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It is always great to see high end companies design products for the other end of the market.  They bring all of their experience, design capabilities, and quality with them when they move down market.  This brings the level up for everybody... product makers and end users!

The Sound Sticks II stereo speakers from Harman Kardon are no exception.  These speakers come in the satellite/subwoofer configuration borrowed from the high fidelity home speaker market.

The smaller satellite speakers handle the high frequencies and the subwoofer deals with the bass.  Since our ears can't tell which direction low frequencies come from (if you don't know why that is...go here, but basically our ears are not wide enough apart to detect the difference), one subwoofer is all that's needed.  The good part about this approach is the small speakers can go on the desk and the big subwoofer can be under the desk :-)

The satellites are on a heavy adjustible rubber coated base.  They will tilt and stay where you put them.  The clear acrylic case lets you see inside the unit...so HK took special care in making sure everything looked great!  Each "stick" has four 1" aluminium drivers.

Note the speaker grills, the sound port at the base, and the silver touch volume controls.  The designers and engineers clearly had a great time creating this product!

We should mention that this version of the Sound Sticks is analog and has a built in amplifier (20 Watts)... which means you can plug this into any device/mini plug (green plug in photo) jack that output sound (DVD player, CD player, laptop headphone jack, etc...)

The Harman Kardon usability folks gave a lot of thought into making the product easy to set up.  They could have used the same connectors for the left and right speaker, but they chose to go the more expensive route and made it easier for the user.  OK...one plug did need to have wires for the volume controls, but still it was a good reason to go ahead and use a different plug :-)

The left and right connectors are totally different... making it impossible to hook it up incorrectly.

As we had mentioned earlier, the sound from the subwoofer is omni-directional, meaning the unit can be placed anywhere.  It was too good looking to hide under a desk... we left it out so we can see the cool bluish purple power light.

We'll have some comments about the sound and other impressions in the FirstUse Review.  Check back in a couple of weeks!



Harman Kardon

Sound Sticks II

By Wan Chi Lau

Harman Kardon came out with the first version of the iSub back in 1999.  The iSub paired nicely with our Apple's Pro Speakers and Cinema Display.

In 2000, they came out with a set of matching satellite speakers called Sound Sticks. The Sound Sticks connected via USB making them "computers only". They also had no physical volume controls...the sound had to be adjusted via software.

After listening to feedback from their customers, Harmon Kardon released an updated version called Sound Sticks II.

In this review, we are going to take our FirstLook at the Sound Sticks II... the analog version of a set of speakers that belongs in a museum. 

Oh...they have them at MOMA? Nice!


1. First Look

2. First Use

3. In The Wild Report


Review Summary:

Initial Impression- Alien cool

Usability- Foolproof setup

Durability- Test in progress

Price- Amazing quality for the price


Photography by Wan Chi Lau
Rainy Day Magazine is a Publication of Rainy Day Entertainment Group © 2004