Tested: fabric soundbar with spacious sound for any use

The range of high quality soundbars has grown significantly in recent years. Logically, because TVs get a better picture, but stay flat for a while. And no matter how well TV manufacturers try, there is a limit to how much sound you get from such a thin screen. It’s a shame, because as a viewer you often see the beautiful picture in HDR10 or Dolby Vision on a new TV, but you miss the spatial sound from DTS: X and in particular Dolby Atmos.

A high quality soundbar solves this, for many of the more expensive models support Dolby Atmos. In addition, the sound is more spacious, you hear several channels at the same time, including channels specifically for sound from above, side and back. Many streaming services offer movies and series with Atmos audio, and music services participate as well. Atmos layouts can literally fill the space with speakers in the ceiling and around the couch. But a small Atmos soundbar already makes a huge difference in spaciousness compared to the flat sound of a flat screen TV.

The sound bounces off walls and ceiling

The Harman Kardon Citation Multibeam 1100 is such a soundbar with Atmos support. Emphasis: the ‘multibeam’ from the title refers to the technology with which the soundbar radiates the various soundtracks into the room. After one-time calibration at the soundbar, where it stands in relation to the walls and ceiling, and the sound is radiated there and bounced off. Additional setting is usually required: TV has been provided with eARC connection in recent years. The TV and the speaker recognize each other and automatically ensure the correct connection and transmission.

The result is indeed a much more spacious sound than you are used to from a TV and even from a stereo soundbar. You hear planes flying overhead and cars seem to be driving into the TV from the side of the living room. Citation 1100 has eleven speaker drivers, two of which face the ceiling for that sound from above. It is good for a total power of 630W.

According to Harman Kardon, the soundbar offers enough power and volume to create the cinema feel without an extra subwoofer. That promise is partially fulfilled: the sound is really full, the bass vibrates with higher volume into your chair, and dialogues sound remarkably clear thanks to PureVoice technology. It recognizes voices in movies and series and automatically makes them louder, a welcome feature that really makes a difference.

Also for the music lover

The sound of this soundbar is spacious, balanced and still undistorted at high volume. Yet it is precisely in movies and series that the really heavy bass is missing. You can add it yourself by connecting a wireless subwoofer from Harman Kardon, but it quickly costs 400 euros extra. This Citation may offer cinematic sound, but it’s more like a movie house than the main hall during an action movie.

Fortunately, the Citation Multibeam 1100 can transmit more than the sound of movies and series. As a music speaker, it is perhaps even more skilled, precisely because the music is less dependent on the bass than many movies and series. The soundbar lets you hear the smallest details when playing music, is loud when needed and muted when needed. In that respect, this Citation Multibeam 1100 clearly has an edge over the competition, which is often quite focused on movies and series, and therefore the music pumps a bit too bombastically into space.

That emphasis on music is also evident from the practical touch screen on top of the speaker. You do not need to turn on the TV to easily control the music. The speaker has Spotify Connect, Google Cast and Apple AirPlay. Simply connect it to your WiFi network and the speaker will automatically appear in the music service you are using. Control via Google Assistant or Siri is also possible, but not via the soundbar itself. You can therefore, via speech, indicate that you want to play music via the soundbar; the soundbar can also play music at the same time as other suitable speakers.

Beautiful but expensive

The design of this soundbar fits into the Citition line, which is characterized by a fabric cover. As a result, this soundbar just looks a little more special than the average perforated strip of light metal from the competition. The Harman Kardon Citation Multibeam 1100 is an excellent soundbar for those looking for a versatile device, for movies and series, but also for music.

If you really want to be shaken during a movie, it is better to go for a soundbar with the included subwoofer, or pay the 400 euros for a separate copy. But on top of the 999 euros for this Citation Multibeam 1100 it is not a bid. For around 1000 euros there are several soundbars with separate subwoofer available. This soundbar can be further expanded with, for example, rear speakers: nice, but also more expensive.

Therein lies the point of contention for those considering this soundbar: do you want a multifunctional, expandable soundbar with spacious sound for any use? Then this is an excellent option. Want to see an action movie shaking on the couch? So think again.

Floris Poort, editor Bright

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