Critical Kit: Harmon Kardon Nova 2 Bluetooth speakers

Harmon Kardon Nova Main Pic

This week’s Critical Kit is a slight departure from the norm, in that the Harmon Kardon speakers I’m recommending don’t strictly have anything to do with mobile. They are Bluetooth-enabled however, so you can use them with a mobile phone, tablet, or pretty much any other wireless device.

Our Critical Kit section usually features a selection of interesting gadgets and devices – some of which we’re recommended by others or because they’re unique in some way. However I have recently splashed out on the new Apple TV which I use as my sole source of television these days. Playing content through TV speakers is something that I’ve always put up with, mainly because the sound quality was ‘good enough’ and the fact that I play music through a dedicated sound system.

When the Apple TV arrived, I was considering improving my listening experience and after reading up, settled on the Nova mainly due to their Bluetooth support, compact size, attractive styling, and the positive reviews online. I always fancied the company’s Soundsticks or the Aura, but was rather worried that the bass might overwhelm the neighbours. The Nova wireless speakers sell for a around £211 on Amazon, and come in either black or white variants (both have see-through sides).

This is the current setup at home (as you can see, a 32″ TV isn’t really large enough – soon to be upgraded)…

Harmon Kardon Nova
My Harmon Kardon Nova speakers hooked up via Bluetooth to the new Apple TV.


Hooking the pair up to the Apple TV via Bluetooth is a simple process that takes a couple of seconds – the only downside (and this is more of an Apple TV issue) is that the audio output must be changed to the Nova every time I turn on the Apple TV. Hopefully this is a bug that will be fixed in a future software update. There is also an NFC sensor on the side of the speakers, which can be used to pair with a smartphone, for instance.

Harmon Kardon Nova Setup

As far as audio quality is concerned, to my ears it’s quite remarkable – I’m certainly no audiophile but there is a marked improvement over standard television speakers and they produce a powerful sound that can fill the house.

There are a couple of controls on the side of the speakers to switch inputs – either Bluetooth, 3.5mm line in, or optical, besides volume up/down touch-sensitive controls, bass boost and a power button. As far as my setup goes, turning on the Apple TV also brings the speakers (and my television) out of standby mode, and they automatically turn off after a period of no input – around 10 minutes or so.

Of course, you can also use the Nova with a smartphone – sound quality is also great, and pairing is as simple as just selecting the speakers in your Bluetooth settings.

It’s always nice to recommend kit that one actually owns, and I’ve no hesitation in saying that you’re likely to be extremely satisfied with the Nova…

By Roland Banks

Roland Banks has been passionate about mobile technology for the past 20 years. He started his career at British Telecom's research division working on collaborative virtual reality environments, before becoming a video streaming specialist at 3 UK where he helped launch some of the world's first mobile video services. More recently he enjoys writing about his obsession, and developing software that helps mobile operators analyse their subscriber data.

Roland has lived in Asia for the past 5 years, and tries to indulge his other passion for riding motorcycles whenever possible.

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