Harman Kardon offers a lot of options for anyone looking to improve the sound in the home theater or living room – anything from wireless little bluetooth speakers to complete home theater systems. This time however, I decided to hook up the Blu-ray player to the SB26 Soundbar and its matching subwoofer.
The first impression I got when unpacking it was the comparatively low weight of the sound bar. This makes the SB26 suitable for wall mounting as it weighs in at 7.7 pounds (3.5kg). A look at the back reveals all the source in- and outputs, and of course, the power input DC and a port for an IR transmitter, which will come in handy if the soundbar is blocking the IR receiver on the TV. If this is the case, you can plug in a transmitter and point it in the direction of the TV. A USB port is also available, but only serves to update the software.
The other ports are used for audio signals. There are three HDMI ports for this purpose, two of which are inputs for source devices, and one HDMI output labeled 'HDMI TV' to connect to the TV allowing you to 'pass-through' the incoming signals. If your TV has ARC (Audio Return Channel), the soundbar should be connected to the TV's ARC input. This lets you send the sound from the TV to the soundbar. If a TV is equipped with such a function, the corresponding HDMI port is usually marked with the lettering 'ARC'.
If you don´t have an ARC channel, the audio signals can be sent via an optical digital cable or via the auxiliary input. The digital option is always preferable of course, and a corresponding output on most modern TVs is usually available. All necessary cables are supplied by the way - very handy if you don´t have any cables lying around at home. The cables aren´t very long though, so if you need cables longer than 5 feet, be prepared to acquire additional cables.
The layout of the inputs is pretty straightforward and each port is labeled to make sure you don´t get lost. It´s best to connect all cables before the sound bar is in place because the inputs become less accessible, especially if you wall mount it. This also applies to the equalizer setting on the back - a small switch with the options 'Table' or 'Wall' - which should be set at the correct position depending on the placement of the soundbar.
To pair the sound bar with the subwoofer you have to use the pairing buttons on the back of each unit. By pressing the Wireless Pairing switches on both the units one after another within 30 seconds, the units will communicate with each other and operate at the same frequency.
On top of the SB26 you find five control buttons. Starting on the left is the on/off button, right next to it is the Surround Mode button, followed by the volume +/- and the Bluetooth button. The control buttons are quite subtle and you really don´t notice them unless you look for them. A major part of the sound bar is the black metal grille at the front. Through the small holes I can see a total of four 3″ midrange drivers and two 1″ dome tweeters.
For the lowest frequencies, the active subwoofer uses a 10" down-firing woofer in addition to a generous bass reflex port on the back. Now, I always advice people to experiment with subwoofer placement to get the best result, and in my case the SB26 sub didn´t do very well when placed too close to a wall as it easily became too overpowering. Moving it a couple of feet from the wall did the trick, and this also gave me better access to the controls for phase and crossover on the back of the subwoofer.
Once everything was connected and set up I grabbed the remote control to see how easy the SB26 is to use and operate. Obviously, a remote control is provided and it is a bit small but fairly pleasant to use. It becomes even more convenient if you use Harman Kardon’s free smartphone app. The download is fast and quickly completed over WLAN since it´s just under 14 MB. Mobile devices are coupled quickly with the sound bar using the Bluetooth function. When it´s done, you can easily listen to music on your smartphone or tablet wirelessly.
After a successful pairing, the SB26 is shown on the lower third of the start screen in the app. If you tap the icon you reach the Operation menu, where you can select sources and can adjust volume and bass. In practice, the app is very easy to use, but if you find the use of apps a bit daunting, it is possible to use the remote for your TV to control the soundbar. Instructions on how to program the TV remote is found in the very detailed manual (downloadable), among other things.
Fill The Room With Awesome Sound
I start off my listening test with various scenes from various action movies. I want to hear how the SB26 handles busy action with a lot of stuff going on. With the chase / truck flip scene from ‘The Dark Knight‘, the soundbar and subwoofer combo does a good job at conveying the size of the streets with all the details, like screeching wheels and engine sounds, clearly audible. When the action really kicks in with gunfire and bazooka explosions echoing trough the streets, bullets and debris flying, it keeps its composure and never loses control.
The Harman Kardon SB26 succeeds incredibly well to differentiate the different types of weapons and ammunitions being used. Instead of lots of noise you can actually hear whether it´s a handgun, a shotgun or an assault rifle, which makes the whole scene a lot more real. Simultaneously, the radio communication between the SWATs is crystal clear. Even small details can be heard and placed, and it manages to retain the dynamics between background music and on-screen action perfectly. No matter how chaotic the soundscape is, it sounds accurate and ensures that any dialogue remains very clean and intelligible. Overall, it sounds very dynamic and the virtual surround sound works very well.
It works equally well with less chaotic movies, like dramas and comedies, thanks to its dynamics, attention to detail and ability to immerse you with a surprisingly large sound image.
The Harman Kardon SB26 soundbar and the matching subwoofer delivers rich, dynamic and room-filling sound and is therefore ideally suited for smaller home theater or living rooms. The low price and the overall ease-of-use in combination with good sound quality is just some of the reasons you should check it out.
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Powerful 2-channel amplification and a 100W bass reflex subwoofer.
With its 4 woofers, 2 tweeters and outstanding 100W wireless subwoofer, the HARMAN KARDON SB26 delivers as much show-stopping power as any elaborate home theater sound system available.
Exclusive Harman Display virtual surround sound.
The SB26 delivers Harman Display virtual surround sound – enveloping you in a level of immersive sonic realism such as you’ve only experienced at the multiplex, and giving you a top class movie experience at home.
Simple one cable HDMi connection to your TV.
Let your HARMAN KARDON SB26 become the centerpiece of your home entertainment system with dual HDMI inputs and one HDMI output with ARC support, giving you easy set up and no mess of cables
Full HDMI and Bluetooth® connectivity.
The HARMAN KARDON SB26 connects easily with a full range of Smartphone, tablet, and laptop-based broadcasting devices – whether in Android or in iOS format using its built-in TrueStream Bluetooth® technology.
Compatible with the Harman Kardon Remote app
The SB26 works with the Harman Kardon Remote app for easy set up and for deeper features and content management.
Frequency response 38Hz- 28kHz (-6dB)
SB26 CTR Soundbar
Midrange transducers Two x 3” (75 mm) cones per channel
High-Frequency transducers One x 1” (25 mm) dome per channel
Amplifier power 30 Watts x 2
Power requirement 24V DC, 2.7 A
Dimension 110 mm x 920 mm x 89 mm
Weight 3.5 kg
Transducer 10” (250 mm) cone
Enclosure type Ported
Power requirement 100-240 V AC, 50Hz/60Hz, 100 W
Amplifier power 100 Watts
Dimension 365 mm x 320 mm x 320 mm
Weight 9.4 kg
- 1 Harman Kardon SB26 Soundbar with 100W wireless subwoofer
- Quick-start guide
- 1 IR repeater cable
- 1 optical cable
- Wall mount brackets
- 1 HDMI cable
- 1 remote control
- 1 AC adaptor
- 1 3.5 mm connector cable