Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Nov 19, 2021 at 12:50 pm
Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 Picture
7.1
Music
6.6
Videos/Movies
6.4
Podcasts
3.1
Voice Assistant
5.2
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
No
Voice Assistant
No
Battery Powered
No

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 Bluetooth speaker is a wired dome-shaped speaker with soft pulsing lights. It has a balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, making it suitable for listening to a wide variety of audio content, though it can sound alternately dark and bright at times. Thanks to its 360-degree design, it has great directivity, resulting in an open and natural-sounding soundstage. It can also get pretty loud, though there's some compression present at max volume that can affect the clarity of your audio at louder volumes. Unfortunately, it struggles to reproduce low-bass, so you can't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music. There also aren't any sound customization features you can use to tweak its sound to your liking.

Our Verdict

7.1 Music

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 is decent for music. It has a balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, making it suitable for listening to a variety of music genres, though it can sound alternately dark and bright at times. Its mid-range is balanced, so vocals and lead instruments sound clear and present in the mix, though they can sound a bit dark at times. Thanks to its 360-degree design, it also offers a wide and natural-sounding soundstage. Unfortunately, it noticeably struggles to reproduce low-bass, and there aren't any sound customization features you can use to tweak its sound to your liking.

Pros
  • Wide and natural-sounding soundstage.
  • Gets loud.
Cons
  • Struggles to reproduce low-bass, and rattles.
  • No sound customization features.
6.6 Videos/Movies

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 is alright for videos and movies. It has low Bluetooth latency with iOS and Android devices, so the audio you see is in sync with the visuals you see, though some apps compensate for latency differently, and your experience may differ. Also, It has a wide and open-sounding soundstage thanks to its 360-degree design. Unfortunately, it noticeably struggles to reproduce low-bass, so you can't feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed movies and videos, and there isn't a graphic EQ or presets you can use to customize its sound.

Pros
  • Wide and natural-sounding soundstage.
  • Gets loud.
Cons
  • Struggles to reproduce low-bass, and rattles.
  • No sound customization features.
6.4 Podcasts

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 isn't bad for podcasts. Its balanced mid-range ensures voices and lead instruments are reproduced accurately and with detail, making it suitable for listening to dialogue-centric content like audiobooks and podcasts. That said, higher-pitched sounds and voices may sound a bit dark at times. It has great directivity thanks to its 360-degree design, meaning you can hear your audio clearly from most angles. Due to its wired design, it isn't very portable since it needs to remain plugged into a power source to work.

Pros
  • Wide and natural-sounding soundstage.
  • Gets loud.
Cons
  • Not very portable.
  • No sound customization features.
3.1 Voice Assistant

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 doesn't support voice assistants.

5.2 Outdoors

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 isn't designed for outdoor use due to its wired-only design.

  • 7.1 Music
  • 6.6 Videos/Movies
  • 6.4 Podcasts
  • 3.1 Voice Assistant
  • 5.2 Outdoors
  1. Updated Nov 19, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Nov 16, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights Yes

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 Bluetooth speaker is a sleek home speaker with a unique dome-shaped design that sits vertically on a fabric-covered base. It has a small ripple-like design atop the dome, and there are soft pulsing lights inside of it which you can turn on and off.

3.7
Design
Portability
Volume
946 in³ (15,501 cm³)
Weight
8.1 lbs (3.7 kg)
Power Source
AC Only
One-Hand Carry
No

This large speaker isn't very portable. Due to its wired design, it needs to remain plugged into a power source to work, so you can't easily take it with you on the go.

6.4
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
Unspecified
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3's build quality isn't bad. Its dome is made of tinted plastic that feels as though it may crack or get damaged if it falls, and there are pulsing lights inside of it, on top of the drivers. Since it doesn't have an IP rating for dust and water resistance, it's best to avoid placing it in areas where it may be exposed to water, like in your kitchen. Its controls are on a rubberized strip in between the dome and the base. The base is covered in fabric, though it doesn't have a very premium feel. There are also three rubber feet underneath the speaker.

4.3
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Okay
Feedback
Okay
Music Play/Pause
No
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Tactile)
Track Next/Previous
No
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

The Harman/Kardon Studio 3's tactile controls are located along the rubberized strip surrounding the speaker, and each has its own physical particularity. Its power button is sunken into the rubber strip, while its Bluetooth pairing button is slightly raised. Its + and - buttons to control its volume are texturized. There's also a tactile icon to turn the speaker's lights on and off. Since it doesn't have a companion app, this is the only way to control the speaker.

The lights inside the dome change as you adjust the speaker's volume, and there's some audible feedback once you've reached its maximum volume level. That said, the controls are very sensitive and can be activated by accident. There's also a delay when you touch the power button.

Design
In The Box

  • Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 speaker
  • AC cable
  • Quick Start guide

Sound
6.8
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.04
Std. Err.
3.47 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
52.6 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
12.9 kHz

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3's frequency response accuracy is alright. Out-of-the-box, it has a well-balanced sound profile overall, with a balanced mid-range that ensures vocals and lead instruments are clearly and accurately reproduced. That said, higher-pitched vocals and instruments may sound a bit dull at times. It struggles to reproduce the deep thump and rumble in low-bass typically present in bass-heavy music.

In our subjective listening tests, we found the speaker's sound profile to be brighter in the high and mid-treble ranges than the graph suggests. Its struggle to reproduce low-bass was also very evident, even causing the speaker to rattle at times. Unfortunately, it lacks sound customization features like a graphic EQ or presets, so you can't tweak its sound to your liking.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
8.5
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
2.77 dB
Stereo
Yes

This speaker has an excellent soundstage performance. This stereo speaker has great directivity thanks to its 360-degree design, so its soundstage is perceived as wide and natural-sounding.

7.5
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
91.7 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
1.80 dB

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 has a good dynamics performance. It can get pretty loud without much compression present at max volume, so your audio sounds mostly clean during louder listening sessions.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power Saving
No
Charging Port
No Battery
0
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Siri
No
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No
Far-Field Performance
No Assistant
Ambient Noise Performance
No Assistant
0
Active Features
App
App Name
No App
iOS
No
Android
No
EQ
No
Stereo Pair Mode
No
Party Mode
No
Multi-Room
No
Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
Yes
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
No

Aside from its power port, the Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 features an AUX input you can use to wire your devices to the speaker.

8.1
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Bluetooth iOS Latency
112 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
47 ms
Bluetooth Range
206.7 ft (63.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

This speaker has very good Bluetooth connectivity. It has low latency with Android devices, making it suitable for watching videos and movies over this connection. While its iOS latency isn't as good, it's still decent and doesn't cause syncing issues between audio and visuals. That said, some apps compensate for latency differently, so your real-world experience may differ.

0
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
No Wi-Fi
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 only comes in Black, you can see the label for the model we tested here.

If you come across any other variants of this speaker, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 has a unique dome-shaped design with pulsing ambient lights that can blend in nicely with most home decor. While it looks like its predecessor, the Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 2, the Studio 3's dome is completely sealed and doesn't have a bass reflex port in its center. Thanks to its 360-degree design, the Harman/Kardon Studio 3 has a wide and natural-sounding soundstage. It can also get pretty loud without much compression at max volume, resulting in clean audio during louder listening sessions. However, unlike other home speakers we've tested, it doesn't support voice assistants, which may disappoint users who regularly rely on them for support.

See also our recommendations for the best Bluetooth speakers, the best home speakers, and the best speaker brands.

Bose Home Speaker 500

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Bose Home Speaker 500 or the Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 overall. The Bose supports Wi-Fi connectivity and offers incredible voice assistant support with Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, who do an excellent job of hearing you from far away and in noisier settings. It's also compatible with the Bose Music app, which features bass and treble adjustments you can use to tweak its sound profile. That said, the Harman/Kardon has a slightly better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box and has less compression present at max volume. Some users may also prefer its unique dome-shaped design with sot pulsing lights.

Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 and the Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 have different strengths. The Aura offers a more open and immersive-sounding soundstage and can get louder with less compression present at max volume. However, the Onyx is battery-powered and comes with a built-in carrying handle, making it more portable. It's also better-built and can produce a slightly more extended low-bass than the Aura.

JBL Xtreme 3

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 is a better speaker than the JBL Xtreme 3 overall. The Harman/Kardon is a wired home speaker that offers a wider and more open-sounding soundstage thanks to its 360-degree design. It has less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volumes. That said, the JBL is smaller and battery-powered, making it more portable. It's also better built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, so you can take it outdoors with you without worrying about it getting a bit wet.

JBL PartyBox 100

The JBL PartyBox 100 is a better speaker than the Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 overall, though they're designed for different purposes. The JBL is a large, portable party speaker with RGB lights that can get incredibly loud and can produce a more extended low-bass. It also comes with mic and guitar inputs and can be used as a power bank for your devices. However, the Harman/Kardon is a wired speaker designed for home use that offers a wider and more open-sounding soundstage, thanks to its 360-degree design. It also has less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner-sounding audio at louder volumes.

JBL Charge 5

The Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 5 overall. The Harman/Kardon is a wired home speaker that offers a more immersive and natural-sounding soundstage. It can also get louder with less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volumes. That said, the JBL is smaller, battery-powered, and better-built, making it more portable. It can also be paired to multiple other PartyBoost-compatible speakers when you want your audio to fill a large space.

Sony SRS-RA3000

The Sony SRS-RA3000 and the Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 are similar speakers. The Harman/Kardon can get louder with less compression present at max volume and can produce a slightly more extended low-bass out-of-the-box. Some users may also prefer its unique design and lights. However, the Sony offers a wider-sounding soundstage. It supports Sony's '360 Reality Audio' surround format and comes with an 'Immersive Audio Enhancement' feature to further enhance the speaker's soundstage. Its companion app also features a graphic EQ and presets you can use to tweak its sound to your liking.

Yamaha MusicCast 50

The Yamaha MusicCast 50 and the Harman/Kardon Aura Studio 3 are similar speakers with different strengths. The Yamaha can get louder with less compression present at max volume. It's compatible with the MusicCast app, which you can use to pair it with compatible speakers and soundbars. It also features a graphic EQ and presets to customize its sound profile to your liking. That said, the Harman/Kardon has better directivity, resulting in a wider-sounding soundstage. Some users may also prefer its unique, dome-shaped design with pulsing ambient lights.

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