Harman Kardon GLA-55 speakers
The Harman Kardon GLA-55 is a striking two-way speaker system featuring transparent cabinets and bi-amped drivers with digital crossovers.
- Great audio quality, visually appealing design
At around $1000, the GLA-55 speakers sit at the high-end for iPod audio. The money buys something of an artwork in the speakers' unique design alone, but there's also some smart acoustic engineering at work here. A combination of powerful amplification, clever DSP and very solid, irregular-sided cabinets mean the sound can even surpass traditional hi-fi amplifiers and loudspeakers systems of a similar price too.
Price$ 999.95 (AUD)
Some speakers are destined to blend discreetly into your environment. Not so the Harman Kardon GLA-55, whose multi-faceted-diamond looks are positively shouting for attention.
Each Harman Kardon GLA-55 speaker is based on a traditional two-way driver design, comprising a concave metal 52mm mid-bass driver and metal-domed tweeter, shoehorned into a totally transparent case resembling an alien crystal skull.
The tweeters carry chromed bars to discourage idle prodding of the delicate domes. And built into the case are the system's amplifiers, hidden away in the base plate.
You connect the speakers to a computer or iPod via a 3.5mm stereo jack plug in the right-hand speaker. Electrical power also comes into this master speaker from a laptop-style power supply. Under the main drivers is a reflex port which helps improve acoustic efficiency and low-frequency response.
As well as the usual volume control on your music player, there are touch-sensitive + and - buttons on the right Harman Kardon GLA-55 speaker, sat between drive units. White LEDs are hidden in each speaker's base, pulsing when in standby mode and steady-on when in use.
Try to lift a Harman Kardon GLA-55 speaker and you may be surprised at their weight. They really are very solid and hefty feeling. If you peer inside the transparent sides you can see the U-shaped reflex port curving through the bodies up to the tweeter, as well as polished metal internal parts of all the drive units. What you can't see is any obvious cable wiring, as this seems to be handled by thin metallic rods that join the drivers.
The GLA-55 speakers not only look but feel like no traditional hi-fi speaker. They are incredibly dense and seem non-resonant. The absence of wood cabinet and parallel internal walls means the familiar colourations of a hi-fi box speaker are entirely absent. In fact, the crazy shape with faceted external sides and curved interior really should reduce the usual resonances that can cloud the sound.
Digital Signal Processing
To optimise sound quality, the GLA-55 system uses digital signal processing (DSP).
Analogue audio signal input is converted to 24-bit/48kHz digital, then passed to a 24-bit DSP, responsible for equalisation and dynamic limiting, gently contouring bass and treble levels to suit the speaker's limited size.
Some compression and limiting here also serves to prevent either the amplifiers or drive units from being overdriven into gross distortion at high volume levels or when presented with high levels of bass.
Four separate channels of 26-watt MOSFET Class D amplifiers are included, two for each speaker and dedicated to each treble and mid-bass drive unit, with active crossovers to split the signal at the DSP stage.
Sound quality of the Harman Kardon GLA-55 is, ahem, clearly impressive. Despite their modest size - by the standards of regular hi-fi loudspeakers, rather than iPod docks - the GLA-55 speakers sound much bigger and fuller than you might expect.
There's no proper subterranean bass of course, yet the subtle tailoring of sound by Harman Kardon's engineers means you do get a great sense of a weighty low-frequency response. Class D amplifiers are rarely lauded by audiophiles, but in the context of these Harman Kardon GLA-55 speakers we still heard a clean and impressively accurate rendering of music.
In music with little bass content they could sound a little clinical, a result of the relatively neutral voicing and 'digital' amps, along with low-resonance cabinets that aren't adding much of their own unwanted signature. A retro valve amp sound is not in the Harman Kardon GLA-55's repertoire. But they can do well-paced dance and pop very well, never sounding strained or stressed even when propelling bass from their long-throw drivers.
Top frequencies could be a tad metallic in character but this was tempered by strong bass fundamentals and a midband that neither unduly projected vocalists nor left them shy at the back of the mix.
Compared to another top-spec PC/iPod speaker system, the Bowers & Wilkins MM1, the Harman Kardon GLA-55 speakers don't show their inner digital processing quite so much when limiting dynamic peaks. And top volume is also noticeably expanded. At close to twice the price of the B&Ws, the expectation may be for a more mature and encompassing sound. And for that expanded sound quality with incredible freedom from chestiness they will not disappoint.
Join the newsletter!
WD MY PASSPORT™ X Gaming Storage
Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-55EZ950U
Nespresso Creatista Coffee Machine
WD MY PASSPORT™ Gaming Storage
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-77EZ1000U
Apple iPhone X
SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™
cloudandco Smart Cane
Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 14
Toys for Boys
Google Daydream View VR Headset
LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Hard Drive
Ubiquiti Network’s Front Row Camera
Bose SoundLink Micro
Lego Mindstorms EV3
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera
Onyx Smart Walkie Talkie
Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Drone
PETKIG Go Smart Dog Leash
Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K
Xbox One X
iRobot Roomba 980 Vaccum Cleaning Robot
WD MY CLOUD™ HOME Personal Cloud Storage
Belkin Pocket Power 10,000mAh
Panasonic Hi-Fi - SC-UA7GS-K
Dearear Endear In-ear Wireless Earphones
Amazon Echo Bluetooth Speaker
Toffee Bags Commuter Satchel
Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
Logitech Doodle Collection Wireless Mouse
Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
Ikea NORDMÄRKE Wireless Charging Pad
3SIXT 3-in-1 Smartphone Lens Kit
Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker
Panasonic Portable Splashproof Fun - RF-D20U
Lexon Flip Alarm Clock
Kogan Bluetooth Soundbar
Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
Urbanworx Full HD Action Camera
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
- JBL join smart speaker arena with the portable, waterproof and (Google-powered) JBL Link range
- BenQ Debuts True 4K UHD HDR Home Cinema Projector Designed for Modern Families
- Foxtel Now's new streaming device launched weeks after TelstraTV
- Logitech announce new MX Sound speakers
- Telstra looks to solve 'Entertainment Exasperation' with new 4K Telstra TV
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
- TPBusiness and Test Analyst | Student Management SystemQLD
- FTBusiness AnalystOther
- CCRecords AnalystNSW
- CCSenior Project Manager - Office 365QLD
- TPSAP Migration Module LeadNSW
- TPChange ManagerVIC
- FTJunior-Mid Level Java DeveloperQLD
- FTTechnology Project CoordinatorOther
- FTMicrofocus Cobol DeveloperOther
- FTInfra Deployment Lead/- Windows 10 SOE rollout projectOther
- FTFinance Applications SpecialistOther
- FTSAP SD ConsultantNSW
- CCDynamics AX Functional Consultant ? Finance | Supply ChainQLD
- TPBusiness Analyst - Public Sector Health ProgramQLD
- CCSenior Data governance consultantVIC
- FTICT Procurement ManagerOther
- FTBusiness AnalystOther
- CCSystems Administrator - not for profit organisationQLD
- CCSenior MySQL Database AdministratorNSW
- FTMultiple SOC Analyst RolesOther
- FTData Centre Support Engineer -| 6mth ContractOther
- FT.Net DeveloperOther
- FTSenior Finance AnalystOther
- CCTechnical Lead - DigitalNSW
- CCProject ManagerQLD