Reviews

Review: Harman Kardon Adapt

test harman kardon adapt

This week we tested the Harman Kardon Adapt wireless audio adaptor featuring multiroom functionality. This compact device offers WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity and is designed to allow users to stream audio files from a smartphone or tablet, as well as from Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal. An attractive, all-in one music streamer ensuring support for HD audio files.

An ultra-versatile network player for a few dozen euros, is this even possible? It would seem so, as the highly respected American brand Harman Kardon offers nothing less with the Adapt. We might as well say it straight away, rather than trying to compete with full-sized network audio players, this device simply aims to bring lossless audio streaming to a wider public. As such, the analog stereo output doesn’t claim to offer audiophile-quality performance.

Test Harman Kardon Adapt

Presentation

The Harman Kardon wireless audio adaptor takes the form of an ultra-compact, shiny plastic box. It’s very simple, and it fits in the palm of your hand. Powered via its micro-USB input (5V/1A), it can be connected to its own power pack or to the USB port of any device (amplifier, set-top box, etc.). Once connected to the local WiFi network, the Harman Kardon Adapt may be controlled via the HK Controller mobile control app, available for Android and iOS. It’s this app which allows audio to be streamed from online music streaming platforms and manages multiroom audio diffusion when several HK Adapt wireless audio adaptors are used.

Test Harman Kardon Adapt

Spotify Connect, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal

Without a doubt, the main advantage offered by the Harman Kardon Adapt is the support it provides for the four leading online music streaming platforms (for subscribers). Spotify is supported via the Connect protocol, and Spotify’s official app may be used with an iPhone, Android smartphone, Windows PC or Mac. The user simply needs to choose the Harman Kardon Adapt as a peripheral playback device. The Adapt will offer direct audio playback, and the app will then serve only as a remote control. Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal may be accessed via the HK Controller mobile app, which partially copies the user interface of the official apps for these platforms. Here again, the Adapt connects directly to the music streaming platforms to offer lossless audio playback.

HD audio file playback

The Harman Kardon Adapt wireless audio adaptor is compatible with most audio file formats and notably FLAC files up to 96kHz/24-bit. Lossless playback is enabled thanks to the HK Controller app.

Test Harman Kardon Adapt

The Harman Kardon Adapt wireless audio player is equipped with a line-level input as well as a line-level output.

Bluetooth

The integrated Bluetooth receiver has a maximum range of 33 ft (10 m). SBC transmission technology is implemented. No aptX here, but since it is possible to stream audio losslessly via WiFi, that isn’t a big problem.

Mutliroom

With several Harman Kardon Adapt wireless audio adaptors, it’s as easy to listen to the same music in several different rooms as it is to play different songs on each device. Since the Adapt is equipped with a line-level input, any stereo source may be connected to it (portable audio player, CD player, FM tuner, etc.) in order to stream audio to several different rooms simultaneously.

Test Harman Kardon Adapt

The HK Controller mobile app may be used to control playback in several rooms, each equipped with its own Harman Kardon Adapt wireless audio adaptor.

Included accessories

The Harman Kardon Adapt wireless audio adaptor comes with a power block and a micro-USB to USB Type A cable. No manual, and no mini-jack to stereo RCA cable.

Test Harman Kardon Adapt

The accessories provided with the Harman Kardon Adapt. The user must provide a mini-jack to stereo RCA cable to begin listening.

Test Conditions

There is a Quick Installation Guide on Harman Kardon’s website, and it may be downloaded if necessary. Perhaps the best solution is to install the HK Controller app on a smartphone or tablet, then follow the instructions on the screen. In practice, all you need to do is connect the Harman Kardon Adapt to the mains supply, as it will be automatically detected by the smartphone. The app then asks the user for the WiFi password, which it sends to the Adapt. Even simpler, the user may press the HK Adapt’s WPS button, followed by the WPS button on a set-top box or WiFi router.

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The HK Controller mobile app may be used to configure the Harman Kardon Adapt.

We listened to the Harman Kardon Adapt wireless audio adaptor with the Denon DRA-100 amplifier and a pair of Klipsch Heresy III speakers, connected via a mini-jack SVD Pro Mini-Jack/RCA analog cable. The sources we listened to included CD-quality FLAC files and music streamed from Deezer via our Deezer Premium subscription.

Listening impressions

We encountered no serious flaws while listening to the Harman Kardon Adapt, even if the restitution lacked substance and evidently didn’t soar to great heights. We must say that our test speakers didn’t leave any room for mistakes. The articulation of the lows is acceptable, the mids are adequately detailed and the highs are limited in terms of extension. Put that way, it might sound like a put-off, but certain defects can be mitigated with a superior-quality interconnect cable (QED Profile 2 RCA/mini-jack, for example).

Test Harman Kardon Adapt

The control app is compatible with Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal.

Conclusion

What we liked:

  • The compact format
  • The HK Controller app
  • The support provided for Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal
  • The lossless audio playback for files streamed from a smartphone

What we would have liked:

  • Compatibility with the aptX protocol for the Bluetooth connection
  • A digital output to connect an external DAC
  • An (included) analog cable

At this price, and seeing as how it provides support for Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal, all with lossless transmission quality, we aren’t going to split hairs. The analog line-level output gets the job done, and most hi-fi installations with midrange compact speakers will put it to good use. The same goes for portable speakers and wireless speakers, the latter of which offer limited support for online music streaming platforms.

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A view of the Harman Kardon Adapt’s connectors.

This post is also available in: French

About the author

Tristan Jacquel

Tristan est rédacteur chez Son-Vidéo.com. Passionné de musique, d'acoustique et de high-tech, il réalise notamment les tests matériels pour notre blog.

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