Harman Kardon Classic (CL) On-Ear Headphones [REVIEW]

Back in July, Harman Kardon introduced its premium lineup of headphones comprising of four different models including over-ear, in-ear and Bluetooth-enabled headphones. We’ve got our hands on the on-ear model from that collection i.e. Harman Kardon CL, an in-depth review of which follows right after the break!


  • High-tech performance
  • Elegant package and interface
  • Unique removable magnetic ear pads
  • Dual-axis, self-adjusting housing
  • Premium leather covering
  • “Closed back” design keeps outside noise out
  • 2D folding design
  • Inline Controls / Remote and Mic


  • Driver Type: Diaphragm
  • Sound Pressure Level: 119 dB
  • Driver Size: 40 mm
  • Frequency Response: 16 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Cable Length: 4.59 ft./1.4m



Harman Kardon’s premium hardware ships in a packing that truly complements its high-end design. I always say that a lot can be judged from the way a product is packaged and that holds 100% correct for Harman Kardon CL. When you open up the box, you get a feel as if you’re opening a luxury present loaded with all sorts of premium goodies. Here’s what the box holds:

  • 1 x Harman Kardon Classic headphones
  • 2 x User-exchangeable headbands (small, large)
  • 1 x Audio cable with Remote & Mic
  • 1 x Premium carrying case
  • Owner’s manual & other documentation

I like the fact how everything from audio cable to the headband is detachable from the headphones, which means that all this stuff can be easily replaced in case of any damage or malfunction. The box includes two sizes of exchangeable metal headbands i.e small and large, to get the most comfortable fit for any head size.  The removeable audio cable features an in-line mic and remote control and hooks up to the underside of the left ear pad.

The sleek looking 3-button aluminum remote is designed to work with all iPhones, iPods and iPads, allowing users to make and answer phone calls, raise and lower volume, skip tracks and pause/play the music. The buttons are easy to navigate with excellent tactile response. Even the mic’s sensitivity and voice clarity is pretty impressive. The included carrying case is also one of the best I’ve seen shipping with on-ear headphones. The black faux leather case safely holds the pair laying flat inside which makes the whole package backpack-friendly.

Coming to the build and design of Harman Kardon CL, I have to say this is a gorgeous looking pair of headphones. The black square shaped ear pads housed in a sandblasted metal frame construction with accents of black leather give it the kind of look that trumps the competition by far.

As pretty as these headphones look, they are equally comfortable to wear. The headband’s metallic and leather combo adjusts itself to your head providing a very secure and comfortable fit. The soft foam cushioned ear pads are covered by leather and feature a magnetic fixing, once again allowing easy replacement if ever damaged. They also swivel in either direction and can easily fold flat to slide inside the carrying case.

Without a doubt, the sound quality is the most important aspect of any headphone in addition to its comfort, and this is where the Harmon Kardon CL headphones really shine. As a personal preference, I mostly begin testing a pair of headphones by listening to a few bass heavy tracks, which for many music enthusiasts like myself, is actually the most important factor when looking at headphones in $200 price range.

Beginning with David Guetta’s Love Is Gone and DJ Tiesto’s Traffic (encoded @ 320kbps), I was blown away by CL’s tight and punchy bass response. Even at loudest volume, it is never overwhelming or distorted. The mids sound well balanced with decent highs. Listening to something softer like Edward Maya’s This Is My Life is equally pleasing with incredible level of detail and clarity. The only category where I’d hope these to be more pronounced is the treble which is slightly underwhelming at times for my liking. However, I’m assuming this will improve over time once the drivers have fully burnt in.


With the kind of detail that Harmon Kardon has put into the design and construction of CL, it can easily be sold for $50 higher than its $200 price tag. I don’t see a reason why I wouldn’t recommend it at its current price for its outstanding comfort, top-notch build and equally impressive sound quality.