Harman Kardon’s Onyx Studio 7 is a capable and stylish portable speaker that works best in the house, not out and about.
The design is the standout feature here, it’s like nothing else in the market and has a unique look that’s artistic and also functional.
The 120mm woofer and 2x 25mm tweeters deliver good audio quality with strong bass capabilities and its 8-hour battery is decent. But there are many features I’d expect a portable speaker released in 2022 to have, that are surprisingly absent.
The Onyx Studio 7 has limited codec support and even worse, it doesn’t have any water- and dust-proof resistance rating at all. This means its usability will mostly be limited to the house. It also makes the portability of the speaker a bit useless, which in turn, makes me question the value of its $350 price tag.
However, if you’re part of the niche market looking for a unique Bluetooth speaker with decent audio performance (that’s going to stay in the house) the Onyx Studio 7 is a great option. My issue with this market is that there are heaps of portable speakers that already serve this same purpose and work fine outdoors as well.
- Unique, classy design
- Good audio qualities
- 8-hour battery life
- Connect two devices simultaneously via Bluetooth
- Only supports SBC encoding
- No water and dust-proof resistance rating
The Onyx Studio 7 costs $350.
The Onyx Studio 7’s design is its best feature. It looks like a planet with a singular ring around it. It’s classy, unique and has an artistic quality to it.
The design also works well functionally. The anodised aluminium outer ring acts as a handle and a stand so you can easily pick it up and carry it with you or place it securely on a flat surface.
The speaker comes in three colours, Charcoal Black, Marine Blue and Winter Grey. Each version looks stylish. For our review we were given the Charcoal Black version and we loved the look of it.
At 3.2kg it isn’t the lightest speaker, however the handle makes it easy to carry and the rubber feet on the back end of the handle allows you to place it on a surface without worrying about it slipping or falling over.
On the front of the speaker there are controls for power, Bluetooth connection, playing music, and turning the volume up and down. You can hit the play button twice to skip a track but annoyingly there’s no way to go back to the previous track.
One of the biggest absences of the Onyx Studio 7 is the lack of an IP resistance rating. The speaker isn’t water resistant even at the slightest level.
Although the Harmon Kardon portable speaker range isn’t marketed as an outdoor speaker designed to take camping or to the beach, the previous Onyx speaker, the Onyx Studio 6, had an IPX7 water resistance rating meaning it will survive a bit of water splashing on it, maybe from the kitchen sink or the shower. It’s a strange omission from Harman Kardon with the Onyx 7 and the lack of a resistance rating here is disappointing.
On the back of the speaker there’s a port for charging, an AUX port and a maintenance port.
The audio capabilities of the Onyx Studio 7 are very good. The 120mm woofer and the two 25mm tweeters produce a well balanced soundstage in which the highs, mids and lows all sound great.
The vocals sounded clear and consistent on more vocal focused tracks like Life on a Train by Pete Yorn, and I was able to pinpoint and define all the elements of an intricate song like HyperParadise by Hermitude.
The Onyx Studio 7 also boasts good bass capabilities. It sounds punchy and has a good bounce to it, without overpowering other elements in the mix. At high volume levels the digital signal processing prevents distortion without thinning out the lower frequencies.
There wasn’t a genre I tested on the Onyx Studio 7 that didn’t sound good. It’s not the loudest speaker I’ve heard, but it’s loud enough for a small gathering.
The speaker only supports SBC encoding meaning it isn’t compatible with higher-fidelity codecs like AAC or AptX which is significant for a speaker at this price. It’s also only compatible with Bluetooth 4.2 which is a bit behind the times with Bluetooth 5.2 releasing in 2020.
The Onyx Studio 7 has a respectable 8 hours of battery life. This fluctuates based on the volume, however at around 50% volume I was able to confirm usage for close to 8 hours.
The feature I liked most about the Onyx Studio 7 is the ability to connect two Bluetooth devices to the speaker simultaneously without them interrupting each other. It meant I didn’t have to pass my phone around to someone who wanted to put a song on, they could just connect themselves.
If you’re looking for a portable speaker that’s going to stay at home, the Onyx Studio 7 is a good option. The artistic style means it looks great in any room and it produces good quality audio.
That’s the extent of its capabilities though. The lack of a water and dust-proof resistance rating means it could potentially get damaged if taken outside, and for $350 I expect more from a portable speaker other than simply staying in my lounge.
The 8-hour battery life is very good and the ability to connect two Bluetooth devices simultaneously is another highlight, but the lack of high-fidelity codec support is a backwards step, especially for a premium speaker like this.