In a world of light-up boom boxes made of bright and often cheap-feeling materials, it can be difficult to find a Bluetooth speaker with a little class. If you need something to stick in your house of rich mahogany and leather-bound books, it might be worth giving the Esquire from Harman Kardon a look.
What Is It?
The Esquire is a handsome Bluetooth speaker which also allows you to make and take calls from a paired phone.
It's packing Bluetooth connectivity, as well as a 3.5mm Stereo jack.
It's also designed to be a great travel speaker, too with a handsome leather pouch, 3-port USB plug and interchangeable plug heads for easy swapping between countries. Weighing in at a paltry 1.01kg with a slim profile, it's easy to fit into a suitcase, briefcase or satchel-style bag.
You can pick up the Esquire for $299.95 from Apple.
What Does It Do Well?
Bluetooth speakers often risk being nasty, disposable pieces of tech designed to be used and abused until they die. That's not what the Esquire is about. The Esquire is a handsome and well-appointed speaker, with beautiful aluminium banding, chamfered edges and a faux leather backing plate which feels more genuine than anything Samsung has ever produced.
It's a speaker for grown-ups, and it demands attention.
Looks aside, the Esquire produces an incredibly clean sound. There's not too much treble and just enough mid. The Esquire is great for listening to rock and pop rather than bass-heavy EDM.
At the same time, call quality on the Esquire is incredibly clear also thanks to a noise-cancelling dual-mic array. The speaker allows you to mute your own microphone as well while on a call, making conference calls nice and easy. It's probably the best speaker for phone calls we've yet seen.
What's Not So Good?
The sound is crisp and lovely, but only in certain places. The so-called "sweet spot" where the sound is the clearest in front of the speaker is incredibly narrow.
You get the best sound on the Esquire by parking yourself dead-centre in front of it. Tilt it by even a few degrees and it feels like you're standing at a 90-degree angle to the sound. It's a bit disappointing when cheaper speakers like the UE Boom produce louder and more listenable multi-directional sound at a cheaper price.
The Esquire also suffers from a slow-charging battery, which can be a nightmare if you just want to quickly throw some power at it and head out to listen to the tunes.
Should You Buy It?
The Esquire is weird, because it may just be the very first portable Bluetooth speaker meant for the fancy businessperson. It excels at taking calls, boasts great battery life, travels exceptionally well and costs a little more than the average head-bopper might want to pay for a lower-quality speaker product. It's for those who want real quality.
If you're after bang for buck, stick with something like the UE Boom or Beats Pill. If you want a fine speaker to match your nice watch, cufflinks and tie, give the Esquire a listen. You won't be disappointed.