Review: Harman/Kardon Esquire
4.4Overall Score

Price (RRP): $349
Manufacturer: Harman Kardon

Every man, his dog, and their subsequent company has a Bluetooth speaker, and this is an area that has big growth at the moment. There are budget options out there, and then there are better options with better sound and design, and without a doubt, Harman/Kardon’s Esquire fits that bill.

Features

Harman/Kardon’s Esquire speaker isn’t your typical speaker.

While most Bluetooth speakers seem to be built in a cylindrical chassis, the Esquire goes for a more square-like shape, or something akin to the squircle, the softened square that was previously found on Microsoft’s Zune products and can now be seen as the modern icon shape on Apple’s iOS.

The Esquire speaker has three main materials found in its construction, with aluminium around the frame, plastics — on the grill and on the bottom, and a piece of leather on the back.

Inside the speaker, there’s a small amplifier with two 10W channels, working with a bass port for some of the low sounds. Sending music to the speaker is done through either Bluetooth or a hardwired 3.5mm input jack, which will take a feed from anything else.

There are controls on the speaker, found along the top as metal buttons, with a choice of the staples: power, microphone mute (on/off), volume down, volume up, play/pause, Bluetooth pairing, and a call answer/hang-up button. A small power and Bluetooth link light can be found next to the power button.

Ports on the speaker are few, with the aforementioned 3.5mm headset input jack and a microUSB charge port underneath it. A battery check LCD meter can be found just above these ports, showing you how much of the battery is left through five dots.

A power pack is included that has three USB ports and can charge more than just the speaker at once, with two other devices — say a phone and a tablet — able to be charged all at once.

A protection case for the Esquire is also included in the box.

Performance

Even though it’s one of the better premium sound brands, Harman/Kardon has, for the most part, steered clear of common consumer sound concepts. There are a few headphones and speakers, but most of the range of products caters to the home theatre, with stereo and surround receivers, Blu-ray players, and a few speakers, as well.

Harman has also tried its hand at some computer speakers in the past, with the iMac-era SoundSticks, which are still sold today.

But PC speakers aren’t as in demand as they used to be, and Harman/Kardon has had to work on another style of speaker, which we’re pleased to see the brand entering: Bluetooth speakers.

For its first, the company has made the Esquire, a premium speaker that brings with it a refined look made of aluminium, leather, and plastic that really doesn’t look like other models out there.

As a point of difference, this speaker looks like a softened square, framed with aluminium that is cool to the touch and with plastic over the grill and rubber at the bottom to keep the speaker standing upright. The back is very different from your regular speaker, with a full panel of brown leather that smells and feels real, compared to the pleather that you find on most gadgets.