“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

Harman Kardon Launches Tech-Packed Citation Series Smart Speakers

Harman Kardon Citation Series Smart Speakers

Harman Kardon Citation Series Smart Speakers


  • Product Name: Citation Series Smart Speakers
  • Manufacturer: Harman Kardon
  • Review Date: September 21, 2018 06:00
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!

Not long after announcing its new Citation 500 tabletop smart speaker ahead of the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin, Harman Kardon has unveiled an entire lineup of Citation speakers with voice control, multi-room streaming, and other smart technologies. Harman Kardon says that its new Citation Series of smart speakers (named for the company’s classic series of audio components first introduced in 1963) represents “the next generation of home speakers.” The eight-strong range of feature-packed, wireless products includes four tabletop smart speakers (of which the Citation 500 is the largest), a smart sound-bar, a pair of wireless surround speakers for multichannel applications, and a powered subwoofer. Rounding out the range is perhaps its most interesting product: a pair of smart, wireless tower speakers unlike anything available from Sonos or its ever-growing list of competitors. Users can create a fully wireless 5.1-channel AV system, and/or use any number of speakers individually — or in pairs — for listening to music around the house.  Harman Kardon claims that the Citation Series was “designed for discerning people who command sophistication and seamless capabilities that blend with their daily lives.” In order to satisfy such a demanding customer, all of the Citation speakers are capable of multi-room streaming and hi-res audio playback (up to 24-bit 96kHz), using Google’s Chromecast wireless protocol. Chromecast allows the user to send audio from a home media library, or from over 300 streaming services, to the Citation speakers from a wifi-connected smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Apple’s AirPlay 2 will be supported after a future firmware update. Voice control is provided by the built-in Google Assistant.

The two smallest tabletop smart speakers in the Citation Series are the 40-watt Citation One (€199 each) and the 50-watt Citation 100 (€299 each). (Pricing has not yet been announced for the U.S., but the numbers should be similar.) Like the smallest speakers from Sonos, these are mono speakers that mix down a stereo signal to one combined channel. Moving up to the larger 100-watt Citation 300 (€399 each) or 200-watt Citation 500 (€649 each) adds a color LCD touchscreen to the feature list, and a bigger and more spacious sound, thanks to separate drivers for the left and right channels. But you won’t get a real stereo soundstage from a single one-chassis speaker. You could use a pair of the tabletop speakers in stereo mode, just as you might with speakers from Sonos, but Harman Kardon takes things a step further with the Citation Tower speakers, which will sell for €2500 per pair. Each cone-shaped Tower speaker features an 8-inch downward-firing woofer, and is powered by a built-in 200-watt amp, so the Citation Towers should pack more of a sonic punch than the typically small smart speakers offered by their competitors.

Building a Smart Wireless 5.1 System

If you want to build a 5.1-channel home theater system, the Citation Series also includes the 3-channel Citation Bar sound-bar (€899), with 150 watts of amplification, and three HDMI inputs with ARC and 4K HDR video pass-through. The 50-watt Citation Surround speakers (€449 per pair) and the 200-watt Citation Sub (€799) complete the system. Other than the power cords, the HDMI cable connecting the sound-bar to your TV is the only wire needed for a complete surround-sound experience. This arrangement will surely appeal to style-focused customers who tend to shy away from large black boxes and nests of cabling. The Citation Towers are especially stylish with their interesting shape, but the whole series has an elegant look thanks to a gray or black wool fabric wrap provided by Kvadrat, a leading acoustic textile manufacturer from Denmark. Harman Kardon may have turned to Scandinavia for the aesthetics of the Citation Series, but the tech that powers these speakers is largely American. In order to provide synchronized multi-room and multi-channel audio playback, Harman leveraged WiSA (Wireless Speaker and Audio Association) technology, developed in large part by the California-based wireless sound technology company Summit Wireless. WiSA uses “intelligent networks” among multiple speakers to provide low-latency wireless sound that approaches the performance of traditional wired setups.

Harman Kardon’s Citation Series addresses the needs of savvy consumers who want exceptional audio quality without compromise, and this new product line delivers on that.

- Brett Moyer, Summit’s president and CEO

WiSA technology can also be found in GoldenEar Technology’s new DigitalAktiv 3 wireless speaker, as well as in products from Sound United and Electrocompaniet.

Pre-orders for the Harman Kardon Citation Series of smart speakers can be placed on the company’s website starting in October. Will these stylish speakers make a dent in Sonos’s market share? Share your thoughts in the related forum thread below.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
author portrait

Jacob is a music-lover and audiophile who enjoys convincing his friends to buy audio gear that they can't afford. He's also a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

View full profile