HARMAN KARDON AURA: Nice design, pretty good sound

Written by Sudhir Chowdhary | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 26 2014, 07:07am hrs
Delight us, and amaze us. I would say this for the new crop of wireless speakers out there in the market, which continue to surprise us with their stunning design and their ability to deliver high quality music. The latest on the block is the Harman Kardon Aura, a complete stunner in looks; it resembles an ultra-modern kitchen blender with its transparent polycarbonate, dome-shaped enclosure. Or maybe a fortune tellers crystal ball! But take my word, the sound from this wireless speaker system is crisp and loud with minimal distortion. It would easily fill a decent-sized room with its rich sound. The HK Aura delivers a look and feel youll be proud to include in your home. Though I must admit, it is not-so-affordable as it carries a price tag of R34,990.

In the box, I received the beautiful Aura sound system, one AC adaptor and a Harman installation app and the very essential quick-start guide. In a rather overcrowded wireless speaker market, having a product that stands out is important. Harman Kardon knows this reality quite well. Its design is a work of art and the uniquely designed Aura has a circular footprint with a diameter approximately 21.5 cm, while the height measures around 28 cm. This somewhat crystal ball kind of a speaker has the perfect size to sit on a desk, a shelf, the flooror wherever you want to display this eye-catching speaker.

With its 6 x 1.5 inch high and mid-range drivers, and a 4.5 inch sub-woofer delivering omnidirectional, 360 degree sound, the Aura packs a punch much larger than its modest footprint might suggest. Outfitted with premium materials and elite featuresincluding built-in Bluetooth to stream audio from your Bluetooth devices, Wi-Fi for Apple AirPlay and DLNA streaming on your home networkthe Harman Kardon Aura will make you a proud owner in case you decide to possess it. From its premium cloth grill to its transparent enclosurewhich lets you see inside to observe the sub-woofer and its custom-built metal housing and illuminating LEDit indeed is a beauty.

You can use the Harman Kardon remote app to guide you through a simplified set-up, giving you full control over your wireless Harman Kardon ecosystem. Basically the app is a hub to manage your compatible Harman-Kardon devices. The key functions are there: you can sift through a devices music library; queue and repeat songs, or share them via email.

Switched on, I literally peeped into the plastic dome to catch the illumination coming from a ring of light towards the centre of the structure that represents the volume level and it looks cool when the lights go down. Other lights and buttons are kept to a minimum: there's a touch-sensitive volume slider, next to which are light-up source, power and Wi-Fi buttons.

The Aura sells itself as a wireless home speaker; however, it is equally dependent on wired inputs. It needs to be plugged into a power socket. Around the back theres a 3.5 mm jack and an optical input too, meaning it is suitable to used as an outlet from all kinds of sources, or even as a product to enhance TV sound should you want. But the wireless connectivity is its main sell. Aura provides Wi-Fi connectivity via DLNA and AirPlay, while Bluetooth is operational via many devices.

I established a wireless connection between the Aura and my mobile phone to play some music. Pairing via Bluetooth is easy and worked seamlessly. I also played a number of songs, both Hindi as well as English, from my laptop and the speaker simply sounds brilliant with its big, room-filling sound. Its loud without being overbearing, it sounds good at all volumes and the distinctive quality at all frequencies handles all kinds of genres with ease.

My takeaways: Aura stands alone in a world of me-too speakers, as it clearly demonstrates and shows that beauty can sound as stunning as it looks. A stylish showpiece for any room, its sure to catch a few eyes, turn a few heads and steal a few hearts. So go aheadconnect, stream, turn it up. You wont believe what youre hearing.

Estimated street price: Rs 34,990