I love Harman Kardon products. I’ve reviewed (and bought) plenty of ’em over the years. However, the GLA-55 high end” system (“http://www.harmankardon.com/EN-US/Products/Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?PID=GLA-55) is too expensive by any stretch of the imagination. How expensive? A thousand smackers.
For a cool grand, you’ll get some of the most unusual looking speaker systems ever to see the light of day. As my son Matt noted, they look like two alien noggins from “Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls” sitting on my desk.
Novelty appearance aside, the GLA-55 is still a 2.0 speaker system that lacks a subwoofer. It offers substantial bass and as clear, accurate sound as I’ve heard on any 2.0 system. But for less than half the price, you can my favorite set of desktop speakers: Bose’s $399 Companion 5 faux 5.1 system.
The GLA-55 sports three-inch Atlas aluminum-cone woofers, easy-to-use touch controls and LEDs on the front of each speaker that tell you if the speaker is on, if it’s standby mode or if it’s muted. Each satellite touts 56 watts at 1% THD, and the frequency response is 35Hz-20kHz.
In the GLA-55’s defense, it’s versatile enough to work with your computer, iPod, or virtually any audio device with a 3.5mm (1/8-inch) output. And the sound is very, very good — just not $1,000 good. The GLA-55 features the same edge-driven Ceramic Metal Matrix Diaphragm (CMMD) dome tweeter found in high-end Harman Kardon loudspeakers.
All bass ports reduce distortion by venting the internal pressure created in the normal movement of woofer cones. Also, the unorthodox shape of the GLA-55’s Slipstream port purportedly provides more surface area outside the enclosure than conventional cylindrical ports, creating an “adverse pressure gradient.” According to the folks at Harman Kardon, that increases bass output with reduced port noise and distortion.
I won’t argue that this may be the best sounding 2.0 speaker system ever engineered, as claimed by Harman Kardon, which describes the GLA-55 as “audio jewelry.” Like much jewelry, it’s expensive. And you’ll be paying for looks more than audio quality.
Rating: 6 out of 10
— Dennis Sellers