Harman Kardon is developing a reputation for portable audio solutions. The Onyx Studio 4 and 5 are two different versions of their Bluetooth speaker.
In this article, we explore the differences between these two speakers and whether or not the Onyx Studio 5 is a significant upgrade over the earlier version. While these two speakers have plenty of similarities, there are also some key differences.
Both the Onyx Studio 4 and 5 are popular speakers for people who want extra audio clarity. The fidelity of the audio is better than a lot of the cheaper Bluetooth speaker brands -- possibly because Harman Kardon is owned by Samsung.
Frequency Response: Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 vs 5
The frequency response of both speakers is identical: 50Hz – 20kHz. For context, most of us can hear very little below 50Hz anyway, and human hearing tops out at around 20kHz. So neither model of the Onyx Studio speakers misses out on much audio.
Although the frequency response is the same, the Onyx Studio 5 has one larger woofer, while the Studio 4 has two smaller woofers. This means the Onyx 5 sounds slightly better at the lower frequencies. It seems to cope with bass a little better, with crisp reproduction of heavier bass sounds.
Power: Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 vs 5
The Onyx Studio 4 is split into four speakers: two woofers and two tweeters. Each of these speakers offers 7.5W of power in battery mode. In AC mode, this is doubled to 15W per speaker for an overall power of 60W.
The Onyx Studio 5 offers 50W of power in AC mode. This lowers a lot when put in battery mode.
Overall, the Onyx Studio 4 does have an extra 20% of power when compared to the Onyx Studio 5. The updates for the fifth generation aren’t focused on power, so the previous version has a little bit more when cranked to full capacity.
If you compare the volume of the two speakers while listening, the difference isn’t huge. That little bit of extra power is probably not going to sway your decision on whether to buy the Onyx Studio 4 or 5.
Design: Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 vs 5
Both of these speakers have a modern, sleek, circular design. Some speakers are a bit of an eyesore in the home, but the Onyx Studio 4 and 5 are definitely not.
However, the two speakers do look a little different. One of the key changes is that Onyx Studio 5 has a carry handle at the top. This makes it easy to pick up and move from place to place. As a portable speaker, you can see why this is handy.
The Onyx Studio 5 is available in three colors: black, white and blue. Studio 4 is available in black or white.
The Studio 5 is “free-standing,” and the way the speaker is shaped means it can sit stably on any surface. Studio 4 has two feet that come out of the back to keep it upright. These are functional, but some people don’t think they look as good.
The controls on Studio 4 are placed in a slightly awkward way. They’re around the edges of the speaker and not easy to see. The Studio 5 improves upon this. Under the handle, its simple control panel lets you change volume, switch tracks, and control your speaker with ease.
The Studio 5 dimensions are (H x W x D) 284mm x 291mm x 128mm. It weighs 2980g. The Studio 4 is more lightweight with dimensions of 260mm x 278mm x 159.5mm and a weight of 2061g. If you need compact and lightweight, Studio 4 could be your answer.
Battery Life: Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 vs 5
This is one area where these two Harman Kardon speakers are almost identical. Both have the same battery included. It provides up to eight hours of battery life.
However, this can change depending on the volume of what you’re listening to. Though both offer up to eight hours of battery life, the Onyx Studio 5 is a little more efficient. At 50% volume, it is likely to last almost the full eight hours, while the Studio 4 is more likely to die after six hours.
The battery charge time from empty to fully charged is five hours. It can charge while in AC power mode, so you can listen while it’s charging.
We found that the Onyx Studio 4 and 5 speakers perform better in AC mode, but having eight hours of battery life is an added bonus. Either of these designs is fine for putting in your backpack and taking to a friend’s house.
Wireless Features: Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 vs 5
This is another feature where these two Onyx speakers are more similar than they are different. Both speakers include Bluetooth 4.2.
The Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5 can be chained to another identical speaker to double the power. The Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 can be daisy-chained, too. It uses HK Connect+ technology to do so. Technically, you can connect over 100 of these devices.
The Studio 4 and Studio 5 can both connect to two devices at once, so you and a friend can take it in turns playing tracks.
The Bluetooth connection is very reliable in both of these speakers. There’s not much more annoying than a speaker that keeps cutting out or losing connection when you’re trying to listen, and that won’t happen with these.
Microphone: Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 vs 5
In a head-to-head between the two, the microphone in the Onyx Studio 4 definitely wins the day.
The Studio 5 does away with the built-in mic. There’s space to connect one via an aux input, but this isn’t ideal, and you have to buy a mic yourself.
The Onyx Studio 4 has a great microphone inbuilt. It’s made for “crystal-clear conferencing”. The Voicelogic technology is designed to reduce echo and cancel out unwanted noise. This gives you clear audio when you’re chatting. It’s perfect for taking voice calls.
The built-in microphone can also be used with voice controls on your smartphone.
The Overall Sound: Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4 vs 5
Though the power and frequency response contribute to the overall sound, they don’t completely define the audio characteristics of these speakers.
The Onyx Studio 4 speakers are well-rounded. They give you crisp mids and highs and plenty of punch, but some of the low-end of songs can be a little bit lacking.
The Onyx Studio 5 focuses on offering a punchy low-end. The large woofer helps with this, and the crisp and clear low frequencies make it great for types of music that are heavier and have a lot of bass.
Both of these speakers are higher fidelity than most small, portable Bluetooth speakers.
Conclusion & Takeaway
Harman Kardon’s reputation is growing, and both of these speakers are fine examples of clear, crisp audio and good portable features.
If you’re looking for a speaker that will give you the ability to make voice calls reliably, the Onyx Studio 4 is the best option. It also has a little bit of extra power and volume.
For a slightly better battery and a lot more punch in the low-end frequencies, the Onyx Studio 5 is probably a better choice. It doesn’t come with a mic, but you can connect one if you want.