Updated: Aug 20, 2021
Harman Kardon stopped producing headphones in 2014, choosing to focus instead on speakers. But now, they’ve launched their first headphones series since that time, the FLY ANC headphones and FLY TWS earbuds. We have with us today the true wireless earbuds, so let’s see how it measures up.
First off, you might notice something familiar about the case and earbuds. Yeah, they look really similar to the Bang & Olufsen E8 earbuds. The charging case has a leather covering on the top while the earbuds have the same leather covering on the faceplates.
The plus point here is that there’s no logo on the earbuds themselves, as opposed to the E8 earbuds. The buds themselves just look really sleek and professional, which is nice for when you’re dressed up and in the office or out and about, or even just when you’re wearing regular clothes I guess.
Maybe we should start with the best part of these earbuds, the sound. Harman Kardon has always had pretty impressive sound, and it’s no different here. The FLY TWS sound great. They’re quite balanced, with an emphasis on the bass and treble. I do like that there’s enough sparkle and energy in the highs, and the soundstage is also relatively wide compared to other true wireless earbuds.
Depending on the type of music you listen to, these earbuds could be really great or just average. If you’re looking for a really accurate sound, perhaps the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 might be a better choice.
Moving on, there are touch controls on these and it’s customisable, which is great. What isn’t great, however, is the sensitivity of the touch controls. Since it’s such a small touch area, it’s pretty hard to get the correct swipes registering. I also had an issue where the right earbud would disconnect for a second and I’d have to re-seat them in my ear before I could tap to continue playback.
Now, I’m not sure if it’s an issue with my ears specifically since these earbuds don’t sit all that nicely in my ears. This issue was solved once I turned off Play & Pause Automation in the settings though, so I guess it probably was just a “me” issue. Your mileage will definitely vary since the shape of everybody’s ears are different, but it’s a good point to take note of if you find your earbuds cutting out occasionally.
In fact, I did experience some discomfort after a prolonged period of listening. The buds are pretty big, and they do protrude out of the ear. But for listening sessions up to around 2 hours, I found them quite alright. They do sit securely in the ear, so you won’t have to worry about them dropping out halfway.
The earbuds themselves hold up to 6 hours of playback time on a single charge, according to Harman Kardon. That estimate is pretty accurate, I got five and a half hours out of the earbuds I have. The case charges via USB-C, which is definitely what all new earbuds and headphones should ship with, and provides an additional 14 hours for a total of 20 hours. It’s not the best, but it’s not the worst either.
There’s also a TalkThru and Ambient Aware mode. TalkThru plays back your own voice when making phone calls and such, while Ambient Aware basically pipes in external noise for when you need to hear what’s going on around you.
Speaking of phone calls, my voice apparently sounded airier with these, which might be what some people are looking for. Clarity wasn’t an issue though, my colleagues could understand exactly what I was saying.
A big downside is that there’s no aptX support. There’s only SBC and AAC on these, so if you’re looking for something that can really support high-res music playback, you’ll be disappointed. For videos and movies, there are no sync issues, but again, don’t play high-speed shooter games with wireless earbuds, just use a wired earphone.
Retailing at S$299, this isn’t a cheap pair of earbuds. It’s more expensive than others like the Google Pixel Buds or the Samsung Buds Plus, and it doesn’t even really have as many features as the Pixel Buds or the comfort of the Buds Plus.
The thing it does have, though, is sound quality. You’re getting sound that’s comparable to the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 at a price that’s around $150 Singapore dollars cheaper. And of course, these really do look great.
For more information on the Harman Kardon FLY TWS (S$299) or to support us, get it on Amazon here.