Harman Kardon MAS 102 Compact Stereo System First Look
- Completely integrated, all-in-one music system
- Connects to iPod or iPhone device via The Bridge III (available)
- Built-in CD player and FM tuner
- Two USB ports – one in front, one in back
- Matching loudspeaker technology
- Striking industrial design
- IR remote for system and iPod navigation
- Two coaxial inputs, two optical digital inputs and one coaxial digital output
- Analog audio input connectors
- Phono input connector
- Built-in clock with sleep timer
- Gold-plated binding-post speaker connectors
- Headphone connector
So, what do you want out of a compact, desktop system? You probably need something with tons of connections. Not because you'll have a stack of gear next to it but because you'll be moving it around from time to time and who knows what you'll have connected to it. You'll need something that looks nice - it will be on display after all. Lastly, you'll want something that will play nice not only with your new i-device but also with some of your older gear.
Harman Kardon thinks they've got what you want in their new MAS 102 Compact Stereo System. Looking at the system, it has many of the cues from other Harman products. It also harkens back to some of the older gear - a look we like. It sports two bookself speakers, an integrated CD player, and lots of connections.
For your i-device, you'll need to either pony up for the optional The Bridge III dock or use the side-mounted 3.5mm port. There are two USB ports (one front and one back) but Harman specifies that these are for accessing MP3 and WMA files from memory sticks. We don't know why it wouldn't work with your i-device, but they don't say it does (a curious omission if it is an omission). It does mention smartphones which is encouraging.
There are plenty of other connections with eight auxiliary inputs including a phono input for you vinyl lovers and two coaxial inputs, two optical digital inputs and one coaxial digital output. Combine that with the integrated CD player that can play not only standard CDs but also MP3 and WMA CD-R and CD-RW discs. Of course, it wouldn't be a desktop system without an FM tuner. The Harman Kardon MAS 102 sports a drift-free FM tuner that comes conveniently preset with 30 stations. The MAS 102 also has a built in clock with sleep timer and dual alarms - you know, for those times you want to take a nap under your desk.
This is Audioholics though and we'd be remiss not to mention the speakers. The bookshelf style speakers have a two-way configuration featuring flat-panel bass drivers and proprietary MMD tweeters with integral waveguides. The speakers, like the rest of the system, have a sleek, high gloss finish. The MAS 102 pumps out 65 watts per channel which is a high number for the normally conservative Harman Kardon. The MAS 102 should have no problems filling your office or bedroom with sound.
It always comes down to price and the Harman Kardon MAS 102 is no different. At just a dollar below $1k MSRP, it certainly isn't cheap. We'd love to get a closer look at the back as it seems to be very full featured for a desktop system. At the price, however, we'd expect native i-device support and not a requirement to purchase an extra dock (which will run you an extra $130). Still, with eight inputs including USB, coaxial, optical, and phono, there is something fro everyone. A system like this is meant to be kept for years and not handed down. It certainly has the aesthetic for it. We just need to know if it has the sound quality as well.
For more information, please visit www.harmankardon.com.
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.