Skip to Content

Sonos vs Harman Kardon – Detailed Comparison

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made on our website.

Sonos 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

Sonos Quick History

Sonos, Inc. is an American company that specializes in the development and manufacture of audio devices. They are best known for their quality multi-room audio products. The company was co-founded in 2002 by John MacFarlane, Craig Shelburne, Tom Cullen, and Trung Mai.

The company displayed its first prototype at an industry event in 2004 and started shipping in early 2005. The company is always expanding its services internationally, for example to the UK in 2005 and Japan in 2018.

In January 2015, Sonos was rebranded by Bruce Mau Design, with a new visual identity and improved logotype.

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

Sonos Sound Quality

One of the most distinctive features of all Sonos speakers is their superb audio quality. The sound output is rich and clean, with deep bass and clear mid-tones.

Sonos has a team of seasoned musicians such as Grammy-winning music producer Giles Martin that assist in fine-tuning their speakers to ensure a natural and superior sound. Each Sonos speaker sounds really great on its own but you can connect two or more speakers together for a really immersive experience.

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

Sonos Features

Sonos is very popular for the suite of features that are incorporated into their products to ensure that you get the best out of your gadget. Most of the features ensure versatility in the speakers, which allows you to use them throughout the house, or outside.

Here are some features you can expect from your Sonos device:

Sonos App: The Sonos app is available for both iOS and Android to bring additional functionality to all your Sonos devices. Apart from functioning as a remote control for your speakers, it has a lot of other features such as the Calm app that plays relaxing music if you’re going to sleep, or you can set your alarm so that you wake up to your favorite music. It also has a sound equalizer feature to tweak the sound of your speaker to your taste.

Sonos Trueplay: To produce the best sound effect wherever you are, Sonos has a tuning feature known as Trueplay. Trueplay optimizes the sound of the speaker based on the acoustics of the room they are placed in.

Support For Multiple Music Platforms: Sonos has partnered with over 100 music service companies around the world such as Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, and Amazon Music to ensure that you can listen to your favorite music, podcasts, or TV shows regardless of the platform you use.

Surround Sound: Sonos speakers can be connected to each other for a truly immersive stereo or surround sound experience.

  • Support for Bluetooth, WiFi, Airplay 2 streaming
  • Voice control support for Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and in-house Snips SAS
  • Multiple input and output ports such as HDMI and optical audio input for TVs and type C to charge the battery-powered

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

Sonos Build Quality

Sonos uses sturdy materials like polycarbonate for the grille and a mixture of ABS and 10% glass fiber for the chassis to ensure a solid build, though this makes their speakers bulky. But if you prefer durability to portability, Sonos is the way to go.

Sonos devices

Some of their speakers have IP ratings, which means they are water-resistant and dust-resistant, therefore allowing for outdoor use.

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

Sonos Ease Of Use

Sonos products have a minimalistic design and a clean look without a clutter of buttons, which makes the products easy to operate.

Older Sonos speakers have a pause/play button that can mute if you press and hold or skip a track if you double click. Newer speakers have a touch-sensitive button that skips to the next or previous track if you slide from left-to-right or right-to-left, respectively.

Multiple speaker connectivity is easy to set up across different rooms using WiFi, Bluetooth, or connection to a single router.

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

Sonos Cost

Sonos products are quite expensive, but they are known to always deliver quality regardless of their price tag.

Sonos products are known for always delivering excellent performance, build quality, and strong connections compared to other brands in the same price range. In short, Sonos makes products that give great value for money.

Here is a price range for some Sonos products:

Soundbars: $150 – $850

Smart speakers: $150 – $500

Premium speakers: $200 – $900

Amplifier: From $600

Subwoofer: From $700

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

Sonos Space Requirements

Sonos speakers tend to be bulky, so they require ample space to use. Though this doesn’t mean that it cannot be used on your desk or placed on a bookshelf.

Some Sonos speakers, like the Sonos Roam and Sonos Move, focus on portability. Therefore, they produce the excellent audio output that Sonos is well-known for at a reduced weight and size.

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

Sonos Remote Control

There are several universal remote controls supported by Sonos products. There are some custom-made Sonos remote controls for easy operation of your devices. Sonos devices can also be remotely controlled with the Sonos app which allows you to control each device connected to the network individually.

Sonos gadgets also have Snips SAS, Sono’s custom AI technology for connected devices with the purpose of bringing a music-specific voice assistant to all its devices.

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

Sonos Connectivity Options

Multiple Sonos gadgets in a single household can be connected to each other wirelessly, through a wired Ethernet network, or a mixture of both. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth, WiFi, and LAN network for Internet connectivity.

Wired connections include HDMI for connecting to TVs and Ethernet connection to connect to multiple devices. Sonos devices can also be connected using Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, or Snips SAS.

Sonos gadgets can be connected to any device with Bluetooth or WiFi connection such as your smartphones, digital TVs, and other Sonos devices over the same network.

Power Range

Sonos Power Range

Sonos devices have different power ranges depending on the device’s performance. An average Sonos speaker consumes from 55 Watts to 125 Watts per channel.

Most Sonos devices do not have power buttons but have an idle/standby mode, consuming from 4-8 Watts in this standby mode.

All the information on the power range of a device is included in the product manual, so you can get information on the power range for your particular device.

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

Sonos Frequency Response

Sonos speakers have pleasing frequency ranges to suit the various types of usage scenarios. The Sonos five, for example, has a -3 dB bass response frequency of 88 hertz, which is excellent for a speaker of its size.

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

Sonos is a company that’s dedicated to manufacturing products with premium quality for a decent price. Their products have a wide range of features to suit each person’s needs. As said above, Sonos is a company that produces devices that give good value for money. 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.

Related Articles

Sonos Vs Kef
Sonos Vs Polk
Sonos Vs Ue Boom
Sonos Vs Teufel
Harman Kardon Vs Sony
Harman Kardon Vs Onkyo
Harman Kardon Vs Yamaha