Ever wondered what a 21st century ghetto-blaster would look like? Harman Kardon's Go + Play could certainly fill the role – it's just the right dimensions, has a big steel carrying handle for hoisting it up on to your shoulder and eats expensive batteries.
Of course, where you would once have found a cassette deck, the HK has a dock suitable for most iPods, including the Nano and 5G iPod.
Built to last
The Go + Play is a good-looking, well-made and tactile device and feels built to last.
There's something very purposeful about the way the main body of the machine is almost entirely given over to loudspeakers (it features a pair of drivers on each side of the cabinet).
The design is also neat enough to include a 3.5mm auxiliary input and S-Video output for streaming video content, as well as a dedicated slot to keep the remote control in. Very thoughtful.
Lossless music files make a good impression, with the midrange nicely judged and bags of detail on show.
There's plenty of air around voices, and high frequencies shine without tipping into harshness. There's admirable scale to the sound too, given the physical limitations of the cabinet, and a fair degree of dynamic poke.
It's down at the bottom end that trouble lurks. Harman Kardon calls the Go + Play's bass ‘tight and thunderous bass’, but we found only half of that statement to be accurate.
Review continues after the break...
Bass is thunderous all right, but ‘tight’ is not a word that sprang to mind. It’s just too big and bold, and the effect reminds us of those cars that always seem to roar past our house at 3am, stereo thumping away.
Integration isn’t great
The HK goes good and loud without becoming abrasive, but the more you push on, volume-wise, the more over-confident and imposing the bass becomes.
Remarkably, the Go + Play remains decently rapid through tempos despite the softness of its low frequencies – in all circumstances, though, the bass sounds like it's from a different system.
Of course we're aware that, for many people, too much bass is preferable to too little. If that's you, give the Go + Play a go – it's got a lot to recommend it.