* Prices may differ from that shown
I had been looking for some new speakers for a while and had looked around all the usual shops I could think of but nothing was catching my eye. As they were going to be sitting on my desk in full view to anyone in the room I was looking for something that had a bit of design and wasn't just discrete (i.e. boring) black.
I happened across the Harman Kardon SoundStick speakers when browsing amazon and couldn't believe that they fell within my price range as in pictures they looked so much more expensive and like something that you would see in some high end loft. I read the reviews and as most people were positive about them I decided to buy them without having seen them in the flesh hoping that they would look as good in the flesh as they did in the pictures.
~~~~~~~~~~ Arriving and setting them up ~~~~~~~~~~
I needn't have worried about the speakers not looking as flash in the flesh as they did on pictures as they looked every bit as good and in fact I actually think they looked better in the flesh. They feel and look so much more premium than I would normally expect for the price I paid for them. The speakers come in three parts with a large dome subwoofer and two speaker 'sticks'. It is hard to describe these properly and the picture does a much better job than I ever could but I absolutely love the futuristic design and the transparent polycarbonate with exposed wiring looks modern yet industrial at the same time. I have never seen speakers that look like these before and for me they are an absolutely brilliant example of how design should be used to improve the look the everyday items around the home. These take pride of place on my desk and everyone who sees them asks me about them.
Setting the speakers up was simple and I appreciated this as I hate technology that is fiddly and complicated. When I buy something I want to just get it home and plug and play without carrying on for hours setting things up.
With these speakers cables are at a minimum (though unfortunately they are still needed) and setting them up basically just involves plugging in the subwoofer and then attaching the speaker sticks to the woofer and you are pretty much ready to go with using the speakers for a variety of different electronic devices. The speakers attach to devices with a 3.5 jack so they will fit desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets etc. I mainly use mine to connect them to my laptop and my mobile phone and this is a simple and hassle free process and once the speakers are plugged in you can connect to devices in a matter of seconds.
~~~~~~~~~~ The sound ~~~~~~~~~~
These may look amazing but they wouldn't be of much use if the sound was bad. Luckily the sound quality matches the look of the speakers and is both loud and rich and enhances music and audio rather than just making it louder and showing up all its flaws. The quality is certainly there to show compared with speakers which cost £30 as you would expect considering these are more expensive. I have has Bose speakers before which were considerably more expensive than these ones and to my ear there is no noticeable difference when it comes to sound quality.
The subwoofer offers really deep bass which can be adjusted for either your own preference or else in respect to your neighbours.
Music actually sounds clearer though these than it does through my headphones and the clarity is excellent. They don't go quite as loud as I might sometimes want but they are loud enough that I can play some music through these and hear it from upstairs and as I have neighbours I probably couldn't go any louder without either being evicted or else damaging my hearing.
I quite like audio books as I find them relaxing but I find that I cannot properly enjoy the experience and relax comfortably with headphones in so I have started listening to books through these speakers hooked up to my phone and it's been a revelation as they have really helped the book come alive and the actors voice has so much more projection and any background noises are really amplified that I can actually immerse myself more in the book and really concentrate on it and it feels as though the story comes much more to life.
All my music these days tends to be digital copies and not all of it comes from a reputable source. This is fine on my phone when listening to it with my headphones but because these have such crystal clear quality it really does show up bad quality digital copies and you can hear a slight hiss in the background. I know this is the files rather than the speakers as it only shows up on music that I know isn't the best quality as high quality ones play amazingly well.
~~~~~~~~~~ Niggles ~~~~~~~~~~
There are no faults with these speakers as such but there are a couple of minor things which I would change about them if I could. The first one is that although I understand the subwoofer needs cables and I don't have a problem with this as they are cleanly tucked away behind my desk I would have liked to have seen the speaker stick have been wireless as I really think this would have enhanced the overall look of them and just made them that bit more premium looking. The other thing that irritates me ever so slightly about the speakers is the volume up and down buttons. These are only located on one of the speakers and it controls both but it is designed to look like a button that you need to press in when in reality it is actually it doesn't move and only needs the slightest of touches to change. It isn't even a problem but it just seems a bit redundant and I would like to see in future models something which is a little bit less confusing to use.
~~~~~~~~~~ Price and availability ~~~~~~~~~~
These are widely available online but it does pay to shop around a little. They have a rrp of around about £149 but prices vary wildly depending on where you purchase them. For example these are sold on the Apple store where they will set you back £144 but you can also pick them up from Tesco direct for only £99.99. I purchased mine from Amazon where they were £99 with free delivery which was excellent as always.
~~~~~~~~~~ Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~
Well as you can probably tell I am really happy with my speakers and think they were a bargain for less than £100. To look at them I think they look much more expensive than they actually are. These are premium speakers which not only look amazing but also sound fantastic. I have the newest version of them which is version 3 but to be honest the only difference I can tell between these ones and the previous versions is that these ones have a back base to the speakers and other versions had a white base.
These feel really well made and aren't a case of style of substance and I would happily recommend them to anyone who was looking for a good set of speakers for their computer or even just their phone to listen to music in the house.
I got these as a Christmas present last year; I needed speakers with volume capabilities, as well as a large range of frequencies for music production. Not only were the above criteria solidly ticked off my list, I got the coolest looking speakers I (or any of my music production crew) have ever seen.
First off, they sound awesome; the sound is excellent - well-rounded, and the quality doesn't fade as you scale up the volume like a lot of speakers. The volume control is really cool, it's a touchpad on the left stick, that responds to the slightest pressure. The bass-level dial is at the back, doubling up as the power switch.
They were really easy to set up; all cables were self-explanatory, and when you switch them on they light up - making them look even better. The fact that the sub-woofer points up means that you can place them on the floor, and you don't get nearly as much sub getting absorbed by your carpet or whatever, or indeed into your elderly neighbour's house!
Perfect; pricey, but so worth it!
Harman Kardon speakers are possibly the greatest piece of computer audio equipment I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. They are mega simple to use, you just plug in each speaker to the main dome shaped amp, the long lead to your headphone socket, then the power plug and off you go!
I choose these speakers originally because I wanted a decent pair to play my delicate acoustic and folk music through my computer. The chap in the shop swore by these and stated that all but one member of staff had bought a set for their home, he loved them and I can definitely see why! They aren't cheap though, usually retailing at about £100. I was initially reluctant to spend so much but haven't regretted it one bit. Unsurprisingly they have kept their value, yet another sign of the high quality.
I bought my first set back in 2008. They lasted two years until a wire became faulty somewhere. The shop who sold them to me very kindly replaced them free of charge. I think the fault was actually due to moisture in my accommodation (I was living in student accommodation) and not a problem with the speakers themselves. The second pair, which are the ones currently sitting either side of my computer, have been impeccable.
The clarity in the sound is quite marvellous, you can distinctly hear every single instrument, even on densely populated songs. Its a warm and full sound that properly does justice to the music. Its actually quite amazing how loud they can go so beware! If you buy these for your kids you may find yourself running up and down stairs regularly asking them to turn the bass down. The amp (large dome shape) has a little knob at the back for turning the bass up and down. It can go very high, you have been warned. Mine sits beneath a wooden desk and it has actually vibrated loud enough to feel and hear when turned up (even just half way) with bass heavy music like dub or reggae. The picture in the toilet had wobbled visibly on more than one occasion.
The volume is controlled by two flat, touch sensitive buttons on the left stick. You only need to tap them gently so no need for rough behaviour. You can also mute them instantly by touching both buttons simultaneously, a very handy feature. The bass amp also has a little blue light, a purely decoraive feature that is subtle and stylish.
Lastly, the only negative feedback I have had is from visiting friends who think the sticks look like something rude. I will leave that to your imagination. Its quite a talking point and has come up on more than one occasion. But seriously the quality of your listening experience will be enhanced no end by these delightful speakers so its worth the occasional mocking and naughty joke.
I love them and wouldn't swap them for twice their value. I would (and have) recommended them to tons of people, just as I am recommending them to you now. If you love music and have a good ear then these speakers are sure to please you.
With a somewhat hefty price-tag for a student, I was fortunate enough to have a set of these handed down to me.
I now consider them as essential as my Laptop or Hard Drive.
Those sexy designers at Harman & Kardon were definitely onto a winner when they made these. The bass is controlled by a small knob at the bottom of the subwoofer. At it's maximum, it is more than sufficient to make any kind of genre of music sound great.
If bass isn't your thing, the "sticks" themselves provide great treble and if positioned right, gives you an almost surround sound feel. Overall, I have no criticisms whatsoever with the sound output of these speakers.
The only drawback I can think about this product is, ironically, the design. Being made of transparent plastic has its benefits when it comes out of the box. However, over time, the plastic gets dirty, the subwoofer fills with lint and dirt, and the cables wear. The design of the subwoofer is such that it allows dirt/dust in and makes it a bit of a puzzle to try and remove.
Another potential drawback of the design of these speakers are the cables. Similar to a set of headphones, Im sure the cables can wear and break. All essential cables are attached to the subwoofer and are NON-removable. This means that if they were to break at any point, youd have no choice but to buy a new set of speakers or try to redo the wiring yourself (not really recommended for a lazy amateur).
Having said that, compared to built-in speakers, I'd gladly pay double for a reliable, decent set of speakers that are about half as efficient as this.
These speakers are a good option for somebody looking for speakers. They are reasonably priced, and are really easy to use. However, they do lack a power switch and volume controls on the speakers themselves with the older models, but the newer models have fixed this. Also, depending on taste, some may find the design rather strange, and might no like it as they don't fit in with existing products. Most importantly, the sound quality is very good, and similar to other products.
First, the sound quality is pretty good, and comparable to other speakers in the price range. The sound is very clear, and doesn't become distorted even when the volume is turned up to the higher levels.
Next, the product is very easy to use. It can be plugged it, and it will work straight away, with almost any computer, running Windows XP to Windows 7. However, it does take up a USB port, which isn't very good if you don't have many. Also, with version 1, you need to control the volume on screen, and there is no power switch. However, this is no fixed, and creates a better product, that is easy to use. This is especially useful if you are watching a film, as you don't need to touch the mouse, and disrupt the flow as you can just use the controls on the unit.
The design is very unique. It is very modern, and may fit into some homes. However, some people may find it rather strange, and it doesn't blend in with existing products, so it can stand out in the middle of a room. It is also rather large, and it is hard to find space to fit the item, especially when similar products are much smaller. The unit feels very durable, and is very solid, so it feels like it will last, with very good build quality.
Overall, the product is very good, with good, clear sound and it is very easy to use. However, the unit is quite large, and the product doesn't blend in to existing setups, as it has a very unique look.
Bought secondhand from E-bay February 2007. Plug and play into any USB port and instantly works on any system that is XP windows. I can`t tell you if it works on new windows vista systems.
The base unit resembles an upside down goldfish bowl and two oblong speakers with four tweeters in each speaker give you your higher notes. The units are housed in clear tough plastic and build quality is good. Sound quality? Well I play lots of early nineties base hardcore tunes. Heaviest bass tracks you can find. The unit delivered clear smooth base at houseshaking sound levels. Vocally the two tweeter units were clear and sweet sounding. You can adjust the sound with graphic equalizer settings that Harmon Kardon setup on your computer.
Faults: The Mk1 units have no volume control or off switch on speakers itself. You have to access a volume slider control onscreen and pull the power lead on the base unit if you want to unplug the speakers. The MK2 units may have resolved this but check before you buy.
Summary: Pretty designer Speakers for those who have arty looking homes or who love designer gadgets with that classy look. Sound quality is very good and no setting up required. Just plug them in and listen to these babies perform!
Harman Kardon's SoundSticks is a 3-piece speaker system designed for easy plug-and-play. SoundSticks was created for USB-equipped Apple computers, such as iBook, iMac, PowerBook, Power Macintosh G3, and Power Mac G4. Looks stylish and sounds great - engineering for superior sound quality doesn't mean sacrificing great looks.