As soon as I unboxed this glass-domed Bluetooth speaker, I was impressed. It looks like something out of a science fiction movie – a bell jar set upon a satisfyingly weighty base that features a touch-sensitive band that you can run your finger across to increase the volume or tap to turn on or off.
Inside, a white LED sets the interior grill speaker a-glow, getting brighter, the louder the music is turned up. When playing base-heavy beats, you can place your hand over the opening in the top of the dome and feel the air pumping up with the force of the sounds waves. It’s a really cool trick.
Although not completely wireless (you need to plug it into the mains) it is designed to sync to gadgets via Bluetooth, as well as wifi for Apple/iOS Airplay and DLNA (Android, Windows and Harman Kardons devices).
I had no problem at all pairing it with my iPhone 4, and later my new iPhone 5S, but couldn’t for the life of me get it to connect with my Macbook Air, which was frustrating as there were occasions when I wanted to play music from my laptop or watch a film with a decent amount of rich, cinematic volume. No such luck.
The “omni-directional” sound that comes from the six high- and mid-range drivers with 4.5-inch sub-woofer is powerful enough to be effective at a house party – not bad for such an arty-looking speaker. It really fills the space around you.
I also liked how I was able to use my iPhone as a remote (after downloading the HK Remote app), allowing me to add songs to my library and control the volume even from the next room.
The Harman Kardon Aura stands at 27cm tall, and weighs 2.4kg. The base comes in white or black.
PROS Great sound quality and volume, space-age design makes it an eye-catching object in itself that looks great in your living room, can use iPhone as remote via Harman Kardon app
CONS Doesn’t pair successfully with Mac laptops