I love all kinds of music, so it's always bummed me out that anytime I break out a bluetooth speaker, I have to throw rap, hip-hop, or any other music with any appreciable thump out the window. There's just no point. Bass lovers have long suffered through sub par performance from bluetooth speakers, and although I know it's nearly impossible to have deep, chunky bass and portability existing together, that knowledge does nothing to fill the void inside. The void that that only thunderous bass can fill.
Bass lovers will be pleased to hear that Harman Kardon decided to let everyone else race to make a postage stamp sized speaker and go the other way instead. Harkening back to the boom-boxes of the 90's, the Harman Kardon Go+Play 2 speaker has a heft that you can feel in your hand and in your chest, with clear sound and rich bass. In short, this thing rocks.
The Go+Play does not have a great name, but it does have great sound. Boasting two tweeters, two mids and two subs, this speaker can handle music of all kinds. Over the last few weeks, we've rocked opera, bass heavy hip-hop, metal, rock and even folk music, and so far, not a one of them sounded anything but clean. We did punish the speaker a bit, cranking the volume all the way on Czarface's "Two In The Chest", which leads in with a deep, twisting bass-line, and it did distort, but at that high of a volume, we were expecting it to. Aside from the bass, the mids and highs hold up quite well, and we were catching musical nuances that we just didn't hear with other bluetooth speakers. Bluetooth speakers can often sound flat, but the Go+Play delivers colorful, full sound.
Not only does this speaker sound great, it can get loud if you want it to. We stacked it next to a TDK A-33 and Bose Sounlink Mini II (both great little speakers), and everyone in the office unanimously praised the Go+Play for both volume and sound. I understand that comparing these three speakers is almost an apples and oranges type of comparison, since the other speakers just aren't capable of the bass range due to their small size, but whose fault is that? This thing is a bit of a tank, from the actual speaker itself to the big handle and thick rubber feet on the bottom so the speaker doesn't run away when the bass hits.Although the speaker has a rugged feel, you wouldn't want to toss it around, and while it isn't waterproof, the rubber cover over the ports and rubber feet mean that you could set it on damp grass and it'd be fine.
The battery life of the original Go+Play required 8 D batteries, which was a major downfall of the unit.This new version has a rechargeable battery we took the fully charged the speaker and ran it dead on low, medium and high volume, and what we found that when we played bass heavy tunes at high volume, we did not hit the eight hour battery life, but less bass-rich stuff at a reasonable level (1/2 to 2/3 volume) consistently gave usbetween 6-8 hours of play.
The look of the Go+Play is pretty damned classy. It has a simple shape and design, without a bunch of fuss, and although I wouldn't call the speaker "fancy", it does have a streamlined sophistication to it. Unlike a lot of speakers out there with bright colors and strange shapes, the Go+Play has an adult look to it, and the combination of the silver handle on top of the black curvature looks good sitting on a mantle or on the beach. Popping off the cover reveals the tightly packed speaker placement, and a rubber panel on the back pops open to reveal a USB port to charge your phone, a 3.5 mm jack and the plug in for the power cable. On top, under the handle, you have your volume controls, bluetooth button and battery life.
As far as features go, the G+P is kind of "bare-bones". It does have a speakerphone option, but after using it a few times, I can't really picture myself using it again. However, I don't think the lack of wi-fi or its large size (and almost 8 pound heft) will deter too many people. If it's more important to you to fit your bluetooth speaker into your purse or glovebox than hear great sound, you won't want to buy this speaker. However, if you are bringing a speaker to a party, the beach, a bbq, whatever, there is a good chance that once you get to your destination, you are going to set your speaker down, and not pick it up again until you leave. So, the question you have to ask yourself is this: do you want people to say, "Boy, (your name here) really saved the party with that Harmon Kardon thunder-box. Did you hear those tasty highs and thick, rumbling lows?? What a swell guy/girl" Or, do you want them to say, "Boy, did you see how easily (your name here) was able to carry that speaker inside? Wow, he/she really effortlessly set that down on the table, where it sat for 6 hours and delivered decent sound!"
The choice is yours.
Visit the Harman Kardon site here.