Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5 Bluetooth Speaker Review


Harman Kardon speakers are the kind of product that attracts fans for life. Many have had multiple versions of the same speaker, updated when newer models appeared. This is especially true for the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5, first available in 2018. With four portable Onyx speakers previously, it has become a classic with thousands of fantastic reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. So in this Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5 Review 2022, we’ll try to answer what makes this speaker so special, and if it’s the perfect portable Bluetooth speaker you’ve been looking for.

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5 design

One of the things that makes people a fan of Onyx Studio Bluetooth speakers is the exceptional design. Although it retains the same disk shape as its predecessor. Studio 5 has lost the legs of Studio 4. This gives it a sleeker, more minimal look that you just love. To compensate for its boned design, a slightly flattened rubber bottom ensures it’s still stable.

An addition, rather than subtraction, is its new aluminum handle. This may seem like an obvious design feature in a portable Bluetooth speaker, but few others have one. The handle makes it easy to grab the Onyx Studio 5 and take your music with you with a minimum of hassle – something that is much more difficult to do with, for example, the JBL Xtreme which relies on hooks for portability.

The other design feature that I love is the sleek black fabric that covers the entire speaker, excluding the handle and rubber base. The only thing breaking it on the front is the 5 controls, the LED lamp, and the Harman Kardon logo in the middle. At the back, only the entrances at the bottom are visible.

Aside from the aesthetics of the Onyx Studio 5, the second factor that makes people fans is the quality of the components used, inside and out. However, Onyx Studio 5 is not very shock-resistant. You don’t have to treat it with baby gloves, but you don’t want to drop it too often either.

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Onyx Studio 5 continues its minimalist style by placing 5 subtle control icons on the front under the handle. They consist of:

  • Bluetooth button (pairing).
  • Volume down button.
  • Power button. This also acts as a hint button. Just press twice to play the next track.
  • Volume up button.
  • Play / pause / skip button.
  • Led

Below the control buttons is an LED that changes depending on what happens:

  • White / flashing: Bluetooth pairing mode works.
  • White / slow blink: Bluetooth is not connected.
  • White / fast flashing: Wireless dual mode pairing mode is on.
  • White / solid: Bluetooth / wireless dual audio connected.
  • Red / flashing: low battery. (The only downside is that there is no indicator of how low the battery is or how long it will last.)
  • Red / constant: battery charge.


At the bottom rear, there are three entrances:

  • One AUX input. This is a quickly disappearing feature from many Bluetooth speakers, so it’s good to see that it’s still included in Studio 5.
  • A port of loading.
  • A service port for firmware updates.

How does the Studio 5 sound?

In a word, Sublime! For a speaker of this size and price, the sound quality is one of the most outstanding qualities. The fantastic sound quality is higher than many Bluetooth speakers that cost a lot more.

The Onyx Studio 5 has a massive 120mm subwoofer and 25mm highs (which is 2 passive radiators, not mentioned in the specs though), 50 watts of total system power, and a 50 Hz frequency response. 20 kHz.

When it comes to details, the first thing that catches your eye is the foundation. In technical terms, the frequency response is flat with a base gain, but that doesn’t do it justice. The base is like a beat for the solar plexus, you can really feel it, especially around 50-60Hz.

In fact, you may encounter a little problem. If you need to play your music at a civilized level for the neighbors, the bass can dominate at low volumes and smile in the mid and high ranges. So either you will lose part of the middle / upper part of the track or you will play it too loud and your neighbors will end up on your door or floor.

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5 Blue

A few more notes on the bass, as it is a feature of the Studio 5 sound. You can’t really control the bass from the device itself, only from the paired device. However, there are two basic modes, high and low.

The factory setting is high. To switch to low bass mode, press and hold the Bluetooth button and the minus button simultaneously for 10 seconds without playing music. Repeat the process to return to the default high bass setting.

And finally a warning! Harman does not recommend using the low-frequency mode, as the Onyx Studio 5 is not designed to use bass in normal operation. It is used to test the speaker before it is approved for sale. Playing in low-frequency mode may damage the speaker and void the warranty.

However, Harman hasn’t just produced an updated boombox with heavy bass. The mid and high ranges remain clear, especially at higher volumes when the bass gain drops slightly.

And even better news, you can enjoy your music at any volume, as there is no noticeable distortion even at full volume.

The only downside when it comes to sound is the lack of stereo separation. Even if you connect two Onyx 5 speakers, you will only get mono sound. But in reality, there are only certain types of music or specific songs where this will be noticed. For most users, the fantastic sound quality makes up for more than that.

Tip: To hear Studio 5 in all its glory, you must have it connected to the network, not to the battery. To extend battery life, Harman limited the volume to Bluetooth mode. It’s still good for a speaker in size and price, but the difference is noticeable.

How long does the battery last?

Like most Bluetooth speakers, the Onyx Studio 5 uses a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery rated at 3,283 mAh, giving up to 8 hours of streaming.

The battery isn’t the Onyx 5’s strongest point. You only get 8 hours of streaming at average volume. This may be the same for many battery-powered Bluetooth speakers, but even more was expected from the Studio 5, especially since it takes 5 hours to fully charge the battery when dead.

Tip: If you are not going to use your Studio 5 for 3 months or more, you must fully charge the battery before removing it.

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5 white

Is it waterproof?

The Onyx Studio 5 is not waterproof. Or even splashproof. The JBL Xtreme 2 for example, is waterproof. Of course, it’s more expensive, but even some cheaper Bluetooth speakers like the UE Boom 3 are waterproof to IPX7 or even IP67.

If it’s crucial for you that your Bluetooth speaker be waterproof, you should check out the Onyx Studio 6, which is IPX7-certified waterproof, not its latest upgrade, the Studio 7.

How do I connect the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5?

Onyx 5 has no wireless connection, only Bluetooth. However, since all devices worth buying now have Bluetooth as standard, that’s not a big deal.

The good news is that you can also connect a 3.5mm cable through an extra input to save precious battery life. This is all rare for Bluetooth speakers, so it’s good to see that Harman has kept it in Studio 5.

Tip: Bluetooth connection is always a priority. So if you have one device connected wirelessly and another connected via an auxiliary cable, you need to pause the Bluetooth connection first.

A slight downside to the Bluetooth settings in Studio 5 is that there is no NFC pairing like in SoundLink II. This makes mating much faster and easier. Another little oddity is that Studio 5 is not compatible with any Harman Kardon apps.

However, it has a multi-host that allows two devices to be connected at the same time and, as already mentioned, a chain that allows two speakers to be paired.

You will need to make sure that the other speaker you are creating for the chain is a different Studio 5. It doesn’t work with any older version, not even with Studio 6.

How to Pair 2 Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5

To pair two speakers (dual sound mode) is quite simple, and for this, you should do the following:

  • Connect a speaker to your phone as usual.
  • Press and hold the Bluetooth button on both speakers for 5 seconds. The LED blinks white quickly.
  • When the white LED stops flashing, you are in dual sound mode.
  • Tip: Onyx Studio 5 automatically shuts down after 30 minutes if it does not detect a paired Bluetooth device. If you are already paired with a device and the device has an automatic shutdown, it will disconnect from that device 30 minutes after it shuts down, so you will need to pair the device again.

Studio 5 vs Studio 4

Not surprisingly, Studio 5 is the fifth variant of the Onyx theme. Visually the first four had little to distinguish them, but Harman seems to have listened to customer feedback and the fifth differs from the previous Onyx in several important ways.

So what is the difference between the Onyx Studio 5 and Studio 4?

As mentioned above, Studio 5 still has the same disc-shaped design, but unlike the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4, it doesn’t have those rather clunky legs for stability. Instead, it has a slightly flattened rubber base to keep it stable. And it works fine.

It’s also a bit wider than the Studio 4, but the biggest improvement is the nice aluminum handle, which is an interesting and highly aesthetic addition to a portable Bluetooth speaker.

In terms of looks, the only other real change has changed the controls from top to bottom. All these changes are obviously purely cosmetic and alone would not justify a new model. However, it is on the inside that Studio 5 really differs from its predecessor.

However, there is another change that makes up for all that basic goodness. Studio 5 is not compatible with any Harman applications, including Connect +. Studio 4 does that, which means you can pair not only another Studio 4 but also dozens of other speakers with your Studio 4. And speakers from other manufacturers like JBL.

If you connect two Onyx Studio 4s together, you can select party or stereo mode, something you cannot do when you pair two Studio 5s.

ModelOnyx Studio 4Onyx Studio 5
Dimensions31.75 x 20.83 x 30.99 cm28.4 x 29.1 x 12.8 cm
Weight2.04 kilograms2.98 kg
Drivers2 x 3 ″ woofers, 2 ¾ ”tweeters, 2 passive radiators1 X Woofer / 1 X Tweeter
Battery size3000mAh3280mAh
Loading time5 hours5 hours
Connection bracketsYesNo
Built-in microphoneYesNo
Frequency50Hz – 20kHz (-6dB)50Hz – 20kHz (-6dB)
Bluetooth versionBluetooth 4.1Bluetooth 4.2
Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5 vs 6

Onyx Studio 5 vs 6

Aesthetically, the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 6 differs from Studio 5 in that the standard version of Studio 6 has a brass handle that looks impressive. However, some Studio 6s still appears to have a gray handle, so please check before you buy.

Studio 6 is a bit heavier than Studio 5, but it’s probably due to the big change the manufacturer has made. And, finally, Harman produces one of its IPX7-rated Onyx Studios, which means that, in theory, you can submerge the Studio 6 in fresh water up to a meter deep for 30 minutes.

Comparison parameterOnyx 5Onyx 6
LaunchingThe Harman Kardon Onyx 5 was released in August 2018.Harman Kardon Onyx 6 was released in June 2020.
WeightIt is a bit heavier, weighing in at around 2.99 kg (6.6 pounds).While it weighs around 2.90 Kg (6.4 pounds).
DesignIt does not have a cover for the ports.While it has a port cover on the back.
WaterproofIt does not come with an IPX rating and it is not waterproof.It comes with an IPX7 certificate; can be submerged in 1 foot of water for up to 30 minutes.
Sound outputIt offers a decent sound output.While offering a stronger and more intense sound.
WooferThe woofer is 4.7 inches.The woofer is 3 inches.
TweeterThe tweeter is 1 inch.The tweeter is 0.75 inches here.

What models are the closest competitors?

The closest competitors to Onyx Studio 5 are, in our opinion, its predecessor, Studio 4, and its successor, Studio 6, both of which are discussed in this article.

When it comes to other brands, JBL Bluetooth speakers are the closest equivalent in cost and performance. Models like the Xtreme and Boombox tend to have better battery life and IPX7 waterproofing but are more expensive.

Models like the JBL Charge 4 are closer to the price of the Studio 5, but generally have fewer watts (30 less when it comes to the Charge 4) and it doesn’t have the attractive design of the Studio 5, but it is obviously subjective.

So is Harman Kardon the best Bluetooth speaker brand for dollars? Well, Bose and Sony also produce some excellent Bluetooth speakers, but at a higher cost, however, there are more affordable models with the same features as the Sonos One, Ultimate Ears Hyperboom, or Huawei Sound X.

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5 with phone
Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5 with phone

Should you buy the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5?

Studio 5 is a good option if you are looking for a Bluetooth speaker that offers:

  • Premium quality.
  • Portability.
  • Elegance
  • Great value for the price.

Clearly, many of these qualities were addressed and among other great benefits that come with the purchase of this unit. It has a heavy bass sound, as well as balanced highs and mids without neglecting its AUX and Bluetooth connectivity, dual sound, and multi-host functions.

The downside is that it has no shock or water protection, backward compatibility, or stereo separation. Despite that, it’s a solid speaker with great performance and incredible value for money. You should give this a try if you want a large but portable speaker to use at home or in the office!

Recommended accessory

Specifications Onyx Studio 5

Maximum music playing time (hours)8
Output power (W)fifty
Frequency range Hz (-10 dB)50 Hz – 20 kHz (-6 dB)
Dimensions (cm)28.4 x 29.1 x 12.8
Dimensions (inch)11.2 x 11.4 x 5
Weight (kg)2.98
Weight pounds)6.6
Bluetooth profilesA2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.6
Bluetooth frequency2402 MHz – 2480 MHz
Bluetooth transmitted modulationGFSK, π / 4 DQPSK, 8DPSK
Bluetooth transmitter power0 – 9dBm
Bluetooth version4.2
Battery capacity (mAh)3283
Charging time (hours)5
3.5mm audio cable inputYes

User manual

Check the user manual> User manual.

Interested? Get the best deal on Amazon.

Hope this article helped you to know the in-depth review of the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5 Bluetooth Speaker.

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