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JBL vs Harman Kardon

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JBL and Harman Kardon 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.

Quick History

JBL Quick History

JBL was founded in 1946 by James Bullough Lansing just after World War II. It is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, USA. The company manufactures amplifiers, loudspeakers, and headphones with the JBL Professional LSR10S being one of its best-selling subs with a class D amp, among other features. It is currently owned by Harman International after its Vice president Bill Thomas sold it in 1969.

In the 1970s, JBL entered the studio industry and launched its new technologies academy of motion pictures’ first full-line portable system in the 1980s. Also, the company was the first to introduce titanium in high-frequency diaphragms.

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.

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.

Sound Quality

JBL Sound Quality

JBL speakers tend to depict a neutral, balanced sound profile. Their bass-heavy audio profile makes them ideal for party and personal use, especially for those looking for deep bass to listen to modern pop and hip hop music. The speakers are also loud with rich sound.

The speakers perform well in both high and low volumes. Built for DJs and other professionals, the speakers are tough and reliable. The Bluetooth speakers have long battery life lasting 24 hours or more.

On the other hand, JBL headphones are packed with features that help them deliver a well-balanced sound that closely follows the Harman curve.

However, the design and fit of these headphones are not very comfortable. A top-of-the-range JBL could sound unique with the depth, power, and accuracy every listener appreciates!

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.

Features

JBL Features

JBL manufactures futuristic speakers to ensure users can easily fit them into their modern home systems. Bluetooth speakers and subwoofers from JBL, for instance, come with the following features:

  • Polypropylene or cellulose-fiber cones
  • Rubber surround
  • Frequency response depends on specific speakers
  • Sensitivity of about 2.83V at 1 meter
  • Power handling up to 250W RMS

Harman Kardon Features

Harman Kardon is a brand that is focused on delivering the best audio equipment.

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.

Build Quality

JBL Build Quality

JBL speakers are well built with Aluminum, Nickel, and Cobalt which is a strong high-power permanent alloy.

Also, the wireless speakers are high quality and built with solid features. The performance is reliable and they are waterproof which makes them all weather.

How To Pair Your JBL Speaker To Your Device

The headphones however have a plasticky build that makes them look average despite the well-balanced sound.

Harman Kardon Build Quality

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

HKTS 65 home theater speaker system

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.

Ease Of Use

JBL Ease Of Use

Setting up JBL speakers may not be easy if you are not ready to handle the process. However, if your speakers are within the Bluetooth range, JBL speakers will easily pair with nearby devices.

The subwoofers may not be very easy to set depending on your car, but they are easy to use.  The wireless headphones are easy to use, whether you want to talk or just listen.

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 the 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.

Cost

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, 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.

Space Requirements

JBL Space Requirements

JBL speakers are built to fit in many room sizes. The Bluetooth speakers are tiny in size and easily portable. Therefore, you can easily place them anywhere in your room or carry them for an outdoor listening experience.

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.

Remote Controls

JBL Remote Controls

JBL builds remote controls to help with easy and safe control of music together with other call functions on other devices such as smartphones.

JBL Click, for instance, is a mountable Bluetooth controller that makes it easier to control your music and call functions on any smartphone. However, JBL Boombox and JBL Partybox 310 do not have 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 the soundbars and the 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.

Connectivity Options

JBL Connectivity Options

JBL speakers, especially the Bluetooth-enabled ones, connect easily via Bluetooth. In fact, JBL makes them so that you can easily wirelessly connect up to 100 JBL speakers via Bluetooth.

Power Range

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

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.

Conclusion

JBL offers a wide range of speakers for all use cases. Although most of them do not have EQs for customized sound, they have a pretty neutral sound profile. Besides, they have an excellent build quality that ensures that the portable JBL sound systems last longer. On the other hand, 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.

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