Harman Kardon Allure Bluetooth Speaker REVIEW
At last, a genuinely smart wireless speaker at a reasonable price that packs a real wallop. PAT PILCHER gives Harman Kardon’s Allure Witchdoctor’s highest accolade.
Amazon may have started the smart speaker revolution with their Alexa-powered Echo. But now they’re letting third parties build Alexa goodness into their audio gear. Is this a good or bad thing thing? After spending time during my Harman Kardon Allure review of this Bluetooth and Alexa-capable speaker, I can confirm that it’s definitely a case of the former.
The Allure is a striking looking beast. For a start, it’s barrel-shaped rather than a narrow pillar like Amazon’s Echo plus. It has a dark grey alloy speaker grille that wraps around it and its top sports a smoked plastic transparent section, which lights up when Alexa is doing her thing. Atop of that is a circular surface consisting of multifunction buttons that are surrounded by a small grey ring that sports volume and microphone mute controls.
The Allure feels solid and is pleasing to look at. Its design might not be everyone’s cup of warm beverage, but I liked its retro sci-fi look. When the clear top lights up, I was reminded of the robot from Lost In Space. Now if only someone could get Alexa to say “Danger, Will Robinson!”
Setup of the Harman Kardon Allure Review wasn’t difficult. It requires a simple download of the HK Alexa app and then the Amazon Alexa app. I opened the app on my phone and powered up the speaker, and the light ring glowed – showing it was looking to connect.
I then followed some near idiot-proof instructions in the app and connected my smartphone and my home’s Wi-Fi. After that, I signed in with my Amazon account to get Alexa set up. Total install time 7 minutes, pain quota: zero.
Where Amazon’s Alexa speakers seem to be designed to blend into in the background, the Allure shouts, ‘Look at me!’ And when I say shout, I’m so not kidding. After pairing it with my smartphones using Bluetooth, I cranked it up and fired some tunage through it. Its twin 20W 1.75-inch drivers and two passive radiators saw it cranking out astonishingly loud audio that packed plenty of rumble in the jungle.
A lot of Bluetooth speakers sound shrill and pass off the bottom of mid-range audio as bass. Not the Allure. It delivered balanced audio with plenty of boom – bass I could feel with the volume cranked. While it might not be on the same level as a floor standing speaker, the Allure gives smaller bookshelf speakers a real run for their money. This is nothing to sneeze at when you consider that the Allure is a sub-$300 Bluetooth speaker.
As good as the musical chops demonstrated during my Harman Kardon Allure review, I still had reservations as to whether it could deliver Alexa goodness while I was working my hardest to get my neighbours to call noise control.
It turned out that my concerns were unwarranted. Even at high volume levels, the four in-built mics did a great job of picking up my voice, thanks to the use of intelligent noise cancellation, which lets Alexa’s recognition abilities cut through the noise to recognise a voice.
If that’s what’s good, how about what’s missing? The most obvious is a 3.5mm audio input. As much as I like being able to stream audio over Bluetooth, a wired connection would have greatly extended the Allure’s versatility.
That minor grizzle aside, my Harman Kardon Allure review gives this speaker the big tick. Striking looks combine with an easy setup and surprisingly good audio, making it a solid choice for a Bluetooth speaker with brains. Add in Alexa functionality that’s better than what Amazon supplies and there’s lots to like.