We review the latest Harman Kardon CL Headphones. While it is definitely a looker, does the sound quality also match up to the looks?
Harman Kardon is a world-renowned manufacturer of high-quality audio equipment, however, as audiophiles will probably already know, they’ve actually never produced headphones before.
As popular as headphones are around the world, it is strange that Harman never thought of releasing them under the Harman Kardon brand, until now that is. So, in that sense, this is a fresh start for them. And from the looks of it, they’ve got off to an absolute flier. In a world of plastic headphones and flimsy build quality, the CL’s stand out for their fantastic design and construction.
With a prominent metal and leather band, the CL’s look very avant-garde and cutting edge. The design is minimal and simple, yet it works phenomenally well and this is a genuinely striking looking set of headphones, especially with the combo of sand blasted metal and the black colour of the ear pads. Due to the extensive use of metal in the design, the headphones also feel very solidly built and sturdy.
As standard, the CL’s come with two sizes of headbands, which can be easily swapped to suit the size of your head. I personally found the larger size more comfortable for my massive head. The cord of the headphones also features a built-in line mic and remote, which can be used on Apple devices to control the volume, play/pause functions and changing tracks. While it does work on some Android devices, it doesn’t work on all of them, so it’s a hit and miss affair. The package also includes a smart carrying case for the phones, the ear pads of which swivel and it can be stored flat in the case.
When it comes to the sound, the CL’s are deeply impressive for how much they cost, and how natural they sound. Fitted with custom-made 4cm drivers, they have a unique baffle design, which Harman-Kardon claims help extend bass frequencies. Despite being an on-ear design, there is minimum sound leakage, therefore meaning that despite being in close proximity, people generally won’t get bothered by your music choices, especially on airplanes. And though the headphones are not noise cancelling, they do a very good job of blocking out ambient noise, making them excellent companions for air travel.
The sound from the CL’s is very natural and it has no problem reproducing nuances from music, which would be otherwise lost. The highs are crystal clear, and never sound shrill or excessively bright, the mids are quite expressive, but the biggest surprise is the bass reproduction. The quality and quantity of bass from these headphones is surprisingly good, and even on the most bass heavy tracks they reproduce the notes accurately, never making the sound feel teeny. In fact, in my extensive listening, the bass reproduction has been one of the most outstanding features of the headphone.
Flaws? Well there is one slight issue, given the heavy metal band the headphones can initially feel like they’re pressing too hard against your ears, therefore, meaning that the first few long listening sessions might have your ears hurting by the pressure they exert. However, it seems to be less of a bother over time.
So, the CL’s are a striking good-looking pair of headphones, are very well built and sound fantastically good. Given their price, this one gets a resounding yes from us.