They’re expensive, but these are the best compact PC speakers we’ve heard
The Novas did a particularly good job of emphasising the heavy rhythms of Iron Maiden and similar rock and metal music, particularly at lower volumes. The bass also gave a bit of extra oomph to our dance and hip-hop tracks. The setting adds a great deal to gaming and movie sound effects, too. We found that most of our music sounded better with the bass boost enabled, even delicate instrumental tracks such as Dowland’s Lachrimae Antiquae, although the bass-heavy configuration was a bit excessive when it came to more bombastic orchestral pieces such as Holst’s Mars.
Compared to our reference speakers, a pair of Kef X300A bookshelf speakers, the Nova speakers sound a little thin and slightly brittle at high frequencies, with a little less full and precise mid-range. However, it’s worth noting that the Kefs are twice the size and twice the price of the Novas. Harman Kardon has done an amazing job of packing in 63mm woofers and 35mm tweeters which, in combination with the passive bass radiator at the back, produce some of the best sound we’ve heard from speakers of this size. There’s lots of detail at mid and high volumes, although some high and low frequencies vanish at the lowest volume settings. Positioned alongside our laptop, they also provided a surprisingly good sense of space, even though they weren’t very far apart. Although the speakers’ built in digital signal processor (DSP) produces a sound profile that could earn criticism from those who favour a very flat sound, music and soundtracks alike sound lively, vibrant and have excellent clarity across the frequency spectrum.
The speakers are a real pleasure to listen to, with a sound that has personality without being unbalanced, and we’re delighted by the power and quality they produce for their size. The Harmon Kardon Novas are great if you’ve got £260 to spend on a set of speakers for computer or mobile devices, but they may be the most expensive set of PC speakers you’ve ever bought.
|RMS power output
|Power consumption standby
|Power consumption on
|Bluetooth, optical S/PDIF
|Satellite cable lengths
|1.5m between satellites
|DSP, bass enhancement