Quick Review: Harman Kardon SB 30

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A client who returned a MartinLogan Motion Vision soundbar opted instead for the Harman Kardon SB 30. This review will be short, though, because even though we were very pleased with the device, there are even better ones just around the corner. My buying advice would be to wait on a soundbar if you want one, as 2013 should be the year that soundbars finally enter the big leagues. If you need to buy one now, I still like the HK SB30, but I’d only get it if you could purchase it for a discount (like the client did).

Pros: It looks good. It sounds great. And it even does a surprisingly decent job simulating actual surround sound. The wireless subwoofer is attractive enough that you don’t need to hide it.

Cons: The less expensive HK SB16 actually offers a larger wireless subwoofer. The SB 30 doesn’t have HDMI inputs, an on screen display, bluetooth, or any number of other features that should be standard in high end soundbars in 2013. You also can’t really adjust the sound in any detailed way (bass, treble, etc.).  At $800, the price isn’t as steep as competing high-end soundbars from MartinLogan, Bose, and Sony, but it’s still a little more than it should be.

4 thoughts on “Quick Review: Harman Kardon SB 30

  1. Hi Eric, I love your review of the MartinLogan sound bar, are you going to post a longer review for this SB 30 model too? I wonder why you say you will only get this SB 30 on discounted price. Is the sound quality not as good as the MartinLogan model? If it’s not as good, which part of it? I would think that the separate subwoofer would make the bass much better. Thanks.

    • Hi Fredric,

      I didn’t have access to the SB 30 for that long, so I won’t be running a longer review, but my overall impression is that it’s definitely one of the “better” soundbars out there, if not a bit overpriced at its list price of $800. My client got his for about $100 less and that feels right. The reason I feel it’s a little expensive is simply because there are better models out there now able to compete in that price range (if not a little cheaper). As for the MartinLogan, it definitely had a “wow” factor that the SB30 lacked, especially when you play music. The problem was dialogue. Because it didn’t have a separate subwoofer, the soundbar itself was providing as much bass as it could, which had a bad habit of muddling dialogue a bit, especially when the characters had deep voices to begin with or when they talked over each other. The SB30’s separate subwoofer gave it a clear edge in that area. You can get a subwoofer for the MartinLogan, but at $500, you’re looking at spending $2000 on a soundbar, and if you have that kind of money, you should just go ahead and get the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama. I found that to be a true “no compromise” soundbar solution for high end systems. (I haven’t written it up, though, simply because I have yet to have a client who wants to spend that kind of money on a soundbar)

  2. Pingback: Do you really need an A/V receiver? | TECH GUY ERIC

  3. Pingback: Review: MartinLogan Motion Vision Soundbar | TECH GUY ERIC

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