It has been coming for a while but, with the introduction of the Harman Kardon OMNI+, brings Wireless, Multi-Room True HD, I think Harman Kardon is truly ready to take over and dominate the multi-room audio market. As one would expect, the new OMNI+ speakers bring HK’s audio prowess to a variety of rooms. That, however, is just the beginning.
During CES 2016 we spent time at the Harman Pavilion (you can’t call it a booth!) and were impressed with much of what we saw. Personally, I’m most excited about the Omni+. It is, “a Wi-Fi enabled HD home audio system that is elegantly designed from the inside out and delivers the most vibrant Hi-Definition sound.”
As Michael Mauser, president of the Lifestyle Division at HARMAN notes:
The Harman Kardon Omni+ line is unique in its true HD sound quality, versatility, and functionality. Customers want to stream from many different sources, control their speakers from their phone or tablet and have one system to meet all of their needs. Whether they want one speaker or five, this Harman Kardon home audio system provides the best in wireless HD sound quality and access to all the content they care about.
As you may know, if you read the site, while I am a huge fan of HARMAN products, whether they come from HK, JBL, or AKG, I’ve long been an evangelist of another company’s multi-room system. Thing is, I like the way HARMAN tunes its products, love the aesthetic they bring to the space, and appreciate the fact that they are the true leaders in the audio market. If innovation is going to come to the audio market it is more than likely that it will come from HARMAN or on of their companies. As a result, the idea of switching over to an OMNI+ multi-room system from my current system is rather attractive to me. The big hesitation would be, of course, the expense. But I’m starting to think it might be worth doing. So let’s take a look at the various elements of the system and their pricing.
First, let’s see how HARMAN describes the system.
- Access All Your Music: The Harman Kardon Omni+ lineup boasts a wealth of streaming services including Google Cast for Audio, Spotify Connect, as well as other key services like MixRadio, Deezer, Qobuz, and Tidal in addition to stored local content on any device accessible via the Harman Kardon Controller App. With Google Cast for Audio, hundreds of streaming services can be accessed, including Google Play Music, Pandora, TuneIn Radio, Rhapsody, and many more, allowing customers to listen to what they want, how they want, all in HD sound.
- True HD Sound: The Harman Kardon Omni+ offers true lossless high-definition music streaming (24-bit/192KHz) for a superior audio experience at a higher resolution than a CD, allowing for a listening experience that delivers more clarity and the detailed nuances of a performance.
- Highest Level of Stability and Performance: With support for 802.11ac 2.4GHz and 5GHz high-speed networks, the Omni+ provides consumers a faster, higher quality connection with more stability and less chance of interference.
- Easy to Setup, Easy to Use: The Omni+ line supports quick setup, including Apple WAC, so consumers can spend less time configuring their system and more time enjoying amazing Harman Kardon sound. Each product also supports Bluetooth and auxiliary audio inputs that can be restreamed to any Omni speaker in the home. And with the Link button, music follows consumers from room to room at the touch of a button.
The Omni+ ecosystem provides a complete multichannel surround sound home audio system. The line includes a number of different speakers. Each has a different price point. In the system is the Omni 10+, the Omni 20+, and the Omni Bar+. It also includes the Adapt+ so speakers you already own can become part of the larger system and, for those who want to have a portable speaker that can be used at home but taken with you on the go there is also the Omni 50+. It is rated as IPX5 so it is splashproof and has outdoor capabilities.
The idea with a system like this is that someone can purchase one OMNI+ speaker and then slowly add more speakers to the system. With each purchase, the buyer can then add sound to another room and add then choose to either stream the same music everywhere in their home or have different music playing in different rooms.
Another feature worth noting is that the OMNI+ system can also create a complete multi-channel surround sound system (either 2.1 or 5.1) so the system you already own can be turned into a full-theater surround sound that provides an amazing HD experience.
When introducing the new Omni+ system, the company also redesigned Harman Kardon Controller app. Available for both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets it presents an interface specifically designed for the system. It makes setting up the Omni+ a simple and quick process and makes streaming music to your system easier than ever. The app lets you control speakers separately or choose to group rooms together. Party Mode is one feature in the new app. It lets you play the same music throughout the house.
The Harman Kardon Omni+ is:
- Bluetooth Enabled
- Supplies Multi-Room Music Streaming
- Offers Spotify Connect and Google Cast support
- Delivers Hi-Res Audio (24-bit/192kHz)
- Has 5GHz Wi-Fi Support
- Can Provide Multichannel Surround sound (2.1 & 5.1)
- Has an AUX Input
The Omni Bar+ also has an optical connection, an HDMI connection, and provides Harman Display Surround and Dolby Digital Decoding.
Pricing begins at $249 for the Omni 10+ and goes to $999 for the Omni Bar+. The middle of the range is the Omni 20+ and is $349. The battery-enabled portable Omni 50+ $499.
HARMAN also understands that people like me already own some speakers we love and may not want to give them up. To address that issue they have also created the Omni Adapt+. It costs $199 and puts any speaker on the system.
The system looks great and promises to provide a terrific multi-room audio experience. That’s just the beginning, however. You see, HARMAN is also committed to taking this system to the next level and providing the opportunity for it to be part of a truly connected home. That’s something we will cover in a post tomorrow but trust me, you will be impressed with what the company is looking to do.
All Harman/Kardon Omni+ speakers will be available this summer, 2016, at Harman Kardon.