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Harman-Kardon SB30 review

Limited tech spec, but a capable soundbar nonetheless Tested at £700

Our Verdict

A little more limited than we’d like, but a good alternative to a full-on home cinema system nevertheless

For

  • Shiny good looks
  • wireless subwoofer
  • spacious, detailed and dynamic sound

Against

  • Obvious rivals have HDMI switching

The Harman Kardon SB30 is an undeniably alluring product. The shiny soundbar can be positioned either on a shelf using the rubber feet or mounted on the wall using the supplied brackets.

The equally shiny wireless subwoofer, meanwhile, can be positioned anywhere you like without the need for connections beyond to the mains.

Harman Kardon SB30: Sound quality
Fed the soundtrack to Chronicle via its digital coaxial input, the SB30 impresses with its hefty and spacious delivery.

It won’t go so far as to actually surround you with sound, but in ‘virtual’ mode the sound is spread wide enough to offer a significant improvement on the sound of your TV.

It’s tonally convincing and nicely varied, and remains poised even at antisocial volumes.

Big dynamic shifts pose no problems, and midrange fidelity is excellent. Voices sound detailed and immediate, and remain distinct and defined even at the height of the audio mayhem.

Harman Kardon SB30: Smooth sub integration
The subwoofer integrates very smoothly indeed with the soundbar, and its wireless connection was unshakeable even when we moved it into a different room to the soundbar.

In absolute terms it’s just a touch flabby, with a little give on the entry into and the exit from bass notes – but this trait is slight, and really only discernible with music.

Where full-on action movies are concerned it’s powerfully punchy.

Harman Kardon SB30: Verdict
This, though, is a product of both haves and have-nots.

In the ‘haves’ column we’ll put those many positive attributes we’ve discussed above.

The ‘have-nots’ column cost this soundbar a fair bit, however. The list includes: no HDMI input/output; no high-definition audio; a nasty little remote with buttons on one side and explanatory notes on the other.

For our £700 we’d like some HDMI switching as a minimum on a product such as this, and corresponding high-def decoding would be nice as well.

Having said that, what the Harman Kardon SB30 does, it does to a very high standard.

MORE: Best soundbars to buy in 2014

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, New York and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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