Harman Kardon Soundsticks 4

“A traditional design up to date for contemporary instances, the Soundsticks Four sound nice.”

  • Traditional but up to date styling
  • Heat, approachable sound
  • LED in subwoofer is a pleasant contact
  • Helps Bluetooth and three.5mm jack
  • Nice worth
  • Subwoofer has to take a seat in your desk
  • No EQ adjustment choices
  • Doesn’t ship with an aux cable

The Harman/Kardon Soundsticks are traditional. I can’t say I personally owned any of the prior iterations which were launched relationship again so far as the yr 2000, however I can say I knew somebody who did. In faculty, these had been the pc audio system to personal.

However 20 years after they first hit the market and with some updates to maintain them related, how do the brand new $300 anniversary version Harman/Kardon Soundsticks Four maintain up? The design is exclusive and largely unchanged for the reason that unique, however how nicely do they work and, extra importantly, how do they sound? Let’s get into it.

Out of the field

The Soundsticks Four are packaged very merely, and I’d argue it is a good factor. Although they launched initially together with the iMac again in 2000, Harman/Kardon has not appeared to proceed on the packaging pattern Apple is on with arduous cardboard and a ton of plastic. Whereas there’s some right here, the primary field and inside packaging is all customary cardboard and foam, which stored the Soundsticks secure of their travels to me. It’s not notably sustainable packaging, however it’s not the more serious we’ve encountered both.

Jaron Schneider / Digital Developments

The Soundsticks Four ship with a left and proper four-driver speaker unit, the subwoofer, an influence cable, and that’s it. Contemplating these are laptop audio system at first, I discovered it odd that Harman/Kardon didn’t ship these with a 3.5mm audio aux cable, particularly for the reason that Soundsticks Four settle for the arduous line-in. Out of the field, the one quick connection choice you could have is Bluetooth, which works however to me isn’t perfect. Certain, I like Bluetooth, however as a video editor in a previous life, I’ve a tough time trusting wi-fi connections when participating in essential listening. Tv firms have set themselves up in order that it’s well-known that you simply don’t sometimes get an HDMI cable within the field, however laptop audio system don’t have any such expectation. For those who’re going to supply the enter, present the cable.

Clear vibes

Jaron Schneider / Digital Developments

If you weren’t accustomed to the Soundsticks previous to this model, they’ve at all times had this clear construct to them that initially appeared nice for the time and particularly with the iMac they had been designed to pair with. However 20 years later, the emphasis on utilizing see-through plastic with electronics has considerably light. It’s not a nasty look by any means, however in 2020 the design aesthetic is extraordinarily unusual and sure polarizing.

For instance, on a video name with the Soundsticks within the background behind me, somebody legitimately requested me in the event that they had been a humidifier.

Due to the white and grey used all through, I believe the design has aged fairly nicely.

However I form of like them. Subsequent to a 27-inch iMac, I personally suppose they don’t look dangerous in any respect. In comparison with the unique, the Soundsticks Four use considerably extra non-transparent elements, which excellently body the clear items. I believe if this whole system was as see-through as the unique again within the yr 2000, it could be fairly garish, however due to the white and grey used all through, I believe the design has aged fairly nicely.

Jaron Schneider / Digital Developments

Tabletop in thoughts

Harman/Kardon continued a curious design selection with these: All three items are very clearly meant to take a seat on high of your desk. The left and proper speaker models don’t have any controls on them to talk of. As a substitute, these are situated on the back and front of the subwoofer. Quantity, which I suppose you would simply management out of your laptop, is toggled by two raised white buttons on the entrance of the sub, whereas the ability and Bluetooth join buttons are discovered round again. Moreover, altering quantity, powering on, or connecting to a Bluetooth system all produce a distinct glow from the LEDs contained in the subwoofer, which suggests you’re very clearly meant to see it illuminate, which you in all probability wouldn’t discover if it was within the typical subwoofer place of on the ground below the desk.

Jaron Schneider / Digital Developments

I suppose the thought is that you wouldn’t need to “conceal” the subwoofer below the desk due to the design, however it’s not notably sensible. The sub is sort of massive, which suggests it is going to occupy an enormous portion of your desk house. I don’t find out about all of you on the market, however my desk isn’t notably expansive. It’s massive, however if you put my laptop computer stand, my monitor, and my podcasting microphone up, there isn’t numerous room left for different objects. The left and proper speaker arrays are fortunately fairly skinny and simple to cover, however the subwoofer goes to take up numerous house. The sub can also be highly effective, which suggests you undoubtedly can really feel it shaking the desk when it performs music. I’m not an enormous fan of that after I’m attempting to work.

For those who had been contemplating simply inserting it on the ground, you would however know the sound high quality will degrade. I’ll get into the breakdown of sound high quality within the subsequent part however know that I examined the sound with the sub each on the desk and beneath it, and the audio high quality was noticeably worse with the sub on the ground.

Soundsticks sound good

I’ll level out the shortage of an aux cable and the necessity to have all three elements sitting on a desk, however all that is perhaps price it for the audio high quality: The Soundsticks Four sound fabulous.

The Soundsticks Four sound fabulous.

I used to be truthfully shocked how good the sound high quality was out of what appeared to me to be skinny, small arrays. Certain, that they had 4 drivers apiece, however being so small, might they actually do this a lot? Properly, not solely are they doing lots, they’re wealthy and full sounding in ways in which appear to defy their svelte design.

Jaron Schneider / Digital Developments

Sagres by The Final Man on Earth comes via full and detailed, with the nuanced lyrics mixing superbly with the bass. The Decemberists’ As soon as in My Life is my go-to for choosing out detailed vocal audio, and whereas it’s not excellent, the Soundsticks Four do a really respectable job replicating the lead singer’s excessive timbres-focused voice. These audio system undoubtedly put extra emphasis on the lows and the mids than the highs, however the result’s a really heat and wealthy sound, although barely much less detailed than different audio system and audio tools. Of their worth vary and particularly for laptop audio system, I actually like what I’m listening to out of them.

As talked about, the bass appears to do a a lot better job filling out audio when it’s situated on the identical stage because the left and proper audio system. Inserting the subwoofer on the ground made music sound noticeably much less wealthy.

For those who limit the Soundsticks with decrease quantity, they aren’t notably good at presenting balanced EQ.

I additionally seen that when the Soundsticks Four are enjoying at lower than half their max quantity, sound high quality worsens. For those who limit the Soundsticks with decrease quantity, they aren’t notably good at presenting balanced EQ.

Talking of EQ, the SoundSticks don’t provide a technique to handle that in any respect. That is usually OK, as a result of the Soundsticks sound fairly nice proper out of the field, however I do miss having the ability to tune it to my preferences. The bass is noticeable, however it’s not going to knock you out of your seat. If you would like unbelievable, teeth-rattling bass our of your laptop audio system, it is best to in all probability look elsewhere.

Since it is a Bluetooth speaker, should you’re utilizing Spotify on cellular, you possibly can change the EQ within the settings there, however I discovered boosting the settings there truly appeared to push the Soundsticks Four an excessive amount of, and there was numerous dangerous audio cracking occurring. What I heard was akin to audio sign peaking, and it was like they had been unable to compensate for the digital sign that was pushing them too far. I blame this extra on Spotify than I do the Soundsticks, however on condition that I don’t have any technique to modify sound another manner, the expertise was disappointing.

Our take

The Harman/Kardon Soundsticks Four are a improbable twist on a traditional design, with simply sufficient updates to make them slot in 2020 with out breaking too removed from the traditional look. Except for what quantities to a couple small flaws, they sound improbable and signify nice worth for the asking worth.

Are there different choices?

For those who’re actually craving the traditional look the Soundsticks Four convey to the desk, it’s going to be arduous to seek out one thing comparable. For those who don’t thoughts one thing extra understated, I truly actually like my Edifier R1700BT audio system. They aren’t suitable with a devoted subwoofer, nonetheless. Equally, in our greatest laptop audio system roundup, we additionally advocate Aperion Allaire or the Audioengine A2+. You’re going to seek out these all are available a bit cheaper than the Soundsticks, however none of them ship with a subwoofer both.

How lengthy will they final?

Regardless that they’re product of practically fully plastic (not less than on the skin), they really feel sturdy. On condition that they shouldn’t transfer round a lot, I’d count on these to final for years.

Must you purchase them?

Sure, if this type is your factor. They sound nice, and though you’re going to must make numerous room in your desk to help them, they’re price it for the sound and aesthetics.

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