The Harman Kardon Citation 200 was released in January announced, but a release still took a while. Last month it finally happened. The formidable competitor for the Sonos Move is finally available. In this review, we will get started with the portable smart speaker.
What is it?
The Harman Kardon Citation 200 is a portable smart speaker that can be used on WiFi at home or on the road with Bluetooth. The speaker is splash-proof (IPX4), can play music for 8 hours on the battery, has a Chromecast built-in and has support for AirPlay. You can use all your favorite streaming services on this model and also listen to radio via TuneIn is of course possible. The built-in Google Assistant also helps you with all your questions or commands for your smart home. This makes the Harman Kardon Citation 200 a formidable competitor to the Sonos Move released last year. Not only do they fall in the same price category (399 euros for the Sonos Move and 349 euros for the Citation 200), they are also roughly on the same line in terms of dimensions. The Harman Kardon Citation 200 therefore seems to be a formidable competitor for the portable top player from Sonos.
The speaker comes with a base that you can plug into the socket. Here you can easily put the speaker on for charging. You can play music while the speaker is on this base station, but you can also just lift it off and take it outside or another room in the house. Music is not interrupted and just keeps playing.
The Harman Kardon Citation 200 has one 25 mm tweeter and one 120 mm woofer. The output power is 50W RMS. Compared to the Harman Kardon Citation One, the speaker is therefore slightly larger. The speaker has dimensions of 178 x 219 x 172 mm (W x H x D) and the charging station is 123 x 15 mm. Supported audio formats are HE-AAC, LC-AAC, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC and OPUS. The Citation 200 plays music in high definition, according to Harman Kardon.
The speaker is quite heavy at 2.85 kilograms, but lighter than the Sonos Move. Harman Kardon has opted for the older bluetooth 4.2 on this model. This may not improve the range everywhere, but stay close to the speaker and you will not have any problems with that. Moreover, you also have your Wi-Fi network at home. The speaker works on both WiFi and Bluetooth, so you have your WiFi network at home and the Bluetooth connection outdoors.
The battery has a capacity of 4,800 mAh. The speaker is fully charged within 3 hours via the charging station. A charged battery ensures that you can listen to music for up to 8 hours. Of course this does depend on the volume of the music.
Connoisseurs of the Citation series from Harman Kardon now know that the manufacturer uses the beautiful fabrics of the Danish fabric maker Kvadrat. Again, the colors of this portable speaker are in balance with the other models in the series. You can choose the gray or black fabric. Even in 2020, the design of the Citation series is of very high quality. The luxurious appearance of the speaker is complemented by the light brown leather handle. It’s a bold choice, but the result is a timeless and luxurious design.
The touch control of the Citation One has been thrown overboard. This time we have real physical buttons at the top and that works a bit nicer. This way you can easily increase the volume, turn the speaker on or off or take a break. At the back at the bottom you will also find a USB-C connection to hang the speaker on the power. So you can also use this speaker wired and charge at the same time without using the base station.
Just like many other speakers with Google Assistant on board, you can also install this model via the Google Home app. Plug the base station into the wall socket, place the speaker on it and install the Google Home app. Is the app already on your smartphone? Then you will immediately receive a notification that you can add a new device. Then you go through the steps, enter your WiFi password (2.4 GHz and 5GHz are supported), give the speaker a name and add it to a room in your house. If you haven’t done this yet, you can still set the VoiceMatch of the Google Assistant present. All in all, unpacking the speaker took less than five minutes to listen to music.
The available Google Assistant is of course exactly the same as on other Google Home speakers. You can request the weather forecast, ask questions, control your smart home or of course ask to play music. Start the command with ‘Hey Google’ and you can go all out with voice commands. Do you not need the microphone and Google Assistant? You can easily switch off the microphone via the slider on the back.
Thanks to Google Home, you can easily create a multiroom setup. Create a speaker group and add existing speakers. You can use two Citation 200 speakers for wireless stereo sound, but you can also add a Google Home supporting speaker from another brand to your multiroom setup. Incidentally, you only have real stereo sound if you use two Citation 200s.
The undersigned also has one Harman Kardon Citation One and this is an ideal time to compare both speakers. The Citation One is a good WiFi speaker, but the bass that was too present threw a spanner in the works with certain music styles. Despite the promise to release an equalizer for the Wi-Fi speaker, it never materialized (instead, the Citation One Mark 2 came with less bass). Not very neat from the company. Fortunately, the sound on the Harman Kardon Citation 200 is much more balanced. The bass is no longer so overly present, but still has enough punch to make you happy.
Listen to Drake on the song Toosie Slide and you can actually feel the bass flying around the room with a full and warm sound. If you then listen to Hotel California by the Eagles of Africa from TOTO, the bass is still there, but the song is no longer ruined by it. The whole thing, especially the bass, is much more balanced compared to the Citation One and we can only applaud that.
Still, it is not quite perfect and the bass can sometimes fly out of the corner. For the past few weeks I have continuously left this speaker on in the office with a variety of different types of music. There have been a few moments where the Citation 200 went wrong. The bass guitar in Danny Vera’s song Rollercoaster is a good example of this. Even at a relatively low volume, the bass continuously takes over and you hardly notice the rest of the sound. To a lesser extent, this also applies to Disturbed’s The Sound of Silence, where the bass sometimes goes through and through, but at other times is more balanced.
Fortunately, this is an exception. In general, the sound is clear and balanced, where you can clearly distinguish the high, low and mid tones. The relatively compact size manages to fill the room well in terms of sound. The rich sound profile generally remains well balanced even at high volume. And speaking of volume, you can throw a party with this speaker in the garden. You can turn up the volume quite a bit.
What we miss again is an equalizer. So you cannot get started to adjust the sound yourself, but have to make do with the sound profile that has been tuned by Harman Kardon itself. Now there is little wrong with the sound, but for the real audio enthusiast this is a shortcoming.
Harman Kardon Citation 200 – in use
You don’t buy such a speaker as the Harman Kardon Citation 200 as a hi-fi enthusiast. There are of course better options available for this. You buy such a speaker to just get great sound and to be flexible in the placement of this model. At home or on the road, you have the possibility to enjoy music anywhere with this portable speaker. Some music in the kitchen? You can lift the speaker and place it on the counter. Then do some odd jobs in the shed? The speaker comes along again. Are you enjoying the back of the garden? Again, you can lift the speaker again so that you can continue listening to music without interruption. You don’t have to worry that your streaming service is not supported, because you have access to more than 300 music streaming services via Chromecast built-in. Apple’s AirPlay is also supported.
This makes the Harman Kardon Citation 200 a choice for users looking for a speaker that offers flexibility. At home, in the garden, on vacation, at parties, everywhere. It is not a replacement for your hi-fi set in the living room, but it does not pretend to be.
In terms of price, the Sonos Move and Harman Kardon Citation 200 fall in the same category, but the Chromecast built-in of the Citation 200 still has a significant advantage. In terms of sound, both speakers are more than adequate. However, the Sonos Move has an equalizer that is missing with the Citation 200. The sound profile of the Harman Kardon loudspeaker is, in most cases, ample enough, but here and there there will be an annoying outlier. Both speakers are therefore well matched, whereby your personal preferences will ultimately be decisive.
Harman Kardon Citation 200 – conclusion
The Harman Kardon Citation 200 is an excellent choice for people who want flexibility in an all-in-one speaker. You cannot compare this model with a bluetooth speaker of 100 euros. The Harman Kardon simply blows away the lower-priced competition with a rich and full sound. However, you will have to dig deep into your pockets, because 349 euros for a speaker is a lot of money. You also have to take for granted the lack of an equalizer and that is actually not possible in this price category. Are you looking for a flexible speaker with good sound that you can place anywhere you want? Then the Harman Kardon Citation 200 is definitely worth considering.