The Good The Harman Kardon SB 16 has excellent sound quality for a sound bar. Its exterior design is also a cut above budget sound bars, and its two digital audio inputs should be enough for basic home theaters.
The Bad The subwoofer's giant footprint may be too much for some buyers. The SB 16 also relies on your TV's remote to adjust volume, which may result in annoying onscreen messages on some HDTVs. And $600 for a sound bar is more than many are willing to spend.
The Bottom Line The Harman Kardon SB 16 features a premium price tag and some remote control quirks, but its excellent sound quality and exterior design make it worth the extra cash.
Harman/Kardon SB 16
At first glance, the Harman Kardon SB 16 might seem like a hard sell. It's a $600 sound bar system, which is more expensive than many competitors, and it features a jumbo subwoofer that's sure to rankle those who believe "less is more" when it comes to speaker size. But those doubts are likely to fade away as soon as you take the SB 16 out of the box. Its exterior design and build quality are clearly a cut above the average budget sound bar, and that extra size isn't just for show, as it's a major factor in the Harman Kardon SB 16's excellent sound quality. It may not be for everyone, but the SB 16 is one of the best performance-oriented sound bars we've seen that that doesn't require an AV receiver.
The only factor holding us back from giving the SB 16 a whole-hearted recommendation is a quirk with how it accepts remote commands, which doesn't affect all buyers (more on this later). Still, the Harman Kardon SB 16 is a standout sound bar in terms of sound quality and design, so though it may cost more, you feel like you're getting your money's worth.
The SB 16's sound bar is mostly made of plastic; however, it has a heft (8 pounds) that you just don't find on budget competitors like the Sony HT-CT150 and the Samsung HW-C450. It feels solidly built and we appreciated its muted design aesthetic that doesn't call attention to itself. There is no LCD display on the front panel and just a few buttons on the top. Though the lack of a display gives the SB 16 a cleaner look, the downside is that there's no visual indicator as to how loud the volume is and how much louder the system can go.
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