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Harman Kardon SB 16

Est. $500
Reviewed
August 2013
by ConsumerSearch
Harman Kardon SB 16

Pros
  • Great audio for sound bar
  • Very loud, with no distortion
  • Wide soundstage
Cons
  • Massive bar and subwoofer
  • Few features
  • No remote control

Bottom line

The Harman Kardon SB 16 is almost a purist's sound bar; it is massive, elegant and delivers richer, wider and louder audio than most of its competitors. However, its features are sparse to the point where it doesn't even have a remote control.

Performance

The audio sings, whispers and booms. Several major reviewers sing the praises of the Harman Kardon SB 16's audio; it's clean and accurate, with a powerful yet balanced low end and the ability to hit high volumes without distorting or compressing. The soundstage is fairly wide, as well, though it still can't come anywhere near the effect put out by a true 5.1-channel surround-sound system. As such, one reviewer says the "room ambiance [is] lacking." There are also reports of interference between the wireless subwoofer and 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi home networks.

Design

Big, yet beautiful. The Harman Kardon SB 16 is larger than many sound bars, and that carries over to its wireless subwoofer as well, which has what CNET calls "a giant footprint." The sound bar lacks an LED display, which makes it difficult to keep track of volume levels, but reviewers appreciate its dark aesthetic. Connectivity-wise, there are a set of stereo analog jacks and singular coaxial and optical digital ports. Setup is fairly easy.

Features

None to speak of. The Harman Kardon SB 16 has no features to speak of: no front display, no onboard decoders, no wireless support, no HDMI ports with fancy features, nothing. In fact, the sound bar doesn't even ship with a remote and is designed to be synced with your existing TV clicker. That leads to an irritating issue for some; since you disable your TV's speakers when using a sound bar, CNET found that half the TVs in its labs flashed a prominent Internal Speakers Disabled message on-screen every time reviewers attempted to adjust the sound bar's volume with the HDTV's remote.

Value

For audiophiles only. If you're fine with settling for very good sound rather than the excellent audio the Harman Kardon SB 16 provides, you can find perfectly acceptable sound bars with more features for less money. Examples include the well-regarded Sony HT-CT260 (Est. $250) .

Where To Buy
Harman Kardon SB26 Advanced Soundbar with Bluetooth and Powered Wireless Subwoofer

 
Buy new: $720.00 $599.95   11 Used & new from $415.00

In Stock. Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping

 
Featured StoresStore RatingNotesTotal Price
AdoramaAdorama rated 4.42 (7261 reviews)7,261 store reviewsIn Stock. $499.95
eBayeBay rated 3.83 (1281 reviews)1,281 store reviewsIn Stock. Buy it new & now! with eBay Buyer Protection$379.99
 

Our Sources

1. CNET

CNET's audio team tests the Harman Kardon SB 16 and ends up awarding it an Excellent rating, despite some qualms about the high price tag and potentially problematic control scheme. "Its excellent sound quality and exterior design make it worth the extra cash," they write. Plenty of comparisons to other sound bars are made.

Review: Harman/Kardon SB 16 Review, Matthew Moskovciak and Steve Guttenberg, March 23, 2011

2. Audioholics.com

This relatively brief review is written in a casual, friendly tone that makes reading it a breeze. It's backed up by a helpful video review, as well. The Audioholics.com team ends up heartily recommending the sound bar despite its absolute dearth of features. "If you want a great sounding soundbar and sound quality is the most important thing for you, we have yet to hear one that sounds better at this price," they write.

Review: Harman/Kardon SB16 Sound Bar & Wireless Sub Review, Clint DeBoer and Andrew Gash, May 6, 2012

3. ConsumerReports.org

The Harman Kardon SB 16 is one of several sound bars tested by the editors of ConsumerReports.org. A visual rating system helps readers quickly understand a sound bar's positives and negatives, but talk about the products is very short.

Review: Home Theater Systems, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated

4. Amazon.com

Reviews are a bit of a mixed bag at Amazon.com. Most owners are fairly happy with the Harman Kardon SB 16, especially its audio chops -- but several users run into the aforementioned remote control-issue with their HDTVs or encounter interference with their home Wi-Fi networks. Several also say the sound bar doesn't get quiet enough.

Review: Harman Kardon SB16 Soundbar and Wireless 100 Watt Subwoofer (Black), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of August 2013

5. Crutchfield.com

There are only 20 reviews for the Harman Kardon SB 16 at Crutchfield.com, but most users are highly positive: three-quarters issue a perfect rating. Some users run into issues with the remote here, as well.

Review: Harman Kardon SB 16, Contributors to Crutchfield.com, As of August 2013

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