New line-up targeted at designers, creators, and professionals
Harman Kardon CL headphones review
Method is behind the CL's radical styling
- Proficient sound
- Excellent design
- Inline controls for Apple devices
- Tight on ears
Harman Kardon’s CLs tick all the right boxes for a pair of on-the-go headphones. All audio - be it music, movies or audiobooks - are played with gusto, while the design keeps extraneous perversions out and your music private. The cups do sit too snug over long sessions, but it’s preferable over stiff bands.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
Challenging the status quo
Swivelling cups, two braces and a little exposed wiring are some of the confronting design elements that give the CL headphones unique character. So many moving parts lend the impression these headphones are frail, but that first impression is simply wrong.
Continue jamming for two or more hours and the CLs begin to take their toll
Perhaps the most confronting design cue is its two-part head brace. Typically headphones have one taut bow charged with pressing cups snugly against your ears. Lots of cushioning is needed to ease the pressure and create the sensation of comfort. Ironically ‘comfort’ and ‘pressure’ are counter productive.
Not surprisingly Harman’s approach differs. Instead of having one component that tries to be comfortable and rigid, they have two. Acting as an exoskeleton is a sandblasted steel frame. This part can be interchanged as it comes in two different head sizes.
Then there’s a secondary brace resting on the inside. Roughly an inch separates the two and the inner skeleton will soak some of the space up when worn. The result is a bow that feels less imparting and more accommodating.
Good on-ear headphones form a seal between the cups and your ear to keep perverting noise out, privatise your music and generally improve the quality of music playback. The fact the bow focuses on comfort means the arms have to pick up the slack in order to form a perfect seal. And they do just that.
Leatherette cups press firmly against the lobes of ears to muffle extraneous noise and keep the soundstage clear. They do so comfortably over an hour-long listening session. Continue jamming for two or more hours and the CLs begin to take their toll.
Taking the show on the road
The on-ear recipe put together by Harman Kardon works well with the CL headphones. Volume is generous and, although on ear headphones tend to have less space to work with, rarely did we feel tunes were cluttered.
Listening to The Fray’s Shadow and a Dancer was properly enjoyable. Lead singer Isaac Slade takes charge with vocals echoed by electric notes. Then a layer of depth is added when soft bass drops. It’s low and bodied, and although there are just three parts to the song thus far, the CLs proved skillful in using space as a fourth element.
The track progresses to a tapestry of different instruments, a chorus of singers and an undertone of bass throughout, and even at the uncomfortably loud levels of full volume, the CLs didn’t skip a beat. Mainstream rock is one genre the CLs have down-pat.
Volume idled during most of our sessions at around 25 per cent. The CL’s ability to operate so smoothly stands testament to its passive noise cancellation and the 40mm drivers at work.
Harman Kardon’s CLs tick all the right boxes for a pair of on-the-go headphones
Peel the magnetised grille off for a quick look at the mechanics at work. Harman Kardon claims the unique design of its baffle improves the bass performance. The cups themselves round at the back in an ingenious effort to milk more space from the form factor.
Testing the low-end necessitated a song from 2001: Dante Thomas’ Miss California. The track flaunted the CL’s heavy take on bass when demanded by a tune. Belting bass from a pair of on-ears is a feat, but there were signs the CLs could do with more space. Bass feels as though it is originating from one point, rather than creating the sensation it’s enveloping.
Then there’s the way the CLs handle classics like Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean. The CLs match the tune’s energy in volume and tact, all the while paying close attention to tiny details, like the faint sound of the late Jackson clicking his fingers.
Harman Kardon’s CLs tick all the right boxes for a pair of on-the-go headphones. All audio—be it music, movies or audiobooks—are played with gusto, while the design keeps extraneous perversions out and your music private. The cups do sit too snug over long sessions, but it’s preferable over stiff bands.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Razer Blade 14 review: For gamers who want to lighten up
- 2 Vivo X60 Pro (2021) smartphone review: A capable photographer’s companion
- 3 MSI Summit E15 (2021) review: A productivity workhorse with a gaming pedigree
- 4 Oppo Find X3 Pro review: An all around performer with a touch of class
- 5 MSI GS66 Stealth (2021) review: A gaming powerhouse with 300Hz display
Latest News Articles
- Future iPhones may be able to detect depression, cognitive decline
- iPhone 13 review roundup: Big improvements where it matters
- Amazon's new Kindle Paperwhite models wield bigger screens and USB-C charging
- HP welcomes Windows 11 with a new Spectre, an Arm laptop, and a tablet with a swiveling camera
- Rumor points to notchless iPhone 14 Pro
PCW Evaluation Team
Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
- iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro: The cheapest way to get these new handsets in Australia
- How to download proof of Covid-19 vaccination to your smartphone in Australia
- HTC Vive Pro 2 Full Kit is now available for pre-order in Australia
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?