Harman Kardon vs Burmester – Which Brand Is Better?

Norvan Martin
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Harman Kardon and Burmester are two renowned and well-respected brands in the audio industry and produce high-quality car speakers, soundbars, headphones, and subwoofers.

In this article, we will cover a general overview of both brands, especially as it relates to their use in vehicles such as BMWs and Maybachs. Also, we will be looking specifically at the sound quality, durability, price, and so on. 

Harman Kardon and Burmester car speakers have similar generic specifications for comparable speakers. However, generally speaking, Burmester systems are more suited for passive, luxury listeners while Harman Kardon systems are more for active, sporty listeners.

Read on to learn more.

Harman Kardon and Burmester Comparison Table

CriteriaHarman KardonBurmester
Brand ReputationRenowned for high-quality audio and home entertainment systems.High-end audio brand, celebrated for audiophile-grade audio equipment.
Sound QualityKnown for delivering premium sound with a focus on clarity.Exemplary sound quality, often considered among the best in the industry.
Build Quality/DesignEmphasis on sleek design and premium build quality.Craftsmanship-focused design, known for luxurious and aesthetically pleasing products.
Product RangeSpecializes in audio systems, speakers, and receivers.Focuses on high-end audio components, including amplifiers and speakers.
PricingPositioned in the mid to high-end price range.Falls in the ultra-high-end price range, reflecting the premium quality.
FeaturesIncludes advanced features such as wireless connectivity and voice control.Features cutting-edge technology and audiophile-grade components.

Quick History

Harman Kardon Quick History

In 1953, Sidney Harman and Bernard Kardon partnered to establish the Harman Kardon audio equipment company. In 1954, Harman Kardon manufactured the world’s first true receiver system with the production of the Festival D1000 for non-technical users.

Harman Kardon logo

After Bernard Kardon left, Harman created a parent brand, Harman International Industries, through which he took on new businesses, including JBL, Soundcraft, Newsweek Magazine, and many others.

Harman Kardon products include stereo receivers and CD players, headphones, home theater, AV receivers, car stereos, and other audio equipment.

Burmester Quick History

Burmester Audiosysteme GmbH, commonly referred to as Burmester was founded in 1977 by an Austrian-born musician and engineer, Dieter Burmester.

Burmester logo

It is a German company that manufactures high-end audio components and is based in Berlin-Schöneberg. It has partnered with luxury car brands like Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Bugatti.

Sound Quality

Harman Kardon Sound Quality

Harman Kardon has done a great job of protecting the brand’s recording technology patents. They have ensured that all audio equipment from the brand produces high-quality audio that is almost as perfect as it was recorded in the studio.

Harman Kardon audio system

In addition, please note that Harman Kardon speakers are very biased towards the high end of the spectrum meaning that they are very “bright” systems.

Harman Kardon’s audio devices are targeted at primary consumers but intend to deliver quality. Hence, audio equipment from Harman Kardon provides balanced treble and bass, clear, and clean sounds that make it a better choice all the time.

However, one thing some people might find distressing about Harman Kardon is the fact that they can be bassy. An untuned Harman Kardon speaker has a bit of an overpowering bass effect to it, although you can always re-tune this to the way you would like it.

Burmester Sound Quality

Burmester devices have excellent sound reproduction and customers truly love the nuances and detailed sound of Burmester audio products. One important factor to note is that Burmester quality can vary from car brand to car brand. As an example,  Burmester on Maybach is not the same quality as Burmester on the C-class.

Burmester audio system

Their audio systems paint clear and precise audio images, with the tone ranges all perfectly balanced for a natural feel to the sound output. The mids are distinct and undistorted, the highs are warm and crisp, while the bass is deep and rumbling, without overwhelming the other tonal ranges.

Features

Harman Kardon Features

Harman Kardon is a brand that is focused on delivering the best audio equipment. Generally, there are more settings that you can change with a Harman Kardon system than with Burmester.

There are several modern features on Harman Kardon products which include the multi-pairing feature on most new Harman Kardon speakers.

The feature allows the speaker to connect to multiple devices at once. Harman Kardon’s Automatic Multi-beam Calibration (AMC) in their soundbar adjusts the surround sound to your room set up.

Burmester Features

Burmester devices have a number of advanced features incorporated into their devices. Some of the features you can expect to find in your devices are listed below.

  • Input options include XLR, RCA, Phono Input, MC / MM, DAC
  • Output options include XLR, 6.3mm and 3.5mm headphone jack, RCA, TOSLINK
  • Remote control, web platform, and app support
  • Apple Airplay® support
  • Phono equalizer
  • Streaming from services such as Tidal, Diadora, and others.

Build Quality

Harman Kardon Build Quality

One thing that is common to Harman Kardon is its impressive build quality. Harman Kardon pays special attention to the design of each product, which includes the components, sound quality, and overall durability.

Harman Kardon audio system in car

Their designs differ depending on the brand. For example, those with the JBL logo on them are mostly known for having fewer aesthetics but a powerful body that lasts a long time.

However, those with Harman Kardon directly written on them have a pretty interesting design that is sometimes unorthodox (like the Esquire speaker) but with a weaker structural delivery.

Another addition that is worth noting is that Harman Kardon products are mostly not a great fit for outdoor use. This may be because they are mostly focused on consumer products.

Burmester Build Quality

Burmester devices have a trademark chrome finish. They are built using quality materials that improve both the durability and acoustic properties of the device.

Burmester car audio system

However, many customers have complained about the build quality of their speaker grilles, especially for car audio systems.

The Burmester BC150 speaker has a solid aluminum frame and braces to reduce unwanted vibrations. The connections are made of extremely pure copper to ensure low resistance to current flow. All components of Burmester devices are manufactured and assembled by hand.

Ease Of Use

Harman Kardon Ease Of Use

Harman Kardon products have varied sizes and are mostly waterproof.

These two factors ensure they are easy to carry around and easy to use anywhere. However, the absence of a 3.5mm input port on some of their products makes them a little hard to use, although this is compensated for with Bluetooth connectivity.

Another problem with using some Harman Kardon products is that they focus so much on the design that it affects non-technical users. An example of this is seen in the design of the Harman Kardon Soundstick 3.

However, the Bluetooth multi-pairing feature in some Harman Kardon speakers improves its usability as it allows you to connect more than one device to the speaker at once.

Burmester Ease Of Use

Burmester devices are very easy to use, with clearly labeled dials, switches, and buttons. Remote control support also makes it easier to operate them. Car stereos can be operated using the car’s integrated control system.

Cost

Harman Kardon Cost

An average Harman Kardon JBL Portable Bluetooth speaker has a price range of around 40-400 dollars. However, here is a more concise idea of the Harman Kardon products:

  • Headphones from $44 to around $500
  • Earbuds from $40 to $120
  • Soundbar from $150 to $1000
  • Home theaters and surround speakers from about $150 to $1700 (full sound system)

However, there might be a slight difference in this price when getting any of the products. This price difference can be noticed across different regions and dealers.

Although most people buy them because of the delightful sound and quality, some people still feel the Harman Kardon devices are too expensive regardless of what they offer.

Burmester Cost

The prices of Burmester gadgets are on the high end of the price spectrum and their top-rated devices can be very expensive.

Check out the price list for their products.

  • Amplifiers: $4,500-$225,000
  • Speakers: $7,500 – $375,000
  • Turntables: $10,000 – $60,000
  • CD players: $3700 – $60000

Space Requirements

Harman Kardon Space Requirements

Harman Kardon products are some of the best audio equipment with space efficiency. They have a range of portable devices that can be placed almost anywhere without taking up too much space.

Their home theater systems come with a pretty sleek design, with portable speakers and subwoofers in most cases. An example of this is the HKTS 65 home theater speaker system.

Burmester Space Requirements

The materials used in manufacturing Burmester products make them bulky. The BC150 speaker measures 309x1433x601mm (WHD) and weighs a whopping 180 kg. The Burmester 777 preamplifier measures 450x156x346 mm (WHD) and weighs 25 kg.

Whatever model you get, keep in mind that they require enough ventilation space around them to perform optimally.

Remote Controls

Harman Kardon Remote Control

Harman Kardon allows you to easily control and have a relaxing musical experience with the remote control. They have a physical remote control that mostly comes with soundbars and a home theater system.

However, you can also download the Harman Kardon remote app for Apple, Android, and PC use. The remote allows you to play music and control your Harman Kardon device from anywhere in your house.

Burmester Remote Controls

Some Burmester devices support the use of third-party and in-house infrared remote controllers. The Burmester app and web interface also allow you to control your device and stream from services such as Tidal.

Connectivity Options

Burmester Connectivity Options

Burmester devices can be connected using wired or wireless options, or a combination of both. These options include Bluetooth, WiFi, USB, analog and digital audio inputs, and 3.5 and 6.3mm headphone jacks.

Power Range

Harman Kardon Power Range

The power range of most Harman Kardon speakers varies from portable devices to much larger ones. A device such as the Harman Kardon Automotive Mini, with 12 high-performing speakers, has a power range of around 360 watts.

However, in a much smaller device like the Harman Kardon HKTS 15, the power range in the 5.1 speaker system is around 100 watts.

Burmester Power Range

Burmester devices have high power ranges that give powerful sound outputs. The 911 Mk 3 amplifier is rated at 180 watts, which means that it can power any domestic speaker to high volumes without issue. The 159 Mono power amplifier has an astounding 1200 watts of peak power.

Frequency Response

Harman Kardon Frequency Response

In a Harman Kardon receiver (using the AVR 1610 specs as an example), the frequency range is around 87 MHz to 108 MHz. Interestingly, in another device, such as the portable Onyx Studio 4 speaker, the frequency range is just about 50Hz to 20kHz.

When you need to get a Harman Kardon product, you can request the spec of the particular device to know the frequency response.

Burmester Frequency Response

Burmester devices have frequency response ranges with deep lows for punchy bass and high ranges for crisp mid-tones. For some people, the frequency response of Burmester can be disappointing as certain frequencies may cause frequency distortion.

Conclusion

Harman Kardon is a device you can trust for its quality. This is not just from their marketing, but because they put in the work to make their product stand out. However, you should know that such a quality product can be quite expensive.

On the other hand, Burmester is a brand that makes every effort to manufacture products that meet only the highest quality standards, and you can expect nothing less than exceptional performance from their devices. If cost is not an issue, Burmester devices are one of the best audio devices you can buy.

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Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin