The Harman Kardon SB30 is a space-saving alternative to a full 5.1 system that provides a ‘surround sound experience’ from a single soundbar speaker and a wireless subwoofer. That way you get all the excitement of home cinema sound without boxes and cables cluttering up your living room. At £700, it’s more expensive than many of its soundbar rivals (including the Roth Audio Sub Zero) but Harman Kardon usually justifies its higher prices with high-class build quality and impressive sound. Let’s find out if that’s the case with the SB30.
Harman Kardon SB30 Design
From a design perspective, the Harman Kardon SB30 is worth every penny of that price tag. The soundbar’s build quality is beautiful, with a heavy, robust feel to the bodywork, while the alluring gloss black finish is pure eye candy. At 1160mm it’s quite wide but a great size match for TVs between 40- and 50-inches – you can mount the soundbar on the wall or place it on your TV stand.
The shape is almost cylindrical, with a flat rear panel that houses all the connections and switches. On the front, a black mesh hides the 13 speaker drivers and keeps everything nice and low-key – apart from a row of lights that flashes across the front when you change inputs or adjust the volume. A row of buttons is placed along the top.
Harman Kardon SB30 Connectivity
The rear panel of the Harman Kardon SB30 is fairly busy. A small recess houses a cluster of sockets, including optical digital, coaxial digital and analogue stereo input. They’re outward-facing, which could be a slight problem when wall-mounted, but the depth of the recess means the cables have just enough room to hang downwards. You’ll also find a recess for the power lead, an on/off switch and two more switches governing the speaker EQ (for wall or table-top placement) and the wireless channel used by the sub and soundbar.
Although it’s nice to find both types of digital audio input on board, we’re disappointed by the lack of HDMI sockets for the money. This would have allowed you switch between Blu-ray players, digital TV boxes, games consoles and the like (as you can on the LG BB5521A), but for whatever reason Harman has eschewed these ubiquitous connections.
As for the subwoofer, it looks equally dapper in its lustrous gloss black finish and beautiful rounded corners. It stands on four sturdy feet and features a volume dial and phase switch on the back.