Tech Review: Harman Kardon Soho Headphones
Harman Kardon, a brand that has been known for their high quality products in the audio market launched a new product last year called the Soho. Designed as a highly portable lie-flat on ear headphone, these look to not only give consumers a high quality product, but one that is able to travel with you wherever you go. But, does it live up to its goal?
Upon first looking at the Soho headphones, I was surprised to see just how small they really were. Even though they do look similar to the over the ear CLs, the minimalist design of the on-ear speakers only measure 2 inches by 2 inches. Sadly, the differences between the two headsets does not stop there, as the Soho will not allow you to switch out the headband and does seem to make some sacrifices for its compact design.
The audio quality of the Soho is decent overall, but sadly does feel a bit hollow when it comes to its dynamic range for a product at its price point of $199.99. It is difficult to determine if this is simply due physical limitations, but it is definitely a concern and one that will be easily apparent for anyone who calls themselves an audiophile.
Having taken the Soho through its paces by using walking around with it and using it for my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the PlayStation Vita, it was easy to see that these were designed to be used and not just looked at. Built using stainless steel and premium leather, the Soho not only looks exceptionally classy, but held up incredibly well after being thrown around while using them at a comic convention. The leather band around the top and encasing the speakers not only feel great, but does a fantastic job of protecting it from scratches or other minor wear and tear that would make them look worn.
Even though the Soho does seem to very durable, it is always a good idea to keep it in its case. Sadly, no matter how cool its clean formed miniature hard clam shell case is, it has a major issue that will actually cause physical harm. Besides the fact that it will take some time to learn how to exactly collapse the Soho to get it to fit inside, the case’s hing is spring loaded – causing it to snap shut with a decent amount of force at the lightest touch. I can’t say if this is a unique trait of the model available, or widespread, but caution would be advised when putting away the headset.
Frequency response : 20Hz~20kHz
Impedance : 32ohms
Max input power : 30mW
Anyone looking to use these to play games, whether on a console or handheld will not find much of a soundstage, as its design simply isn’t meant to either block out or contain sound. With that, there is a significant amount of audio leak from the headset, so anyone using these in a quiet environment might need to keep the volume to a minimum, unless they want draw some attention. Thankfully, the cable is long enough (almost 4 ft.) to reach pant pockets without issue, so you can keep it plugged in and around your neck without it pulling.
Ultimately, the Soho headphones are a difficult product to recommend. They are one of the few headphones that are classy, and refined, in a market that is trending toward the overly flashy. They are built very well and can easily withstand a great deal of usage without looking beaten or used. But, their sound quality leaves a bit to be desired, they aren’t comfortable for someone with a bigger cranium and its case snapped shut on my fingers more times than I can count. So, anyone looking to pick this up should probably try it for themselves before buying it, as it will surely work for some, but definitely not all.