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Harman Kardon Go + Play review: The music is in charge

Jonathan Bray
15 Sep 2016
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
245
inc VAT

Hard-hitting sound, but a lack of features weaken the Go + Play’s charm

Pros 
Sound quality is excellent
Good looks
Great build quality
Cons 
Bluetooth only
No Airplay, Spotify Connect or Google Cast
Quite bulky for a "portable" speaker
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Specifications

Drivers: 4, RMS power output: 100W, Dock connector: No, Wireless: Bluetooth (SBC), Dimensions: 418 x 182 x 212mm, Weight: 3.4kg

Wireless speaker manufacturers are piling on the features these days, but the Harman Kardon Go + Play harks back to a time when simply having wireless capability was a bonus.

Its only connection, if you ignore the 3.5mm aux input situated under the rubber flap at the rear, is Bluetooth. There’s no Wi-Fi and thus no Apple Airplay, Spotify Connect or Google Cast support. It doesn’t even have NFC for touch-pairing or support for the more advanced aptX Bluetooth audio codec.

It isn’t particularly portable, either. Despite the chunky steel handle that arcs gently across the top of the speaker, the Go + Play’s 3.4kg weight and awkward handbag shape mean it’s better suited to being carted from room to room, or room to garden at home, rather than slung in a bag.

Still, what the Go + Play lacks in features and portability it more than makes up for elsewhere. It’s impressively solid: the textile-covered speaker grilles feel up to the rough and tumble punishment of garden or kitchen use, while its sturdy rubber feet provide a good grip on most surfaces. Likewise, the brushed steel handle not only looks good, but also feels comfortable in the hand.

Inside, there’s a big 22.2Wh battery, which delivers up to eight hours of continuous audio playback. You can also use the battery to charge your phone, or any other mobile devices, via a USB port on the rear of the speaker. Plus, on the top of the speaker, beneath the handle, is a simple control panel, housing a Bluetooth button for pairing, button-based volume controls, a power button, pause and play, and five white LEDs that indicate how much charge the battery is currently holding.

Oh, and the speaker does come with a couple of extra features: dual, echo-cancelling microphones for conference calling, and the ability to pair up with another Go + Play for synchronised stereo playback.

Sound quality

If you’re going to buy the Harman Kardon Go + Play for anything, however, buy it for its sound quality and sheer musicality, because it really is exceptional. Beneath its cloth-covered curved grilles reside four drivers: two 90mm woofers and two 20mm tweeters delivering a frequency response of 50Hz to 20kHz.

Each driver is powered by a 25W amp for a total power output of 100W, and the sheer drive this setup provides is simply stunning. This is a speaker that will have no trouble at all rocking out at a small garden party, and its smooth, powerful bass, rich mids and crisp treble ensure it’s as at home with the driving pacy bass of Trentemoller’s "Moan" as it is with the atmospheric crescendos of Mozart’s "Requiem" and Pat Metheny’s soft jazz pluckings on "Map of the World".

From driving guitars to breathy vocals, the Go + Play delivers an assured and confident performance. Perhaps its only weakness is that it’s unable to create a particularly wide soundstage, and I’d like a bit more richness in the mids – but these are small complaints. The simple fact is that you’ll enjoy listening to this speaker so much that you probably won’t much care.

Verdict

It’s hard to ignore the Go + Play’s lack of features, especially when it seems that every other new speaker coming out right now offers some kind of Wi-Fi connectivity or multi-room playback. But the Go + Play does have its strengths.

It’s also heavy, a bit bulky and a touch expensive. Whether its exceptional sound quality is enough to compensate for these shortcomings is arguable – I’d certainly want a bit more for my money – but it does sound wonderful, and for that I’d happily live with a multitude of sins.

Hardware
Drivers4
RMS power output100W
Audio inputs3.5mm stereo
Audio outputsNone
Dock connectorNo
WirelessBluetooth (SBC)
NFCNo
App supportNo
Battery capacity22.2Wh
Dimensions418 x 182 x 212mm
Weight3.4kg
Buying information
Price including VAT£245
Warranty1yr RTB
Supplierwww.amazon.co.uk
Detailsuk.harmanaudio.com
Part codeHKGOPLAYMINIBLKEU

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