The arrival of the Dutch Google Assistant does not mean that you are dependent on Google’s own Home speakers. Earlier you read the review of Harman Kardon in the review of the Citation 100, 300 and 500 . However, the company has also brought a direct competitor to the Google Home and the LG WK7 on the market with the Harman Kardon Citation One.
What is it?
The Harman Kardon Citation One is a smart speaker with Dutch-language Google Assistant . This means that you have the same functions at your disposal as on normal Google Home speakers. So you can not only listen to music, but also ask the smart assistant or use your smart home with it. The Citation One is available in gray or black and costs 199 euros.
The device is equipped with one 20 mm tweeter and one 89 mm woofer with an output power of 40W RMS. You can stream Bluetooth audio to this speaker, but you can also connect it to your own WiFi network and stream with Google Chromecast. If you choose this last option, the speaker can be operated with Google Home and the Google Assistant.
Design of the Citation One
The Citation One is a cylinder with a flat top. Just like with the larger brothers from the Citation series, the Citation One also has a beautiful fabric from the Danish fabric maker Kvadrat. The fabric used is not uniform in color, but has various colors of gray or black woven through it, depending on your chosen color. According to Harman Kardon, this mixed fabric from Kvadrat is also dirt-resistant and flame-retardant. Why the latter is important to name, I don’t know, but this luxurious fabric from Kvadrat gives the speaker an incredibly beautiful appearance. Luxurious yet timeless, which will fit well in almost any interior. As far as I am concerned, the Citation One is certainly a step ahead of the direct competitors in terms of design.
On top you will find physical touch buttons that do a great job. This way you can physically adjust the volume, there is a button for bluetooth (4.2) and a button to switch off the microphone. There is also a larger round button at the top to talk directly with the Google Assistant. So you don’t have to say “Hey Google” or “Ok Google”. We also find the two far-field microphones on top. The dimensions are 140 mm x 188 mm x 140 mm, making the Citation One a bit larger than the Google Home speakers. Other connections are missing. So you cannot physically connect other audio devices or use the Citation One as a TV speaker. You will find a USB-C connection at the bottom in case problems occur and a physical reset button is present.
Operation via Google Home
Unlike, for example, the LG WK7 has the Citation One no own app. You therefore operate this smart speaker entirely from the Google Home app. So there really is no difference compared to a Google Home speaker, because the installation and operation work exactly the same. Put the plug in the wall socket, wait until it has started up and the speaker will be recognized automatically via the Google Home app. You can make this speaker part of any other speakers via a multiroom setup where you can easily create groups yourself via the Google Home app. Do you have both Google Home speakers, an LG WK7 and also a Citation One? No problem, create a group and all speakers with Google Assistant or a Chromecast-compatible device work together.
The speaker is therefore Chromecast-compatible, which means that you can easily play music from Spotify, Deezer, Use Google Play Music and many other music streaming services. And with Google Assistant on board, the microphones easily catch all your questions or commands, and then execute them quickly. We can be brief about the Dutch-language Google Assistant. Although the Dutch Google Assistant has since become a bit smarter, this is still the case today. Do you want to get more out of the smart part of this speaker? Then it might be more convenient to use the English language. However, that is something that Harman Kardon cannot do anything about, but that Google itself has to work with. Just like on the Google Home speakers you can easily switch languages via the Google Home app.
The sound is, as we can expect from Harman Kardon, a lot better compared to the  Google Home speakers . There are, however, points for improvement, starting with the lack of the ability to adjust the sound. The Google Home app has a simple equalizer to set the bass and treble for its own Google Home speakers, but this option is not available for Google Assistant speakers from other manufacturers. LG solved this with the WK7 speaker by releasing its own companion app. At the release of the Citation One, many users indicated that the bass is too present. At a lower volume this is not disturbing, but as soon as you start to increase the volume, the Citation One literally walks off the shelf over time. An equalizer could solve this because you can set the bass to be less present. Ever since the beginning of this year, Harman Kardon has announced on the own website that they are working on an app with equalizer. Unfortunately, this app has still not been released to date.
However, that does not mean that the sound is bad. On the contrary. In general, the speaker produces a very clear sound. The deep bass also makes it look like you have a much larger speaker in your house. I also have the regular Google Home speaker in my possession and the Citation One is really far above Google’s own speakers. Not only in terms of volume (the Citation One can really be quite loud), but also in terms of sound quality. The Citation One manages to fill a medium-sized space well with the sound. The very present bass is not disturbing with genres such as dance or rap, but if you want to enjoy the classics of yesteryear, then that does not come into its own with the current tuning of the sound.
The Citation One has a suggested retail price of 199 euros. Despite the bass being present, it seems that we are dealing with a more expensive speaker here and that is certainly a plus. The hi-fi enthusiast will undoubtedly have something to complain about, but for the price the Citation One simply has a good sound profile, whereby the low tones predominate, but the high tones and midtones certainly do not fall away. With the Citation One, Harman Kardon potentially has the best smart speaker with Google Assistant for less than 200 euros, but the available bass makes sure that the basics are not quite right. It is up to Harman Kardon to release that equalizer, because at the moment the Citation One is more of a party speaker with Google Assistant on board. Fun for a party, less fun when you turn on your favorite piece of classical music.
Microphones and noise
Although the Citation One works just as well with the Google Assistant as other speakers, the built-in far-field microphones are something lesser quality compared to the Google Home speakers. It sometimes happens that the Google Assistant is not activated with a “Hey Google” or “Ok Google”. It is not that dramatic now, but your voice is picked up more easily at the Google Home speakers. Talking a little more in the direction of the Citation One helps in this. The advantage is that false commands are given less quickly when the assistant thinks you are giving a command, but actually responds to the sound of the television.
Another downside is that the speaker is bothering has noise. You do not hear this when you play music, but when nothing is being played. Put your ear to the Citation One and you will hear a little bit of noise. You no longer hear it when you keep your ear at a distance of thirty centimeters, but this seems to me not entirely the intention.
The Harman Kardon Citation One is potentially one of the best Google Assistant speakers up to 200 euros. The design is fantastic, the sound remains very clear even at higher volumes and manages to fill a medium-sized room well with sound. It is therefore a shame that the bass is too present. At higher volumes, the Citation One simply walks away from the cabinet through the bass. The promised equalizer from Harman Kardon is still absent until now.
Google Assistant works great on the Citation One, but it is a pity that the microphones do not always recognize your voice properly. In addition, a little noise comes out of the speaker when it is not playing music. You don’t hear it from a distance, but that shouldn’t happen. Let’s hope that the app with equalizer is brought to market quickly, because then we can really enjoy the high quality that Harman Kardon has brought to market with the Citation One.