The Harman Kardon SB 16 is a sigh of relief to women everywhere. It sounds great, looks great, and doesn’t take up much space in your home. This is the perfect system that will satisfy those stereo speaker hungry males, and their wives, who cringe at the sight of wires and black boxy systems. However, the SB 16 is not a full fledged stereo surround speaker system in the full sense of the word, since it does not require an A/V Receiver. But it is still very much a meaty system that will take your movie watching experience to a whole new level.
The Harman Kardon SB 16 is minimalistic in design with its glossy black piano finish and comprises of both a soundbar and a subwoofer. The soundbar measures 4-5/16″ x 36-1/4″ x 3-1/2″ and weighs about 8 pounds. It can also be mounted on a wall or it can just rest on an entertainment console. The 8 pound heft means it will not easily flip over on a stand, or rip off your wall after being mounted. The soundbar actually sat very nicely under our 42″ HDTV. There are a total of 5 buttons on the device. The power button, surround button, +/- volume buttons, and source selector button. That’s it!
The SB 16 subwoofer is certainly heavier and and bigger than the soundbar. The subwoofer itself weighs 34lbs and measures 18-7/8″ x 13-3/8″ x 13-3/8″. This certainly takes up a considerable footprint in your home, so you will want to put it somewhere out of sight – if big glossy black boxes don’t fit in with your decor. Towards the bottom of the subwoofer is where the speaker resides and pumps out that juicy low end. On the top of the subwoofer is a glowing light that indicates when the subwoofer and soundbar are connected to each other and powered ON.
The backsides of the SB 16 soundbar and subwoofer is where all the magic happens. The soundbar sports left and right analog inputs, optical digital input, power switch, coaxial digital input, trim switch, wireless code switch, and an EQ switch. The subwoofer has a crossover knob, volume knob, phase switch, wireless switch code, and power switch.
There is not one wire that connects the subwoofer to the soundbar, making this a dream system for anyone who abhors wires.
Out of the box you would expect a manual that reads like “stereo instructions,” but alas that was not the case with our system. Fortunately, the whole setup took under 10 minutes and that is with unpacking. Harman Kardon takes great care in packaging their audio equipment and it shows. Everything was wrapped with care, so that this beauty would not be subjected to any harsh treatment. In a few steps I was able to get the soundbar and subwoofer thumping some major movie soundtracks. Connecting to my TV was a cinch with the included optical digital audio cable and later on to my DVD player (yeah, I still have one of those) with the included audio cables. I switched the trim button to 3 and then the ES switch to table, and the soundbar was pumping out sweet sounds. The subwoofer requires nothing at all in regards to set up. Just plug it in the wall and place it accordingly in your room to provide the best acoustics possible for your soundbar and listening experience. Pressing the power button on the soundbar will turn the subwoofer ON or OFF. Both work in sync when powering ON or OFF. The subwoofer does have a master power switch, so just make sure that it is turned to ON.
A soundbar and a subwoofer – how could that be a sufficient movie theater experience for your home? Well yes it can! In this day and age where TV’s come with pretty decent speakers built-in, we forget that their is an entire market that consists of turning the dial-up and bringing that intense movie listening experience to the forefront in our homes. To someone who lives in a small apartment – to others who live in massive sized homes the SB 16 will suffice on many levels. Sound is crisp and clear, specifically the mids and highs that emanate out of the soundbar, where as the subwoofer provides the meat of the entire theatrical experience. The deep low end warms you from the inside and out. Placement of the subwoofer within distance to the soundbar is ideal if you want to get that 3D surround sound effect.
At first we will admit that we weren’t all that impressed with the sound that came out of the soundbar from basic cable channels, but once we started watching Dances with Wolves and Titanic with their big musical scores and sounds we were blown away by how good a speaker system this is. Just your average Bravo reality show doesn’t do these speakers justice, and quite honestly, if that is all you intend to play with this speaker system – save your money. But if you love to watch movies and hear the crackle of a fire within a scene, then this is the speaker system for you. Just make sure to always use the soundbar in tandem with the the subwoofer, or the sound emanating out of it will feel very empty as the device is heavily concentrated on providing the highs and mids, with the subwoofer providing the warmth of the bass.
Unfortunately, the most frustrating part of the SB 16 system is the fact that there is no remote. For a system that packs everything into just two devices the lack of dedicated remote left us scratching our heads. Harman and Kardon gives you instructions on how to program your TV remote to work with the system, but we just couldn’t get it to work. We tried using our dedicated Samsung TV remote and that didn’t work, nor did the cable box remote work. We couldn’t even get the Sony Tablet S to take control of the device either, and it comes with universal remote software. So we found ourselves constantly getting up and down, making the speakers louder or lower depending on what we watched.
The Harman Kardon SB 16 is a sleek and smart speaker system. It won’t make you scream in horror if your loved one brings it home, in fact you might actually thank them for enhancing the experience of how you watch TV and movies. The lack of wires and simple setup makes it easy for anybody to install without having to be an audio engineer. Furthermore, the sound emanating from the speakers is crisp and clear with a warm bass delivered from the subwoofer. The fact that the subwoofer takes up a large footprint is a concern, but not a major one. However our biggest gripe is the lack of a dedicated remote control. But all in all, the Harman Kardon SB 16 is a lush system that shows the love that the company has for its audio equipment, from design to sound quality. And with a fair price tag of $599, it isn’t completely out of range for those who want to turn their TV into a surround sound theater experience. You can learn more about the Harman Kardon SB 16 here.
The Good: Clean and sophisticated design that is not obtrusive to a home, simple installation, wireless from soundbar to subwoofer, warm bass and crisps highs provide a balanced listening experience.
The Bad: Positioning of the sound bar and subwoofer is key – or you won’t get the full effect of the SB 16 experience, lack of remote, not particularly NYC apartment friendly because of the subwoofer’s size.
This post is sponsored by Harman Kardon. All opinions are 100% our own.