Harman/Kardon MAS110 Music system

At an attractive cost (including loudspeakers, which we did not include in the review though a short listen implies they're decent), this little system appears rather futuristic, with its glistening black finish unspoiled by buttons or other such fripperies. It reveals fingerprints, however a fast rub sees things right.

Although rather lots of functions are in fact banished to the remote, including source selection, the leading panel of the CD player does at least have transportation controls, touch-sensitive 'buttons' which light up when power is applied, while the amp has a volume control.

Actually the 'CD player' is also the preamp part, but no, you can't mix and match the parts as they share a power supply and the only input signal to the amp is via the multi-way lead.

The light weight of the components implies, correctly, that power supplies are switch-mode, and the power amp is a changing design, also. The CD transport is a slot-loader, while other features include FM and DAB radio (including DAB, seemingly, not that there are any transmissions yet), USB input signals in the back as well as the side, digital inputs, as well as a phono input signal, a genuine rarity on such systems. A fitting iPod dock, 'The Bridge', is comprised.

The power amp unit stays impressively cool in operation at any given output level, implying exceptionally efficient amplification and power supplies. It's a fairly similar overload protection mechanics to some recent Cambridge Audio amps, in that it will not let the gain increase beyond a safe amount, so you can not actually clip on it in normal use.

Sound quality

Well incorporated and dynamic, our listeners thought, though not the most comprehensive of the group. It gives a good sense of design in just about any kind of music and lets the music flow well. Tonally it has great, weighty bass which extends nicely, while treble is open and natural, never becoming harsh. Only sometimes, the treble may look a little overly courteous, plus one listener commented that the sound in several tracks could have used some more bite, but that's absolutely preferable to the opposite.

In multi-layered music it is easy to follow the progress of each and every element, even though analytical resolution escapes these units (hardly surprising given the price). And it's almost always an enjoyable and involving listen, however there is also some decent resolution in although this really is mainly down to the unstable quality which makes the most of melodic ebb and flow of the sound.

FM radio looks good, along with the civilised treble helps make the almost all of DAB and MP3 tracks (from iPod or USB stick). The phono stage is good though a little muffled.

Harman/Kardon MAS110 Music system photo