency range spanning 50Hz to 20kHz. The top of the grille features push-button controls for Bluetooth pairing, power, playback, and volume adjustments. However, there’s no backward navigation control, which may be inconvenient for some users.
In terms of connectivity, the Onyx Studio 7 relies on Bluetooth 4.2, which is outdated compared to newer Bluetooth versions. Furthermore, it supports only the SBC Bluetooth codec, excluding higher-quality codecs like AAC and AptX. Unfortunately, there’s no companion app with an equalizer to customize the sound signature.
Battery life is estimated at around eight hours, but this may vary depending on usage patterns and volume levels.
Audio Performance Overview
On tracks with heavy sub-bass content, the Onyx Studio 7 impresses with its thunderous low-end response, even at high volumes. The digital signal processing helps prevent distortion at peak levels, but it retains a powerful bass presence.
For tracks with less deep bass, the speaker delivers a sound signature characterized by a balanced midrange and crisp highs. The added bass depth creates a boosted and sculpted mix, emphasizing the low frequencies.
In orchestral and jazz tracks, the Onyx Studio 7 maintains a more natural sound profile, with the bass boost complementing the overall balance without overwhelming the higher-register instruments.
Conclusion: A Speaker Out of Its Time
Despite its powerful drivers, the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 7 struggles to justify its high price tag in a market filled with more modern and competitively priced alternatives. Its lack of key features, outdated Bluetooth support, and design limitations make it difficult to recommend. If you’re in the market for a premium portable speaker, there are better options available, such as the JBL Xtreme3 or Sony SRS-XB43, which offer superior performance and features at a more reasonable price point. For those who prioritize design, the Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20 provides a more rewarding overall experience.