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Harman Kardon Go + Play Wireless review

Sabyasachi Biswas October 9 | Updated on October 10, 2013

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Harman Kardon has produced a decent wireless audio dock, but is it worth the money without AirPlay?

The Harman Kardon Go + Play series of sound docks have been around for quite some time now, and there’s been a lot of debate around the docks’ styling. For one, the design is heavily industrial, which some people may like, while others might not. The Go + Play series was meant to be something that could be taken outdoors as well, but the design makes it look like something that would fit the mantelpiece of a really futuristic home.

Now, the Go + Play has gone wireless, and we’re not sure if we can still call it a dock. It’s completely wireless! No 30-pin or Lightning docking port, just wireless. And by wireless, it’s just Bluetooth. Agreed, that having AirPlay pushes up the price, but the quality of audio streamed is also better. Nonetheless, the Go + Play Wireless is out now, and we have tested the dock to see if it’s worth the price.

The structure

Like we said before, the design of the Go + Play speakers is debatable. It’s more industrial, than outdoorsy, contrary to what the name suggests. It has a steel arch where a handle should’ve been. This is functional, but it’s neither collapsible, nor foldable, which means it will always take some headroom while stowing away of carrying in a car or van. Still, as Harman Kardon claims, this is the only speaker system to be a part of Ney York City’s Museum of Modern Art.

The speaker grilles and their placement on the body have a very minimalist look. Although grilles are placed on both back and front of the device, giving an impression that the dock might have 360-degree sound output, it isn’t so. The two Atlas woofers and the two Ridge tweeters face in the same direction, and the rear grille is to cover the bass port. Although we really don’t think a bass port needs any covering, the grilles do add some visual elements on the back.

The top, again, has just a flat rubberised panel, with just three controls on it. All you get are the two volume buttons and one button to power on/off and mute while playing. On the back you get a 3.5mm input jack, which in this otherwise portless device, expands the compatibility to non-wireless devices as well.

But one baffling fact was that even in these times Harman Kardon has chosen to use D-type batteries when the device is not being powered by the AC adapter. At a time when everyone is opting for rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries, using D-type batteries not just adds to the weight, but also makes outdoor usage expensive, without the long battery life of a Li-ion battery pack.

The sound

The combination of the two Atlas woofers and the two Ridge tweeters is as good as it gets at this price. The Go + Play Wireless features dual high-frequency, midrange transducers and high-excursion, low-frequency drivers, the result of which is clear, deep, and resounding bass. Be it Dire Straits, Skrillex, Iron Maiden or even Tiesto, the bass lines are quite tight. Drum bass sounds really sharp, while playing Metallica, Pearl Jam or Pink Floyd. Even the White Stripes’ extremely low bass notes don’t distort, at any volume levels.

The mid-range and vocals sound equally good. There are absolutely no spots of trouble with the treble levels. Although the device doesn’t project sound in all directions, it makes up for it by having an intelligent-equalization (EQ) technology and compact digital amplification coupled with digital signal processing (DSP) that keeps sound output clean with all genres. What it doesn’t, rather can’t do, is be extremely loud. While the volume levels are good enough to fill a big living room completely, it’s still not loud enough for outdoors.

Verdict

The Harman Kardon Go + Play has a really clean sound output, and with precise and balanced amplification, you’d love to listen to any kind of music. Whether or not you’ll like the styling is a completely personal decision. I our opinion, the industrial design, though very pretty, isn’t too functional considering that the device is also meant to be carried outdoors. But then again, considering its inability to be extremely loud, the Harman Kardon Go + Play Wireless is best kept indoors.

Rs 24,990

Love – Impressive bass, sounds good across genres

Hate – Not too loud for outdoors, no Li-ion rechargeable battery

sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

Published on October 09, 2013

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