Okay guys, I feel slightly guilty that I thrashed the Harman Kardon Esquire mini so hard when I reviewed it. It was an overpriced cigarette case and really, it was just a misstep by Harman Kardon. But I hope to take my love-hate affair down a notch.
I am going to review the Harman Kardon Esquire, that was the basis for its mini-me, and I’m going to write this review in a calm and composed manner. This is how it went.
I was in the same store where I reviewed the mini but on a different day, so the store display's changed, with a few more products on the shelf. The Esquire was sitting right behind its minion and my first thought was, could it actually be as bad as its spawn? It looked just as well built standing up with striking aluminum chassis with a premium finish, and a leather back-panel. I'm sure the designers intended it to look sexy front and back, and they did succeed in that department. When I picked it up, I was surprised by how substantial it felt, although on their website it said this speaker only weighs a bit more than 700 grams!
Its features are quite standard - NFC pairing, 2.4gHz Bluetooth, voice-conferencing. Its battery life falls short though. Most Bluetooth speakers of its price range actually has 10 or more hours of average battery life (even 18 hours as in the B&W T7) but this has a stated 8, meaning that one would have to charge the speaker just a bit more often. One thing worth mentioning is that the box includes a power supply that has 3 USB ports, allowing you to charge multiple mobile devices at one go. Ok guys, throw all your other chargers into the incinerator, this is all you need. (Those without their own incinerator at home, please dispose responsibly) Available in Black, Brown and White.
Now on to the sound quality. I put on LP's standard test track 'Baby it's cold outside' from the ISSE 2013 album. Without question the clarity was way above average. Vocals sounded very clear but a tad too bright for my liking. But for all you bass-heads out there, this speaker isn’t for you. Bass sounded hollow and there was little bass extension to speak of! Though the speaker was designed with 2 powerful drivers and a bass port, its rather thin design had an obvious impact on the sound. However, the speaker managed to squeeze out some sound staging which is a plus.
'Have a good time' by the Brand New Heavies really revealed the shortcomings of this elegant speaker. Due to the overall lack of bass extension, I didn’t feel any urge to tap my feet or drum my short fat fingers on the table. I didn’t enjoy this track so much, and it’s not because I listened to it too much! The drum set sounded tight but without any impact, and the crash cymbals sounded too shrill. On the other hand, bass guitar sounded well separated from the drum set. With little bass extension however, one simply finds it hard to enjoy.
Many may find it irresistible at first with it’s premium build-quality (leather backing!) and brand-name, but when one compares the price and the sound quality with other heavy-hitters like the UE Boom ($299) and the Bose SoundLink Mini Series II ($329), I’m not so convinced that the price point of $409 is justified. LP rates it as “Caaaan buy... But don’t facepalm when you hear other cheaper speakers that sound better."