They’re expensive, but these are the best compact PC speakers we’ve heard
The Harman Kardon Nova computer speakers are designed to provide high-end sound in the bare minimum of space and with little hassle. The hemispherical speakers look stunning, too. Available in both black and white versions, the main body of each speaker is a clear, and you can see the stylishly designed interior parts that link a speaker’s front drivers to its rear bass radiator. They’re a real tonic compared to ugly and angular computer speakers, boxy bookshelf affairs and weedy portable speakers.
The novas are designed to work with almost any wired or wireless audio source, with the exception of Apple AirPlay. The speakers support Bluetooth wireless audio, making them compatible with laptops, tablets, phones and many all-in-one PCs. The Novas also support NFC pairing, so you’ll be able to connect an increasing number of phones and tablets to the speakers just by touching them. The NFC connection point is positioned on the right-hand speaker, which is also home to a 3.5mm analogue stereo input and an optical S/PDIF input. This means you’ll be able to connect many audio sources to your speakers, especially PCs, laptops, phones and MP3 players. On the left-hand speaker is a 3.5mm headphone port, which is handy if you’d otherwise have to crawl under your desk to attach your headphones.
Our Windows 8.1 all-in-one PC immediately detected the speakers’ Bluetooth pairing signal. If you want to pair another device, just press and hold the input selector on the right-hand speaker for two and a half seconds. Sounds and indicator lights let you know when the speakers are in pairing mode and when they’re connected. The Nova can remember up to five paired devices, so you can easily associate all your hardware. If one device is currently using the speakers, another won’t be able to pair with them. It’s worth noting that there’s no built-in microphone, so you can’t use the speakers to take phone calls. The Novas also lack support for the higher-quality AptX Bluetooth streaming codec. Fortunately the speakers’ sound quality when streaming via Bluetooth is generally good, but is a little brighter than via a wired connection.
The Nova’s volume control is located on the right-hand speaker. The touch slider works smoothly but volume jumps suddenly once you go beyond the second marker. After some tweaking of our source settings, we had everything set up so that the mid-volume position played audio at a comfortable volume level. There’s also a bass button, which added a pleasing depth and warmth to the sound without obliterating higher frequency ranges.
|RMS power output||40W|
|Power consumption standby||0W|
|Power consumption on||4W|
|Analogue inputs||3.5mm stereo|
|Digital inputs||Bluetooth, optical S/PDIF|
|Satellite cable lengths||1.5m between satellites|
|Controls located||right satellite|
|Digital processing||DSP, bass enhancement|
|Tone controls||bass enable|