Harman Kardon presented a whole series of new devices at IFA, including the beautiful Citation multiroom family. But also the high-end Harman Kardon Enchant 1300 soundbar. This beautiful device combines a modern design with high-tech functions to offer you a 5.1 sound that is adapted to your living room.
Harman Kardon Enchant 1300 soundbar
At IFA 2018, Harman Kardon presented several new products. A lot of attention went to the new Citation line, which is meant as a luxurious answer to Sonos. But the test of the Citation is for a later date. In this review, we zoom in on the equally new Harman Kardon Enchant 1300. It is a luxurious soundbar, very sophisticated and can be optionally expanded with a particularly powerful wireless subwoofer. The Enchant also has interesting features: Chromecast, 13 speakers and a smart measuring system to adjust the sound to the room characteristics. The downside is that all this beauty carries a high price.
The Enchant 1300 costs 999 euros, the accompanying subwoofer a hefty 699 euros. The total price is therefore almost 1,700 euros. And that is quite a high amount, especially when you consider that Dolby Atmos support is the norm in this price category. Unfortunately, the Enchant does not offer that. His assets are in other areas. There is also an almost identical looking and more compact Enchant 800 with ‘only’ 8 speakers and a single HDMI input, for sale for € 699.
Metal and textile
Few people start prancing when we state that the Enchant one of the most beautiful soundbars is on the market. The build quality is simply excellent. Photos actually miss this Harman Kardon. On images it seems very sober, nothing unusual. In reality, this soundbar is indeed a bit of understated design, but it has many design elements that seem sophisticated. Such as the narrow metal chamfer around the speaker openings on the side and the top surface. The rounded corners give the Enchant a somewhat softer, less technical appearance. Together with the beautiful fabric that covers a large part of the soundbar, this all creates a luxurious look. Practice, because at this price point we really expect a top finish and a design that fits nicely in an interior.
The top of the Enchant 1300 consists of a fine metal surface, with a number of buttons on it. But no LEDs or other indicators, and that made us after a session watching TV sometimes doubted whether the soundbar really was out. There is a white OLED display on the front, which, just like with Samsung sound bars, is hidden behind the speaker cover and only lights up when something changes (such as an input or volume level). A detail, but pretty. It keeps the Enchant 1300 tight.
Placement is important
We have tested the Enchant on a piece of furniture, but you get everything supplied to hang the soundbar on the wall. It is not a small soundbar (112 cm wide and 12.5 cm deep), but the curves at the corners do not make it appear too much. Nevertheless, it remains a device that visually fits better with a larger screen, or we think so.
An advantage is the Enchant 1300 on many competitors with Dolby Atmos you can use it under a TV scroll the screen. Unlike most Dolby Atmos sound bars in this price category, the Enchant does not have overhead drivers that send sound to the ceiling. This means you are not obliged to place the soundbar freely and with a view on the ceiling. Nevertheless, Harman Kardon is not allowed to just put the device deep into a TV cabinet. On both sides you will always find a speaker that sends the sound (specifically the surround back channels) very wide into the room to create a kind of surround field. We can already tell you: this is very effective, but you must ensure that there is nothing in the way of the sound waves coming from these speakers. In our test setup on a very wide TV cabinet, a record player was initially placed next to the soundbar. However, we removed it when it became clear that the surround feeling was seriously undermined. In short, a good placement is surely a thing to take into account. You have a bit more freedom than at Atmos soundbars, but not unrestrained.
A high-end soundbar must have sufficient HDMI inputs, so that you can use sources such as the TV decoder and consoles with the soundbar. connect and only one HDMI cable runs to the television. Harman Kardon does not disappoint; the Enchant 1300 has three HDMI inputs and a separate HDMI port with ARC support for connection to the TV. Do you prefer to work with an optical cable for connection to the TV set? Which can. Harman Kardon supplies both an HDMI and optical cable in the box. An analogue audio input and USB complete the sequence. However, listening to music files from a USB bar is not so convenient. On the remote you will find the necessary buttons to control the playback, but this is not very practical if you have to search through many files to find a certain song. The USB port is thus more intended for when a friend comes along with some nice tracks to listen to. Support is also available for lossless formats. Much more convenient for longer listening sessions is streaming over Bluetooth or WiFi.
Google manages it
Harman Kardon has stopped developing its own streaming software and is building on the Google Chromecast platform from now on . That means that the Enchant is set up via the Google Home app, including when you need to connect the soundbar to your WiFi network for the first time. This goes very smoothly. You let the Home app search for new devices; with us the Harman Kardon soundbar was found after a few seconds. Just tap and walk through a few steps, and the soundbar is online. There is no microphone built into the Enchant, but you can use a different device with a microphone to speak to the Google Assistant to operate the soundbar with the voice. With a Google Home mini for example. Because Chromecast is built-in, you are not shy about streaming options. From the apps of almost every streaming service you can send music to the Enchant. Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz, Tidal, TuneIn … Choice enough. You can also cast your own files via an app with the cast function. We recommend BubbleIUPnP on Android. Casting video, for example from the Netflix app, is not possible with soundbars as usual.
The Home app is the only app that allows you to control the Enchant. It offers you all kinds of possibilities in the field of smart home integration, but when it comes to options for the soundbar you can do little via the app. Adjusting the volume and possibly setting a delay for the audio, that’s about it. You really need the physical remote to control the many options of the Enchant. Do not lose it!
An optional sub
According to Harman Kardon, the Enchant 1300 is provided to display all relevant frequencies, including the low basses. It must be said: he indeed sounds fuller than many thin sound bars. But whoever hopes for a spectacular display of films and better music reproduction, the Enchant Subwoofer should be included. There the shoe pinches a bit. Harman Kardon decided to make the subwoofer optional and immediately go for a larger sub of better quality. Well, the problem is not that the sub is big or performs better than most other soundbar subwoofers. It is the price tag that will probably deter buyers. The Enchant subwoofer costs 700 euros, and that is a hefty optional purchase at a sound bar of 1,000 euros. These are of course the suggested retail prices and possibly real store prices will be lowered or an attractive bundle of soundbar and sub will be created. But when we write this, we only see the devices at the recommended price in stores.
The Enchant subwoofer perfectly matches the soundbar, including the top with a nice chamfer or bevelled edge. It looks much more precious than typical sound bars – and it is also a lot heavier. With a soundbar you get a typical less well finished sub of light materials, so that at high volumes the cabinet itself vibrates and the bass sounds more cloudy. That danger is not present with this 15-kg weighing thing, it is simply very solid. The size (30 x 30 x 40 cm), however, is not minus, which makes it a bit more difficult to lose the sub in the room. Moving under or behind the couch is quite challenging. That’s why we’re happy that the design looks good, because in most cases you’re going to have to put the sub in sight.
Harman Kardon has really built a full-fledged subwoofer here. With its 10-inch woofer and 400 watts of peak power, it is absolutely no compromise solution. The driver is inside the enclosure, resulting in a more controlled and damped bass. But there is a reflex port at the back, so that paying attention to the placement remains important. If you put it in a corner of a room, it will go more powerful or dominating.
Like any loudspeaker, the room also has a great influence on the sound of a soundbar. actual sound that you experience in your own living room. The shape, size and materials that make up walls, floor and ceiling can make the sound brighter or duller. In addition, with a soundbar like this one tries to create a virtual surround field. The distance from the soundbar to the walls plays a decisive role.
Most soundbars are set to a kind of theoretical standard room that the manufacturer has selected. The more your living room looks like, the more true the soundbar sounds. That makes a purchase a bit of a gambling game … The Harman Kardon solution is called Multibeam – thirteen speakers that radiate sound – in combination with Automatic Multibeam Calibration (AMC). AMC is a function that plays test tones, while the soundbar listens to how those tones are distorted by the room. On this basis, the Enchant 1300 movie sound will be played back so that it sounds natural to the listener.
Sounds complicated? It is that too, but luckily you as a user have little trouble with it. You can set AMC from the seat. Unlike room correction systems with AV receivers or the YPAO function with some Yamaha soundbars, you do not need to connect a microphone. Simply place the soundbar where it will be placed permanently and then press and hold a button on the remote for three seconds. Playing the test tones takes about 15 seconds, followed by a half minute count.
As far as we can discover, you can not quickly switch the AMC correction on and off. To compare something or something, we first used the Enchant 1300 with the factory settings and only later performed the AMC measurement. The effect of the function is quite large and very noticeable. We found it lowered and integrated better after the measurement, although it remains dominant. But not disturbing, and even pleasant with action movies and electronic music. The AMC measurement also provided a more detailed and wider sound image.
The remote allows you to switch between different sound modes: Standard, Music, Movie, Voice and Personal. All modes apply the AMC measurement, but at Personal you can still tune yourself by adjusting the bass. Then you can link this setting to one of four preset buttons on the remote. For example, you can create a personalized sound for movies and a slightly different sound for music. Or even more or less bass for different genres.
Convincing and grand
The Enchant 1300 we hang for the test on a LG OLED55B6V TV, and we connect an Xbox One S directly to an HDMI input of the soundbar itself as a video source. This Xbox model contains an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. This way we know for sure that the Enchant 1300 receives an audio signal in the highest quality. Unless otherwise stated, we have left the AMC function enabled in our living room of 25 m2, with windows on one side and on the other a large opening to another room. We also used the Enchante subwoofer.
First we start with the Dolby test disc to listen to surround playback and channel separation via standard demos. We have to choose the Dolby Digital test suite, because Dolby TrueHD does not process the Enchant. In itself not so bad, because although DD is compressed, you hardly ever notice a soundbar. A first observation: although the Enchant can not process Dolby Atmos, demos like Leaf sound very spatial. There are no height channels at this soundbar, but that lack is less than we expected. The Harman Kardon soundbar compensates for the absent height channels by also broadcasting the ordinary surround channels. So no, you do not hear the real altitude information, but the sound does not seem to come straight out of the soundbar. Most people will be happy with this.
With 5.1 content, in this case ‘Tron: Legacy’ via Netflix, the Enchant 1300 is very strong. The epic soundtrack that Daft Punk composed is wonderfully bombastic thanks to the large subwoofer and effects like during the battle between the lightcycles are well placed in space. The speakers on the side prove more effective than with many soundbars that have similar loudspeakers. The virtual surround field that is often promised by manufacturers (and that unfortunately is rarely delivered), is a lot more at the Enchant 1300. It sounds very wide, without compromising the correction of the basic triangle ‘left-center-right’. Despite the AMC tuning it remains a bit of a search for a good balance between soundbar and sub; we must initially grab the bass control on the remote control.
We also get the new Ultra HD Blu-ray from ‘Justice League’, the umpteenth attempt by Zack Snyder to make a good superhero movie. If that is successful, let’s just put in the middle (Gal Gadot makes a lot of good, that’s true), but in terms of sound effects and soundtrack we find it just like Snyders ‘The Watchmen’ pretty ok. The Enchant 1300 here again shows a very well-tuned soundbar that presents dialogues and effects on the front channels clearly and distinctly. For a soundbar it’s really well balanced, yet if you’re fine-tuning that soundbar, what you do best in the Personal-audio mode.
If we stream music from the Qobuz app, then the Enchant 1300 shows competent as a music player. The subwoofer is a strong asset here, because basses are reproduced in a more detailed and musical way than with average soundbars. The meadow sound of the Enchant 1300 may make some tracks seem unnatural, yet if you compare it to pure stereo. Turning on the music mode is in any case a good idea.
The Enchant 1300 assessment is a tough task. It all sounds very good, even good. The subwoofer you buy separately is at a high level – much better than you usually experience at a soundbar. And that’s what makes the combination Enchant 1300 and Enchant subwoofer one of the most powerful displays we’ve ever heard at a soundbar. Harman Kardon has also provided a beautiful design, excellent workmanship and quite a few possibilities. Thanks to Chromecast, the Enchant can even be controlled via Google Assistant.
The premium finish does carry a high price. The Enchant 1300 with accompanying subwoofer costs about 1,700 euros, making it one of the most expensive soundbars. The competition, like the Yamaha YPS-5600 or Samsung HW-N950 (also tuned by Harman Kardon), at this price point also offers Dolby Atmos and even comes with wireless rear channels. They are not as beautiful as this enchanting device from Harman Kardon, though.