Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4: The Ultimate Review
Everyone loves something new. Especially nowadays. And especially in the field of Bluetooth speakers. Harman Kardon speakers are legendary, so it’s no surprise they have such a following.
It is surprising, however, that the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 on Amazon and other major retailers continues to sell so well when the Studio 5 and Studio 6 have been released.
So what is it about this Harman Kardon speaker that makes it for some, the perfect wireless Bluetooth speaker? I’ll answer that question in this Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 review and also answer the question: is it the perfect speaker for you?
Note: There are two versions of the Studio 4 available. This review concentrates on the latest available model here on Amazon.
What do I like about the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4?
- The design. It’s classic and instantly recognisable.
- The sound. I’ll go into this in more detail later, but for me, Harman Kardon got it spot on with the Studio 4.
- The ability to connect the Studio 4 to a host of other speakers.
What don’t I like about the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4?
- It’s not as easily portable as the Studio 5.
- It’s not waterproof like the Studio 6.
- The lacklustre performance of its battery.
What do you get alongside the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 in the box?
- Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 Bluetooth Speaker, of course.
- Power adaptor, cord and plug for most regions – US/UK/EU and AU.
- Quick start guide.
- Safety sheet.
- 2-year warranty card.
How well is the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 built and designed?
Harman Kardon Speakers have become classics, with many Studio 1, 2 and 3s still in daily use. This is a testament to their superior construction and sound quality. The Studio 4 keeps up this tradition with quality components used throughout.
Let’s start on the outside, however. The Onyx Studio 4 is disk-shaped and at 12.50 x 8.20 x 12.20 inches, about a third bigger than the discus they use in olympic sport.
It weighs almost exactly the same as an Olympic discus at 4.50lbs, so officially you should be able to throw one around 243 feet, the current world record.
Tip: I don’t recommend using the Studio 4 as a discus on two counts. It’s well built, but it isn’t shockproof. And it also has two small legs at the base that would probably snap off on landing
The standard Studio 4 is covered in stylish black fabric. The only thing breaking up the fabric front is the Harman Kardon logo in the middle. The back isn’t covered in fabric, being strong black plastic with a handy recess as a carry handle.
There are those two small legs I mentioned at the base, which give it stability and several controls along the top:
- Power with LED indicator. To turn on the Studio 4, hold down the button for three seconds. Once the LED shows a steady white light, the speaker is ready to use. To turn off the Studio 4, press the button again for 3 seconds.
- Volume. There are two buttons, one decreases and one increases the volume. Both can be pressed once for a small increase or decrease or held for longer increases/decreases. When the Studio 4 turns on, it will use the last volume setting before it was turned off.
- Bluetooth. Once turned on, the Studio 4 enters pairing mode immediately.
Between the two legs are two connectors.
- USB port: This is used for software upgrades.
- Power DC input: Used to connect the supplied AC power adaptor.
Along the top panel there are also LEDs to indicate the status of the Studio 4.
|POWER||White, constant||Device on|
|White, flashing slowly||Battery charging|
|White, flashing quickly||Battery low|
|White, two flashes||Factory settings restored|
|BLUETOOTH||White, constant||Bluetooth connected|
|White, flashing slowly||No Bluetooth device connected|
The Studio 4 comes in black and, well, black. The good news is, it looks elegant in black. If you want your Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 portable Bluetooth speaker in a different color, you’ll have to go for a Studio 5 or 6.
How do I update the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4?
One of the great features of the Studio 4 is that it is compatible with the Harman Kardon Connect app, which allows you to upgrade the Studio 4’s firmware.
You can download the app on the Google Play and Apple App stores.
What does the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 sound like?
The Studio 4 has two 3″ woofers, two ¾” tweeters, and two passive radiators, putting out 60 watts in total. The overall sound is clear, with a really strong, but not overpowering bass.
The mids aren’t swamped, but neither do they stand out. It’s the same with the high notes. They are clear, but they don’t jump out at you. Overall, it’s a surprisingly classy sound for a speaker of its size and price.
The Studio 4 is certainly loud for its class. It can fill an average-sized room with enough volume for a decent party vibe. In fact, you may have to turn it down if you want your guests to hear each other talk.
If you do want to take it to the max, however, there’s very little noticeable distortion until around 90% volume.
How long does the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 battery last?
No one would pretend that the batteries are the strongest feature of any of the Onyx Studio range and the Studio 4 is no exception.
It has a 3000mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery which gives up to 8 hours streaming, so long as you don’t keep it at full volume. If you do, you could find that cut by up to half.
Even though there are Bluetooth speakers that outperform the Studio 4’s battery for much the same price, the reality is the Onyx Studio 4 isn’t really a portable Bluetooth speaker.
It’s too cumbersome, so most people will probably have it on mains power most of the time. If you want a portable Onyx Studio, you’re better off going for the Studio 5 or Studio 6.
Tip: When powered by the battery, the speaker will automatically turn off after 30 minutes if no music stream is detected. The power LED will also turn off. To start your Studio 4 again, just press the power button for 3 seconds.
Is the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 waterproof?
In a word, no. It’s not really even splashproof. If you need a waterproof Onyx Studio, go for the Studio 6.
How do I connect my Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4?
Unless you live in the dark ages, it should be no problem to connect your Studio 4. It uses Bluetooth 4.1 and supports almost all popular wireless devices. It doesn’t have NFC, but pairing is a synch.
Tip: The speaker’s Bluetooth device name is HK Onyx Studio and the password is 0000.
How to pair 2 Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4s
You can link two Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4s in party or stereo mode using the Connect app. In fact, you can connect more than two using its daisy chain function.
You can even connect Bluetooth speakers from different manufacturers such as JBL.
Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 vs 4
Visually the Studio 3 and 4 are pretty similar. The first noticeable difference is the weight. The Studio 3 is a little heavier than the Studio 4.
It’s also slightly larger, so if portability is important to you, you’re better off with a Studio 4, (although I’d actually go for a Studio 5 or 6).
Another deciding factor could be the battery life. The Studio 3 manges only a paltry 5 hours, while the Studio 4 racks up a decent 8 hours.
In terms of sound, the only real difference is the Studio 3 is more bass-heavy. Again, however, if bass is important to you, you might want to check out the Studio 5 first.
And if you like your sound in stereo, then go for the Studio 4. You can pair two studio 3 speakers, but only in mono.
|Model||Onyx Studio 3||Onyx Studio 4|
|Dimensions||15.00 x 10.00 x 15.00 inches||12.50 x 8.20 x 12.20 inches|
|Drivers||2 x 3” woofers, 2 x 3/4” tweeters, 2 x passive radiators||2 X 3″ woofers, 2 X ¾” tweeters, 2 x passive radiators|
|Charging Time||5 hours||5 hours|
|Frequency||60hz – 20khz||50Hz – 20kHz (-6dB)|
|Bluetooth Version||Bluetooth 4.1||Bluetooth 4.1|
Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 vs 5
Visually the Studio 4 differs from the Studio 5 in several key ways.
The Studio 5 dispenses with the Studio 4’s feet, replacing them with a slightly flattened, rubberized bottom. It also has a carry handle at the top, which makes it more portable than the Studio 4.
Apart from a few other minor cosmetic changes, the main difference is the sound. The Studio 5 has only two drivers compared to the Studio 4’s four. Even more than the Studio 3, the Studio 5 is bass-heavy.
Again, if having your music in stereo is important to you, you’ll have to go for the Studio 4 as the Studio 5 only pairs in mono like the Studio 3.
And the Studio 5 is also not compatible with the Connect app, so you can only pair it with another Studio 5.
The Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5 does have a slightly upgraded battery, but doesn’t have an in-built microphone, so if you want to make or receive calls on your Bluetooth speaker, you’ll need a Studio 4.
|Model||Onyx Studio 4||Onyx Studio 5|
|Dimensions||12.50 x 8.20 x 12.20 inches||11.20 x 11.50 x 5.00 inches|
|Drivers||2 X 3″ woofers, 2 X ¾” tweeters, 2 x passive radiators||1 X Woofer/1 X Tweeter|
|Charging Time||5 hours||5 hours|
|Frequency||50Hz – 20kHz (-6dB)||50Hz – 20kHz (-6dB)|
|Bluetooth Version||Bluetooth 4.1||Bluetooth 4.2|
Is the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 good value?
One of the confusing things about buying a Harman Kardon Onyx Studio Bluetooth speaker is the price. The Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 price can vary greatly from seller to seller, so it pays to shop around.
That said it’s usually great value if you’re looking for a stylish, well-built Bluetooth speaker with rich sound.
What are the closest rivals to the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4?
The nearest rivals to the Studio 4 are really the Studio 3, 5 & 6. I get asked about the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 vs the Harman Kardon Mini but really, although the Mini is a great speaker for the price, it’s not in the same league as its big brother.
The same is true about the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 vs JBL Flip 4 or JBL Charge 3. The Flip 4 and Charge 3 are both nice speakers, but they’re less powerful than the Studio 4 as you would expect being smaller and cheaper.
Is the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 right for you?
Yes. If you’re looking for a stylish, but not particularly portable, wireless Bluetooth speaker with the following features:
- Stylish looks.
- Rich sound.
- Built-in microphone.
- Decent battery.
- Ability to pair in stereo.
If portability and/or bass are most important to you, then go for a Studio 5. If waterproofness is essential, go for a Studio 6. Or if you want extra bass, but prefer the looks of the Studio 4 over the Studio 5 or 6, then go for a Studio 3.
Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 Specifications
- No of channels: 4
- Transducers : 2 X 3″ woofers, 2 X ¾” tweeters, 2 x passive radiators
- Bi-amplification: 4 X 15W
- Maximum SPL: 95dB @ 1m
- Power requirement: 100 – 240 V AC, 50/60 Hz
- Power adaptor: 19V, 2.0A
- Built-in battery: 3.7V, 2600mAh, Cylindrical Lithium Ion Rechargeable Battery
- Power consumption: 38W Maximum <1W stand by
- Speaker impedance: 4 ohm per speaker
- Frequency Response: 60Hz – 20kHz
- Frequency range: 2402MHz ~ 2480MHz
- Transmitter power: <4dBm
- Modulation: GFSK/ /4-DQPSK/8-DPSK
- Wireless Bluetooth: 3.0 A2DP v1.3 AVRCP v1.5
- Dimensions: (Dia x W x H) 280mm X 161mm X 260mm
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Harman Kardon speaker is the best?
This is really a matter of subjectivity. Generally, however, if you are not going to carry your Harman Kardon around then choose a Studio 5 or 6.
The only real difference between the Studio 5 and 6 is the Studio 6 is waterproof. If you’re not going to carry your speaker around, then choose a Studio 3 or 4. The Studio 3 is a little more bassy than the Studio 4.
Is Bose better than Harman Kardon?
Again this is subjective. Both manufacturers make a great range of speakers and have thousands of four and five star reviews.
Is the Harman Kardon Onyx 4 stereo?
No. The Onyx 4 is mono, but it can be paired with another Onyx 4 in stereo.
Is Harman Kardon a good sound system?
Harman Kardon wireless Bluetooth speakers all produce rich, clear sound. Some, like the Studio 5 and 6 are bass-driven, but still have excellent mid and treble.
Is the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 waterproof?
No. Currently as of this review, the only waterproof Onyx Studio Bluetooth speaker is the Studio 6.
How to pair two Harman Kardon Onyx studio 4s?
You can pair two Studio 4s using the Harman Kardon Connect app available in the Google Play and Apple App stores.
How to charge the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4?
Simply use the supplied power adaptor. It comes with a plug for most regions including US/UK/EU and AU.
How to Update the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4?
You can update the Studio 4 via the Harman Kardon Connect app available on the Google Play and Apple App stores.
How do you open the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4?
There are no instructions in the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 Manual on how to open your speaker for a reason. If you do so, you may void your warranty.