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Harman Kardon MS 100 Audio System Review

By on January 29, 2011
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“I’m in Miami Glitch!”

Good: Good build & design, Excellent sound quality
Bad: No Airplay support, Steep price, Primitive remote control.
Price: AED
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

Music over the years has evolved so much that it now has its own pockets of movement, genres and offshoots. You got the gook in the eye anemic looking emo-screamos, hip hop RnB loving blinged out tanned variety, death metal/black metal choker wearing tattooed freaks, nostalgic 30 year olds in their big comfy hoodies & chucks.

The way we choose to listen to our music has also departed from the norm, majority of us resort to our mp3 players & headphones. It’s a very individual approach to soothing our troubled selves in today’s times.

“In a mobile age sound quality steps backwards” NY TIMES

“The good enough revolution: where the cheap and simple is just fine” WIRED

Those were some of the quotes from the leading publications to describe the “MP3 effect”, a phenom used to support the acceptance and decline of sound quality.

This is the very same reason the audio industry believes Generation Y is apathetic towards sound quality, automakers are arguing over less audio content  and audio marketing is using “MP3 Effect” as a justification to make audio products cheaper that are just “good enough” for the reproduction of MP3.

The same study conducted by Stanford University also indicates when given a chance to hear and compare differences in sound quality, higher accurate reproductions are preferred; it’s just a matter of educating the masses presenting them with better equipment and formats.

The Harman Kardon MS 100 is a complete high-performance audio system. With a CD player, FM tuner, dock for iPods, iPhones, integrated loudspeakers, and auxiliary inputs for other audio products. It has also been awarded by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and now happens to be in their Permanent Collection.

Firstly let’s speak of the style: it’s piano black in color, shaped like a modern day amphitheater and has this other-worldly fluorescent blue light peering through a frosted top which feels more at home with the Tron Legacy design philosophy then the official line from Monster.  It could easily grace the study of Wayne manor or an upper Eastside penthouse in NYC. The buttons on the unit are stealthily placed on the side; there are enough dock attachments to cater to every release of the iPod and iPhone range.

Its direct competition is the B&W Zeppelin & Bose SoundDock10, both models come from revered pioneers in the audio world, so the competition is stiff. However, to sound less geeky on you, the MS100 fairs better than these units in overall comparisons and can play significantly louder (+6db louder) without any dynamic compression.

Now for the bad part; the remote looks like it belongs to a 14 inch Goldstar (now known as LG) TV circa ’95, it is that hideous, completely eradicating the sophistication that Harman was aiming for. Add to the fact that the B&W Zeppelin Air is out, which supports Apple’s Airplay.  For me this is an essential feature as I’ve realized I cannot part with my iPhone4 for more than 10 minutes as the social media apps keep vying for my attention, which leaves me with 3 & 1/2 songs heard. So it’s imperative in the age of wireless that we have to be given Airplay support, especially when asking us to part with our hard earned green. The mainstream of our music devices happen to be from Apple so get with the plan.

This past month I’ve partied like a beast, have come to many a realization that most people have bad taste in music; their playlist can lead to endless hours of sensory torture. My own preference to Dubstep as a genre is my very own, not all Rock stars from the 90′s sound as good as they did on MTV, and are not impervious to aging like “The Stones”, especially when donning Kid Rock gear looking like Iggy pop, sharing the same spa. As I ate my overpriced inedible burger from one hand and the other lighting a flame swaying to “November Rain”, by the end of it my mind can only frame the famous expression coined by one sergeant Roger Murtaugh “I’m too old for this STUFF!” but you Gen-Y kids have a responsibility to protect the audio legacy and stop settling for the substandard being pushed down our ear drums.

For testing I played out Deadmau5 and the Daft Punk Tron soundtrack in 128kb AAC format to see what wonders it does with it; I was overwhelmed, so any of you playing FLAC,WAV, PCM/LPCM, OGG, MKA & APE should be in for a treat!

Sometimes a music system is not all about the sound, it’s a piece of furniture that blends with your décor; phonographs were ostentatious, enamoring at times a sense of pride that was taken in the craftsmanship, And hey, all those pretty girls going gaga over all those multi colored iPods is proof that that music at times need not only sound good but look the part too, and Harman Kardon succeeds in this ideology with the MS100.


About

Best described as an active sponge having a penchant to retain inane info. In some circles he's known as "MOON" the brooding traveler. Being a child of the 80's & escapist at heart allows pop-culture to bleed into the bleak of the real world. Big on hand drawn anime & all things Japan. We have on good authority that he'd snort wasabi if it weren't for his flaring nostrils or the fact it may prove fatal in higher doses.

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