With the Citation series, Harman Kardon wants to appeal to interior-conscious minimalists. The speakers are inspired by Nordic design, designed to blend perfectly into bright environments. At least if you choose the version in light gray wool, which we have tested. If, on the other hand, you are looking for something more anonymous, you can choose black.
It is currently in the wind to dress the speakers in wool fabric from Danish Kvadrat, and Harman Kardon does not want to be any worse. Voice control is also something that has increased in popularity, and in this country it is the Google assistant that is most relevant. It speaks Norwegian. Then it just has to be that advanced commands with several messages in one and the same sentence still wait. But it works, and eventually there are many smart gadgets in the home that can be controlled by the Google Assistant.
The Citation MultiBeam 700 soundbar can be connected to both the Google Home system and the Apple HomeKit, so if you have a smart home based on one of these, the soundbar will also be a part of this. There are many different Citation speakers that work wirelessly together, and it’s not hard to see that Harman Kardon with this family is chasing market share from Sonos.
MultiBeam 700 simulates surround
The name MultiBeam comes from the fact that the soundbar radiates sound in several directions, so that the sound image is experienced as three-dimensional. Surround sound without rear speakers, that is.
Though, if you fancy rear speakers, then you can connect a pair of Citation Surround rear speakers. There is also a Citation Sub Small. If you want more powerful bass, you get this from Citation Sub, but it is probably a long way to go to spend more money on the bass speaker than the soundbar itself.
The soundbar is laid flat on the TV bench, or mounted on the wall with the included wall brackets. Connect the audio board to the TV’s HDMI input marked ARC. If your TV does not have this, you will need to use an optical digital cable instead.
The initial setup is playfully easy. Turn on the soundbar, select the language Norwegian, find MultiBeam 700 in the list of wi-fi networks and set up the soundbar with the Google Home app. Or the Apple Home app, if you have a HomeKit smart home.
Unlike Sonos with its Beam or Arc, it comes with a remote control for the MultiBeam 700. Delicious. With Sonos, the TV’s remote control can admittedly set the sound level, but you may want to change the sound mode according to the content. For example, Music when listening to music in stereo and Movies, TV or News when watching such content.
The remote control also has its own Google Assistant button, which mutes the sound from the soundbar, so you do not have to shout over the TV sound when you have to command it to something. Nice to have when the sound level is high. If only you could use the same button to muffle the hustle and bustle of other people in the room as well…
Impeccable ease of use
There is zero stress in using the MultiBeam 700 on a daily basis. Have it on HDMI when it is to sound from the TV, or send (cast) the music directly to it from the music app on the mobile. It responds immediately and gives what you want when you want it.
Good enough sound
In terms of sound, it sounds perfectly fine. The soundbar does not make any catastrophic mistakes, such as the bass drowning out the midrange, the dialogues and singing voices sounding veiled and woolly. It sounds open enough, clear and distinct.
In Movie sound mode with the surround effect on, the sound picture becomes diffused, and the dialogues sound thin and do not come from the center of the sound picture. Instead, they bleed outward toward the sides. The midrange is slim, which makes the dialogues sound thin. And the treble is a little too loud.
Use Music mode on movies as well
It gets better when sound mode is set to Music, with surround effect activated. Then there is more meat on the bone in the midrange, and the treble mixes better into the soundscape. It’s far better than with Movie mode. I still do not think the dialogues come clearly enough from the middle, and the surround effect is not as fortunately implemented as on, for example, the Samsung HW-Q76R, or on the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. Or as far as the Sonos Beam. There is also a big difference in sound level when switching between surround sound on and off. The sound is much louder with surround effect on, which makes it difficult to compare the two.
Music in stereo
On music in stereo, however, the surround effect sounds better. Also here in Music sound mode. The fuller midrange comes in handy, and the instruments get the heat they need. It could well have been even more fine-meshed and airy at the very top, the treble is experienced as a bit aggressive at times. Especially with hard compressed pop music.
It’s fine with bass in the MultiBeam 700, and I think a lot of people who buy it can do without an extra subwoofer. The bass is also not problematic, it is balanced and decent. It just lacks a little dynamism and impact, but you can live with that.
Compared to the Sonos Beam, which is probably the arch competitor, there is probably as much bass in the MultiBeam 700, and it also has the advantage of being able to play in pure stereo when the surround effect is turned off. Sonos Beam is locked to quasi-surround. If you also want an external subwoofer, the CitationSub Small costs only half the price of the Sonos Sub.
But if you only need a soundbar without a subwoofer, I still think Sonos Beam sounds better than MultiBeam 700. Maybe not on music, as I am a little allergic to the 3D sound. But Sonos has a softer, warmer sound and more pleasant overtones.
The Samsung HW-Q76R is much more powerful in every way, not least because it has a subwoofer as well. But it will be in a different price range.
If you need a soundbar for music, and do not want an external sub, then the Dali Katch One is a better buy than the Citation MultiBeam 700.
Harman Kardon Citation MultiBeam 700 is the full name of a beautiful and affordable soundbar, which looks very good in the living room. It is easy to use, whether you use it with a remote control or you stream music to it directly from your mobile. Either via Bluetooth or the network. Built-in Chromecast and AirPlay 2 satisfy most people’s needs for audio sources, and you can also talk to the soundbar and manage a Google Home-based smart home – in Norwegian.
The soundbar sounds clear, it has no ugly sounds anywhere. And it can definitely play loud enough in the TV room. It lacks a bit of dynamics, the midrange is a bit slim and the slightly sharp treble is best balanced in Music mode, also on film.
It will probably be much tougher if you hook on a subwoofer and add wireless rear speakers. But it will not help the resolution of the harmonics.
When you put together everything the MultiBeam 700 can, and how user-friendly it is, combined with the fact that there is much else in the price range that sounds more stuffy and bloated, this is a good buy.