We’ll have to forgive Harman Kardon for being a bit late to the wireless earbud market. Well known for its mix of car audio systems and components, Bluetooth speakers and home audio equipment, the company isn’t known for a wide range of headphone options.
In fact, the Harman Kardon headphone collection was limited to two models — the wired Bluetooth FLY BT and the over-ear FLY ANC. Still, in a culture insulating the human aural senses from the outside world with the near constant use of earbuds, it was time in 2020 for Harman Kardon to jump into the wireless, in-ear headphone arena.
The company’s first foray into the wireless earbud domain is the Harman Kardon Fly TWS Wireless Earphones. Compact and sporting a very subdued and understated aesthetic, the Fly TWS units settle into your outer ear canal for $149.95. Employing Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and arming each piece with 5.6 mm audio driver, these earbuds are meant to travel with the audiophile throughout the day.
What We Liked about the Harman Kardon Fly TWS:
No matter their build quality, their feature set or their look sitting in the ear, a new pair of earbuds is only as good as their sound. Fortunately for the Harman Kardon Fly TWS, high-fidelity playback comes standard, thanks to those 5.6 mm audio drivers and a Dynamic Frequency Response Range of 10 to 20 kHz. There’s ample power to handle any sort of music. For smaller units, these FLY TWS gadgets are especially tuned to strong bass.
Most Unique Feature: Onboard Artificial Intelligence
It would seem the days of wireless earbuds that simply take up residence in your ears and only play music are coming to an end. Evolving technology demands they do more than that. The designers at Harman Kardon are well out ahead of those developments, adding voice-assistant integration to these little audio gizmos.
Both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are built in, utilizing the onboard high fidelity microphone you previously would’ve used only for Bluetooth-connected phone calls. Now, that same microphone opens up a world of voice commands and additional functions.
What We Didn’t Like About the Harman Kardon Fly TWS:
The popular design in earbuds these days allows users to charge the headphones’ case and use that as a power base to power up the actual audio equipment. As long as you keep the case juiced up, you simply need to put the earbuds to bed in their snug compartments, and your audio gear will be ready to go when called. The Harman Kardon Fly TWS use that same system, with the earphones running for about five or six hours before tapping out and needing to go to bed. Their case is able to recharge four times or so before it also needs to hit the plug.
According to our own, admittedly informal testing, the Harman Kardon Fly TWS Wireless earbuds pack an overall battery life of less than 24 hours if you include the multiple charges stored in the case. Compared to similar quality earbuds (with similar price points), that number lags behind.
The Verdict: Perfect for the Serious Listener
The Harman Kardon Fly TWS Wireless Earbuds don’t come in whimsical colors or provide workout-friendly ear clamps. They provide quality sound for focused, on-the-go listening. Carrying an understated aesthetic aimed at grownup listeners and a price tag around $150, the Fly TWS units for users focused on serious listening.