Product: Harman Kardon GLA-55 2.0 Speakers
Rating: Strong Recommend**
There are only a few items we've reviewed that we'd categorize as true conversation starters, products that invite unsolicited opinions and curious inquiry. The diamond-cut design Harman Kardon GLA-55 offers an aesthetic presence which splits opinions strongly between love and hate, with few falling inbetween (you can put us in the "love" demographic, but that's partially because they look so naturally at home in our home office). What isn't obvious until you connect the pair to an audio source is their impressive audio capabilities, proving the system offers more than looks.
Compared to our current Bowers & Wilkins MM1 speakers, the GLA-55s felt confidently more substantial, operating almost too robustly for our small space apartment. With such room-filling performance, the system performed admirably for entertaining purposes, if not overkill for everyday low-mid volume listening while working. We especially liked the performance when listening to bass heavy tracks, which carried a pleasant undistorted heft, with similarly unclouded and pleasing abilities with symphony recordings.
As much as we love these speakers, the exclusivity of the 2.0 system's price makes them a niche item aimed at a very specific customer…one who loves dramatic design, expects audiophile-like performance and has the bank account to afford such an option. We unfortunately only meet two of the three criteria. We ended up teetering back and forth between a "Recommend" and "Strong Recommend" for the issue of cost. Yet despite the price, we can't deny we loved every moment listening to music through the GLA-55s; we're certainly sad to pack them up and bid them farewell. So if you can sport the premium and are looking/listening for a category defining desktop audio product, we wouldn't hesitate to mention the Harman Kardon GLA-55's as a strong contender for best in their class. Just get ready for a lot of curious peeks and questions about them.
Pros: Striking aesthetic presence, confident and clean sound, significant bass even without sub (in apartment setting), excellent construction
Cons: Price, would have preferred non-touch volume controls, large power supply
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.