Harman Kardon CL headphones review
Method is behind the CL's radical styling
- Proficient sound
- Excellent design
- Inline controls for Apple devices
- Tight on ears
Harman Kardon’s CLs tick all the right boxes for a pair of on-the-go headphones. All audio - be it music, movies or audiobooks - are played with gusto, while the design keeps extraneous perversions out and your music private. The cups do sit too snug over long sessions, but it’s preferable over stiff bands.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
Challenging the status quo
Swivelling cups, two braces and a little exposed wiring are some of the confronting design elements that give the CL headphones unique character. So many moving parts lend the impression these headphones are frail, but that first impression is simply wrong.
Continue jamming for two or more hours and the CLs begin to take their toll
Perhaps the most confronting design cue is its two-part head brace. Typically headphones have one taut bow charged with pressing cups snugly against your ears. Lots of cushioning is needed to ease the pressure and create the sensation of comfort. Ironically ‘comfort’ and ‘pressure’ are counter productive.
Not surprisingly Harman’s approach differs. Instead of having one component that tries to be comfortable and rigid, they have two. Acting as an exoskeleton is a sandblasted steel frame. This part can be interchanged as it comes in two different head sizes.
Then there’s a secondary brace resting on the inside. Roughly an inch separates the two and the inner skeleton will soak some of the space up when worn. The result is a bow that feels less imparting and more accommodating.
Good on-ear headphones form a seal between the cups and your ear to keep perverting noise out, privatise your music and generally improve the quality of music playback. The fact the bow focuses on comfort means the arms have to pick up the slack in order to form a perfect seal. And they do just that.Read more: Top five budget smartphones money can buy (Part I, 2014)
Leatherette cups press firmly against the lobes of ears to muffle extraneous noise and keep the soundstage clear. They do so comfortably over an hour-long listening session. Continue jamming for two or more hours and the CLs begin to take their toll.Read more: BenQ in talks with Australian telcos following Kogan smartphone partnership
Taking the show on the road
The on-ear recipe put together by Harman Kardon works well with the CL headphones. Volume is generous and, although on ear headphones tend to have less space to work with, rarely did we feel tunes were cluttered.
Listening to The Fray’s Shadow and a Dancer was properly enjoyable. Lead singer Isaac Slade takes charge with vocals echoed by electric notes. Then a layer of depth is added when soft bass drops. It’s low and bodied, and although there are just three parts to the song thus far, the CLs proved skillful in using space as a fourth element.
The track progresses to a tapestry of different instruments, a chorus of singers and an undertone of bass throughout, and even at the uncomfortably loud levels of full volume, the CLs didn’t skip a beat. Mainstream rock is one genre the CLs have down-pat.Read more: Apple’s rumoured iPhone 6 sapphire display stabbed with knife to little effect
Volume idled during most of our sessions at around 25 per cent. The CL’s ability to operate so smoothly stands testament to its passive noise cancellation and the 40mm drivers at work.
Harman Kardon’s CLs tick all the right boxes for a pair of on-the-go headphones
Peel the magnetised grille off for a quick look at the mechanics at work. Harman Kardon claims the unique design of its baffle improves the bass performance. The cups themselves round at the back in an ingenious effort to milk more space from the form factor.
Testing the low-end necessitated a song from 2001: Dante Thomas’ Miss California. The track flaunted the CL’s heavy take on bass when demanded by a tune. Belting bass from a pair of on-ears is a feat, but there were signs the CLs could do with more space. Bass feels as though it is originating from one point, rather than creating the sensation it’s enveloping.
Then there’s the way the CLs handle classics like Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean. The CLs match the tune’s energy in volume and tact, all the while paying close attention to tiny details, like the faint sound of the late Jackson clicking his fingers.
Harman Kardon’s CLs tick all the right boxes for a pair of on-the-go headphones. All audio—be it music, movies or audiobooks—are played with gusto, while the design keeps extraneous perversions out and your music private. The cups do sit too snug over long sessions, but it’s preferable over stiff bands.
Join the newsletter!
cloudandco Smart Cane
WD MY PASSPORT™ Gaming Storage
Nespresso Creatista Coffee Machine
WD MY PASSPORT™ X Gaming Storage
Apple iPhone X
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-55EZ950U
Dyson Supersonic™ Hair Dryer Fuchsia/Iron
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-77EZ1000U
SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™
Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 14
Toys for Boys
LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Hard Drive
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera
Lego Mindstorms EV3
Bose SoundLink Micro
Ubiquiti Network’s Front Row Camera
Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Drone
Google Daydream View VR Headset
Onyx Smart Walkie Talkie
Belkin Pocket Power 10,000mAh
iRobot Roomba 980 Vaccum Cleaning Robot
WD MY CLOUD™ HOME Personal Cloud Storage
Dearear Endear In-ear Wireless Earphones
PETKIG Go Smart Dog Leash
Amazon Echo Bluetooth Speaker
Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K
Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
Panasonic Hi-Fi - SC-UA7GS-K
Toffee Bags Commuter Satchel
Xbox One X
Logitech Doodle Collection Wireless Mouse
3SIXT 3-in-1 Smartphone Lens Kit
Kogan Bluetooth Soundbar
Ikea NORDMÄRKE Wireless Charging Pad
Urbanworx Full HD Action Camera
Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
Panasonic Portable Splashproof Fun - RF-D20U
Lexon Flip Alarm Clock
Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Hisense takes the fight to home entertainment heavyweights with flagship Series 8 and 9 ULED TVs
- 2 Sony's latest Ultra HD OLED debuts in Australia
- 3 Panasonic Ultra HD OLED TV Review
- 4 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
- 5 Oppo A77 smartphone: Full in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Microsoft is selling the excellent Dell XPS 13 and Dell Inspiron 15 for hundreds off, today
- The Game Awards 2017: Every new game trailer
- Titan V revealed: Nvidia's monstrous Volta GPU finally comes to PCs
- Best Buy is selling an 8TB external hard drive for $140
- Hands-on: HP's Envy x2 is a Surface clone boasting 20 hours of battery life
PCW Evaluation Team
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
- Fitbit Ionic review: Impressive but not quite iconic
- Xbox One X review: Brave new world
- Huawei Mate 10 Pro Review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCBusiness Improvement Specialist (Six Sigma Green belt) - Contract - North SydneyNSW
- CCAutomation Anywhere developerQLD
- FTBackend Java DevelopersNSW
- FTSenior Test AnalystACT
- CCProperty Project Manager - Office ExpansionNSW
- FTSenior Business Analyst - Digital AdviceOther
- FTSolution DesignerOther
- FTEngineer - Unix/LinuxOther
- FTPython and Java DeveloperOther
- TPProject Manager - IaaSQLD
- FTSystems Engineer - Identity & AutomationQLD
- FTSenior DevOps LeadVIC
- CCExstream DeveloperNSW
- FT.Net Full-stack DeveloperOther
- CCAutomation Test ManagerVIC
- FTScrum MasterSA
- FTBusiness Project ManagerOther
- FTMicrofocus Cobol DeveloperOther
- FTSecurity DevOps EngineerOther
- FTAgile Business AnalystOther
- CCJava LeadNSW
- CCWintel EngineerQLD
- FTBusiness Analyst - TableauOther
- FTApplication Support ConsultantVIC
- TPTest Automation EngineerQLD