The use of metal end-plates enhances the sense of a premium product, with excellent overall build quality. However it's the full-colour LCD touchscreen that really grabs attention (even though it's not actually visible when sat down – but that's a good thing). It allows you to select features, choose outputs or control playback, and even displays album art when available.
However, while this 3.1-channel layout means that while the Citation Bar can handle both Dolby and DTS multichannel audio, it doesn't support object-based audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X (interwiki inconnu)
. Not only does it lack upward-firing drivers, but Harman has also chosen not to go the psychoacoustic route to create the illusion of immersive audio.
The Karman Kardon Citation Bar is excellent for a three-channel unit with no separate subwoofer – and clearly benefits from the company's acoustic experience. Overall there's a sophistication to the audio that matches the soundbar's equally stylish looks. As a result it sounds particularly good with music.
Listening to music
The Citation Bar delivers impressive stereo separation, with stereo imaging that delivers a wide front soundstage and precise placement of instruments. Thanks to well-specified speakers and plenty of amplification the result is a genuinely musical performance.
The mid-range is beautifully rendered, ensuring that vocals remain clear, while the higher frequencies are well defined, never sounding harsh or sibilant. The sound retains a pleasing clarity and detail as well, ensuring that most genres of music sound good.
The only downside is the lack of a dedicated subwoofer, which limits how deep this soundbar's sonic range output can go. So if you like your music heavy, you might be disappointed. However, for most people the Citation Bar will admirably fulfil its purpose as part of a multi-room music system.
Watching TV shows and movies
The Citation Bar is perfect for most TV shows, making full use of the three front channels to deliver an expansive and clearly defined soundstage. The soundbar utilises its width and musicality to allow background music to be effectively reproduced. It also incorporates its dedicated centre channel with skill, ensuring dialogue remains clear and focused on the screen.
Only one HDMI input
Samsung's California-based audio lab has been on a roll. In the last few years, the lab has helped the company put together the award-winning Samsung HW-M650, last year's powerful, Dolby Amtos-ready Samsung HW-N850, and now, the Samsung HW-Q70R, a soundbar designed to keep up with the Korean giant's 201QLED TVs.
The Samsung HW-Q70R delivers an impressive audio performance, with the kind of expansive and bold soundstage that lends itself to movies and games. When watching a film, the music is spread either side of the screen, and effects are placed with real precision across the front of the room, and dialogue is centred on the action.
The upward-firing speakers are also effective, creating the illusion that sounds are emanating from above you. Meanwhile the redesigned subwoofer gives the system a serious bass boost, although this low frequency slam is effectively integrated and never overpowering. The result is a veritable wall of sound at the front of the room.
Pop on a disc like Overlord and the film’s highly aggressive Dolby Atmos mix is delivered with all the force the system can muster. The opening parachute drop is a cacophony of sounds that surround the screen, creating a full-frontal assault. And yet within the chaos of war, dialogue always remains clear and focused.
Jurassic Park’s DTS:X (interwiki inconnu)
mix is a sublime masterclass in sound design, and the HW-Q70 is more than up to the task of delivering this dino-classic. The rain falls all around you as the T-Rex attacks, the sub gives each giant footstep genuine weight, and her roar is as visceral as it is loud. There’s no denying that this soundbar is sure to please any movie fan.
When it comes to immersive audio, the only limitation to the performance is front-heavy nature of the overall sound. In fairness this applies to any Atmos/DTS:X (interwiki inconnu)
soundbar that doesn’t use rear speakers, but it does mean the soundstage only extends into the first third of the room. Of course you can always buy the optional wireless speakers if you want to fill out the rear channels.
The various sound modes are disabled when the soundbar is decoding an Atmos or DTS:X (interwiki inconnu)
mix, but they can be very useful with less immersive content. The Adaptive Sound mode proved particularly effective at enhancing just about any content, rendering dialogue in more detail and giving the crowds in sports broadcasts greater presence.
The same goes for the Surround mode, which can take content and use the overhead channels, to create a more enveloping experience. The Game Pro mode is equally as impressive, thrusting you into the world of whatever you’re playing. A cheeky session of Red Dead Redemption II had us swatting flies from our face and diving for cover as bullets ricocheted around the room.
No doubt thanks to Harman Kardon’s involvement, the HW-Q70R is also a great soundbar when it comes to music. Select the Standard sound mode, and it will deliver two-channel audio with surprising subtlety. Listen to Kate Bush and her vocals are delivered without sounding bright, put on some Nick Cave and the sub adds more gravel to his voice.
Speaking of competitors, however, the Sony HT-ZFremains a good choice, especially if you’re on a budget. This soundbar and wireless sub combo, which can be picked up for around £650 also supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X (interwiki inconnu)
. However it doesn’t use upward-firing speakers, relying instead on psychoacoustic trickery to create an immersive experience from 3.channels.
The most obvious direct competitor comes in the form of the LG SL8YG. In fact it’s almost identical with a 3.1.2-channel configuration, plus support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X (interwiki inconnu)
. In terms of differences the tuning is by Meridian, there’s Chromecast, and LG offers Google Assistant built-in. The wireless sub isn’t as big, but considering its £100 less it’s certainly worth consideration.
Fill The Room With Awesome Sound
The Harman Kardon SB2succeeds incredibly well to differentiate the different types of weapons and ammunitions being used. Instead of lots of noise you can actually hear whether it´s a handgun, a shotgun or an assault rifle, which makes the whole scene a lot more real.
Simultaneously, the radio communication between the SWATs is crystal clear. Even small details can be heard and placed, and it manages to retain the dynamics between background music and on-screen action perfectly. No matter how chaotic the soundscape is, it sounds accurate and ensures that any dialogue remains very clean and intelligible. Overall, it sounds very dynamic and the virtual surround sound works very well..