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Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Feb 16, 2021 at 09:43 am
Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 Picture
6.6
Music
5.8
Videos/Movies
7.4
Podcasts
2.8
Voice Assistant
6.6
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
No
Voice Assistant
No
Battery Powered
Yes

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 is a portable Bluetooth speaker with a unique rounded design. It's easy to bring with you on-the-go thanks to its integrated handle, and it even has an IPX7 rating for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. With a neutral, balanced sound profile, it's well suited for listening to a wide range of audio content, though it struggles to reproduce a thumpy low-bass. It doesn't get very loud, either, and it lacks sound customization features like an EQ.

Our Verdict

6.6 Music

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 is alright for music. It has a very balanced, neutral sound profile that makes it suitable for listening to lots of different music genres. However, like many smaller speakers, it struggles to reproduce a thumpy, punchy low-bass, which can be disappointing if you love bass-heavy genres like hip-hop. It also has to downmix stereo content into mono, which doesn't sound as immersive, and it lacks sound customization features.

Pros
  • Decent frequency response accuracy.
  • Supports multi-device pairing.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Downmixes stereo content into mono.
5.8 Videos/Movies

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 is middling for videos and movies. Its neutral, balanced sound profile can reproduce dialogue clearly, but it lacks low-bass, so you don't really feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed scenes. It has to downmix stereo content into mono, which doesn't sound as immersive. Also, its latency with Android and iOS devices via Bluetooth is likely too high to be suitable for watching videos, though some apps compensate for latency differently.

Pros
  • Decent frequency response accuracy.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Downmixes stereo content into mono.
7.4 Podcasts

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 is satisfactory for podcasts. Its balanced mid and treble ranges reproduce clear, accurate, and detailed dialogue. You can also pair it with up to two devices at the same time, making it easy to switch between listening to a podcast on your laptop and listening to an audiobook on your phone. However, it doesn't get very loud, and there's some compression present when you play it at max volume.

Pros
  • Portable design.
  • Supports multi-device pairing.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud; some compression at max volume.
  • 4.7-hour battery life.
2.8 Voice Assistant

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 doesn't support voice assistants.

6.6 Outdoors

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 is adequate for outdoor use. This well-built speaker has an IPX7 rating for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. Its integrated handle makes it really easy to bring on the go. However, its 4.7-hour battery life isn't ideal for long days outside, and it doesn't get very loud.

Pros
  • IPX7 rating for water resistance.
  • Portable design.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud; some compression at max volume.
  • 4.7-hour battery life.
  • 6.6 Music
  • 5.8 Videos/Movies
  • 7.4 Podcasts
  • 2.8 Voice Assistant
  • 6.6 Outdoors
  1. Updated Feb 16, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Feb 11, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 has a very unique, sleek design. It has a round shape, it sits vertically on a flat base, and it has an integrated aluminum handle to make it easier to carry. You can buy this speaker in several different color variants, including 'Gray', 'Blue', and 'Black'.

9.0
Design
Portability
Volume
637 inยณ (10,439 cmยณ)
Weight
6.4 lbs (2.9 kg)
Power Source
AC & Battery
One-Hand Carry
Yes

This speaker is incredibly portable. It's small and easy to carry with one hand thanks to its integrated handle. Since it's battery-powered, you can also bring it outside without having to plug it into an outlet.

7.5
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Great
Water Resistance
Submersible (IPx7)
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 has a good build quality. Most of the speaker is wrapped in a tight fabric, and there's a handle on top made of aluminum. Overall, it feels solid. There's even an IPX7 rating for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. However, the fabric may be prone to collecting dust over time.

5.9
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Good
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
No
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

The controls are middling. The physical buttons let you adjust the volume, power the speaker on/off, play/pause your audio, and activate Bluetooth pairing mode. You can press the play button twice to skip to the next track, but unfortunately, you can't skip back to the previous track. Also, you can hold the Bluetooth button to pair another Onyx Studio 6 speaker for Wireless Dual Sound. There's also a light under the Power button that indicates the speaker's power status, and some audible feedback when you reach max volume.

Design
In The Box

  • Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6
  • Power cable
  • Power adapter
  • Quick Start guide

Sound
7.2
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.28
Std. Err.
3.21 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
49.0 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
18.2 kHz

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 has decent frequency response accuracy. It has a neutral, balanced sound profile suitable for listening to lots of different audio content, and there's a little extra warmth in the high-bass that can please fans of bass-heavy music. However, like most speakers, it struggles to reproduce a thumpy, punchy low-bass. There also aren't any sound customization features like an EQ available.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
5.5
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
4.69 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

This speaker has a sub-par soundstage performance. It has to downmix stereo content to mono to play it, which doesn't sound as immersive. Also, its directivity is just okay, resulting in a soundstage that's perceived as narrow, and also a bit uneven due to the overemphasis in the treble range.

6.7
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
87.9 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.48 dB

This speaker has a fair dynamics performance. It doesn't get very loud, and other speakers like the JBL PartyBox 100 can get louder. Also, there's some compression present when you play it at max volume, which can be disappointing if you want to use it at parties or in large rooms.

Active Features
5.4
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
4.7 hrs
Charge Time
4.1 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
AC

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 has disappointing battery performance. It's advertised to last for eight hours off of a single charge, but in our testing, it only lasted for a little over four hours. That said, battery life can vary depending on usage, so your real-world experience may be different. Also, there's a power-saving feature that shuts it off after twenty minutes without an audio file, which is handy.

0
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Siri
No
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No Microphone
Far-Field Performance
No Microphone
Ambient Noise Performance
No Microphone
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
Yes

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 has an AUX port that you can use to wire devices like your smartphone to the speaker to play audio. There's also a micro USB port, but it's only for servicing the speaker.

7.7
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Bluetooth iOS Latency
264 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
163 ms
Bluetooth Range
334.6 ft (102.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 has good Bluetooth connectivity. You can pair it with up to two devices at the same time, making it easy to switch your audio source between different devices. It also has an outstanding range, so it can play audio even if your paired device isn't very close to it. However, its latency with Android and iOS devices may be too high to be suitable for gaming. That said, some apps compensate for latency differently, so your experience may vary.

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

This speaker isn't Wi-Fi compatible.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 comes in several different color variants: 'Gray', 'Black', and 'Blue'. We tested the 'Gray' variant, and you can see the label for the model we tested here. We expect the other color variants to perform similarly.

If you come across another version, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 is a portable Bluetooth speaker with a very neutral, balanced sound profile out-of-the-box. Its integrated handle makes it easy to bring this speaker with you on-the-go, and it even has an IPX7 rating for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. However, it has to downmix stereo content into mono to play it, and it doesn't have a lot of sound enhancement features like an EQ. You can also check out our recommendations for the best Bluetooth speakers, the best Bluetooth speakers for bass, and the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers.

JBL Boombox 2

The JBL Boombox 2 is a better speaker than the Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6. The JBL has a better soundstage performance, and it can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono. It also gets louder, and it has longer battery life.

JBL Charge 5

The JBL Charge 5 is a slightly better speaker than the Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 overall. The JBL is better-built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance though we don't currently test for this. It's smaller, more portable, and has a longer-lasting battery life than the Harman, though battery life can depend on your usage habits and your experience may differ. That said, the Harman can produce a slightly more extended low-bass than the JBL. 

JBL Xtreme 3

The JBL Xtreme 3 and the Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 are similarly-performing speakers, so depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Harman/Kardon has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box. However, the JBL is better-built, with longer battery life and better soundstage performance.

JBL Xtreme 2

The JBL Xtreme 2 and the Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 have similar overall performances, and depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Harman/Kardon has a more neutral, balanced sound profile out-of-the-box. However, the JBL has a better soundstage performance, longer battery life, and it supports voice assistants from your smartphone, unlike the Harman/Kardon.

Sony SRS-XB43

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Sony SRS-XB43 or the Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6. The Sony is better-built with longer battery life, and it supports voice assistants from your smartphone. Also, its companion app offers a graphic EQ so you can customize its sound profile. However, the Harman/Kardon has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box.

Anker Soundcore Motion+

The Anker Soundcore Motion+ is a slightly better speaker than the Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6. The Anker can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, and can get slightly louder than the Harman/Kardon. Its sound is more customizable thanks to the graphic EQ and presets featured in its companion app. It's also smaller, making it more portable. That said, the Harman/Kardon offers a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, and can produce a more extended low-bass than the Anker. It also has slightly less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volume levels.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore

The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore is a better speaker than the Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6. The Beosound Explore is more portable and is better built, with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't test for this. It's also more customizable, thanks to its EQ presets and its 'Beosonic' feature, so you can customize its sound to your liking. Additionally, it has an excellent soundstage and can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono. That said, the Onyx Studio 6 has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box and can reproduce a deeper bass than the Beosound Explore.

Denon Home 350

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6 and the Denon Home 350 have different strengths and depending on your usage, you may prefer one over the other.  The Harman/Kardon is a battery-powered speaker that you can take with you outdoors. It has an IPX7 rating for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this, its Bluetooth performance is better, and it can be paired with up to two devices at once. However, the Denon is a home speaker that can only be used wired. It has a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, a better soundstage and dynamics performance, and it supports Wi-Fi. It also has a companion app with bass and treble sliders so you can tweak its sound to your liking.

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