This is the Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3. We’ve always loved the design of the Harman Kardon Aura Studio series, so when the third iteration was released, we got one for review. It’s essentially an upgraded version of the Studio 2 in terms of subwoofer size and more detailed and full bass range. And one noticeable difference is the fact that it doesn’t have a bass port tube in the centre as before.
Tested with Samsung Galaxy S20+
Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3
The Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 is a 360-degree wireless Bluetooth speaker that has a total of six mid-treble drivers spread around the perimeter of the speaker. For the bass range, the company packed a 130mm woofer drive, that is capable of 100W of power to handle the bass, even without the bass port. This effectively turns the Studio 3 into a closed cabinet sound system.
The speaker itself looks amazing in terms of design, with the smoky, bubble lid on the top and a solid base on the bottom. It will be a great piece of home decor, wherever you decide to place it in your home. On the front of the base, you’ll see three different control buttons – volume up, volume down, as well as an on/off button. On the back, you’ll find the power button and a Bluetooth button for pairing. These buttons are supposed to discreet to not mess with the speaker’s overall aesthetics, but once you know where they are, it’s easy for you to just reach for them without even looking.
Light Me Up
The Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 has these wavy grooves on the bottom part of the speaker. These aren’t just for aesthetic purposes, they’re actually in place to dispers the mass of air behind the woofer when the bass is created. To make it look even classier, the Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 waves even has a white Ambient Light backlit system. It will not react to the music you’re playing, but illuminate the inner dome with its own little concerto performance, complete with dimming and water wave ripple effects.
Most Bluetooth speakers would have a built-in battery system, allowing you to bring them with you wherever you go. But the Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 can only be powered by a power cable, and this might not be a bad thing. From its size and bottom-heavy weight, I doubt you would want to carry this with you. The Studio 3 is meant to be an aesthetical musical centerpiece in your home, so I see this as a plus. If you want portability, you should look for smaller, lightweight alternatives.
The standard Bluetooth speakers would include multiple input options, like a USB drive, SD cards, and some even RCA inputs. But, the Studio 3 only has a 3.5mm AUX and Bluetooth 4.2 connection. Again, judging from the name itself, your primary method of connection will be Bluetooth, so I don’t see the practical need for any other connection inputs. USB drives and SD cards are rather traditional, considering most music today are streamed on music apps like Spotify and Tidal. But then again, some might want to listen to FLAC files directly from a removable storage, so that’s understandable. But, you can only do so with the 3.5mm audio jack.
Because the Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 uses the Bluetooth 4.2 protocol, low latency and high bitrates are ensured (albeit older than the newer Bluetooth 5.0 and 5.1 protocols). You can still watch movies, and your audio sync will sync with the video no problem. Coverage range is 10m, and it works just fine.
Setting up the Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 is rather easy, just plug the power cord in, and set it on the TV console table. Next, is to touch the Bluetooth “button” around the base, pair it with my smartphone and I’m done. There’s no fast pair onboard, so you’ll need to open up the Bluetooth settings page on your phone to pair.
As I’ve mentioned before, once you know where the touch buttons are, you can easily find them. But, I wish the Studio 3 would’ve come with a mini remote. That way, you won’t need to walk to the speaker just to turn it on or change the volume. That said, volume controls can be done right from your smartphone, as it syncs with your smartphone’s Bluetooth volume.
The Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 has a bottom-heavy base, where 90% of the speaker’s weight is in the base itself. So even if my cats were to pounce on it, it wouldn’t easily topple, also thanks to the six rubber feets on the bottom of the speaker.
There’s An App?
Yes, there actually is a companion app for the Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 called “Harman Kardon Remote”, but you can actually just not use it at all. It’s old, not optimised for newer devices, has a 2-star rating on Play Store, and it doesn’t even function during my time with it.
Harman Kardon went with the simple approach for the app. Once your speakers are paired to your smartphone, the app does detect the speaker and it only lets you change two things – volume and bass (this didn’t work for me). It would’ve been nice if I could change the treble, or input my own equalizer settings. Better yet, customise the lighting profiles too.
What the Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 lacks in connectivity, it makes up for in sound performance. Not forgetting that this is a true 360-degree speaker, your music can be projected throughout the entire room, and it does so evenly on all sides. To get the most out of this design, you should be placing the Studio 3 on a table in the middle of the room, and avoid placing it in a shelf. There are bookshelf speakers for that.
The highs can be a little too bright for me, but it sounds clear if you’re listening to classical music or instrumentals. The mids are great without any distortion or crossover from the highs and lows, best if you’re listening to acoustics. As for the bass, it’s managed really well and if you’re listening to EDM music, you can definitely feel the thumb of the bass. There’s a wide soundstage on the Studio 3, which is great when it comes to frequency separation. That means the highs, mids, and lows can be heard separately, without each of them drowning each other out.
The Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 can produce up to 100dB volumes, with crystal clear quality and no distortion. But you’re not going to blast this at 100%. Even at only 40% volume, my 2,300+ square feet condo unit is already filled with loud banging sounds, and I can never see myself go up to 100%. One thing I don’t like about it is that each step up/down in volume is vast, so it’s hard to find a sweet spot when it comes to volume. At 30%, it’s too soft to properly enjoy the music. At 40%, it becomes too loud that I fear an incoming noise complaint from the neighbours.
The Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 is a great Bluetooth speaker with an unorthodox design, and a therapeutic light show to go along with it. It’s packed with enough power and volume to hold a music festival at home, so be ready to “invite” any celebrities or DJs to come perform in ‘su casa’.
Sure, you lose out on the connectivity options, but if you’re purchasing a Bluetooth speaker, you’re going to want to use the Bluetooth, right?
Priced at RM1,299, you’re getting the signature Harman Kardon sound packed into an elegant piece of home decor that will definitely accentuate any room it is placed in.