A Weekend in Berlin with Harman Kardon

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If the human race is going to comfortably survive on this fragile planet for longer than the next century, there’s one crucial thing we need to do. We need to sex up ‘environmentally friendly’. We need to wipe the compost off it, polish it until it glimmers in the light, give it curves and contours, make it sound crisp and then race it at such a speed that its dreadlocks are ripped off by sheer velocity. These were my thoughts this weekend, as I bombed around the Tempelhof FIA Formula E racetrack in a fully electric BMW i8 courtesy of Harman Kardon. Profound, I know.


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Harman Kardon is smart. It’s smart because with its range of audio products and in-car solutions it’s having its cake and eating it. Sophisticated designs meet lightweight, energy-efficient materials. Twice the sonic performance meets half the energy consumption, which is particularly beneficial for the hybrid and electric cars of the future as it can increase battery life and range. And where better to showcase such forward-thinking technology than the Berlin leg of the FIA Formula E – the electric equivalent of the Grand Prix.


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As is always the case with Harman Kardon, the consumer tech on show was gorgeous. All subtle metallic shine and lightweight fervour. Pick up an Esquire Mini portable speaker and you could be picking up an elegant feather. A chat with senior acoustic systems engineer Wolfgang Zieglmeier on all things in-car audio proved to be equal parts fascinating and impressive. Sat in a stationary BMW i8, kitted out with a Harman Kardon system, Wolfgang pointed to each component from tweeter to dashboard speaker like a conductor leading an orchestra. Even at full ear-rumbling volume, the sound quality remained crisp – void of the snap, crackle and pop that so often results from lesser in-car sound systems reaching their peak. As he talked me through the rigorous testing and precise engineering that each in-car system requires, I asked him which genres of music the Harman Kardon team use to test products. ‘Every genre you can think of.’ He told me, with a proud grin. Our time sat in the i8 was sound-tracked by a mixture of pounding techno and complex jazz. A fitting tribute to our cultured city surroundings.


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The weekend’s tech was sandwiched between activities epitomising Harmon Kardon’s innovative mission statement – ‘driving the sound of the future’. A chance to race around the Tempelhof Formula E track in the aforementioned BMW i8 was a true pleasure, as was the chance to see the professionals do the same the following day. Formula E is a spell-binding experience, not least due to the marked difference in sound.


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Whilst others may see ‘a greener future’ as a gimmick, Hardon Kardon sees it as achievable, an exciting challenge, hence its innovative GreenEdge™ technology and its partnership with BMWi and the MS Amlin Andretti race team. It sees it as achievable, but unlike others it sees it through a scope of style, aesthetics and sophistication. Harman Kardon is making a greener future that’s sexy. A future that we most certainly want to live in.


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Article by Davey Brett

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