Harman Kardon Citation 200 review
With its Scandinavian look and powerful sound, the Citation 200 certainly impresses, but its unpredictable bass performance can spoil some songs.
- Powerful sound
- Attractive design
- Surprisingly robust
- Easy installation
- Unpredictable bass performance
- Quite expensive
Smart skillsGoogle Assistant is integrated for voice control
WaterproofIPX4 rating protects against splashing water
Carrying handleIntegrated handle makes it easy to move
Harman Kardon’s Citation line includes everything from a bedside DAB radio to a pair of £ 2,200 floorstanding speakers, but perhaps one of the most appealing products is the Citation 200 – a smart speaker. semi-portable that has the Sonos Move in its sights.
Like Sonos’ offering, the Citation 200 is small enough to move around the house and sturdy enough to venture into the garden, but with a price tag that will leave you an extra £ 100 in your wallet. This makes it an attractive proposition for those who aren’t already on the Sonos train, but is it a valid alternative?
- Chic fabric coat
- Handle for easy transport
- IPX4 water resistance
With its leather handle, the Citation 200 looks a bit like a bucket that lacks its spade, although the brushed metal top will prevent you from filling it with sand. Up there, you’ll find buttons to adjust the volume, turn Bluetooth on, turn it on and off, and a multi-function button that controls playback if you press it, or activates Google Assistant if you hold it for more than two seconds. There is also a set of five small lights to show how much battery is left, as well as the two microphones.
The Citation 200 is wrapped in a woolen fabric which Harman Kardon says is smudge-proof, flame-retardant, and easy to clean, but it has that premium feeling that means you probably won’t want to over-treat it anyway. . In fact, it almost looks too good to be taken outdoors, but it is rated IPX4, which means it can cope if the sky unexpectedly opens or gets splashed by water. the paddling pool. Don’t expect it to come out unscathed if you drop it straight in.
Weighing 2.85kg and measuring roughly the same size as your average kettle, it’s portable in the sense that you can pick it up and move it around the house or take it out into the garden, rather than something you’d like pack in a suitcase for a weekend. This is enhanced by the fact that it has a proprietary charging washer that fits into a recess at the bottom – you don’t need to line anything up, just place the speaker on top. . You can also charge it using a USB-C cable if you have a sufficiently powerful outlet; it requires 5V / 2.1A, so the one that came with your phone might not be beefy enough.
The Citation 200 is available in two colors: a harmless gray with a beige handle (photo) or all black. It feels like it was designed to blend in with just about any home decor rather than making any kind of statement, but there’s a lot to be said for this approach. It is certainly not an unpleasant object to look at.
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on board
- Voice control via Google Assistant
With both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on board, the Citation 200 has you covered for connectivity whether you’re indoors or outdoors.
While there is no dedicated app, setup using the Google Home app is a snap, and since it supports Apple’s AirPlay and Google’s Chromecast, you can use it. control directly from the music app of your choice – handy if Google Assistant refuses to play the exact version of the song you want.
It takes about 25 seconds to connect to Wi-Fi after turning it on, but after that, it responds quickly to voice commands, with lights hidden under the fabric covering indicating it’s listening. You can change the sensitivity in the Home app, but since there’s barely a time between requesting a song and it starts coming out of the speaker, it shouldn’t be necessary.
As with any battery-powered smart speaker, it has to be manually turned on when you want to use it, so it will never fit into your life as easily as a mains-powered always-on alternative, like an Amazon. Echo or Apple HomePod. This means that while it is capable of controlling smart home devices, it may not be the ideal tool for the job. However, it does support Google’s Voice Match technology, so results like calendar entries and reminders are tailored specifically to you.
If you’d rather turn off the Citation 200’s mics completely, there’s a button on the back to mute them. It’s pretty hidden, so not ideal if you want to quickly cover your ears while revealing where the bodies are buried, but that’s what the handle is for, right?
In terms of battery life, Harman Kardon says the Citation 200 should last up to eight hours depending on how you use it and that has proven to be pretty accurate. There’s no automatic shutdown, so you’ll have to remember to turn it off if you don’t want a prematurely drained battery, but that also means you can leave it on all the time if it’s sitting on the charger. It might not be ideal from an environmental standpoint, but it fixes the aforementioned permanence issue and means you can use it as an everyday smart speaker.
- Powerful and bold sound
- Bass can be overwhelming
Inside the 50-watt Citation 200 is a 25mm tweeter and a 120mm woofer. Combined with its solid build and relatively heavy dimensions, this gives it a fair amount of power, much of which it seems to use for the bass.
Without even pushing the volume very high, Disclosure’s Who Knew ?, The Pharcyde’s Runnin ‘and Colossus by Quicksand sound too loud, the low end overwhelming the rest of the range a bit. This only gets worse at high volumes, which the Citation 200 is more than capable of, but you are likely to have to avoid them to avoid disturbing the neighbors.
That’s not to say it’s still a problem. There are a lot of tracks where the bass performs, adding real bass punch without overwhelming, and others that definitely sound better because of it. Scruffizer’s Bender would lack bounce without it, it gives real depth to Justin Vernon’s heavily processed vocals on Bon Iver’s 715 – CRΣΣKS, and means the sub-bass that kicks in towards the end of Everything Everything’s Warm Healer has a real impact.
Presumably, this bass-heavy approach is aimed at improving performance outdoors, and that helps give it a presence in the open, but for something that feels like an indoor speaker first and then an outdoor one. one second, it’s hard not to feel like it’s been tuned for the wrong environment. Without any kind of Sonos-style EQ or auto-tuning, that means performance can be a bit unpredictable.
Should we buy it?
If you only need something semi-portable While it might be too big to go on vacation, the Citation 200 is the perfect size to move from room to room, with enough power to fill the larger ones. It is also good for the garden.
If you don’t like bass too much The Citation 200 goes big on the bass and that can sometimes be a bit too much. If low-end rumbles aren’t your thing, you might be better off looking elsewhere.
If you’re looking for something to sing about in the shower, you could do a lot worse than the Harman Kardon Citation 200. Its IPX4 rating means you don’t have to worry about it getting a little wet and voice control means you can change songs without needing your phone – the perfect combo.
It thrives in any room in the house, or even outside in the garden. The bass performance can be a little too enthusiastic at times, which means it won’t suit everyone’s tastes, but it’s still an accomplished speaker with practical smart skills.
How we test
We test every wireless speaker that we scrutinize over an extended period of time. We use industry standard testing to properly compare features. We will always tell you what we find. We never, ever take money to review a product.
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Used as the main indoor speaker for the review period
Tested for over a week
Tested with streaming services
You can only get Google Assistant with this model.
Audio (output power)
Harman Kardon Citation 200
1 25 mm tweeter, 1 120 mm woofer
Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Chromecast, Bluetooth 4.2
40 20,000 – Hz
HE-AAC, LC-AAC, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC, Opus