Anyone who has read my previous "Do I need a soundbar?" blog will know that I'm rather fond of the MB700 which has been around for a little while, but as a soundbar for only £450 I think it represents great value for money and is a much better performer than some of the TV manufacturer soundbars that sell for a couple of hundred pounds.
So here is its bigger brother, which was hinted at quite a long time ago when the old HK Citation Bar was discontinued, but unfortunately due to chip and Covid-19 delays it was very late arriving as a product. However, now that it's readily available it's time to see what going from a £450 soundbar to a £799 soundbar will really gain you.
First of all, it is physically quite lot wider than the MB700 and looks much more in keeping with our 55" TV in the shop; and of course being bigger, it has room for more drive units and gives a wider dispersion on its side-firing psuedo-surround speakers.
To set up the MB1100 the process is quite simple. Download the Google Home app to your preferred tablet or smartphone, and then once your soundbar is powered up Google will autodetect that it is in need of first time set up. Following through this process, it will add the soundbar to your wifi and then do its software update. At this stage, you can also add in music streaming services that could then be controlled by Google.
Connecting the TV to the MB1100 with an HDMI from the eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) output of the TV to the eARC input on the bar is very simple, and most TVs will then autodetect that they have a soundbar connected and then disable the internal speakers. (The MB700 only has ARC and not eARC)
Using just the MB1100, vocals are crisp and clear and when there is music going on in the content the vocals are not lost underneath like on some TVs or soundbars. The Surround mode on the MB1100 gives a really quite impressive surround effect, leaving you feeling immersed in the movie even though you are operating from just the soundbar. Bass levels and scale feel very solid for a single unit and then when you add in the Sub S, the smallest of Harmon Kardon Citation wireless subwoofers, it allows the MB1100 to focus its efforts on everything else. It spends less energy driving the bass units and diverts that effort to the subwoofer, and in doing so the whole soundstage opens up even more and the system gains a depth and punch that it could not achieve with just the bar.
Playing some music through the MB1100, it is clear to see that you do get what you pay for: the MB700 is pretty good with music and better than any TV or entry level soundbar, but the MB1100 provides a decent dose of musicality. It is not as a good as an entry level HiFi system, but then that takes up a lot more room and does not offer the simplicity of a soundbar that just comes on with the TV and is ready to go.
You can also add the Citation Surrounds to the MB1100 and the Sub S, making it into a full wireless surround package. Or, if you really want to push the boat out, you can add the Citation Towers, making the system into a full 5.1 System and leaving the MB1100 to just be a centre speaker for a complete theatre system.
At the time of writing this review, the MB1100 and Sub S are at a special promo price until the 16th December where you can buy the MB1100 for £799 and get the Sub S for free. This offer is available on both black and grey finishes. At this price, this makes the MB1100 a staggering performer for the money and better than anything else I have heard at this price point.
If you would like to hear the MB1100 by itself or with the Sub S, then please email email@example.com or give us a call on 01507499047 to make an appointment, or pop in to see us in our cosy Lincolnshire showroom.
Try to stay warm in this freezing weather, and enjoy your music and films.
John | General Manager