Other Gadgets

Harman Kardon CL Headphones Review

Mahananda Bohidar October 24 | Updated on October 23, 2012

Harman Kardon CL Headphones

The very first pair of Harman Kardon speakers I had seen was about 4 years ago. The GLA-55, a set of computer speakers, was crafted to look like a quirky, irregular polygon. At that point in time, the brand, although an established name in most parts of the world, was yet to make its mark in India. Over the last year however, the company has been more visible in the audio equipment scenario with more than a couple of launches every year. While most of their products fall in the home audio category, one of the most recent launches was a pair of headphones, the Harman Kardon CL.


The ‘CL’ in the nomenclature stands for ‘Classic’. The sentiment is reflected in the ‘can’t-go-wrong-with-this’ black leather and matt metal accents of the Harman Kardon CL. It works, as always, lending the headphones a touch of class.

The rectangular ear ‘cups’ on the CL are a pleasant departure from the circular cans we are used to seeing on everyone who owns a pair of headphones. Overall, the design harks back to everything ‘retro’ – it’s the kind of headphone you are certain to see a hipster sport.

The only potential eyesore in the unit is a bit of the cable sticking out above the ear pads. Also, at times the metal band connecting both the ear pads gets exposed. It doesn’t help that the band sports sharp edges.


I used the default ear pads that the Harman Kardon CL comes with. Immediately, I realise the headphones, with its soft leather cups, are a snug fit. A little too snug, maybe, ‘cos after almost an hour or more of continuous usage, it felt like someone had been gently tugging at my left ear for as long. Thankfully, Harman has given extra ear pads that you can use with the headset.

The lanyard that connects the headphones to the 3.5 mm plug has a slim physical control centre. You can use this to adjust the volume of the audio you’re listening to. And, a built-in microphone ensures you can make voice calls as well. To help you with this, the third button is the one you use to make or end calls.

Although the company says that the headphone comes with an ‘acoustic seal’ on the ear, you are never really isolated from ambient noise. So, while there is no leakage and the headphones seal in the music well enough for a good listening experience, you’ll still not miss out on a holler or two from people nearby.


The Harman Kardon CL is specially designed to extend low frequencies and enables better bass response. If you look close enough, you can see the plastic panel covering the drivers through the fine mesh on the ear pads. This houses a tuned bass port that works to deliver strong thumps at any preset volume. However, we felt that the bass was a little underwhelming with certain tracks which deserved more. For example, the beats on ‘Dum Dum’ by DJ Baauer were a little more subdued than they originally are.

However, it balances vocals and the instruments really well. We listened to Dev singing ‘Booty Bounce’ and we had to pump up the volume a bit before we really started enjoying the beats. Here again, there was a certain balance with the highs and lows throughout the song.

Also, the headphones are flat-folding making them easy to pack in a backpack or a briefcase. In the box, the company gives you a carrying case to protect the headphones when you travel.

Love – Looks classy, well-balanced audio

Hate – Finish is not seamless, slight compromise in bass levels

Rs 9,990


Published on October 23, 2012

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