on September 1, 2011
Ease of setup
Excellent sound quality
No volume indicator
Surround sound (but was expected)
We received our Harman Kardon SB16 last night. Be warned, the box the system is delivered in is HUGE! Once opened, you will find two main boxes, one containing the sound bar and a second containing the subwoofer. In a matter of 15 minutes, we had the system unboxed, powered, and wired directly to our TV via the provided optical cable. There's an RCA cable and brackets to mount the sound bar, which we didn't use.
The next step was programming the remote, which was quirky due to (unfortunately) user error. I tried to program our DirecTV remote which was an utter fail (I concluded that this was due to its "Universal" nature). Grabbed our Samsung remote and I had it programmed in about 10 minutes. Once the unit was programmed, it learned the signal from our DirecTV remote. Our TV doesn't have the "no sound" message that other reviewers commented on, which we knew before hand (thanks reviewers for mentioning that!).
Sound-wise, I am in Heaven! The sounds are so crisp and clear. The bass is perfect (after some fine tuning). We really have no complaints about the sound quality. I have to note that we weren't expecting great surround sound from this system (it is just a sound bar and subwoofer). The "3D Surround" feature is okay. If you're looking for a top notch surround system, this is not it.
Also, one tiny quirk that bothered me was not knowing where we were in regards to volume level. It would have been nice to have a display indicating you were on, say volume level 10. I like knowing I have two more clicks before it goes to "zero". But, this is more of a personal preference.
The quality of the product is better than other units on the market. The sound bar feels very sturdy and looks "clean" on our TV stand. The gloss black finish of the subwoofer makes it easy to place in our living room. Even with its very large size, it doesn't look awkward or out of place. The wireless feature was a great selling point. Plug it into the wall and you're good to go. So far we do not have any interference from our wireless router, cell phones, wireless printer, wireless laptops, etc.
Overall, we couldn't be happier with our purchase. After reading many reviews (the good and the bad) we felt that this system was perfect for what we needed: A simple, high quality sound system, to provide excellent sound quality to fill our average sized apartment living room. Don't let the price scare you. Spending what we did on the product, I was a bit hesitant and wanted to find anything wrong with it so we could send it back. Needless to say, it's a keeper!
on April 23, 2011
I was in the market for a soundbar for the game room in the new home I'm purchasing. After researching all the reviews, I decided to go with the SB 16. First things first: The sound is amazing. The faux surround really is impressive and the shape of the room doesn't matter. The sub has adjustable crossover and a phase switch, so you can find that perfect sweet spot for your room. $600 sounds steep, but you are getting a lot for your money.
Now for the bad news: I wondered why I never saw any negative reviews for this thing, and I think it is because the system is too new and the problems have not yet been exposed. The sub is wireless so you can place it anywhere in the room. I've been reading a lot about these wireless sub systems and didn't think much of it until I got it home. My apartment is abound with wireless devices: 2 iPhones, a Kindle, Macbook, iMac, PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii are all pulling from wifi. I know that's excessive, but I'm a gadget lover. Well apparently my wifi is interfering with the subwoofer connection. I noticed that every time my wife would switch web pages on the laptop, the sub connection would shut off and back on. There are four channels to choose from, but all experienced interference. This drove us both crazy, and we couldn't find any documented issues. Even Harman Kardon informed us of getting the unit serviced. I'd only had it 4 days, so I just opted to take it back to Fry's. Some other inconveniences are that even though the unit connects through an optical cable, it doesn't recognize the dolby digital signal and all components must be switched to digital stereo. The Harmony 900 doesn't recognize the unit either. Since it doesn't come with a remote, I had to program it to my TV remote, which documented in reviews, results in an annoying message popping up on my screen when adjusting the volume. This issue doesn't seem to occur with newer TVs, but my 3 year old DLP is affected.
I ended up getting a Bose Cinemate II in an even exchange. My ears like the HK better, and I really appreciate the sound field adjustment options versus the Bose's single subwoofer volume dial, but the Bose wins big in convenience. The sub is wired meaning zero interference, but less placement options. I didn't plan on setting it in some far corner anyway. The unit automatically detects the source so no having to switch from digital to analog, and the Harmony remote recognizes the unit. The two speaker setup is also better for me in the long run. I'm using the system for my gaming rig, and having a wii sensor or my inevitable Kinect sensor sitting in front of a soundbar just looked weird. When and if these kinks are worked out, I'm sure this system will be awesome, but if you have a bunch of wifi devices, stay away from the HK.
on June 1, 2012
Wow, this units could have been amazing except for one key fatal flaw. Beware!!!! When I hooked it up to my TV, I wanted to use the Digital Optical link. I tried both the analog and digital. The digital sounded much better.
In using the SB16, I realized it won't work for any of my digital TV channels(it worked for standard analog channels) via the optical link. In talking with both customer service for Harman Kardon and my TV manufacturer, the problem was clear. The SB16 is designed to only decode PCM audio data via the optical link. It fails to be able to decode 5.1 signals.
The extremely smug tool I talked with at Harman stated....it isn't a surround sound unit. Yes, it isn't, but when the signal from the TV is 5.1, it should be able to decode. In this case, the 5.1 is the format for the data streaming into the SB16. It should be able to handle data in both the PCM and 5.1 format. Harman's answer was that I should downgrade my TV so everything is just PCM. My less than a year old TV doesn't have this option. It makes sense that it wouldn't. Why should it downgrade the better audio linkage standard?
If you don't plan on using this via the optical link or can deal with PCM data only, this unit has excellent sound quality. It is a very nice unit. That said, the optical link is the optimal way to connect and 5.1 data is becoming the new standard. Why Harman wouldn't have this unit ready for the near future is beyond me.
My rating of 1 star may seem harsh. I find this flaw critical. You may not. I'd like others to know about this major flaw in the optical linkage, so they don't have to deal with this issue after a purchase.
on November 7, 2012
After having listened to many different soundbars, we ultimately choose the Harmon Kardon SB16 due to it's exceptional sound quality. We were thrilled to be able to replace our clunky, many-component home theater in-a-box with a much nicer system, and the excellent wireless subwoofer was a huge selling point.
Leading up to the purchase, I had read a number of reviews, and noted that while most of them were positive, a few folks mentioned wifi interference problems. We chose to purchase the system anyway, hoping that we would have good luck. Unfortunately, as other reviewers mentioned, no matter which of the 4 wireless channels was set, the receiver and subwoofer couldn't maintain a connection -- and it was especially bad when either of us were on our computer. I was afraid we'd have to return the system.
However, after doing a little research online, I discovered that it's possible to change the wifi channel on the wifi router itself. After digging into the router's settings, I found that my router was set to use Channel 8 (2447 MHz). To get it as far away from the signal space occupied by the Harmon Kardon system, I set it all the way down to Channel 1 (2412 MHz), and that seems to have done the trick. Now, my subwoofer stays connected to the soundbar all the time, and there's no interference from the soundbar on my wifi network.
To change the wifi channel on your router, you'll need to go into the router's software settings panel. This is usually accessed by typing a specific IP Address into the address bar of a browser on a connected computer. Consult your wifi router manual if you need help with it.
Hopefully, you too can avoid wifi interference, and enjoy the excellent sound from this product.
One other slight wrinkle to mention is that this unit does NOT include a remote. Rather, it's intended to pick up signals from your TV's remote. This makes programming and operation of a Harmony remote tricky, as you have to manually teach the Harmony the IR commands from your TV remote as the "Harmon Kardon's remote". That being said, once you finally get it set up, it IS smooth sailing. Still makes me wish they had included a small remote, though.
on November 25, 2013
I bought an SB16 this past weekend from a local retailer. I typically buy from Amazon for items like this, but I paid less than $300 for it, so I couldn't be happier.
Users buying this device typically don't use Amplifiers
This is a powered sound bar. You want a non-powered sound bar if you have an amplifier for your home theater system. Unless you have an audio out of your system that is non-powered, you'd best continue shopping. This device is designed to be connected to the non-powered output of your TV.
The SB16 and the subwoofer are quite attractive. Jet Black with either blue or white LEDs illuminating the soundbar (on the top), depending on the settings. The Sub is quite attractive as well, with a high gloss finish. Both units look and feel quality. The Sub has a blue LED when properly paired with the sound bar.
Setup & What's in the box
Installation (table top) was a snap. The device comes with an analog audio cable and an optical digital audio cable (which I used) to connect to the TV. Both cables are roughly 2 feet long. The unit also comes with 2 sets of wall-mount brackets. One set for use with the anaolg audio cable setup, and the other (extending the unit away from the wall a bit) for use with the optical digital audio out.
The wireless subwoofer makes this unit extremely versatile. You need only have the sub in the same room for it to work properly with the sound bar. This eliminates a whole lot of issues with wiring. The sub does need an AC outlet to install. Mine is about 8-10 feet from my sound bar and works flawlessly.
Wireless Channel Selection
Many devices have issues with wireless connectivity. The SB16 provides a switch that allows you to pick a channel for your devices to communicate. The default setting on mine was channel 1 and the units worked properly. There are 4 total settings in case you experience interference.
Sound is very subjective, since what sounds great to one person may not sound so good to others. Mine sounds like a full blown stereo with excellent clarity and better than expected low-end response (many have complained that the bass is not significant enough). There are settings on the sub to enhance the low end. For movies, tv viewing and for video gaming, I found the sound to be very compelling.
Programmable to match your remote?
This is where I had the hiccup. I just bought an RCA universal remote to tie all my devices together. I was unsuccessful getting this device programmed with my universal remote. The way the SB16 works is it allows you to use an existing remote and program the unit to respond to it. I spent all weekend playing with the programming and never got it to work. I didn't deduct a star because I don't think its the SB16 that's causing the issue. I think that my universal remote (since it too is programmable) isn't sending the signals needed to allow the SB16 to properly configure. I did sent a note to Harmon Kardon, so I'll post here when I receive a response.
I successfully programmed my remote last evening. I read the instructions multiple times, but I apparently missed a key element. Waiting for an LED to respond, letting me know the programming worked. After stepping away from this for a day or so, I went back, re-read the instructions and immediately (and successfully) programmed the remote. It works just as it says in the instructions. The RCA Universal Remote works just fine. My problem was that I didn't catch a key element in the instructions. So its on me. Finally, I didn't try to program the source button, but was successful with the power button and the volume up and down (which was all I needed).
TL;DR (Too Long, Didn't read) Summary
This is a beautiful unit with beautiful sound. Easy to set up and very powerful. I would definitely recommend this to friends and family.
on September 12, 2013
I was looking for a replacement for my current "full surround sound" system. The main purpose was to "unclutter" the living area, as my current system has 7 speakers and an amplifier, and enough wiring to take a full day if you rearrange any furniture in the area.
Aesthetics (5 stars): Both components are visually appealing. I am considering moving the sub out from behind my couch as it would enhance the room.
Sound (4 stars): The sound quality is great (I am no audiophile). Far better than I expected. The only reason I am giving this 4 stars in place of 5 stars is that it is not better than my "full surround system". This is expected when moving to a smaller system that does not cost more than a new auto.
Functionality (5 stars): No "cloth" cover for the soundbar means my cats cannot destroy it as they did all of my cloth covered speakers. Subwoofer easily moves from room to room when I want to entertain in separate areas of my house.
on December 28, 2014
This is a good midrange soundbad/woofer option. The SB16 will deliver better sound than the Sony, Phillips, or JBL soundbar you could buy at Best Buy, but falls short of audiophile quality.
-Sound (especially considering the size)
-No digital screen
-Only 3 inputs
I own this item, thus my review is based off of my experience with the SB16.
Bluray player connected via optical from Bluray player to TV, from TV out to soundbar.
CD Player connected via coaxial.
Harman Kardon Bluetooth adapter (sold separately) via red and white connection.
Overall I'm very happy with the SB16. My main priority was the sound quality. It produces crystal clear sound. The dialogue for movies and TV is loud and clear and soundtracks come alive. I also use the SB16 for CDs and I purchased the HK bluetooth adapter. The HK adapter works well and easily connects to any device I've tried (i.e. iPhone and macbook pro laptop). Without a doubt, the subwoofer is the best looking I've seen in a soundbar/woofer combo. It's large and produces a tight powerful sound nicely complimenting the clear treble of the sound bar. The SB16 is a great option for those who want quality sound at an economical price point.
There's no digital screen to tell you what source you're use or how high or low the volume is. There are only 3 sources which makes finding your source easier, but the volume might be awkward for some people. As mentioned above, there are only 3 inputs and no HDMI.
This SB16 has above average sound, easy setup, and a stylish design. If you can get past the minimal inputs and lack of a digital screen, it's a great option.
*PS: When pairing the soundbar with your TV remote make sure you turn off the TV volume. Once you are able to pair the TV remote with the soundbar it works well.
on July 31, 2012
This system produces really good sound in a relatively compact package. I say relatively because, in fact, the subwoofer is huge. The sound bar, however, is very compact and the whole system produces very good sound. It is not on par with a full 5.1 surround sound system but you will get fairly close.
Setup was easy - just make sure that you select the proper audio input format (analog or digital)
This is a vast improvement over the built-in speakers on my LED TV
on November 21, 2013
Absolutely perfect for my home. I have a Sharp Aquos 60" LED. Many reviews on this sound bar complain about not having a volume indicator or a separate remote control. I found there is not reason to have either. I plugged my unit in, programmed my uverse remote for volume of sound bar and turned off speakers of tv. Even when tv speakers are off, i still have a volume level indicator on screen of tv. Now when i press the volume up or down, the SB16 volume increases or decreases and the indicator on tv moves accordingly also. Works perfect and the sound is incredible.
on May 23, 2013
I ended up going with this unit after going to a local store and hearing for myself the actual difference between this unit and the Yamaha and Klipsch soundbars that are similarly priced. It was the clear winner, to my ears anyway.
And there is no question a soundbar is night and day from the small speakers that come with your flat screen. Before, I had to turn on closed-captioning to hear the dialogue in movies, now the voice is crisp and bright, even with loud sound effects or music in the background.
I play my blue-ray DVDs through the unit and have not had any decoding issues as mentioned by a previous reviewer. DTS, Dolby, etc., all work fine, even the newer formats like DTS-HD with 11 channels pipe through beautifully. If it was a known problem before, it's been fixed now.
Also, I have a D-Link wireless router right next to my TV and there are no interference issues with the wireless subwoofer. It comes on an off by itself when it detects sound. I did have to play with the Cross-over and Volume knobs to get it just right. Halfway point for both seems to be the sweetspot.
Very happy with this unit and for the money it's the best out there.
The only downside is the simulated 3D sound doesn't do anything for me. I don't hear sounds "behind" me or all around me, but it's not a problem. If I wanted true surround I would buy rear speakers.
I will say that if you want the ULTIMATE soundbar then get the Bose Cinemate, I heard it at the shop as well and it really blows you away, but that's $1500. And while it sounds amazing, honestly it's not $1000 better than this unit.