Harman Kardon Citation ONE Review: Smart, beautiful and sounds great [Video]

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Harman Kardon Citation ONE Front Feature

The Harman Kardon Citation series combines beautiful design and impressive audio with smart voice connectivity through Google Assistant. It can also be expanded upon by adding more Citation units to your existing system of compatible speakers. Today we’re taking a look at the Citation ONE, the starting point of the Citation series.

Citation ONE: Overview

The Citation ONE brings premium design, sound quality and Google Assistant to smart speakers. Coming in at $199, it is the entry point of the Citation series which was debuted in late 2018. We’ll talk more about the series later, but it offers a flexible system that can be built by adding speakers and linking them together to fit a specific need, or just having a single beautiful, premium sounding connected speaker like the Citation ONE.

If you’re invested in the Amazon Alexa ecosystem though, you’ll have to look elsewhere like the highly regarded Sonos speaker family.

Citation ONE: Setup

Setting up the Citation ONE was very easy. The instructions are printed on the plastic protector on top of the speaker. Following the simple steps will have you all set up in a few minutes. Basically you just plug it in, download and open the Google Home app and it will automatically find and connect to the Citation ONE. From there you can set it up in your Google Home app with a specific location.

Once setup and connected to a music streaming service, it’s simple to play whatever you’d like through Google Assistant. Bluetooth adds an even greater variety of ways to connect and listen to the Citation ONE.

Citation ONE: Hey Google, you look good

The Citation ONE is simple and beautiful. Its dirt resistant and flame retardant cloth cover delivers an elegant look that fits anywhere and doesn’t draw attention to itself. Harman Kardon’s aim was to match premium audio with premium design and I think they nailed it.

There are two color options available; classic black and a lighter, winter grey. From almost every angle you can’t tell it’s a smart device, but just prompt Google Assistant and lights appear on the front letting you know that it is listening. If you’d rather Google not listen to you, there is a mute button on top that turns off the microphone and turns the LED light indicators red. Other buttons on the top allow you to adjust volume, enable bluetooth, and summon Google Assistant.

Depending on where you place the speaker, seeing the buttons on the top can be a little difficult. I placed it on an eye-level shelf in our kitchen and couldn’t see the icons for the individual touch buttons, making it difficult to mute the microphone or connect via Bluetooth. Without any other markings on the speaker or any physical indicators of buttons, this was my only issue with the function of the Citation ONE.

Citation ONE: Okay Google, you sound good

The sound quality of the Citation ONE is pretty incredible for its small size. It puts 40W RMS through a 20mm tweeter and 3.5-inch woofer to deliver crisp, clear highs and surprisingly deep lows. My wife and I have been jamming to everything from The Beatles to Post Malone to Raffi (breakfast with the kiddos always goes better with Baby Beluga around) and we are really enjoying the sound quality and performance. Well-rounded sound makes you feel like it’s punching above its weight.

If you’re used to playing music from a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google Home and are looking to take your kitchen dance parties while cooking to the next level, this is a great option. It is also a solid starting point for a multi-speaker setup in a living room and there is always room to grow by adding other speakers from the Citation series into the system.

Citation ONE: The Rest of the Series

Citation ONE is the entry point of the Citation series from Harman Kardon. The series includes this single speaker, stand alone towers, a sound bar and even a subwoofer. All of the Citation series speakers can play audio on their own, be linked together to play at the same time or be used to build out a 5.1-channel surround sound system.

Citation ONE: Verdict

At $199 the Citation ONE offers a flexible speaker that works perfectly on its own as a beautiful, great sounding smart speaker. I’m using it as a smart speaker by itself in our kitchen, but if we were to build out a more expansive smart system I would look at the rest of the Citation series.

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