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Gear Review: Harman Kardon Esquire 2

Gear Review: Harman Kardon Esquire 2

March 16th, 2016
Reviews

Harman Kardon has always been known for producing top-notch audio equipment with the high-end consumer group in mind. While the majority of their product line has mainly focused on powerful home audio products, the rise of music streaming apps have brought about the production of a new breed of speakers – the Bluetooth variety.
 
The company already has several Bluetooth models and I was lucky enough to take one of their portable Bluetooth speakers for a whirl. Our friends from JBL (the company that owns the brand Harman Kardon) was generous enough to lend us a review unit of the Esquire 2 – the second iteration of its multi-function speaker.
 
So how does this product stack up when subjected to normal use? I took the Esquire 2 for a spin for the last couple of weeks to see if its performance is enough to justify its steep price tag. Check out my review to see if the Esquire 2 can be a right fit for your lifestyle.
 
 

WHAT’S IN THE BOX

 
Considering its price tag, it’s a bit surprising to see that Harman Kardon didn’t put a lot of effort into the product’s packaging. The speaker comes in a white cardboard box with dense padding inside. The exterior of the box is printed with an image of the device along with different signages and text description of its features in various languages.
 

Harman Kardon Esquire 2 unbox

 
Upon opening the box, users are greeted with the Esquire 2 set in a thick layer of black high-density foam. The foam also has a small cut out which holds the micro USB charging cable which belongs to the tangle-free flat type that you can easily coil into a tight loop for easy storage.
 
The box also contains a couple of pamphlets which include a quick start guide and some important safety instructions when using the speakers. Unfortunately, the device didn’t come with its own wall adapter so you’d have to use your own wall adapter if you want to charge it straight from the outlet or you’ll just have to use an empty USB port on your laptop or computer to juice the Esquire 2 up.
 
 

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

 
As a Red Dot design awardee, the HK Esquire 2 brings elegance and style to the table. The speaker is bound by a strip of metal with chamfered edges both at the front and at the back.
 
Harman Kardon Esquire 2 front
 
The speaker grill seems to be made from high-grade plastic while the back panel feels like it’s made from leather. Discreetly placed at the front of the device is a multi-colored LED light that shows the different status of the speaker – white when the device is turned on, blue when it is pairing with another device, green when a call is active or red when the call is on mute.
 
Harman Kardon Esquire 2 volume rocker
 
At the back, you’ll find a chrome-plated kickstand with a rubber feet to help prevent the speaker from slipping on your desk. The left side of the speaker is where you’ll find five LED indicator lights that show the how much juice is left in the device while the right side of the Esquire 2 holds all of its ports. These include a charging port, an aux port and a USB port which you can use to charge other devices.
 
Harman Kardon Esquire 2 controls
 
The top of the device is where you’ll find the most buttons for users to interact with. At the far left, there are four buttons: power, Bluetooth, call answer and the mute buttons; while on the opposite side you’ll find the volume rocker.
 
Harman Kardon Esquire 2: Mic
 
Another thing that the Esquire 2 has going for itself is that it’s equipped with four microphones that are placed on each corner of the front speaker that allows it to be used as an input device during conference calls.
 
 

HOW IT WORKS IN REAL LIFE

 
Setting up the speaker to work with your smart device is very easy. The device is easily discoverable and user can simply connect to the speaker without the use of any passcodes. Once connected, the Esquire 2 becomes an extension of the device it is connected to, allowing users to play music and video as well as use the speaker as an input device when answering calls.
 
Harman Kardon Esquire 2: Calls
 
In terms of audio quality, I was pleasantly surprised that the Esquire 2 was able to produce big sounds without distortion. It’s actually the first speaker that was able to do this feat without using too much bass, which is actually quite impressive. In fact, the speakers are able to churn out over 60dB when the volume is maxed out.
 
Harman Kardon Esquire 2: Ports
 
Apart from being a great speaker, the Esquire 2 also doubles as a portable power bank. The device is equipped with a 3200mAh battery that can top-off a decent-size smartphone when it’s fully charged. Speaking of battery-life, the speaker can last for days on moderate use and can be fully juiced up in less than 2 hours depending on the type of charger you’re using.
 
 

FINAL WORDS / VERDICT

 
Looking at all the features of the speaker, I can definitely say that the Esquire 2 does well on a lot of things. In terms of audio quality, it is one of the best sounding speakers I’ve tried especially considering it’s a wireless type. The speaker won’t really replace your power bank, but at least it’s a convenient feature to have on hand.
 
Harman Kardon Esquire 2: Verdict
 
Of course there’s the design of the Esquire 2, which looks really good that it won’t be shy sitting next to other posh devices on an executive’s desk. All these features come at a price though. The Harman Kardon Esquire 2 sells for around $199.95 (or around Php10,995) which is undoubtedly higher than most speakers currently in the market.
 
If you’re thinking of buying the Esquire 2, you can check it out in any of the following JBL/Harman Kardon/A. Refinery stores:
 

  • JBL Sound Gallery – B3 Bonifacio High Street (beside TGIFriday’s and Happy Lemon), 799-9344
  • JBL Acoustical Space – 4th Floor SM Megamall Cyberzone, 919-6012
  • JBL Digital Dreams – 4th Floor SM North EDSA Annex, 738-2554
  • JBL / Harman Kardon Level 3 Mindanao Wing TriNoma
  • JBL / Harman Kardon 3rd Floor Fairview Terraces
  • A.Refinery Level 2, UP Town Center
  • A.Refinery Level 3, Ayala Center Cebu
  • A.Refinery Level 2, Abreza Ayala Mall

 

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