I wasn’t a fan of Harman Kardon’s Soho headphones after they debuted a yr in the past, however the purpose was uncommon: they had been critically uncomfortable. Soho was a a lot smaller, wired model of Harman’s gigantic Bluetooth wireless headphone BT, notably utilizing comparatively tiny 30mm audio system as a substitute of the 40mm drivers present in BT and lots of rivals, together with Beats’ Solo 2 and Solo 2 Wireless. One thing was off throughout Solo’s design or manufacturing course of, as a result of its metal headband felt like a vise on my head, a problem I hadn’t beforehand encountered whereas testing a whole bunch of different headphones.
Consider it or not, I’m glad that Harman didn’t quit on Soho, as a result of the most recent model Soho Wireless ($250) really fixes most of its predecessor’s flaws. It’s a sharp-looking headset, and although it continues to make use of anemic 30mm audio drivers, Soho Wi-fi is markedly smaller and extra snug than earlier than. Because the title suggests, it’s now able to working in a totally wi-fi mode utilizing Bluetooth 3.0, with a usable vary nicely in extra of the usual’s 33-foot minimal. And Harman has upgraded the design and supplies somewhat, aside from together with an easier mushy carrying case somewhat than a bigger, heavier field.
The 2 greatest modifications in Soho Wi-fi’s design are tweaks to the scarf and the on-ear drivers. Though the brand new headband might nonetheless profit from padding below its leather-based wrapping, Harman has fortunately revised the form to really feel pure somewhat than vise-like in your head–a essential enchancment that makes Soho Wi-fi really wearable.
The audio system at the moment are behind cushioned leather-based somewhat than cloth, which lets this model of Soho surpass the luxurious of Bowers & Wilkins’ P3 somewhat than simply matching it. If something, Soho Wi-fi is light on the ears even after you correctly modify the pull-down arms, which allows somewhat ambient noise to leak in—you don’t get the ear seal of Beats’ Solo 2, however there isn’t apparent audio leaking out at common volumes, both.
Harman has additionally made a few modifications to Soho’s cabling and controls. On Soho Wi-fi, the included 3.5mm audio cable is solely elective—slim, fabric-jacketed, and missing an in-line distant management. The one built-in button is discovered beneath the suitable earcup, doubling as an influence and Bluetooth pairing management. A similarly-sized field with a USB icon hides a micro-USB port, connectable to an included cloth USB cable to recharge Soho Wi-fi’s 400mAh battery, for which Harman’s website online, packaging, and guide oddly present no estimate of run time. When requested, a Harman consultant famous that Soho Wi-fi affords 9 hours of playback after 2 hours of recharging, which isn’t dangerous in any respect, however falls a bit wanting the 12 hours promised by Beats’ Solo 2 Wi-fi.
Monitor controls are hidden on the skin of the suitable earcup. To alter, pause, or play tracks, you now faucet or swipe your finger towards the flat leather-based floor utilizing gestures helpfully indicated inside Soho Wi-fi’s field. When the gestures work, they work, however all it takes is a slight miss of the hidden contact floor and also you’ll end up re-tapping or re-swiping. As soon as once more, this characteristic is healthier than having no built-in controls, however lower than perfect.
Sonically, Soho Wi-fi is a middle-of-the-road performer for its worth. As the 30mm drivers inside are atypically small, there are factors throughout listening after they appear to be straining to breed the frequency vary–notably the bass–of bigger headphones corresponding to Solo 2. Face to face, they’re fairly near Solo 2, roughly mimicking the Beats mannequin’s so-so highs, superb midrange and good mid-bass, however the lowest notes aren’t as punchy or apparent.
We most well-liked Soho Wi-fi’s sound in wired mode, as a trace of buzz will be heard within the headphones after they’re working wirelessly, however the distinction isn’t profound. Moreover, a microphone is hidden beneath the suitable earcup, delivering solely OK sound high quality relative to the iPhones’ built-in mic system when you could make telephone calls.
The important thing factor that may make Soho Wi-fi a viable different to considerably comparable alternate options from Beats, Bowers & Wilkins and others is the aesthetic it delivers for $250. Harman’s alternative of chrome and leather-based is opulent and mature, giving customers the selection between Beats’ costlier, all-plastic design or one thing that appears and feels executive-class at a lower cost. However, you’ll compromise considerably on audio high quality, which can or will not be necessary to you. Soho Wi-fi is a giant step in the suitable path for Harman, however undoubtedly not the final stage within the evolution of its wi-fi headphones.
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