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Review: Harman Kardon Citation Amp – muscular multiroom amplifier

Review: Harman Kardon Citation Amp is a real challenger to the Sonos Amp, but it has a number of extra skills and one feature that is quite surprising
4.3/5 - (16 votes)

In the living room, many people want a better sound quality than possible through the wireless speakers that are playing elsewhere in the house. The Harman Kardon Citation Amp that you use with your own speakers is one way to achieve that. Thanks to an HDMI input and expandability with wireless rear speakers and subwoofer, it can also deliver surround.

Harman Kardon Citation Amp

Would you like to combine wireless speakers in certain rooms with a music system with your own speakers in the living room? Then you can, for example, with a multiroom amplifier such as the more expensive Sonos Amp or the Bluesound PowerNode 2i. Also for the Harman Kardon Citation family there is such an amplifier available, with the completely predictable name Citation Amp. It is very similar to its rivals. Yes, it is again a compact device with built-in streaming and with an HDMI-ARC input. This means that you can easily use the Citation Amp to listen to music and for TV sound. You have to take care of the speakers yourself. Maybe you still have an old set or maybe you are looking for something user-friendly to control a pair of handsome design speakers that you have long been interested in.

Harman Kardon Citation Amp – Spec

What Stereo amplifier with streaming
Power 2 x 125 Watt (8 Ohm)
Connectivity WiFi (2.4 / 5 GHz), Ethernet
Streaming Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth (AAC)
Connections Optical, coaxial, cinch in, sub out
Extras Expandable with wireless rear speakers and / or subwoofer
Dimensions 21.5 x 7.5 x 23 cm, 3.1 kg
price 599 euros

Stereo and surround

The Citation family is Harman Kardon’s answer to Sonos products. The 599-euro Citation Amp is just one of several Citation devices, including a series of wireless speakers, two sound bars and some other products. They all have streaming and multi-room options via AirPlay 2 and Chromecast. In addition, many Citation devices are equipped with a microphone so that you can operate them via the Google Assistant. With the Citation Amp, that microphone is not there and you have to work via another device if you want voice control. Like a Nest mini for example.

The Harman Kardon Citation Amp is made to drive a pair of your own speakers. If you only connect that, you have stereo playback. Ideal for music and not so bad for movies either. You can build a surround setup with the amplifier by purchasing a pair of Citation Surround speakers (approximately 400 euros) and / or a Citation subwoofer (340 to 800 euros). We would have liked to extend the test with these extras, but that will be for a later date. In any case, note that, unlike with many rivals, you cannot just use a few Citation speakers as rears. You should really opt for a set of Citation Surrounds. They connect to the Amp via WiSA, not via WiFi. Perhaps this was chosen because WiSA is better equipped against lag and failure than the WiFi that also contains your TV, smart thermostat, smartphone and WiFi-connected washing machine.

Unfortunately, you cannot switch on other WiSA speakers, such as those from System Audio or Klipsch, for the rear channels. Within the Citation story, WiSA is also really only for those rear channels, you cannot, for example, connect a WiSA-compatible center. We cannot be very critical about that now, because it does not seem to us that the Citation Amp is really intended for people who are looking for a kind of AV receiver .

May in the closet

The Citation Amp looks exactly as you would expect: compact, black and with a high anonymity score. Just like its rivals, actually. It is not surprising that not much has been done with the appearance of a device like this. It is simply a device that most people may hide somewhere in a TV cabinet. The Amp can also serve to control built-in speakers, for example; In that scenario too, you probably hide the device far out of sight in a technical room or a cupboard. However, placing it behind a wall-mounted television is rarely an option. With a thickness of 7.5 cm, that seems challenging. It’s not impossible, it just depends on the bracket used and the recesses at the back of the TV set.

A pat on the back for Harman Kardon that they include an IR extender in the box. This is useful if you indeed put the amplifier in a cabinet or hide it elsewhere. Thanks to the cable with IR eye, you can still continue to use the supplied remote.

By the way, a remote? Anyway, and you don’t often get that with a multiroom amplifier. It is a typical Harman Kardon remote with not too many buttons (but controls for the optional rear speakers and subwoofer) and that fits well in the hand. The volume level of viewing food can of course also be adjusted via the TV remote control, the volume of music that you stream can also be adjusted via your smartphone or tablet. Still, it’s nice that a remote control is included. In addition, there are also touch buttons on the amplifier itself.

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