Harman Kardon vs Yamaha – Which Brand Is Better?

Norvan Martin
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Harman Kardon and Yamaha are two renowned and well-respected brands in the audio industry and produce high-quality speakers, soundbars, headphones, and subwoofers. 
In this article, we will cover a general overview of both brands, looking specifically at sound quality, durability, price, and so on.

Of course, each brand has different devices at different price points, however, we will compare them as closely as we can.

Before you continue, you can also check out the following related comparisons:

Harman Kardon vs Yamaha Comparison Table 

CriteriaHarman-KardonYamaha
Brand ReputationHarman-Kardon is recognized for its high-end audio solutions and premium reputation.Yamaha is a well-established brand with a strong presence in the audio and music industry.
Sound QualityHarman-Kardon delivers exceptional audio clarity and richness in its products.Yamaha is known for its balanced and high-fidelity sound reproduction.
Build Quality/DesignHarman-Kardon products feature a combination of durability and stylish design.Yamaha emphasizes robust build quality and often incorporates sleek design elements.
Product RangeHarman-Kardon provides a range of audio products, including speakers and home audio systems.Yamaha offers a comprehensive lineup, spanning audio products, musical instruments, and AV equipment.
PricingHarman-Kardon products are typically positioned in the premium price range.Yamaha products vary in price, offering options across different price points.
FeaturesHarman-Kardon products often include advanced features for an enhanced audio experience.Yamaha integrates advanced technologies, providing a range of features for audio and AV enthusiasts.

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

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.

Yamaha Quick History

Yamaha is a Japanese brand that was established by Torakusu Yamaha in the year 1887. It produced the first Yamaha piano in the 1900s, which eventually laid a solid foundation for the many products that followed.

Yamaha logo

Yamaha is one of the largest audio product manufacturers with a reputation that sees their products used in international competitions and by renowned musical maestros. The Yamaha brand has a wide range of products that cut across professional audio equipment, digital and acoustic musical instruments, home audio products, and many others.

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’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.

Finally, note that when it comes to stereo, Harman Kardon is better. They are instantly noticeable, much cleaner, and much more detailed sound with good bass.

Yamaha Sound Quality

Yamaha audio equipment is known for producing clear and rich bass delivery and overall exceptional quality sound.

Yamaha speakers have multiple sound modes with an incredible ability to deliver soft but loud sound delivery. This is because of their high dynamic range, which includes a great deep bass and an extended high.

Finally, Yamaha receivers tend to be less dynamic and can sound rather “thin”. 

Features

Harman Kardon Features

Harman Kardon is a brand that is focused on delivering the best audio equipment. However, Yamaha receivers tend to have fewer features than Yamaha, but having said they often have all the essential features.

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.

Yamaha Features

Yamaha has one of the most diverse selections of audio products with diverse features, which might make the feature hard to generalize. However, here are some across their audio devices. Their Av receivers tend to have more features than comparable Harman Kardons, but many of their features are bells and whistles that most people won’t use. Here are some examples of standard features that Yamaha receivers are shipped with:

  • Protection – protection against short circuits both for the source power and for your speakers.
  • Wireless connectivity including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Music Cast (for multi-room connection).
  • Voice command features such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
  • HDR10+, HDMI, 8K/60Hz, and 4K120Hz
  • Online streaming support for Spotify, Apple AirPlay, etc
  • Virtual surround

Build Quality

Harman Kardon Build Quality

One thing that is common to Harman Kardon is its impressive build quality. The speakers are designed with an impressive and gorgeous finish.  Harman Kardon pays special attention to the design of each product, which includes the components, sound quality, and overall durability.

Harman Kardon receiver

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.

Yamaha Build Quality

Yamaha products use modern groundbreaking technology to deliver high-end audio products. Their products are known for delivering premium performance and last a pretty long time.

Yamaha home theater system

Yamaha products come with impressive aesthetic delivery and long-lasting function. This is because they pay attention to the use of high-quality materials in the production of their devices.

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.

Yamaha Ease Of Use

Yamaha offers an array of easy-to-use audio equipment. This includes wireless-enabled streaming speakers such as the Yamaha MusicCast WX-030. Yamaha products include devices with buttons that are easy to operate and remote control for use across the room.

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.

Yamaha Cost

Yamaha has an array of products that are more affordable than most other brands. For example, the Yamaha R-S202BL Stereo receiver is a high-quality receiver that costs around $200 to $300 but offers more features than other products in the price range.

The price tag you will get for most Yamaha products is listed below.

  • High-quality receivers from $200 to $1500

Speakers:

  • Centre channel speakers –  $70 and upwards
  • Indoor/outdoor speaker – $100 and upwards
  • Ceiling speakers start at $130, and
  • Bookshelf speakers from $120

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.

Yamaha Space Requirements

Most Yamaha products, particularly soundbars and Bluetooth speakers, are a great fit for ‌any room. The portable size and sleek design of most of these devices make them fit easily into small spaces without demanding too much space.

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.

Yamaha Remote Controls

Most Yamaha audio devices come with a handheld remote control for simple control of the device. But, beyond the physical remotes, Yamaha designed a virtual remote for almost all the audio products from the brand. This includes headphone control, multimedia music control, MusicCast Controller, and AV Controller.

This virtual remote can be downloaded from the app store for Android, iPhone/iPad, and PC use.

Connectivity Options

Yamaha Connectivity Options

You can connect to your Yamaha devices with one of the several available connectivity options. Wireless connections include Wifi and Bluetooth for most of their devices.  

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.

Yamaha Power Range

The power range for an average floor-standing Yamaha speaker is around 100 watts to 200 watts. However, a Yamaha bookshelf speaker has a power range of 200-600 watts.

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.

Yamaha Frequency Response

Yamaha audio equipment has a general frequency range of about 28 Hz-25kHz.

Example Comparison: Yamaha RX-V477 vs Harman Kardon AVR 1610

Yamaha RX-V477 vs Harman Kardon AVR 1610

Feature Yamaha RX-V477 Harman Kardon AVR 1610
Stereo RMS Power (watts) 80 85
THD in Stereo 0.09% 0.10%
Frequency Bandwidth (stereo) 20-20k Hz 20-20k Hz
Minimum Impedance L/R 6 ohms 6 ohms
Minimum Impedance Center 6 ohms 6 ohms
Minimum Impedance Surround 6 ohms 6 ohms
Bluetooth No Built-in
Apple AirPlay Built in No
App Remote Control Yes Yes
On-Screen Display Thru HDMI Thru HDMI
Auto Speaker Calibration YPAO EzSet/EQ III
Powered Multi-room Audio Output No No
Preamp Multi-room Audio Output No No
Multi-room HDMI Output No No
Total Number of Zones 1 1
Dolby Digital DD,TrueHD, DD+ DD, TrueHD, DD+
Dolby Atmos No No
DTS DTS, HD, HDMA, Neo6, 96/24 DTS, HD, HDMA, Neo6, 96/24
Audio-Video Inputs 12 7
Number of HDMI Inputs 6 5
Component Video Inputs 2 None
Audio-only Inputs 1 1
Phono Input No No
Optical Digital Inputs 1 1
Coaxial Digital Inputs 2 1
USB Connections 1 Front 1 Front
Outputs
HDMI Monitor Outputs 1 1
Component Video Monitor Outputs 1 None
Optical Digital Outputs None None
Coaxial Digital Outputs None None
Subwoofer Outputs 1 1
Discrete Subwoofer Outputs No No
Multi-channel Preamp Output No No
Main Speaker Output Pairs 1 1
Speaker Terminals Binding Posts Binding Posts
HDMI Version 1.4a 1.4
VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) No No
ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) No No
4K/120Hz-Capable Inputs No No
Audio Return Channel ARC supported ARC supported
FM Sensitivity Not Given 13.2 dBf
Multibrand Remote Control No Yes
Width (inches) 17.125 17.375
Height (inches) 6.3125 5.25
Depth (inches) 12.875 13.1875
Weight (pounds) 17.6 10
Parts Warranty 2 Years 2 Years
Labor Warranty 2 Years 2 Years
Owner's Manual Owner's Manual Owner's Manual

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, Yamaha is one of the oldest audio companies in the world today, but they have only grown better over the years. They have a range of diversified products, including musical instruments and professional and personal audio products.

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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