Harman Kardon’s Soho Wireless ($250) is a new Bluetooth on-ear headphone set — a newer version of the company’s prior Soho Slim wired headphones. Soho Wireless has a similar look with a leather finish, but it has a different feel when wearing. In addition to Bluetooth, the headphones add NFC and a rechargeable battery. Hidden touch-sensitive controls on the outside of the right earcup control volume and playback, while the Bluetooth button, 3.5mm audio input, micro-USB port, and microphone can be found on the bottom of the same earcup. Harman Kardon includes an audio cable and a micro-USB cable for charging, along with a soft carrying case. The headphones come in black, brown, or white.
We found the previous Soho wired headphones extremely uncomfortable to wear, but thankfully, Soho Wireless doesn’t have the same issues. The headband fits comfortably, and the leather earcups are a nice step up from the fabric seen in the previous model. As expected from Harman Kardon, the leather and stainless steel touches make for a premium-looking set of headphones.
The sound on Soho Wireless has also been improved from the last go-round. We found the first Soho to be sadly flat and muddled; Soho Wireless has more pop and does a better job with the range. The highs and lows both stood out a bit more than before, offering respectable — but not standout — performance. While the 30mm drivers don’t offer a ton of power, they’ll be enough for most listeners at mid-volume levels.
It’s also worth nothing that we heard a slight buzz in the right earcup while using the Soho Wireless in Bluetooth mode; that went away when plugging an audio cable into the headphones. Microphone performance was subpar.
We found Soho Wireless’ touch controls to be problematic, and frankly, a bit silly. Swiping and tapping on the outside of the right earcup can raise/decrease volume, skip songs, restart the track, pause, and play. You can’t feel the controls, though, so sometimes you’ll get them to work properly, and other times, you definitely won’t. All the while, people around you might wonder what’s wrong as you tap and rub at your ear in vain.
Soho Wireless is a well-made, sharp-looking pair of on-ear headphones with good, not great sound. The touch controls are implemented poorly, though you don’t really have to use them — just try not to bump your ear on anything during listening. It’s worth looking into Soho Wireless if you love the design, but otherwise, you might not feel you’re getting enough bang for the buck. The headphones earn our limited recommendation.
Company and Price
Company: Harman Kardon
Model: Soho Wireless
Compatible: Bluetooth-capable iOS devices