Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 – REVIEW

An improvement over the Onyx 3, ridiculously bassy, with an attractively modern, spherical design.

Hey everyone, Jimmy with JimsReviewRoom. We’re checking out the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4. You guys have been asking me forever to review this. I passed up on the Onyx Studio 2 and the Onyx Studio 3.  It’s because it was crazy expensive every time I checked the price.  This one, it retails for 449 dollars – that’s obscene, do not pay that price, I actually got it on sale at 200, but as of this review, this is going for as low as 130 dollars from reputable resources like Amazon. I’ll leave my affiliate links right above, click on that for the most updated prices in real time, you never know when these things might go on sale.

Going over the physical features, this thing looks damn sleek, it looks really modern, contemporary, it’s all black, very JimsReviewRoom style. You‘ve got your front fabric grill, very premium built, no compromise, no speakers being exposed where they can be messed up. Rotating to the rear, we have hard plastic on the back with a silicone rubberized textured band going all the way around, so when you grab it, you do feel this grippy texture. I do wish it was continued all the way across the back as well to continue that premium feel, we don’t get that.

But going over the buttons really quickly here, if you’re looking at it straight on, you have your Bluetooth pairing button on the left, Harman Kardon plus feature, but I did test this and try to connect it with my JBL Pulse 3 and Xtreme, unfortunately you couldn’t get them to pair together and play in stereo mode. Now you can use another Harman Kardon product that has the Harman Kardon connect Plus feature and have them play simultaneously, or connect up to 100+ speakers and have those all play at the same time if you have a bunch around you.

Now, moving on here with the buttons, we have audio down, audio up, and the phone call button, and on the very right, we have the on/off feature. This speaker is about four and a half pounds, it does come with a small built-in handle, This speaker is meant to be a more stationary, stay-at-home device, but because of the handle, it does make carrying it a little bit easier. If you need to bring this to a friends house, if you need to bring it downstairs, it’s not a big deal, to be honest, no different than carrying around the Sony XB40 or JBL Xtreme we have here in the office.

Overall, the Onyx 4 is portable, though it does have a bit of weight. The legs on the Onyx are not removable, I did think they were at first due to the circular indentation, but they’re only there to keep the speaker upright. Finally, on the back, there is a flexible passive radiator, it does move pretty well, and looks really cool when you have music going.

Rotating all the way to the bottom, you have a micro-USB for service, a 3.5mm port for physical connections, and a power port which connects to the supplied wall adapter – this does not charge by micro-USB 2.0.

Now, battery life is claimed to be up to 8 hours, an improvement over the Onyx 3 which only claimed up to five hours, but did I get eight hours on this one. I tested this like all my other Bluetooth speakers at fifty percent volume and I did this several times here, I’m getting around 6 hours and 20 minutes on average. Not close to the claimed 8 hours, but again to the previous generations it still does well, compared to the previously mentioned JBL and Sony, it does like crap. But again, this is meant to be more of an at-home stationary speaker. 

So other than that, missing features I’m noticing on here, NFC, there’s no near field communication for easy pairing, it’s not waterproof, water resistant, it’s not drop-resistant. We don’t have battery indicators, which I implore every Bluetooth speaker to have, every manufacturer to implement, there is no voice prompts so I don’t know when it’s in pairing mode. We do have capabilities with Siri and Google Assistant, by holding down the Phone Button when it has been set through the HK app. But other than that, that’s about it in regards to features.

Lastly, Bluetooth 4.2 is featured on this speaker. I did test this with my iPhone X and my Samsung S8+, and we were able to get 83 linear feet, walking through the hallway and having the signal go through a couple walls – a good result overall.

Jumping right into this, for small and medium-sized room, this thing can definitely get loud for those particular areas. For large-sized rooms or open areas, the Onyx handles them perfectly fine. Now one of the big reasons why you would purchase this over the JBL Xtreme, Sony XB40, or most other competitors like the Bose Soundlink Revolve Plus or the UE Megablast, the Onyx Studio 4 beats them both in the bass department. It thumps harder, it hits deeper, and it resonates deeper. And because of that, more immersion is added to the music, I was head nodding a little bit more, it is just gorgeous – if I can describe audio in those terms, in regards to the bass response. This is a bass-focused, bass-heavy speaker. Now with that being said, being heavily bass-focused is not necessarily a bad thing – if you do value that, that’s great. I’ve noticed the bass is very clean for my personal experience, it’s not muddy, and it doesn’t distort the mid range.

One thing about the mid-range I need to clarify, compared to the competitors, especially JBL and Sony, those two are more forward and bright in regards to vocal performance and most of the instruments, their mid-ranges are much more in the forefront when you’re listening. With the Onyx Studio 4, it’s not necessarily recessed, again it’s not muddy because of the bass, it’s just more of a neutral frequency. The speaker is not forward, it’s not bright, you won’t hear the vocalist stand out too much; but with that being said, it’s not a bad speaker at all – it’s actually still a phenomenal speaker. If you do value more detail and quality in the mid-range, you do prefer hearing audio vocal work, other alternatives like the Sony Xb40 or JBL Xtreme are a little less bassy but are more mid-range focused.

High notes – never ear ringing, never ear tinging, I wish there was a little bit more detail, a little more resolution on the very high-end for cymbal crashes and snares. For something like rock music, the Onyx Studio 4 does good, but again, you do lose that crispness on the very top, that’s what you’re missing on this one. Not bad, but I thought Sony and JBL were bass speakers, but this one goes a little deeper in the large speaker category.

Overall, audio-wise, perfectly fine. Regarding video, I did test this on the iPhone X, and unfortunately, we did not have the audio sync. When you’re watching videos on this speaker with the iPhone, Netflix and YouTube, people’s mouths are moving differently from when you hear the audio. On both my Pixel and Galaxy S8+, I didn’t have too much of an issue, it was much better, much moire in=-sync, but there is still a micro-fraction delay here when I’m watching either Netflix or YouTube, so just keep that in mind – for video, I would probably pass up on it, but you will have more luck on Android.

So other than that, that’s about it for this review. Comment down below what you guys think about this speaker. We may do a giveaway on this speaker considering how cheap they are right now, so please keep tabs on the site and check back soon.


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Last updated on January 18, 2021 11:41 pm