Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Harman Kardon Go + Play
High-end iPod dock with brilliant audio
- Great bass, detailed mid-range, rich sound, powerful remote, handle makes for great portability
- Dock placement is poor, slightly rolled-off low treble notes, no bass or treble controls
Harmon Kardon's Go + Play is a brilliant high-end iPod dock. Its audio is well balanced and almost flawless. The design has one niggling issue, but the large, sturdy handle certainly adds to the unit's portability
Price$ 549.95 (AUD)
Sitting in the upper echelons of the iPod dock category in terms of cost, Harmon Kardon's Go + Play joins units such as the B&W Zeppelin and the Bose SoundDock in providing a high quality audio solution for portable music players. It produces excellent audio, has a powerful remote control and it has some nifty design elements that make it extremely portable. There were a few niggling issues, and the price tag is quite hefty, but overall it is an impressive product.
As you'd expect from a brand with this kind of reputation, the audio output of the Go + Play was nothing short of stellar. It was one of the best portable music solutions we've ever listened to.
Right out of the box it produces rich, full and relatively well-balanced audio, which is a good thing because there aren't any audio controls for bass or treble. The bass was particularly noteworthy; it extended deeply and rumbled with plenty of power without being too strong or overpowering. It was quite slow, meaning the notes lingered for quite some time, but that only assisted in creating a rich, warm tapestry of sound.
The mid-range was quite pronounced, with a smooth, detailed sound and a fair bit of energy. Fast, complex tunes sounded great, which is a fairly impressive feat for a small system such as this. The Go + Play exhibited excellent separation between different instruments while still maintaining cohesion and had a nice visceral tone on some specific sounds (such as snare drums).
We found some of the lower treble notes were a little rolled off; they were far from inaudible but they didn't quite have the prominence we've heard on some other systems. This wasn't really a problem, however, and we were fairly impressed with the higher notes on the whole. They were detailed, sweet and extended nicely.
In our volume tests the Go + Play did an admirable job. It is more than capable of filling a medium-sized room at half volume and turning it up to full is sure to cause some ears to ring. There was no real distortion until the very highest volume levels; even then it was minimal.
The remote is pretty nifty. It has two modes: one that controls playback and one that controls the iPod menu. It is somewhat of a rarity to find a remote that allows full iPod menu navigation without touching the player itself, and it's certainly a welcome inclusion. Initially the controls can be a touch confusing but once you learn the basics it becomes quick and seamless. The fact that it operates via radio frequency is a boon, as line of sight and range aren't really issues.
Unfortunately, the remote's features are somewhat negated by a poor design choice: the iPod dock is flat on the top of the unit, rather than in the middle between the speakers. You can't get a look at the screen without actually leaning over the unit, so you may as well just use the iPod's controls to navigate manually. It is a pretty strange decision to not allow users to see the display from across the room.
Other than this, the design is sound. The Go + Play looks nice if a little plain. It is dominated by the arching silver handle, which allows you to easily carry the unit. This portability is one of its greatest assets, and it is backed up by the battery slot at the back (although it does require a whopping eight C batteries).
It sports a USB input for PC connection, S-Video for video output and an auxiliary jack for non-iPod players.
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