Harman Kardon is taking on Sonos with its new multiroom streaming devices. The new Harman Kardon Omni speakers and Adapt wireless adapter put your phone at the heart of your home's music system, streaming tunes over Wi-Fi to speakers placed in different rooms -- and helping the music follow you as you move from room to room.
The first devices in the Omni range are the Omni 10 and Omni 20 wireless speakers. The Omni 10 packs two 25w speakers and the Omni 20 four 15W speakers to get the party started.
The speakers can be placed in different rooms, and you can play different music on each one or jump into party mode and play the same song everywhere. To keep the music following you as you move from room to room, all you have to do is press the link button on top of each speaker as you move into a new room.
Alternatively you can put a couple of speakers together in one room for stereo sound. Or, hey, why not go crazy and buy several to create a full multi-channel speaker system -- handy for those HD movies with 5.1 surround sound.
One issue with wireless systems is that it's harder to send lots of data through the air than it is to send it down a cable. The Omni system, however, supports 24-bit, 96kHz audio streaming so your sounds don't lose any nuance when zapping through the air instead of along a wire.
The speakers are controlled by the Harman Kardon Controller app for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Simply drag and drop tunes from your library to play them on a particular speaker. The app also enables you to group speakers or control them individually, adjusting the master volume or the sound coming from specific speakers.
As well as Wi-Fi, the speakers have Bluetooth and auxiliary inputs so you can stream from sources other than your library or streaming services, like YouTube for example.
If you already have a home stereo setup you're pretty pleased with, the Harman Kardon Adapt is a wireless adapter that plugs into your existing kit and connects it to the wireless network. Once plugged in, you can wirelessly stream not just the downloads on your phone, but music from any source. That includes, as a f'instance, your vinyl record player, so you can combine the warmth and nuance of vinyl with the high-tech convenience of wireless streaming.
The Harman Kardon Adapt will cost £100 in the UK/€130 in Europe/$129.95 in the US (this converts directly to AU$230). The Omni 10 and Omni 20 will cost £160/$199.95 (AU$280) and £250/$299.95 (AU$435) respectively, and come to the UK from mid October. The system will come to the US in the first few months of 2015.