Harman Kardon vs JBL (The Truth!)

Norvan Martin
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Both Harman Kardon and JBL are vintage speaker brands with over 50 years of experience in the industry. There’s no doubt they both excel in the business. However, they still deliver varied variations in design and audio quality. This article compares the two to help you decide which is better. 

JBL is a popular brand that offers a wider range of audio devices including go-anywhere party speakers. Their speakers offer better soundstage performance, and longer battery life, and they support voice assistants. Harman Kardon on the other hand offers speakers that sound neutral and balanced out-of-the-box; they are great for around-the-house use.

Harman Kardon vs JBL Comparison Table

CriteriaHarman KardonJBL
Brand ReputationHarman Kardon is known for its premium audio and multimedia systems.JBL is a well-established brand with a strong presence in professional and consumer audio markets.
Sound QualityHarman Kardon speakers offer clear and balanced audio with a focus on aesthetics.JBL speakers are praised for their clear and powerful sound reproduction, especially in the low frequencies.
Build Quality/DesignHarman Kardon products often feature sleek designs with attention to build quality.JBL speakers are known for their durable build quality and functional design.
Product RangeHarman Kardon offers a range of audio products, including speakers and home theater systems.JBL provides a wide array of audio solutions, including speakers, headphones, and professional sound systems.
PricingHarman Kardon products are positioned in the mid to high price range.JBL offers products with varying price points, including options for different budgets.
FeaturesHarman Kardon speakers often come with advanced features and connectivity options.JBL products are feature-rich, with technologies suitable for various audio applications.

Before you continue, you can check out the following comparisons in this series:

Is JBL Harman Kardon?

JBL and Harman Kardon as subsidiaries of the parent company Harman. As such, JBL and Harman Kardon are different companies, but they are related entities within the same group of companies, Harman.

Harman Kardon is an American speaker manufacturing company founded in 1953 by Sidney Harman and Benard Kardon. 

JBL by Harman

Harman Kardon designed some of the first high-quality audio products in the 1950s and is well remembered for introducing an AM/FM compact Hi-Fi receiver, Festival D1000, in 1955.

In 1956, Benard Kardon retired and sold his interest to Sidney Harman, who later changed the company’s name to Harman International. However, the tuners, amplifiers, and receivers were still sold under the Harman Kardon brand. 

In 1958, Harman Kardon introduced one of the first stereo receivers for non-technical users – Festival TA230.

On the other hand, JBL is an American speaker manufacturing company founded by an American Audio engineer, James Bullough Lansing, in 1946. James is best known for establishing JBL and Altec Lansing, bearing his name. However, JBL speakers are made in more than one country

Presently known as James B. Lansing Sound, Incorporated, the JBL was first called Lansing Sound, Incorporated. The legendary L100 Century Loudspeaker is the best and most referenced JBL speaker. An essential part of hi-fi history, the speaker, was first introduced in 1970. The brand dominated the market in the seventies. 

In the 1950s, JBL introduced the first 375 high-frequency compression driver, which became the first commercially available 4″ diaphragm driver.

It was a re-invention of the Western Electric 594 driver and had a four-inch voice coil with an Altico V magnet. The company also introduced 075 UHF ring radiator drivers, known as “JBL bullets,” due to their distinctive shape. 

These speakers are standard and are less expensive too. Besides, they were very trendy back then. Therefore, JBL is not Harman Kardon. 

Harman Kardon Vs JBL Speakers 

Harman Kardon speakers are crafted in sophisticated design and deliver sublime sound. The speakers will therefore assure you of beautiful and high-fidelity sound. The company, therefore, manufactures very high-quality speakers. Besides, the design is unique to Harman Kardon. 

harman kardon

Unfortunately, the high quality also means that users have to dig deeper into their budgets to acquire speakers from Harman Kardon.  

On the other hand, JBL provides some of the most popular wireless speaker brands in the market.

The company, therefore, allows users to enjoy crisp and clear sound that remains great indoors and outdoors. The speakers integrate the latest Bluetooth technology and provide significant volume with minimal sound distortion. 

Some of the exciting features that make JBL speakers excellent include:

  • Portability 
  • Great sound quality 
  • Energy efficiency 
  • Easy installation 
  • Power saving 
  • Affordability 
  • Durability 
  • Long battery life 

Therefore, the features clearly show the difference between JBL and Harman Kardon speakers. Noth the brands, therefore, deliver high-quality speakers.

However, the choice is personal, as that depends on the key features you consider more important. For instance, if you want a speaker to satisfy your outdoor adventures, JBL will be the best. 

Harman Kardon Vs JBL Soundbars

We shall compare the Harman Kardon SB 20 with the JBL Bar 5.1 surround Soundbar for this review. 

Harman Kardon SB 20

The Harman Kardon SB 20 is a two-channel soundbar that fills your living room with sound and comes with a powerful wireless subwoofer. 

The Soundbar comes with extensive HDMI connectivity, and Bluetooth and quickly learns the commands of the TV remote control. The SB 20 is built with two-way, dual left, and suitable modules, each with two 3″ midrange drivers and one 1″ dome tweeter. 

JBL Bar 5.1 surround Soundbar

Also, the Soundbar is Dolby enabled and can encode Dolby Digital formats. It also allows direct listening from a smartphone or tablet and is compatible with the new Harman Kardon mobile app. 


  • Dolby Atmos-enabled
  • Easy and quick installation
  • Compact 
  • A wider range of connectivity options 


On the other hand, JBL Bar 5.1 surround Soundbar is a 5.1 setup that utilizes “Multibeam” technology to improve the surround performance. Also, the soundbars deliver punchy and boomy bass that is particularly suitable for EDM music and action flicks.

The soundbars have room correction and have several wireless options that support music streaming. However, it does not support Dolby Atmos, and the EQ options are limited. 


  • Outstanding wireless connectivity options 
  • Room correction 


  • No Dolby Atmos 
  • Only two EQs present 

Harman Kardon Vs. JBL Boomboxes

For this review, we compare Harman Kardon Go+Play with the JBL boombox. Harman Kardon Go+Play produces rich, mellow highs.

harman kardon vs jbl boombox

The bass is also incredibly warm and spacious, especially when listening at half-volume. On the other hand, the JBL boombox produces very crisp highs, and the bass is punchy. The vocals and highs sound like a live performance. 

Harman Kardon Go+Play

Harman Kardon Go+Play Mini 2 - Portable Bluetooth...
  • Stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth to enjoy room filling sound. Bluetooth transmitter frequency range: 2402...
  • Built in rechargeable Li ion battery supports up to 8 hours of playtime and charges your smartphones and...
  • Dual Microphone Conferencing System with Harman noise and echo cancelling technology delivers crystal clear...


  • Midrange is crisp
  • The voice assistant is on and enabled on a smart device
  • Better sound
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Smooth bass
  • Clear sound 
  • Easy to use


  • Harsh edge design 
  • Only one equalizer setting 
  • The indoor mode has no bass boost because the bass resonates from indoor objects 

JBL Boombox 

JBL Boombox 2 - Portable Bluetooth Speaker,...
  • POWERFUL JBL ORIGINAL PRO SOUND AND MONSTROUS BASS: Get the loudest, most massive JBL Original Pro sound on...
  • PORTABLE DESIGN: The iconic grip handle makes it easy to transport the JBL Boombox 2 portable speaker.
  • 24 HOURS OF PLAYTIME: The fun doesn't have to stop. Packed with an incredible 24 hours of battery life, JBL...


  • Clear sound 
  • Smooth bass
  • Midrange is crisp 


  • Heavy 
  • Only one equalizer setting 

So, Which Is Better?

Generally, JBL Boombox is a better choice. Here’s why: 

  • Stereo speakers 
  • Two more drivers 
  • Has a subwoofer
  • Smaller 
  • It has a passive radiator 
  • Weather-sealed 
  • It has a battery level indicator
  • The battery is rechargeable

Harman Kardon Vs JBL Car Audio

For the best car audio experience, both Harman Kardon and JBL are good options. For instance, let’s look at Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 and JBL Flip 4 here. 

Based on user experiences, Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 is portable only because it comes with an inbuilt battery and can be operated without a cord. It is, however, much larger and bulkier. 

On the other hand, JBL Flip 4 has more battery life, a compact design, and better sound quality. Besides, at less than $100, Flip 4 is a great option. 

Pros of Onyx Studio 4

  • Great sound quality
  • Impressive volume

Cons of Onyx Studio 4

  • Very large and heavy
  • Poor battery life

Pros of Flip 4

  • Excellent sound quality 
  • Good battery life
  • Waterproof 

Cons of Flip 4

  • Distorts at high volumes
  • Limited app functionality 

So, Which Is Better4?

Generally speaking, the JBL Flip 4 is much better than the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4. Here’s why. 

  • It is weather-sealed
  • Is 20mm bigger driver unit
  • It is dustproof
  • One more live Bluetooth connection
  • 4 hour longer battery life
  • It is much lighter 

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 6 Vs JBL Boombox 

Onyx Studio 6 is a Bluetooth speaker with an excellent design and high-quality sound. It is highly durable and comes with IPX7 certification for water resistance. 

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 6 Wireless Bluetooth...
  • 8 HOURS OF PLAYTIME: this Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 6 speaker features a rechargeable battery that supports up...
  • IPX7 WATERPROOF: use this wireless portable speaker at any place within the home without worrying, like by the...
  • WIRELESS BLUETOOTH STREAMING: stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth to enjoy room-filling sound. Connect up to...
JBL Boombox 2 - Portable Bluetooth Speaker,...
  • POWERFUL JBL ORIGINAL PRO SOUND AND MONSTROUS BASS: Get the loudest, most massive JBL Original Pro sound on...
  • PORTABLE DESIGN: The iconic grip handle makes it easy to transport the JBL Boombox 2 portable speaker.
  • 24 HOURS OF PLAYTIME: The fun doesn't have to stop. Packed with an incredible 24 hours of battery life, JBL...


  • Excellent sound quality 
  • Massive bass
  • Beautiful design 
  • Dual sound feature


  • Cannot use dual sound with older speakers in the series
  • Not shockproof 

On the other hand, JBL Boombox is a bulky, durable, and powerful Bluetooth speaker. JBL excels in producing Bluetooth speakers, and the Boombox will take your wireless listening to the next level. 


  • Mind-blowing bass 
  • Very durable
  • It can be used as a mobile charger
  • IPX7 waterproof 


  • Large and heavy
  • The sound is not perfectly balanced 

So, Which Is Better?

Considering the design, specifications, connectivity, and sound quality, the JBL Boombox is a much better choice than Onyx Studio 6. 

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 6 Vs. Citation One 

Generally, Studio 6 is more expensive than Citation One. Also, Studio 6 comes with an inbuilt rechargeable battery and a battery level indicator that makes it much easier to use. 

So, Which Is Better?

Based on the components, design, connectivity, and usability, Onyx Studio 6 is considered a much better option than Citation One. Here are more reasons. 

  • One more driver
  • Passive radiator 
  • Weather-sealed 
  • Rechargeable battery level indicator 
  • In-built radio 
  • 31mm bigger driver unit 

Power Range Comparison

JBL Power Range

The speakers have a high power handling capacity. For instance, the 840 Cinema Surround Speaker can handle 350 watts of continuous play, while the JBL Stage 1210 12” woofer can handle up to 250 watts RMS and 1000 watt peak power.

Subwoofers: 50W to 1600W rated power

Speakers: 50W to 250W rated power

Amplifiers: 50W to 800W per channel

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.

Frequency Response Comparison

JBL Frequency Response

JBL speakers work well under various frequency ranges. For instance, the JBL ES Series speaker systems, such as the ES 20, operate between 65 HZ – 40 kHz.

The 840 Very High Power Cinema Surround Speaker for digital surround sound immersion application performs within the 60 Hz to 19 kHz frequency range.

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.

Cost Comparison

JBL Cost

Bluetooth JBL speakers are available at a range of prices. You can, however, get them between 40 dollars and 400 dollars.

However, the GBL Go is still ranked the most affordable Bluetooth speaker owing to the added value of sound quality and portability. The cost is generally high due to the high cost of engineering, the high cost of quality materials, and the cost of advertising.

Headphones: $10 – $200

Amplifiers: $50 – $5000

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.


JBL and Harman Kardon are well-known audio manufacturers, with JBL being more popular. JBL is well known for its party speakers and offers better soundstage performance and longer battery life. It is also easier to connect multiple JBL speakers together. Harman Kardon on the other hand offers speakers that sound neutral and balanced out-of-the-box; they are great for around-the-house use.

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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