Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 audio system review

The most beautiful PC speakers are back!

I bought the first Harman Kardon SoundSticks in 2010. I chose the system solely because of the design – I saw it in the pictures next to the transparent iMac G3. I liked it. I wanted such a setup myself. At that time, it was the second generation of speakers. They served me faithfully for a long time – the left “stick” had to be glued once, but there were no other questions about the device. Perfect design, good sound quality, easy connection, and, after all, everyone knows “sound sticks,” the system has become a cult over the years. Found some stock photos of people using SoundSticks. Here they are, along with the Apple monitor:

Or here’s an example of use with a laptop:

Transparent iMac – looking at it and creating the first SoundSticks:

Here’s an excellent example of how all the wires were hidden:

That is why it was curious to get acquainted with the fourth version of the popular system. Let’s unpack it and listen to it soon!

Yes, I almost forgot, our illustrator saw this system like this:

Design

I want to scold you a little for the packaging: every detail, every cable is wrapped in cellophane, wrapped with tape – and then there is only one option, cut with a knife. And this must be done very carefully so as not to hurt the system. I was also surprised that there was no audio cable included. I had to look for some option at the studio frantically. I recommend that you do not do this and buy the right audio cable.

Installation is simple: the cables are built into the speakers; all you have to do is plug them into the subwoofer. Please note that the sub should be placed not like me, but only on the floor. And the speakers are best spread further on the table to create the right sound field.

There is only one minus in the whole structure: there are a lot of cables. You say: well, what can you do, it’s an audio system for a computer. Alas, you’re right. Even if you put in wireless Sonos or Bose, they still need power cables. And if you put the KEF LSX, as it was done in my house, next to the PC, then there is one more cable – the speakers are also connected with a cable for better sound transmission.

So do not believe all the beautiful pictures when a computer, a mouse, speakers are standing alone on the table, and there is not a single cable around – this means that they were hidden. I’ve been drowning for WiFi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 for a hundred years now, and then I can’t get rid of the wires – they overtake me. And let it be so, okay. That is why I did not bother to lay cables somehow and just took photos for you as it is.

If you remember the second version, then the changes are apparent. Instead of bagels under the speakers, heavy stands with a rubber base. Transparent plastic with an interesting texture, not a trace of glue anywhere, right assembly – the speakers look great next to the iMac. There are a minimum of buttons on the subwoofer. In general, two connection scenarios are possible: using a cable and via Bluetooth. The first option is preferable for the iMac, simply because it is the most reliable and predictable way. Well, it’s better to connect a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth.

There is no remote control included; the volume is controlled from the computer. In general, there is nothing special to add here – a person with any level of training will connect these speakers and immediately start using them for music, games, or movies. By the way, everything is fine in the iMac with built-in speakers, but I’m thinking of buying SoundSticks 4 for my dad for the New Year, he is unlikely to read this article, but he will certainly appreciate the gift.

In addition to the white system, there is a black translucent plastic set – a wonderful thing, perfect for an iMac Pro. The bottom line for the design as a whole is straightforward: the system is timeless, looks excellent, and it will last forever. Unlike other computer systems, there is something beautiful, unusual about SoundSticks.

Sound

The volume headroom in the iMac 2020 is vast; there are no questions at all. Both me and all colleagues liked the sound – there is enough bass and middle, well, and listening to vocal parts on such a system ATTENTIVELY is such entertainment. In general, what should acoustics do for a computer? To create a mood, to behave correctly in games and films. We tried all this with colleagues – and everyone, as they say, got it. No wheezing at high volume, no falsity or dips, the picture is charming and energetic. The subwoofer behaves correctly and does not crush bass but instead adds emotion.

Verdict

I hope Harman Kardon will continue to update the system, and in a couple of years, we will see SoundSticks 5 (unless, of course, we burn out in a nuclear fire) – of course, we would like AirPlay 2, but then the price will go up. And is it necessary? It has a completely understandable and familiar format, excellent price, great design, and good sound quality. What more could you want? Honestly, I do not know. Alas, it would help if you didn’t wait to get rid of the cables.

If you are looking for an inexpensive system for a computer or even a laptop – be sure to listen. Look somewhere in the store. An outstanding item, pleased to use it again, I recommend it to you too.

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