Harman Kardon SB30 Review - Features and Operation Review


Harman Kardon SB30 Features
There’s an impressive line-up of features on board the Harman Kardon SB30. It decodes both Dolby Digital and DTS bitstreams from Blu-ray/DVD players, which allows discrete 5.1 sound to be passed to the multiple speaker drivers. The HARMAN Wave surround mode attempts to deliver a surround sound experience using advanced digital signal processing. A separate Virtual mode widens the soundstage, while stereo mode does what it says on the tin. Dolby Volume maintains the same level across different sources and programmes.

Harman Kardon SB30

Inside the soundbar are six 50mm Harman Warrior low-frequency transducers and seven 25mm Harman CMMD Lite tweeters, fed by 11 individual amplifier channels with a combined power output of 230W (4 x 40W, 7 x 10W). The sub meanwhile packs a 100W amplifier and a 200m down-firing cone woofer inside its sealed enclosure.

Harman Kardon SB30 Operation
Soundbars are all about convenience, so it’s no surprise that setup is a cinch. OK, there’s a bit of DIY involved if you want to mount it on the wall, but it’s just a case of fixing the two brackets to the wall and hanging the soundbar using the slots on the bottom.

Table-top placement is even easier, but it’s slightly inelegant. You have to attach adhesive pads to the little grooves on the bottom, with an upward curving front section cradling the soundbar. They support it well enough (the unit won’t stand up without them) but some sturdier plastic or metal feet would have been more suitable.

Harman Kardon SB30

The use of a wireless sub is an absolute godsend, because it means you can place it in the best-sounding spot in the room, rather than being dictated by how far the cable will stretch. Once both the soundbar and sub are set to the same wireless code, they pair automatically, indicated by blue lights on both units.

Operating the system is a little tricky with no display panel on the front. Three lights on the front of the unit indicate the status of the various modes. For example, white lights are for source selection – one light for optical, two for coaxial, three for analogue…. you get the picture. You’ll learn it all in time, but it doesn’t make the process of toggling through them any less fiddly.

 HK SB30

It doesn’t help that the remote is tiny and sports unresponsive blister buttons, all cramped together into a small section of the remote.  There are volume and source selection keys, plus buttons for Beam Energy (altering the performance for small, medium or large rooms), surround modes (stereo, virtual or ‘Harman’ settings) and Dolby Volume (off, low or high). You also get a sticker for the back of the remote that describes what the combinations of lights mean.

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