Harman/Kardon HKTS 20BQ review: Harman/Kardon HKTS 20BQ

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.8
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Harman Kardon HKTS 20BQ is one of the sleekest 5.1 speaker systems available in this price range. The six-piece, 5.1 satellite/subwoofer system includes four two-way satellites, one two-way center channel, and a 200 watt, 8-inch powered subwoofer. Harman also includes convenient swivel wall-mounts for the speakers.

The Bad The subwoofer isn't as powerful as some competitors. The speaker connectors also only accept bare wire, so you can't use banana plugs. And the Energy Take Classic system sounds a little better for less money.

The Bottom Line The Harman Kardon HKTS 20BQ is a very stylish and affordable 5.1 speaker system with a particularly detailed sound, but it's not our top pick for a system this size.

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Harman Kardon has a reputation for exceedingly stylish design, and the HKTS 20BQ 5.1 speaker system is no exception. Aesthetics are subjective, but the Harman Kardon is easily among the best at this price range, along with the Energy Take Classic 5.1 and Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS 5.1 systems. The Harman offers particularly detailed sound quality and we appreciate that Harman includes handy swivel wall-mounts, a step-up over some other packages.

However, as much as we like the Harman Kardon HKTS 20BQ, we'd still recommend most buyers go for the Energy Take Classic 5 instead, as it sounds just a little better and generally is a little cheaper, too. (And Pioneer's SP-PK21BS sounds significantly better, although it's a much larger system.) But if you're a fan of Harman's style, the HKTS 20BQ is a very solid value if you can find it for less than $500.

Design and features
The HKTS 20 six-piece system is composed of four satellite speakers, a center channel speaker, and a subwoofer. The black gloss plastic satellites come with premounted table stands, and the stands neatly conceal sturdy metal push-type wire connectors. Unfortunately, those connectors accept only bare wire ends, so you can't use banana plugs, spades, or pins. The center speaker also features an integrated table stand; wall-mount brackets for all five speakers are included.

Harman Kardon HKTS 20BQ
The high quality wall-mount brackets also have built-in swivel capability.

The satellites weigh 2.1 pounds each and are 8.5 inches high, 4.3 inches wide, and 3.5 inches deep, with each speaker featuring a .5-inch dome tweeter and a 3-inch woofer. The 3.2-pound center speaker is 4.4 inches high, 10.4 inches wide, and 3.5 inches deep. Its .75-inch dome tweeter and dual 3-inch woofers are visible behind the curved perforated metal grille. As far as style goes, these speakers are among the most attractive, elegantly styled designs in their price class.

Harman Kardon HKTS 20BQ
The HKTS 20BQ's satellites are relatively small and are some of the most stylish speakers we've seen in this price range.

The subwoofer, finished in gloss black with gently rounded edges on all four sides, is also one of the most attractive we've seen. It sports a 200-watt amplifier powering an 8-inch woofer mounted on its bottom panel. Connectivity is a little unusual in that it boasts stereo line-level and dedicated LFE (RCA) inputs. Since most buyers will be using the HKTS 20 with a receiver with a subwoofer output they'll use the LFE connection.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Mar 22, 2010
  • Speaker System Type home theater speaker system
  • Nominal (RMS) Output Power 200 Watt
  • Nominal Impedance 8 Ohm
  • Amplification Type active subwoofer, passive satellites
  • Connectivity Technology wired
  • Type Home theater speaker system
  • Speaker System Configuration 5.1-channel