This week, we will be reviewing the Harman Kardon Omni 10 and Omni 20 speakers from the Harman Kardon Omni series, along with the (optional) network adapter Harman Kardon Adapt. These multiroom speakers are controlled via an Android and iOS smartphone or tablet app capable of creating a multiroom wireless system from a variety of digital and analog sources: web radios, Deezer, Qobuz and MP3 or FLAC audio files for example. These multiroom speakers are amongst the most compact on the market thanks to their passive radiator technology.
Harman Kardon Omni: Functions
Each Harman Kardon Omni speaker features an analog line input and so does the network player. The idea is to be able to connect a stereo source (portable player, MP3, computer, record player with integrated preamp, etc.) in order to stream music to one or several speakers in the house. The transmission is carried out with a lossless CD quality compression. Nevertheless, the most enjoyable listening experience is when using a digital source handled by the Harman Kardon Controller app (iOS or Android).
The app offers acces to a selection of web radios, Qobuz and Deezer online music services (paying subscription required) as well as files stored on your smartphone or tablet. Note that the app can be installed on several devices. Each Harman Kardon Omni speaker features a Bluetooth receiver and can therefore be paired with a smartphone or tablet.
Harman Kardon Omni: acoustic design
The Harman Kardon Omni 10 and Omni 20 are two-way speakers featuring a 3.5″ bass/medium driver as well as a 1/2″ tweeter for the former and two 3″ drivers as well as two 1/2″ tweeters for the latter. Each speaker uses a passive radiator to expand its frequency response in the lower end of the spectrum. This radiator features a relatively heavy membrane in order to obtain a significant amount of bass, despite the small size of each speaker.
Harman Kardon Omni: configuration
The Harman Kardon Controller app (can be downloaded for free on the Apple Store or Google Play Store) lets you assign one or several speakers to one or several rooms. When in the same room, two identical speakers (two Omni 10 for example) can work in stereo.
Harman Kardon Omni: HD audio playback
Harman Kardon announces the compatibility of its products with files coded in 24 bits and 96 kHz. We were able to verify this by playing Daft Punk’s album from Qobuz coded in 24 bits and 88.2 kHz simultaneously on an Omni 10 and Omni 20. We noted that pausing then resuming playback would imply a slight delay, the Omni 20 speaker took about ten seconds to resume playback. This phenomenon is not as distinct with CD quality audio stream (web radios, Deezer …).
Harman Kardon Omni: Follow Me mode
Like its name indicates, this technology allows the music to follow the listener. Of course it is not automatic, but simply pressing a button on a Harman Kardon Omni speaker lets you listen to a track you started listening to on another speaker.
Harman Kardon Omni: sound performance
Be sure to set up the volume correctly! We didn’t pay attention to the set sound level for the Omni 10 (which was set at 42 out of 50) and slightly jumped when the speaker started playing very saturated music. After setting up the volume correctly, the Harman Kardon Omni 10 and Omni 20 speakers deliver a rather well balanced sound. The use of the passive radiator results in a perfectly satisfying bass level. It goes without saying that this is not hifi sound, but it is more than enough for background music. The Omni 10 is slightly less balanced than the Omni 20, a little more shy in the higher end of the sound spectrum, even though it still dominates over other frequencies, which results in a bright sound signature. Placing speakers correctly is very important and will have a significant impact on their performance. For example, if the Omni 10 is placed right next to a wall, it will produce more bass than the Omni 20 when placed in the middle of a living room.
These small speakers controlled by a very intuitive app are easy to handle and enjoyable to listen to at moderate level.