Harman Kardon Citation One hands-on: A better alternative to the Google Home Max


Have you been eying the Google Home Max for some time, but still can’t convince yourself to shell over $300 to pick up the Google Assistant powered smart speaker? Well, there’s an alternative that you should know about that’ll save you the money without sacrificing much with everything else. The Harman Kardon Citation One is a robust and comparable speaker that costs $200, which still packs everything you want in a serious at home speaker.

Right away, the size of the Citation One indicates that it’s serious about the audio performance. Sporting a premium industrial design that actually doesn’t deviate all that much from the contemporary style that Google has gone after with its speakers, the Citation One features a wool fabric made by Kvadrat and wraps around the entire body. Not only does it give the speaker a natural look and feel, but the material is also dirt repellent and flame retardant. It’s a clean looking design for the most part, since there’s only a touch sensitive panel on its top for quick access to some functions – while LEDs are hidden just behind the wool fabric near the top. Underneath is where the power chord connects, in addition to a master reset button and a USB Type-C port for servicing.

The setup process is identical to any Google Assistant powered speaker. Using the Google Home app for Android we’re able to quickly and easily connect the Citation One to our Wi-Fi network. And since it’s powered by Google Assistant, it responds to our voice commands after speaking the usual “Hey Google” phrase. From asking what the weather is like outside, to checking out the traffic conditions to our commute, it delivers the same intelligent responses we’ve come to expect from Google Assistant. Being always connected is great, but we do appreciate that Bluetooth is available to directly connect it to a mobile device.

Now, if you love rich and heart pounding audio, then you won’t be disappointed by the Citation One’s audio performance. The bass that’s produced by the speaker is substantial, easily producing a rumble when it’s place on a glass countertop. Whether it’s placed in a tiny office or placed alongside your home entertainment center in the living room, the Harman Kardon Citation One fills the air with rich and vibrant audio. Seriously, its performance rivals Apple’s HomePod, so you won't be disappointed by what it produces.

As we mentioned at the beginning, the advantage of the Citation One over Google’s Home Max speaker is that it’s $100 less in price. Most people would be hesitant about pulling the trigger on a smart speaker at $300, but the $200 priced Citation One is an easier sell – one that doesn’t have any compromises either!

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