In this review we do not look at one, but two impressive Harman Kardon speakers: Harman Kardon Omni 10+ and Harman Kardon Omni 20+. You can use the speakers separately from each other via Bluetooth and WiFi, but also as part of a multiroom setup. The Omni 10+ costs 249 euros and the Omni 20+ costs 349 euros.
Harman Kardon Omni 10+ and Omni 20+ design
Both the Harman Kardon Omni 10+ and the 20+ have been given a round design. The Omni 10+ is the smallest model and is about the size of a football (but with a flat bottom) The Omni 20+ is more oval and resembles two merged 10+ versions, which are fused together in the middle. The big bass module, which we also find on the JBL Playlist, is on the back, which vibrates nicely when you play music with a lot of bass sound, and you can read more about the sound quality later in this extensive review.
Both speakers have a number of buttons on the top. The most striking button is the Link button: that is that big round thing with that slash in it. With this you can, for example, change music sources. We also see a plus and minus button and a button with which you can pause and switch on the music. Basically you can control the majority of the functions with those buttons: but if you want to change the volume, then you really have to do this via software. Either via an app or via an operating system like Windows 10.
The speaker can be used in combination with a smart device, for example by linking it to the Wi-Fi network or via bluetooth. But that’s not all: Harman Kardon has also ensured that you can put an old-fashioned audio cable in the speaker. And if for some reason there is something with the WiFi connection, you can also choose to connect an ethernet cable, so you can still access the internet. The Harman Kardon Omni 10+ and Harman Kardon Omni 20+ therefore seem to be provided with all comforts.
A big difference between the Harman Kardon Omni 10+ and the Harman Kardon Omni 20+ is the fact that the Omni 10+ comes with a plug that has a power strip attached to it. This is not a big problem, but you still have to take this into account when placing the speaker. It is not beautiful when that block is in sight. Especially when you consider that both speakers have a sleek and reasonable business appearance (making them fit into modern living rooms). The Omni 20+ has a normal plug.
Harman Kardon Omni 10+ and Omni 20+ installation
There are a number of things possible with the Harman Kardon Omni 10+ and Omni 20+. So you can simply connect the speakers via bluetooth, which is done in a simple way by turning on the speaker and activating the bluetooth connection on your smartphone, tablet or computer. After linking you can immediately start streaming. You can also install an audio cable from the music device to the speaker so that you do not have to worry about connections that empty batteries or possible disturbances while listening.
The Harman Kardon Omni 10+ and Omni 20+ are also Wi-Fi and multi-room speakers. You can set this option via the new application from the manufacturer, where Harman worked with Uber’s team for about four years. That is a long time, but you also get a very nice application in return (more about that later). When you start the app for the first time, it will help you install the speakers. You connect speaker for speaker to the network; make sure that only one is on.
If you have turned on one speaker, it will jump into search mode. When the Link button flashes slowly, you can link it to your Wi-Fi network. On iOS, this process will be automated (the Wi-Fi password will be shared immediately), but Android users need to take an extra step. The Wi-Fi password must be entered manually. Also no problem, but sometimes you do not know that password by yourself or you do not have it at hand. The iOS app does that something smarter with Apple technology.
Before you connect the speaker to your Wi-Fi network, you can indicate where that state is. Harman Kardon has a number of rooms (such as the bedroom, the kitchen or the office, but there are many more options available), but you can also design something completely yourself. You can do this by means of different colors (making it easier for you to recognize groups) or by giving a personal name (such as bedroom child 1 or for example a pantry, just to give some examples).
In contrast to the experience that Harman Kardon offered with the previous generation of speakers, this is a much faster and smoother process. You have connected the speakers to the network within seconds and then you can effortlessly use the possibilities offered by the app and the speakers. However, make sure that the speakers are always close to an outlet, since they do not have a built-in battery. This can be seen as a disadvantage, but the speakers are meant to transmit music in the house.
If you have two of the same speakers in your home, it is possible to link both devices together for better stereo reproduction. This is only possible if you have twice the Omni 10+ or twice the Omni 20+. Unfortunately, it is not possible to pair an Omni 10+ with an Omni 20+ for better stereo reproduction. If you want to set this function, you can do so in the app. There you can indicate during the installation that you want to make a stereo setup, after which the app, via wifi, will take the work off your hands.
Harman Kardon Omni 10+ and Omni 20+ – use
Because you can install the speakers in different ways, you can also use it in different ways. If you use the bluetooth connection, you can of course use any music player you want and operate the speakers from there. The power of these speakers lies in the fact that you can also stream via WiFi and that functionality in combination with the intuitive application of Harman Kardon ensures an accessible and incredibly user-friendly experience.
Within the app you can choose a number of built-in music streaming services. This results in both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that for built-in services, such as Tidal, you do not need an extra app and can arrange everything from the Harman Kardon app. The disadvantage is that these services can not immediately benefit from the updates that are released by app makers, so you have to deal with an inferior version in some cases. But in general you have little trouble in practice.
The list of available music streaming services also includes other apps, such as Spotify. By tapping it you can open the music streaming service of your choice and you can start streaming immediately. This gives you access to around two hundred different services – so there is a good chance that your music streaming service is also in between. You also get access to everything you have stored within those apps, such as your favorite songs, your playlists and more and everything can be played through the Omni speakers.
Of course you are also able to play locally stored songs from your Android or iOS device. That goes through the Harman Kardon app; you can also play those songs via Wi-Fi. If you have several speakers in the house of the same set (the Omni 10+, Omni 20+ and the upcoming models), you can also send that music (locally, via WiFi or via bluetooth) to the other speakers. You do this by switching on another speaker in the network and pressing the Link button. Then you will hear a music stream.
And now it comes: one of the most impressive possibilities of this setup is that you can play music from a total of five different sources and that can throw all over your Wi-Fi network: whether that is local, via bluetooth or via Wi-Fi. You can send two channels through a music streaming service, as well as a channel via the local storage, which passes through bluetooth or via the analogue connection. And with a press of the Link button, you switch channels and you quickly get to the music you want to hear – wherever you are at home.
You do not even need the app for this. If you know that your partner in the living room is listening to a LP that is connected via the analog cable, you can listen to the same music in the garage (if you have a speaker there). Curious about what your children listen to via Spotify or Google Play Music? With the press of a button you switch on and you can listen in. This has not been done by a company until now and the fact that it can do without an app is a decent achievement.
If you want to arrange such things via the app, you can do that too. You can effortlessly have two or more speakers play the same music within the settings simply by grouping them. You do that by keeping the speakers in question pressed in the app, after which you hear the same number within seconds. For the first time, it may be a lot to take a look at, but believe us that it is immediately clear and you are actually very intuitive and accessible to use your multiroom set-up.
That way you play music through Google Cast
Playing music via Google Cast, from a smart device to a suitable speaker, is very simple. If you have completed the installation process and Google Home indicates that the speaker is ready, you can start immediately. The screenshots below are made with Google Play Music, but in principle it works for all Cast apps. In the picture you see a Cast icon (in the middle, at the bottom). Tap it once. Then you choose the speaker you want to cast to. That’s it! At the bottom you now see that the speaker is connected.
Harman Kardon Omni 10+ and Omni 20+ – audio quality
Because the Harman Kardon Omni 20+ is almost twice as big as the Omni 10+, you get better audio quality. That is not surprising of course. But the Omni 10+ is certainly not inferior to competing models of the same price. The sound is quite warm for such a compact speaker and lets you hear a wide sound field. Do not put it too hard, because then there may be some noise – but that is not strange with a smaller speaker. This puts you down well in your office or for example in the bedroom or kitchen.
If you still want to experience the better work, then you can get away with the Omni 20+. You can put this speaker pretty hard, without being bothered by anything. It is also true that both the higher and lower tones are incredibly pure and that those lower tones have been given a warm sound. You can easily differentiate between the different tonal layers and we have not really caught the Harman Kardon on the muzzling of beats. No, it is not perfect, but the audio quality is of a high level.
It also depends a bit on the source. If you use locally stored music that is played in low quality, you will hear less detail than when you use Tidal or another service that can offer that music in high quality. The Omni 10+ may compare with the Omni 20+ or slightly less performance, it is still a better option than the recently tested Teufel speakers (and we were already happy about that!), Although the ( preparation of the) multiroom future also plays a role in this.
Harman Kardon Omni 10+ and Omni 20+ conclusion
When you bought the previous versions of Omni 10 and Omni 20, you probably came home from a cold funfair. No, the audio quality of the Harman Kardon products is often not: it is the app or other software that a bluetooth, wifi or multiroom speaker can make or break nowadays. And precisely at that point, the manufacturer, together with the Uber team, has made a lot of progress in recent years. Installing and using these speakers is accessible and user-friendly.
The app is completely on the shovel and that you notice all facets. Not only is the design modernized, but there are more than enough possibilities from the app to realize. It shows that Harman Kardon is serious about his multiroom speakers, even though it is of course a trend that many manufacturers want to indent nowadays. But if you do it, then do it well – and that message the manufacturer, after the previously launched Omni 10 and Omni 20, now well understood.
In terms of sound quality, you can also expect a pleasant experience. The bass sounds deep and pleasant and also pretty warm where needed. The higher tones do not fall away and you can distinguish between the different beats (that can be slightly better on the Omni 20+ than the Omni 10+, but that’s not surprising because the 20+ is slightly larger). Together with the many options with regard to the multiroom setup, this is a speaker family that we would be happy to recommend. The new Omni’s are ready for the future.