Harman Kardon Citation Oasis REVIEW – a 21st-century clock radio
A respected audio brand refashions the humble clock radio for a new century. We discover the Citation Oasis and its Google Assistant in bed with PAT PILCHER.
Digital clock radios have been telling the time in bedrooms world over for forever, haven’t they? Well, it certainly seems like it.
But clock radios are inherently boring. We just take them for granted. They just do their job. We don’t think about them. Is there any way that the tried and trusted clock radio can be rebooted, re-rubbed and reborn? Is innovation even a remote possibility?
Harman Kardon is a trusted audiophile brand that has gone through many changes – both in orientation and ownership – and has kept up with the times with its current roster of high-tech sonic gadgetry.
The Citation Oasis is the end result of a bright idea someone in the design chain had to give the humble clock radio a makeover. And yes, it’s now a smart speaker with Google Assistant, Chromecast and Apple AirPlay all on board. Is there anything the Google Assistant can’t do? For sure, but it’s capable of more than most of us could imagine. For instance, it’ll set reminders and alarms, get weather forecasts and answer vexing questions. It’ll even conjure up YouTube or music on Spotify.
Getting the Google Assistant going requires you have the Google Home app on a smartphone. The app will discover the Oasis and do all the configuring for you, making the whole setup process a pain-free undertaking.
With Bluetooth, Chromecast and Apple AirPlay baked in, you can also stream music to the Oasis from your smartphone. Handy.
As you’d expect with a clock radio, there’s a built-in AM/FM radio (the antennae socket is around the back) and four pre-sets so you can save your favourite stations. Around the front sits a large white LED display. While it isn’t a touchscreen, it does show the date and time as well as what function is currently in use.
The Oasis has a Qi-compatible wireless charger on its top. This handily allows you to plop your phone down, where it’ll charge while you visit the land of nod. As handy as wireless charging is, it is slow. For overnight charging, however, it’s perfectly fine. Also located on the top are controls for pausing/playing music, snoozing the alarm, accessing radio stations, volume, source selection and skipping streamed tracks.
If your phone doesn’t support wireless charging (or you want more speedy charging), Harman Kardon has got you covered. There’s a USB port around its back with which you can charge your phone using a wired connection. If you’re worried about Google spying on your pillow talk, the Google Assistant microphone can be muted. The brightness of the display can also be dimmed (it is kind of bright), so it isn’t so intrusive at night. Then there’s the intriguing Night Wi-Fi switch which disables Wi-Fi between midnight and 6am. I guess this beats wearing tinfoil undies.
Design-wise, the Oasis is designed to blend in. To this end, its sides are decked out in a grey mesh Kvadrat wool fabric while the rest of the unit is done out in a clean grey/white finish. Its curved design also gives it a less harsh look that allows it to fit in with most home décor.
Another 2021 design tweak are the sonics. Where most digital clock/radios sound like my nana’s transistor radio, the Oasis belts it out. Even though it has smallish dual 6W speakers, its output sounds a hell of a lot bigger than its small physical footprint would have you believe. If that isn’t enough, the Oasis can pair with any other Harman Kardon Citation speakers to boost its audio output or to become part of a multi-room audio setup.
In terms of supported audio formats, the Oasis plays almost anything, including HE-AAC, LC-AAC, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC and Opus.
Overall, its audio quality wasn’t too bad, considering we are talking about a clock radio. Highs were clear, mids warm. While its bass output won’t shake any plaster out of the ceiling of your bedroom, it’s ample for a clock radio.
Unlike most clock radios with which you are stuck with the radio or an angry BEEEEEP BEEEEEP alarm in the morning, the Oasis can play audio from different sources. AM and FM radio are complemented with internet radio. You can stream audio or play it via a wired external source thanks to the USB port around the back. If analogue really is your thing, there is also an old school auxiliary input.
Driving it is a doddle. If you already own smart speakers or an android phone, you’ll be instantly at home. You can pause/play music, skip to the next song and tweak volume levels or handier still, drive the various compatible smart home widgets scattered around your home using your voice. Given its ability to play nice with most audio formats, it worked like a charm with Spotify and YouTube Music. Like most clock radios, its physical controls are not always the most intuitive. To this end, I was grateful for the bundled manual that was both simple and concise.
If you’re want to bring the clock radio beside your bed into the 21st century, the Oasis is definitely worth checking out.