The Harman Kardon Citation Bar is not a cheaper soundbar. That is why you can have high expectations of the product. Does the soundbar live up to those expectations? And what about the Harman Kardon Citation Sub? You can read it in our extensive review.
Harman Kardon Citation Bar and Sub – design and specs
Just like the other Harman Kardon Citation speakers, the Citation Bar and the Citation Sub also have a nice fabric layer over the hardware to sit. This sets Harman Kardon apart from the competition, since relatively few other sound bars have such a design. On top of the soundbar is a small touchscreen from which you can read information, such as the chosen source and the volume. But you can also set things up and check them without having to use the app or remote control immediately.
The soundbar and the subwoofer are also quite large. The Harman Kardon Citation Bar is 1.15 meters wide, 6.2 centimeters high and 11.5 centimeters deep. That is why it fits best with a TV of 55-inch or larger. In any case, it does not fit between the legs of a TV, so that – in our case – it is a little forward compared to the TV. The subwoofer can almost be called a side table with dimensions of 4.47 by 3.34 by 3.67 centimeters. Whether you choose the gray or black color, they will not look out of place in your living room.
The subwoofer also has a diameter of 25.4 centimer and a maximum power of 200 watts and 95 dB . The soundbar has 3.1 channel sound. Below the fabric layer we find a twenty millimeter tweeter and two woofers of one hundred by fifty millimeters per speaker. The Harman Kardon Citation Bar has a maximum capacity of 150 watts and supports Dolby and DTS, but none Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. Because there are no speakers that point upwards and can therefore reflect the sound through the ceiling.
Harman Kardon Citation Bar and Sub – installation
In theory it should be simple a soundbar with no less than four HDMI ports and one to install an internet connection. Plugs in, use cables and follow steps within an app. And although that also applies in part, we have run into problems. Pairing with the TV is perfect via an HDMI or optical cable. But when you want to connect to the internet via the Google Home app, you can run into problems. Initially, the soundbar was not found.
After having gone through the installation process several times (the undersigned was able to effortlessly install several smart speakers and soundbars in this way), the app was unable to find the soundbar. After a while, without having performed any additional action, the Harman Kardon Citation Bar suddenly appeared inside the Google Home app, allowing us to add it to our Google Cast network. Unfortunately, this did not go without a hitch – something to be reckoned with.
Harman Kardon Citation Bar and Sub – in use
Fortunately there are quite a few operating options. This way you can control the soundbar via the Google Assistant. The Harman Kardon Citation Bar then functions as a normal Google Home or Google Nest Hub speaker, allowing you to control not only the soundbar but also other devices in the house. For direct control of the volume, for example, we recommend using a remote control (the supplied or that of your TV via hdmi-arc ), because that is still proven to work faster than voice control.
supplied remote control you can of course get the most quickly done. For example, you can quickly switch between the four HDMI ports (one is for the TV, the other three you can connect media players, game consoles or blu-ray players), aux and optical port, activate the voice assistant without voice command, the manage volume, control media and select the type of sound. For example, the Citation Bar offers an evening and surround mode and you can choose from pre-programmed modes such as news, film and music.
Unfortunately, we have encountered some problems in operation and daily use. For example, we have linked the Nvidia Shield to the soundbar. Although the Citation Bar is able to transmit 4k signals at sixty frames per second and images with HDR10 and Dolby Vision the system unfortunately crashes regularly. It is therefore not the support. You can connect modern video players with confidence, but sometimes you have to restart one device or all devices in the setup.
In our case, the Nvidia Shield sometimes refused service. We could click what we wanted on the three remote controls (from the TV, Shield and soundbar), but no input was recorded. That can happen once, but at some point it happened every other day. And that is very annoying, especially when you get a system of 999 euros in your house (still separate from the subwoofer that you may have purchased separately). In addition, the volume sometimes disappears for half a second and it is not possible to find out why this kind of thing happens.
Furthermore, we note that the wifi connection is anything but stable. You don’t notice that much when you’re watching TV or playing games, but when you listen to music through Google Cast, it quickly becomes very annoying. The test period of the Harman Kardon Citation Bar coincided with a birthday here at home. That sounds like good news, but in the end we had to take another speaker to compensate for the unreliability of the WiFi connection. Fortunately, the Sonos Move could serve that evening.
Multiroom support sounds fine on paper, but without a reliable connection it is often an unused function. It has also been noticed that the soundbar sometimes does not switch to the correct port on its own. Fortunately, this happens nine times out of ten, so you don’t have to switch manually from HDMI TV to HDMI 1, for example. But if it doesn’t happen, then that’s annoying. We usually have the remote in the hand when something goes wrong and that is not an impression you want to leave.
Harman Kardon Citation Bar and Sub – audio quality
Apart from the messy installation and technical defects, you do get quality in the audio field. The Harman Citation Bar has a very nice stereo reproduction and can in principle function without a subwoofer. That bass sound is present in the background and comparable with, for example, the Teufel Cinebar Lux . However, if you connect the subwoofer for 799 euros, you will hear a lot of sound that you say to you. More than once we had to turn the volume down because it was too overwhelming.
In many cases this can certainly have an added value, but we are only glad that we have been able to adjust the sound slightly. During the test period we watched DC’s Titans, a series that can be seen at Netflix here in the Netherlands. It is a violent and rugged series about (young) superheroes who give blows. You sometimes feel those blows coming against your own guts, that’s how loud the bass is in that series. It is therefore advisable to first set the soundbar at your leisure after the purchase.
With the various sound modes you can in principle do that very quickly. For example, the music mode gives priority to higher tones and you are presented with a much wider sound field, so that fine details in the background can also be heard. The film mode pumps the bass higher and throws the rest of the sound back, which makes voices sometimes less intelligible (although this is sometimes due to the way in which a film or series is mixed), while the news stand is preferred going out to the spoken language.
Whatever you decide to watch, once the soundbar is up and running, it cannot be stopped. Whether you watch passive or active content – so watch a film or series or play a game – the experience is lifted to a higher level. This is such a soundbar that can convince people to get one, because there is a lot of power and detail. You hear a clear difference in different sound layers and the finer details are clearly audible, provided you have the right settings. We rarely hear anything like that at sound bars.
Although the Harman Kardon Citation Bar has a surround mode, we can’t really recommend it. The sound sounds farther away than when you use a different mode and voices become less intelligible. Effects get the upper hand without having to move them around the room. However, the use of spatial sound is not a major loss in our eyes, because such effects work better with more speakers in the house. That is why it is not so bad that the Citation Bar does not have a good surround mode.
Harman Kardon Citation Bar and Sub – conclusion
The sound experience does not depend on it. With the Citation Bar, Harman Kardon presents a soundbar that could convince skeptical people to consider a soundbar for the home. The sound reproduction is wide, warm, full and deep, has fine details and looks for both the higher and lower regions. The Harman Kardon Citation Sub has a lot of power and can really add something to the sound experience, but for smaller devices the device may do just that little too much.
What really gets in the way of the Harman Kardon Citation Bar is some technical defects. For example, a paired device does not always respond, the sound sometimes drops out for a moment (involves a few milliseconds) and the system does not always switch ports automatically when you switch over. In addition, the network connection is not stable. And for a system of 999 euros (1,799 euros including subwoofer) you can and must expect more. That is why we now recommend waiting until the price drops or until the problems are solved.