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ATPM 10.04
April 2004




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Review: Harman Kardon Soundsticks II

by Evan Trent,


Developer: Harman Multimedia

Price: $200

Requirements: Mac with USB, Mac OS 9.0.4 or Mac OS X (for USB audio); any Mac or iPod (for use with minijack).

Trial: None

An In-Depth and Critical Review

There has been a lot of discussion lately about USB audio and the promise of “audiophile”-caliber sound reproduction. A veritable plethora of new loudspeaker systems have appeared, most of them sporting seriously funky aesthetics. Depending on your taste, some may appear high tech and “mod” whereas others may simply seem more like a villain from an old episode of Dr. Who. (Anybody remember The Daleks?) I’d love to know what drugs the guys designing these speakers are on. Maybe they could include some with the speakers so we can all better appreciate what in tarnation they were thinking.

As ATPM’s self proclaimed audiophile—both by hobby and profession—I have taken it upon myself to provide a critical evaluation of one of the most sought after computer speaker systems on the market: the Harman Kardon Soundsticks.

Basic Overview

The Harman Kardon Soundsticks II system is comprised of two satellite loudspeakers and a subwoofer. The subwoofer boasts a 6" aluminum driver and a 20 watt on board amplifier. The “sticks” feature four 1" aluminum drivers, and each stick is driven with 10 watts of power. The system claims to reproduce 44-20 kHz although there is no indication of how flat this response is (i.e. +/- 3 dB). The subwoofer weighs in at just under 5 lbs, and each stick is about 1.5 lbs. The entire system seems to be fabricated out of transparent plastic. The “see through” look is decidedly cool, I must confess. If you like staring at the curvaceous backside of a 6" woofer (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?) then clearly this is the system for you. The loudspeakers provide both a USB input and a 1/8" stereo minijack input for use with older analog audio computers, or for interfacing with a hi-fi, iPod, etc.


The System

I used the Soundsticks on a PowerBook G4 (15") via the USB port. I ran them through a variety of source material including video games (Hey a reviewer’s gotta do what a reviewer’s gotta do.) MP3s, CDs, and DVD movies. After some initial tweaking of placement, I was able to produce very pleasing results from the Soundsticks on my PowerBook and was quite satisfied with the improvement over the internal speakers, which clearly leave a lot to be desired. The speakers throw a nice stereo image, provide ample detail, and the subwoofer fills in the lower frequencies nicely.

Admittedly, however, the internal speakers on the PowerBook didn’t provide for a particularly challenging face-off. The constraints placed in internal speaker design are too daunting. For one thing, the drivers are exceedingly small. Consequently the sound beams, and there is no coherence to the soundstage. There is also a total lack of deep bass because of the small drivers’ inability to reproduce lower frequencies and the lack of a powered subwoofer. The sound is fairly tinny, thin, brittle, and harsh. But it is surprising that Apple was able to obtain results as good as they did given the difficulty of designing internal speakers in a laptop.

Initially I considered doing a comparative review with other third-party loudspeaker systems. But after auditioning several others, I concluded that they more or less all sounded about the same. The Soundsticks had their own sound to be sure, but none of these systems was head and shoulders above the others. I needed a real point of reference against which to compare the Soundsticks.

The Real System

So I decided to bring them to my store, Symphony Sound, and do some comparative listening against real world hi-fi products, rather than other computer speakers. For all of my listening sessions, the Soundsticks were plugged in to an iPod streaming pure CD-quality material. There was no MP3 compression used at any time. The iPod was plugged into the minijack input of the Soundsticks, and when used with the stereo (see below) system I plugged the iPod into the preamplifier using a breakout minijack-to-stereo-RCA cable available at most any store, including Radio Shack.

[I should mention, however, that my breakout cable was not from Radio Shack. It is a cable I made myself, in house, from reclaimed Byzantine gold leaf, clad with Yak butter, and surrounded by an Italian silk weave (courtesy of Giorgio Armani, bless his soul). Each cable was then terminated with solid 24 karat solid gold connectors. The cables are a proprietary design, and if I can ever perfect them (the Yak butter keeps melting when my stereo system heats up) I will sell them to discerning audiophiles such as myself.]

At first I struggled to find a system that would provide similar performance parameters to the Soundsticks. Most of the amplifiers in my store boast enormous output power such as the 1200 watt McIntosh monoblocks ($15,000 per pair, no affiliation to the brainchild of Steve Jobs). But then it dawned on me that I had a pair of Manley Laboratories Neo-Classic 300B vacuum tube monoblocks in the shop. These are rated at 11 watts per channel. Perfect!


McIntosh Monoblocks

The Manley 300B monoblocks retail for $7,200/pair, and they are hand wired point-to-point in California. They make use of the legendary 300B vacuum tube, which was first invented by Western Electric to power their own movie theater amplifiers, which in turn drove very large horn loudspeakers. After a brief “sabbatical” the Western Electric 300B is now back in production and sells for $360 ea. or $810 for a matched pair. Each Manley monoblock uses two tubes, so my store pair are equipped with a matched quad ($1,656).


Manley Neo-Classic 300B Monoblocks

Next I needed to find a pair of loudspeakers with a similar design philosophy to the Soundsticks. After much head scratching, I settled upon the Genesis 1.1s. Why, you ask? The Soundsticks feature a “line source array” of four tweeters per side. The Genesis 1.1s take this one (maybe more than one) step farther—their “sticks” are more like panels. Each panel sports twenty 1" tweeters. Unlike the Soundsticks, which use a single 1" driver for both high and midrange reproduction, the Genesis 1.1s use the 1" tweeters for higher frequencies and then use a “ribbon” driver for the midrange. But the design is still strikingly similar. A line source essentially results in a division of labor: instead of a single driver reproducing all the sound, the load is shared by several drivers. This results in lower distortion, the capacity to play louder, and a more enveloping “soundstage.” They also sound the same whether you are seated or standing, and the sound level is fairly consistent regardless of how far or near you are to the speakers, which is great for parties where some people are 20 ft. from the speakers and others are only 3 ft. away.


Genesis 1.1

Another key similarity between the Genesis 1.1s and the Soundsticks is the separation of the subwoofer from the “sticks”—in the case of the Genesis, the bass frequencies are produced by a separate box. Two boxes, actually: one for the left, and one for the right as opposed to a shared box for the Soundsticks. But the principle at work is the same. The Genesis subwoofers uses twelve 12" woofers per tower. The drivers are made out of aluminum, just like the woofer in the Soundsticks subwoofer.

So the Genesis system consists of four boxes, instead of three for the Soundsticks. Each box is 7.5 ft. tall. The “panels” (sticks) are 42" wide. The entire system weighs in at over 1.25 tons and chimes in at $135,000.

With the speakers and amplifiers out of the way, I just needed to find a suitable preamplifier which I could plug the iPod into for listening through the Manley/Genesis rig. I chose the Audionet Pre G2 because it is imparts very little sonic character of its own and also because it has a gigantic volume knob machined out of solid aluminum. This German beast is built like a Mercedes G500. It’s big, it’s bold, and baby it’s beautiful. It’s also priced like a Mercedes—relatively speaking—at $12,900.


Audionet Pre G2

Now some readers may argue that this review is not fair (whatever that means) because of the slight disparity in price between the two systems compared. But, lest we forget, that simply because something costs more does not mean it is necessarily better. (Unless you are buying something from my store. Then the more expensive product is most definitely better. Duh.)


I called my buddies over at ComEd and asked them to come by and run another 300 amps of electrical service to my box. They gave me this big song and dance about how I’m already using too much power. So I said fine, if you’re going to give me “attitude” I’ll just roll my own. I went out and bought a diesel-powered generator and was on my way.

Initially it was difficult to form any hard and fast conclusions about the sound of the two systems. They sounded so different. It will never cease to amaze me how different two given systems can sound one from another. I could clearly sense that the heart and soul of two unique designers went into the engineering of the Soundsticks and the Genesis 1.1 systems. The Soundsticks are voiced to be more nimble, and fluttery. They have an almost aloof quality. The Genesis system is anything but. You paid $135,000 for these speakers and you will never forget it.

Each of these systems had its own unique character and it would be hard to declare one the outright winner. Much as Stereophile and The Absolute Sound find it difficult to come away from an audio review with anything but praise, I was hard pressed to fault the Soundsticks. They had a sound of their own that was admirable. Besides which, it is clear that each system was designed with different goals in mind. Can we judge one system on the basis of another’s design goals? I think not. Both systems deliver upon the promises they make, and in this day and age who could ask for more?

Rather than offering our readers useful information such as a recommendation, or a concise conclusion as to which product I myself would buy, I feel it is more appropriate for me to ramble on for a few pages about the intricacies of my emotional response to the extensive listening sessions on which I embarked over the course of the comparative analysis. Thus in the long established tradition of long-winded and completely meaningless audio reviews, I will consult my notes from the listening sessions just as the reviewers in the aforementioned, esteemed, publications do. At the end of the following pages you should have absolutely no idea which system to buy, and it should be completely unclear as to how each system sounded. I expect, and demand, numerous irate letters to the editor exclaiming with great frustration how utterly useless this review was. Those of you who threaten to cancel your subscription will earn extra points.

Play by Play

My listening sessions consisted of a number of different recordings with which I am quite familiar. I will not go through each one, but stick to those I wrote the most about in my notes. You should be advised that my methodology for reviewing is quite simple. First I listen to one system for about a month. Then I unplug it, and listen to the other one for a month. Then I consult my notes and write the review. I don’t believe in A/B’ing. I believe you have to grow into each system for a sufficiently long time as to actually forget how the other system sounded altogether. Only then will you be absorbed to the point where you really appreciate the heart and soul of the system you’re listening to.


One of my reference recordings is the London Symphony Orchestra performance of Dvorak’s Symphony From The New World (#9) under Istvan Kertész, now available on the Penguin Classics label. This recording provides a deep soundstage and good dynamic range with wonderful percussion such as kettle drums and timpani. There are also sweeping crescendos and powerful brass performances. I can tell a lot from this piece of music. I have heard it live numerous times and am quite familiar with this particular recording. For this reason I always play it first.

The Genesis subwoofers are flat to 16 Hz. so this did result in a somewhat more tangible presence of the bass frequencies including percussion and double basses. When the orchestra was playing full tilt boogie, I felt like my rib cage was about to collapse from the sheer pressure of the bass. It was riveting, but admittedly quite painful.

On the Soundsticks, for some reason, there just wasn’t the same “oomph”—I don’t know if it is something inherent in the design of the subwoofer. Perhaps it is the 1230 lb. discrepancy between the sub of the Soundsticks and the two Genesis bass towers—or the discrepancy in the number of woofers (1 vs. 24)—it’s hard to say. I’m not an engineer, merely a music enthusiast. Besides which, specifications don’t mean anything as the audio magazines have demonstrated time and again. And aside from this one pitfall, the Soundsticks did a bang up job on the Dvorak. If you can live without that last drop of deep bass, I am quite sure the Soundsticks will satisfy.

Next up was a recording of Mahler’s 1st. Some classical aficionados will turn their noses up at this ensemble, but the Florida Philharmonic’s recording under James Judd does offer one unique and indisputable advantage over every other to date: it was recorded by Peter McGrath. McGrath used a really gnarly (and expensive) Schoeps stereo microphone shaped like the human head, along with a couple other mics for ambient fill. This was then fed into the $30K Nagra D recorder. McGrath is a brilliant engineer this recording makes that quite clear. The sense of ambience is profound and the dynamics of this Mahler recording are simply breathtaking. And truth be told, the performance is darn good. Give these Floridians a chance and you may be pleasantly surprised.

The first few minutes of the final movement of Mahler’s “Titan” symphony can bring many a stereo system to its knees. The dynamic range of this movement will induce distortion, and in extreme cases “clipping,” of many systems. The music is also unusually complex and features the entire orchestra going at it pretty hard, with a lot of brass, and percussion “hits” which will throw you back in your seat.

The Genesis system can produce 120 decibels at 1 meter, which is near the threshold of pain (130 dB)—it goes without saying that prolonged exposure to this sound level will result in hearing loss. That having been said, the Genesis system had no difficulty filling my listening room with a lifelike orchestral sound. The orchestral “hits” were so powerful that when the movement finally ended I was drenched in sweat and actually had to take a cold shower before listening to the same passage through the Soundsticks. Also my downstairs neighbor called several times to complain about what sounded like an earthquake. But of course I couldn’t hear the phone ring with all that sound and fury. After I got out of the shower I saw a blinking light on my answering machine and promptly assured her it was just good ol’ Gustav up to his old tricks.

The Soundsticks cannot generate 120 dB. They also cannot pack the same “sonic wallop” as the Genesis system. OK, so the Soundsticks didn’t make me sweat—but they made me weep. The Genesis speakers have a macho presentation that makes you want to go outrun a state trooper on the highway at 150 m.p.h. in your ’Vette—all while smoking a cigar and playing George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone.”

The Soundsticks have a more delicate way about them. After listening to the “Blumine” movement (which the folks at Harmonia Mundi graciously provided on this recording) I felt like writing a romantic sonnet and springing it upon some beautiful young lass. Amazing the disparate response one can have to the same piece of music when played through two different systems, don’t you think?

Jazz and Vocals

Next I threw on some jazz. One of my favorite jazz discs is Sarah Vaughan’s Crazy and Mixed Up. On a good system, it sounds like Sarah is right there in the room, singing to you and you alone—and that’s exactly how it sounded on the Genesis system. Sarah was there, and I could hear her smokey voice, her breathing, and every last nuance of her vocal intonation. Joe Pass’s guitar was so present I could taste it. The rhythm section was tight and in balance, with the drummer and bass player clearly behind Ms. Vaughan, where they belonged.

The Soundsticks presented the music differently. Sure there wasn’t as much detail, or bass, or dynamic range, or high frequency extension, or naturalness to the timber of the instruments, or Sarah’s voice. But these are audiophile hang-ups. Sometimes you just have to forget about that stuff and listen.

I once read in an audio review, “these speakers bring the music to you, and those speakers bring you to the music.” I think that’s an apt description for what I heard. I can’t think of any other way to explain it. Both systems stirred my soul, but in different ways.

Another great album for testing out vocals is The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album. I cannot say that I am a huge Tony Bennett fan. I like his work and admire his phrasings. But I am not an obsessive fan. I am, however, pretty obsessive about Bill Evans. Put the two of these guys together and you have something really special. Bill Evans rarely played with vocal accompaniment and to the best of my knowledge, aside from this highly successful venture, he never did so on record. This is one of those albums you wish would have been followed up by a sequel, but then again perhaps it was a magical session that could never have been repeated.

Both systems reproduced Bill Evan’s piano lines with impressive fidelity. The lower registers of the piano were more richly presented by the Genesis system thanks to the fuller bass response of those speakers. Vocally, Tony Bennett’s breathing and subtle cues were evident on both systems. The occasional moments when he burst out with impressive power did cause some problems on the Soundsticks, which seemed to falter under demands of his proximity to the microphone. And his voice lacked a certain “chestiness” on the Soundsticks that was there in spades on the Genesis system. But sometimes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. On the Genesis system I could hear Tony Bennett’s voice bouncing off the walls of the recording studio. The Soundsticks didn’t offer this sort of analytical, “under the microscope” view of the music. This is one of those “if a band jams but the tape machine is off, does it make a sound?” type of propositions. Clearly I am in no position to answer such profound questions.

Classic Rock

Few albums are as effective in separating the men from the boys as Steely Dan’s Aja. There are so many good cuts on this album it’s hard to know where to begin. But certainly the title track, Aja, has some of the most demanding percussion work around. Amazingly it is rumored that Steve Gadd came in and sight read the part. Then again, we’re talking about Steve Gadd. If ever there were a finer studio session drummer, it’d be news to me.

The Genesis system had a nice palpability to it. Instruments were presented in space with “air” around them. I could point to each of the musicians with pinpoint accuracy. The percussion work on all the tracks, and particularly Aja, was crisp, pristine, impeccable, and beyond reproach on the Genesis system. There was such a holographic imagefield on these speakers I felt like I was part of the band. I actually got worried at one point—in the middle of the song I jumped up from the couch for fear that I had too much to drink and was stumbling around the stage of a live concert, about to be thrown out by some big fat sweaty security guard. Ah, but it was all just a vision! The Genesis speakers induced delusional behavior. Now that’s getting your money’s worth!

The Soundsticks were intoxicating in a different way altogether. It’s hard to express in words really. These speakers just have soul. There’s no other way to say it, really. But as I look back in my notes I keep seeing the same word over and over: soul. They’ve got soul. And you just can’t put a price on that. I mean you can try, but what is your soul worth? If you can’t sell your own soul, can you sell the soul of a loudspeaker system that, in turn, stirs your soul? I thought not.

Further Listening

While it is tempting to waste more Internet bandwidth with further inconclusiveness, all good things must come to an end. If you would like a full list of recordings used for evaluative purposes during this review, feel free to e-mail me. The list may prove useful for those who wish to conduct this same test on an independent basis (just beware that if your floor is suspended, the Genesis 1.1 speakers may actually break through to the room below, so check with a structural engineer first)

Concluding Remarks

Try as I might, I just can’t endorse one of these systems over the other. Each has its own distinct character and being as all things are subjective, I am sure that some folks will prefer one, while others will prefer the other. And attempting to bridge that gap will prove futile. Which did I prefer?

I suppose part of me is tempted by the grandiose Genesis system ($156,756 with specified electronics, but who’s counting anyway) with its huge sweeping dynamics, deep powerful bass, high-frequency extension that makes my dog stand at attention, and ear-bleeding sound levels that can puncture all but the most resilient of eardrums. The speakers are electrifying, no two ways about it.

But they do require a rather large room, four or five strong helpers to set up, and a sufficiently well braced floor. And let’s face it, they scream “compensation” like a McLaren F1.

That having been said, part of me also admires the simplicity and “plug and play” nature of the Soundsticks. They are lighter on their feet, both sonically and, well, literally. They have a nice clean, articulate, crisp, agile sound and an honest and true midrange and high frequency band. They don’t offer the thunderous bass of the Genesis system, but they leave you about $156,557 richer. And I mean, if you want to get petty, I suppose that does count for something.

So where does that leave us? Both systems are very good. Since my job as an audio reviewer is to make sure that, no matter what, I do not leave you with any firm conclusions or useful advice, I’ll simply say that you owe it to yourself to hear both of these speaker systems before you draw any conclusions. Don’t be dismissive of either. They are both very fine, well engineered systems. For our annual NUTTIES (Never Underestimate The Tendency of Investing in Esoteric Stereo) awards, we will no doubt bestow upon the Genesis system a rating of AAAAA+++++ and the Soundsticks a slightly lesser rating of AAAA++++. We feel the ratings speak for themselves. But remember, ratings themselves are meaningless.

Happy April Fool’s Day.

Reader Comments (89)

João Santos · April 3, 2004 - 08:31 EST #1
as i dont have all that cash, i am buying the soundsticks II,

for sure, no doubt

Mike Chee · April 3, 2004 - 10:30 EST #2
What a cool review! This is the most witty and sardonic piece I have read for a long time. May not have blown my tympanic membranes but sure blew my sides away with laughter. U made my day dude.

MCWL - Singapore
krazykat · April 11, 2004 - 14:47 EST #3
A truly edifying article. I feel so much more informed and on top of things since reading it. I have a problem though; I've got the original sub and would like to find Sound-sticks without the Subwoofer. One is enough.But it seems the 'sticks' are not sold separately. I'm reduced to using satellites from Wall-Mart. I wonder how there sound quality holds up to the the Sound-Sticks? Why not save another 190 dollars.
Were those tubes used in the old Dynaco amps. I think I remember buying a 'Lion' brand tube that was similiar for about thirty dollars in 1964?
Evan Trent (ATPM Staff) · April 11, 2004 - 16:58 EST #4
I do not know if you can get the Soundsticks sans-sub.

Dynaco made many different amplifiers but none of them used 300B tubes. They were mostly EL34, or KT88/6550 based. Also Dynaco amps were all push pull pentodes, whereas the 300B is a triode and most commonly used in single ended configuration although there are some amps that use the tube in a push pull configuration. The Manley monoblocks I mentioned actually work in *either* SE or PP mode. You can switch them on the fly, during playback, and effectively double the output power by going to PP (so you get about 25 watts vs. 12) which is a neat trick. They are the only amp I know of that does this, and Manley invented the circuit that allows switching "on the fly" from SE to PP.

FYI the EL34 and 6550 tubes used by Dynaco and still in use by many other amplifier manufacturers (including Manley - they make a series of push pull pentode amplifiers like the ol' Dynaco's) are much less expensive than 300B's. You can pick up an good, new EL34 for about $12.
Sven Tesch-Hallström · April 27, 2004 - 08:38 EST #5
Thanks for a very funny piece of writing about the Soundsticks. I use the with my Mac and enjoy them very much, especially for jazz and funk listening.

Now I have a comment about Bill Evans and vocalists. He made at least one more record together with a vocalist, namely the legendary swedish singer Monica Zetterlund. It was circa 1961, in Stockholm. The trio was with Chuck Israels and Larry Bunker. They even made some concerts together around 1974 - and I was there!

Monica Z has made many very good recordings, but this stands out as her best, with the trio also in top form. The title is "Waltz for Debby", recorded on the Philips label.

You should have this. It is still a sensation.

Evan Trent (ATPM Staff) · May 2, 2004 - 20:36 EST #6
Great - thanks for the tip! I'll definitely check that album out. I'm green with envy that you were there for the performance. Must have been incredible!
Pete Scifo · May 17, 2004 - 17:19 EST #7
After reading this awesome review, I finally gave in and bought the SoundSticks II today. They are quite amazing. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the placements of the sub. The manual says that optimum placement is under the desk. I have it there and it sounds pretty good, but I don't have much room under the desk and was wondering what you thought of the sound from on top of the desk. Thanks.
Evan Trent (ATPM Staff) · May 17, 2004 - 18:09 EST #8
Thanks for the positive feedback...

Regarding the sub. Subwoofers sound best in the corner of a room. So if you can place the sub in a corner, that is where you will get the best bass "loading" acoustically speaking.

Subwoofers also like to have something massive to fire against. This is why HK recommends placing the sub on the floor, not your desk. The desk will vibrate and resonate off bass. The floor will not (ok yes it will, technically, but a lot less) because of the greater mass and rigidity.
Grgur · October 20, 2004 - 11:21 EST #9
Simply the best review I have seen. I am definetely going to get me SoundSticks II!
Steve Thomson · October 27, 2004 - 07:32 EST #10
I can't recall ever weeping with laughter while reading a review of ANYTHING before! Naturally, I shall now be moving to a smaller house and selling the damned Genesis system I was sold during a 'weak' moment a year or so back. I don't suppose I'll get my money back from the builders who reinforced the floor, but the bribe I'll be taking from my neighbours should help compensate.
Joe · December 16, 2004 - 17:36 EST #11
I'm going to sell my Genesis system and line my walls with a thousand SoundSticks.

I figure that should give me enough raw "ooomph" and I'll have enough change left over to treat myself to a supersized Big Mac every day for the next few years!

Martin Krecker · January 8, 2005 - 15:51 EST #12
Thanks for taking the time to write that. Hilarious piece and what makes surfing rewarding.
Ricardo Ferraz · January 10, 2005 - 16:37 EST #13
After reading some stuff about 2.1 systems, I got to the end with two good ones, both with very nice comments on the internet. Harman Kardon SoundSticks II and Logitech Z2300 (THX certified).
The only thing I can tell you is that the difference is AMAZING!!! The soundsticks rock!!! The sound of Logitech system is ok, but when you compare them together, it looks like you cut a few bands in the middle range EQ. The brightness of the two stick is amazing.


GOOD: Brightness, sound quality, amazing looks

BAD: No off or stand by... It's always on


GOOD:Power, wired remote

BAD:Sound quality (it's good, but if you compare it with the Soundsticks...they loose), huge subwoofer

Hope it's usefull. take care
Peter Cresswell · January 11, 2005 - 15:02 EST #14
Enjoyed your review and took your advice. I am now listening to my Soundsticks as I type and am discovering nuances and enjoying the discovery of new sounds and atmosphere from records I have played countless times before.

I keep looking at these tiny transparent objects and wondered how the hell the band of the Royal Marines managed to get inside. I think my eardrums will burst with sound volume before I will be able to notice distortion!

Unbelievable. A double bonus after reading your hilarious but accurate review.
Jason · January 11, 2005 - 17:52 EST #15
You Rock!. that's it. best review(er) ever. period.
daniel ebbage · February 26, 2005 - 10:00 EST #16
would u reccomend the soundsticks for music production?
George Yee · March 3, 2005 - 21:46 EST #17
A unique review.

Would you like to compare the SoundSticks II to the Altec Lansing FX 6021 speakers as both of these speaker systems use in-line satellites and are highly rated.

George Yee
Neeraj · March 7, 2005 - 11:13 EST #18
Excellent review of Soundsticks. Very few available on the net that is are detailed. Does anyone know of any other review which compares the soundsticks with the latest speakers like Bose Sounddock or Tivoli iPal? Or any links on negative reviews of Soundsticks for that matter .... ?

Shai Yammanee · May 19, 2005 - 18:44 EST #19
Thank you for such an enjoyable review.
I have been toying around with the idea of purchasing these speakers since I heard them in the Apple Store (London), and your review just tipped the scale.
I shall be heading out and purchasing them tomorrow! :)

It is so rare to truly enjoy reading a review on technology, even when you are very interested in the topic.
Your review made my evening.

I would love to know if you have made any other reviews.

Bill Brunelle · July 11, 2005 - 02:04 EST #20

Very interesting review of the Soundsticks II. I was at J&R in New York today comparing them to the Altec Lansing MX5021. I liked the Soundsticks a lot, but was shocked at what I thought was the superior sound with the Altec Lansing for only $20 more. I'm not an audiophile, so I'm wondering if my ear is any good. Have you heard the MX5021?

For yet another $80 I could get the Altec Lansing FX6021 mentioned by another of your readers, but I don't think that is as big an improvement as in the MX5021 over the Soundsticks. Am I off base?
Evan Trent (ATPM Staff) · July 11, 2005 - 06:46 EST #21
Hi Bill,

I haven't heard the MX5021's - but my advice is to trust your own ears. Don't worry about specs or price (within reason). Just because a speaker is a more expensive doesn't mean it's better, but it doesn't mean it's worse either. It doesn't really mean much of anything in today's world. And specifications have become almost entirely meaningless these days. Just about the only thing we can depend on to guide us through the purchasing process are the two holes on each side of our head :) So if you found a pair of speakers you like better, go with them!

Pablo Reig · November 14, 2005 - 09:25 EST #22
Indeed your review rocks, indeed the HK have their own soul. I changed my light tubular desk for a massive piece of ancient wood and...WOW! Something HUGE has happened down there!
Panos · November 14, 2005 - 11:48 EST #23
Excellent piece of writing. Let us know when your first book is out! (Hopefully that too will involve inconclusive tech comparisons of products that have $150,000 price gaps between them!)
Herman.Steyn · November 18, 2005 - 03:01 EST #24
We enjoy the system but have trouble setting it up correctly.

Any advice?
Jack W · December 18, 2005 - 14:41 EST #25
I have got the soundsticks in my office, and they are truly amazing. I was wondering if you have heard or tried out the Bose Companion 3, to me thay sounded outstanding (i never used it SO much so i cant give a full review on it) would you recommend it as i need another set of speakers.
If not what else would you recommend?

Tom C · December 19, 2005 - 22:18 EST #26
My " friend " has a pair of these. After crucial, scientific, charted, graphed, and spectrum-analyzed testing of these; I would recomend placing the speakers on a static free, levitation based (keeps negative particles from interfering with the sound) stands. The depth and sounstage are vastly improved. Also, replace that crappy cable they give you, and replace them with kimber Kables' finest. I used the Bifocals, and biwired the sounsticks. What an improvement! You can hear the depth and sounstage open right up. Finally, pick up a bottle of "Tom's audio snake oil". It works better than the yak butter, and is only slightly more expensive. The depth and sounstage REALLY open up after properly lubing the drivers with the snake oil!! (yak butter tends to wash out the sound)
Vikram · December 22, 2005 - 08:38 EST #27
Great Review! I am reading this after buying the SoundSticks last week (a good deal for 115 Euros)and now this review confirms that I have made the right choice. these speakers simply rock!
Emma Callan · December 24, 2005 - 17:44 EST #28
I bought the soundsticks recently and I have a question. Are the two sticks supposed to have the blue light through them too?! They look like they should but they don't? Thanks.
Kaan · December 27, 2005 - 22:02 EST #29
I've had a pair of original SoundSticks for about 2 years, and they've been great. I'm not an official audiophile (can't justify spending tons of money in audio equipment), but I have a good ear and can usually hear more than most people. The original SoundSticks require a usb connection with no direct audio input; kind of a bummer for use with an iPod or some other component. I was just doing some research for a second set of SoundSticks for my wife, and found your great review. Your thorough information will help "convince" my wife we need to buy her a set, too. Thanks.
Paul · January 2, 2006 - 16:36 EST #30
I cant wait until the next 1st of april...
Ton · March 11, 2006 - 18:14 EST #31
Harman Kardon Soundsticks II versus Altec Lansing FX6021
These two sets get the best reviews but I never found a comparison between the two. Two weeks ago I returned my new Altec Lansing FX6021 with mixed feelings. At this moment I am enjoying the Soundsticks II, thanks to the review above, liking both the sound and the looks of this set. Some remarks on both sets:
• The satellites of both the HK and AL sound terrific. It is incredible how these sets of small transducers can produce crystal clear sound and the suggestion of a concert hall behind the monitor. Both systems look nice, the AL's satellites are bigger and stylish, the HK are smaller with a unique design.
• The subwoofers. Unlike the reviews say, the bass sound of the FX6021 is not soft. It is loud and boomy. Some songs will never sound right whatever you change. You have to turn the bass down and it is difficult to find a good spot for the sub. In my case this was on the desk and certainly not on the floor in a corner. The FX6021 sub makes a humming noise (continuous) due to a bad transformer. Worse: the amp picks it up when you turn on the power. It fills the room and can easily be heard despite the noise of my computer. It becomes very irritating after a while. I mailed the Dutch importer of Altec Lansing to ask if this problem was exceptional but I got no answer. On the internet however I found that more people were annoyed with this humming. It looks as if there is a problem with recent series. I compared the performance of both sets listening to the same play list of music, though not in the same day. The subwoofer of the Harman Kardon Soundsticks II sounds much better than the one on the AL. Not very critical in positioning (in fact it hangs on the wall under my desk) and you hardly notice it is there. I turned the volume control on the subwoofer to bring the sound in balance with the satellites and I have not changed it since.
• Handling. The AL FX6021 has the advantage of a remote and a control pod that allows you to connect headphones and auxiliary input like an MP3 player. The remote is not very accurate though. The Soundsticks have volume control on one of the satellites (tip-touch) and one on the sub. I prefer using my keyboard controls for volume instead. The extension cables supplied with the FX6021 may come in handy while the Soundsticks have rather short cables. Both systems lack an 'off' switch.
• Conclusion. These sets are meant for listening to music and that is what counts most for me. The Soundsticks just sound better and the set is in perfect balance. Although its satellites are perfect, the Altec Lansing weakness is in the subwoofer and the humming is unacceptable.

Mike Hunt · March 19, 2006 - 20:26 EST #32
I love the Soundsticks!! Wish they came in multiple colors.
Andrew Baker · March 22, 2006 - 00:38 EST #33
Thanks for the wonderful review. I never would have finished reading any tech review this long but this was very entertaining. I used my soundsticks for the first time today-bought them after reading the great reviews from amazon to ilounge. I couldnt be happier with their sound. Originally I was drawn to their aesthetics but its clear their beauty is more than skin deep. Does transparency make them shallow?!
Su · April 22, 2006 - 17:40 EST #34
Brilliant,a technical review with humor tone is what we all want!thank you
geekay · July 12, 2006 - 03:57 EST #35
thanks evan,

hilarious and entertainig as well as loaded with facts. this is what reviews should be like.

shops chuck out the soundsticks nowadays for a good retail price. nice to hear that even you werde stunned by their peformance.

people still come to your shop ?

lalremsiama · August 8, 2006 - 05:20 EST #36
good review of Kardon Soundsticks II
then what is the best 2.1 speaker (music)
Kevin Weeks · August 10, 2006 - 08:18 EST #37
I loved this review. I had recently made the terrible mistake of purchasing Logitech's Z-2300 2.1 over HK soundsticks II and was very dissapointed to say the least. I did not know it at the time but I am, as most of you are, a critical listener and I pick up sounds that some cannot. The only good thing I can say for the Z2300 is that the subwoofer offers great bass with no distort. However, the satelites seriously lack midrange. Trust me, if you're a serious music enthusiast don't get Z-2300's you'll regret it! But if all you want is bass and little else or if you don't mind having the equivalent of a cheap set of desktop speakers (like the small cheap ones that usually come with the purchase of a new PC) coupled with a boomy overpowering subwoofer then this system is for you. But I think most of you have established that you are nuance music listeners.
Hannah · August 24, 2006 - 19:33 EST #38
These speakers are amazing the sound is soo clear. I wasn't given the speakers but my older brother is amazed with them he is able to plug his ipod into them and listen to the clear sound
Ravi · August 28, 2006 - 04:07 EST #39
Superb write-up! If only all reviews on the internet were as thoughful and witty as this one! OK now I'm out to go listen to the Soundsticks :-)
Paul · October 28, 2006 - 12:11 EST #40
Very nice review.

If possible, you should review Klipsch Promedia Ultra 5.1 against the Soundsticks, mostly because I can't make a decision.
Luis M. · November 2, 2006 - 06:10 EST #41
I've been a Harman/Kardon SoundSticks user since their first USB version (SoundSticks II is mini-jack based)... well I have to admit these are the perfect 2.1 multimedia speakers to join forces with my (still cool) PowerMac G4 Cube. Not only aesthetically speaking, but also due to their sound output reliability and quality.

As the Cube is USB digital audio output based, I had to buy a proper interface for the SoundSticks II to solve my "issue": the Griffin iMic

I would recomend it to everyone seeking for a well designed product, and most of all.. a honest compromise concerning price/quality.

Almost forget... Evan: I wish I could have your knowledge (and arguments), your article is simply overwhelming!
Luck eDawg · February 24, 2007 - 19:54 EST #42
Just thought I'd add that I use a 2nd pair in my living room as my stereo system! I use the Radio Shack adapter and a super-cheap Kodak DVD/CD player.

The sound is GREAT -- even better than when I plug my iPod into the Soundsticks -- because I'm listening to the full files on the DVD/CD player (vs. an MP3 files's 1/9th of the original music).

For about $200 I've got a kick-*ss system that sounds much better than most of the black plastic things they call 'stereos' these days...
Hamilah · February 28, 2007 - 22:21 EST #43

I've been looking for Harman Kardon Soundsticks II in Malaysia for long time. Appreciate if someone can advise where tom buy it. Also any contact no in Sgp that i can get it from.

Thanks a lot
phduong · March 16, 2007 - 21:56 EST #44
What a review ! I came to this page by accident. I wish reviewers has your passion, attitute and writing style then we all enjoying them like...poetry.
Jeffrey R. Williams · April 2, 2007 - 21:52 EST #45
Great Speakers! 2 years on, E-Mac powered. Best 200 bucks I ever spent! The 'Touch' volume control is a Plus.
After awhile with this feature, it becomes 'Second Nature' to adjust volume with the lightest of touches. Great Sound, Great Value and so far, reliable!
Big Reg · August 13, 2007 - 20:11 EST #46
I'm building a system for my mom and she kept "nagging" that she wanted it smaller than a regular pc. So I built a MZ855-II. She didn't want big speakers, but wanted good sound. After this GREAT review, she will get the Soundsticks II.
Thanks for writing such a great piece.
titty-twister · September 8, 2007 - 09:15 EST #47
WOW what can u say about that review, richer sounds and what hi fi cant top that one mate, well done keep up the good work, oohh and yes i will buy the soundsticks and a new ferrari whith the money i saved cheer's ...
Narkeeso · September 11, 2007 - 16:08 EST #48
I'm pretty sure the stock of the Harmon Kardon SoundSticks II just dropped dramatically after this review was published. I just bought mine today.

Thank you for the best review ever written on something that most audiophiles would never touch.
bill · November 7, 2007 - 09:59 EST #49
Just got my sound stick II......what a wonderful piece of art.
erwintm · November 14, 2007 - 01:08 EST #50
i am so much delighted with the reviews of the Soundstick.. and i have no regret buying them.
although a bit short of deep bass, sound clarity is amazing on its satellite speakers.
i used Y connector for additional subwoofer system and it works! great sound.
Lance · November 15, 2007 - 13:03 EST #51
Does anyone know if the speakers for the Soundsticks can be opened up? My left speaker fell off my desk and hit the floor, knocking the back magnet thing off the top tweeter, so it's just rattling around inside. I'm wondering if there's a way to open it up, to reattach it and repair the thing. Thanks!
Khian · November 18, 2007 - 10:50 EST #52
I've been having this soundsticks speakers for 5 months and still keeping me and my wife smile when we hear the sounds it produces!! really amazing.... I also did add additional subwoofer for the missing low frequency sound.. Excellenf product for the price!
Rob · March 5, 2008 - 10:16 EST #53
I bought the Harman Kardon Soundsticks II speakers just before the end of last year and it was the most satisfying £89.99 I've ever spent!

The sound from them is so crystal clear and they have astonishing power. Even right up loud they deliver a crystal clear sound, and the detail is staggering.

After setting them up and listening to my favourite mp3, I quickly realised that I would have to listen to my entire mp3 collection over again because it was like listening to my mp3s for the very first time! Even though I'd played my mp3s countless times before, through the Harman Kardon Soundsticks II speakers, it was like I'd never truly heard what my mp3s really sounded like before!

I highly recommend these speakers!
GPM · March 7, 2008 - 10:21 EST #54
Hi, does anyone know the difference between the original Soundsticks and the Soundsticks II?
swede · March 13, 2008 - 13:42 EST #55
GPM, the original soundsticks had only usb connection.
GPM · March 13, 2008 - 13:46 EST #56
Thanks. Curious why they got rid of the USB connection for Soundsticks 2...? Would be nice to have both 1/8" and USB
swede · March 31, 2008 - 10:02 EST #57
Does anyone have any problems with vibrating plastic in the subwoofer?
Michael A Dodd · April 13, 2008 - 02:08 EST #58
I have had the SoundSticks II and I was thinking of replacing them with another pair. I was pleased but I was looking for something to match my mac monitor. I tried some altec speakers and logitech ones and did side by side comparisons. None of them could touch the overall sound of these speakers. I then decided to do a headphone comparison and the speakers were so close to the headphones that I couldn't hear the difference. The bass was actually better than the headphones and I think the bass on these speakers is perfect. Even for Hip-Hop ( and I listen to classical and jazz as well). This will be the best $ you spend on speakers and they do look great next to my Apple Cinemas Display. low profile too as I don't like having a separate control piece fro speakers like Logitech does!
jildaz · April 20, 2008 - 20:05 EST #59
I have the first generation sound sticks. I am trying to get the sticks to work with an iPod Nano. Has anyone tried this? My sound sticks only have a USB connection.
ik.a · June 20, 2008 - 12:32 EST #60
I've been given a pair of soundsticks by a friend, but without the sub woofer. Is there any way I can get sound out of these. Must mention - I'm not technically minded, so having a bit of difficulty.
Firstly - if someone has soundsticks 2 - can they please describe the different connections and how they all attach to each other. I've looked at the online manual, but that doesn't tell.
1) one stick has a normal rca jack, but I don't know what the other stick (left with vol controls) has. It looks a bit like a mouse connection, but with 4 pins and the flat plastic bit. What's the name of this connection?
2) how can I connect these to my soundblaster? (3.5mm
jack - I think.)
3) Is it possible to connect them to a sub-woofer? (friends one stopped working, hence he gave the sticks to me)
4) Is there a sub that would be compatible? The soundsticks sub is difficult to get hold of on it's own. They sometimes come up on ebay, but they are the USB v1 subs with totally different connections. I've looked around at other makes, and other harman kardon subs, but non seem to match.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
john brown · August 25, 2008 - 21:08 EST #61
I have the subwoofer and no left and right speakers..lets make a deal? ps i am a MacIntosh power amp and pre-amp tuner owner!
Craig Fletcher · September 6, 2008 - 16:45 EST #62
Fabulous well written, like the way you wrote, and very thorough review. Thanks Evan and to everyone else who added more useful info in their replies.
AnthonyG · September 18, 2008 - 18:10 EST #63
Buddy, you are on crack.

If half the world had the sort of passion and attention to detail with their job, that you have with yours - I could only imagine what sort of world we'd be living in right now.

...we'd all be flying emission free cars with wickedly crisp sounding speakers, no doubt!

Thanks for the review.
Todd Homan-Jones · October 23, 2008 - 20:42 EST #64
Humor+audio porn= awesome.

Thanks, best review I've read ever (save's video game reviews).
Rodrigo Euan Pacheco · January 7, 2009 - 12:29 EST #65
Hey Evan, this is without a doubt the nicest audio review I have read!

I would like to know which Recordings you use to test the products you review (not just these) because im making a list of CDs I should get!

Also, are the SACD's or Ultradiscs from MFSL really worth their price in comparison to normal CD's?

Oh and can you tell me where I can find other reviews by you?

Thanks a lot,
Evan Trent (ATPM Staff) · January 7, 2009 - 13:21 EST #66
Rodrigo - thanks for your kind remarks. It's good to know that even 4+ years on this review is bringing readers some laughs.

There is no definitive list of recordings for auditioning speakers or sound equipment. You can find albums on Stereophile’s R2D4 (Records to Die For) and The Absolute Sound has their own list as well. But my advice has always been to bring albums you know very well so that you can detect differences in the reproduction easily. Having that been said there are obviously albums which are more demanding in terms of their bandwidth, tonal or dynamic range, etc. or are of higher fidelity in terms of the recording quality. It would be hard for me to provide a list here for you – networking with other audiophiles and reading some of the magazines may help. I have discovered a lot of music by spending time with other music lovers and audiophiles who spread the word about great albums from artists who often fly below the radar.

My advice is to bring a variety with you so that you can cover a wide cross section of your own music library. Personally whenever I audition equipment I bring at least one very demanding large scale orchestral recording (Mahler, Beethoven, etc.) The two recordings I mention here, the Dvorak and Mahler, are good examples but there are countless others. I always bring a vocal recording or two - at least one male and one female, as human voice can be very challenging to reproduce accurately. I typically bring something big that rocks to make sure the system isn't just sterile and "audiophile" but can actually swing too. Pink Floyd, The Who, The Stones, etc. whatever your particular preference. I also typically bring one or two small scale ensemble recordings - a jazz trio or quartet (say Keith Jarrett Trio, Oscar Peterson Trio, etc.) and a chamber music recording, say Bach or something along those lines, to ensure the system can handle delicate passages as well as bombastic ones.

In terms of your other question. I am not a big fan of SACD personally but there are others who feel differently. There is some merit to the MFSL discs but they run the gamut - some are really no better than the original aluminum CD release, some are significantly better, and many fall somewhere in between. The prices are out there can be kind of goofy so use your own judgment. MFSL was really mostly about their high end LP releases, which typically were worth the extra money, and did sound significantly better than regular LP releases (there were some exceptions and people spend hours online debating this stuff - but overall the MFSL LP releases were excellent, especially given when they were released). The MFSL CD concept didn't really offer the same level of improvement.

One format that is absolutely worth the money is the XRCD which is a standard aluminum CD but which is mastered using a proprietary process by JVC in Japan and the resulting sound quality is vastly superior to a conventionally recorded/produced CD. There is a limited catalog in large part because they go back to the original master tapes to create the discs, but most of the titles are really excellent so the collection makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity.

At the end of the day I am very cynical about digital formats and SACD vs. CD etc. because I am really an analog guru and I listen to LPs about 90% of the time. So to me the digital debates are pretty uninteresting. But then again I am an audiophile, and willing to deal with all the hassle that come with LPs.

As to your last question - I have never actually written any formal audio reviews. I am an audiophile, and for years I owned a store by the name of Symphony Sound in Chicago where we designed, sold, and installed high end audio and home theater systems. But I have not written any reviews. I mostly wrote this piece as a send-off of the typical audiophile reviews out there because after spending a number of years in the industry the reviews started to really drive me nuts.

Trust your own ears, find a good store - one which treats people the way I'd like to believe our customers would say we treated them, a store that will spend time with you and is serious about good sound and about music and not just about the next sale. And recognize it is a gradual process. It took me about 10 years to get my system where I wanted it, in part because I couldn’t afford to do it all right in one foul swoop, and in part because I needed to spend more time listening and learning what I like and dislike, and in part because some products in my system only recently became available. So it’s unlikely to all come together overnight, but now that I have my system the way I want it, I don’t fiddle with it anymore. I just leave it alone and listen to music. And that is what I call reaching audio nirvana…

Thanks for reading,

Jeremy · January 24, 2009 - 04:14 EST #67
Thanks for the review, Evan. Upon reading it, I immediately ordered 6 pairs of Genesis 1.1s -- one for my living room, one for the kitchen, one for the upstairs bathroom . . . you get the picture. I await the arrival of my sister to help with setting up the pair on my office desk.

But I feel insecure.

Have you or any of your listening panel tried the Genesis sticks with the HK woofer (or vice versa)? I suppose I could try that myself, but, if I don't need them, I'd rather not waste money on more speakers.

Thanks for your advice.

Brian Williams · March 14, 2009 - 16:50 EST #68
Having owned (since 75) a pair of JBL Century's and also (since 89) a pair of 150's I must confess to being a, total, JBL convert!

So, if I say that the Soundsticks, which I received today, exceeded my expectations the uninitiated why ask why?

Very simply, because they gave me the same FEEL of sound (not same quality), but not far short, of speakers that cost me over £2,000, many years ago.

Already, I love them!

Brian Williams · March 15, 2009 - 20:19 EST #69
As a commited JBL fan (I have had a pair of Century's since 1975 and added a pair of 150's in 1990) , I was looking forward to receiving the Soundsticks very much.

I must say that I was NOT disappointed!

Obviously, there is a difference in the quality between something costing a few dollars and my earlier purchases, which cost me over £2,000 a long time ago.

However, what was not missing was the "traditional" JBL sound - warm and melodic.

To start with I thought that the top end was a little too bright, but after they "bedded in" that has disappeared.

Mid range is great and the bass I have set to LESS than 50 % - My normal choice of music is heavy/light rock and I have not yet tested them with classical, but will do over the next few days.

All in all a great buy and I would, thoroughly, recommend them to anyone else who appreciates the JBL sound.

I must add that I have (and never have had) any commercial connection with Harman/JBL and that my love of the sound JBL produce is ONLY as a user!
Jonathan · April 5, 2009 - 00:54 EST #70
This is definitely one of the true audiophile review I've seen.
Although I never have a chance to audition a hi end sound system, I've experience enough life music to know what sounds good.
And I definitely agree that The Harman Kardon soundsticks II have SOUL.
I believe many people will enjoy its sound.
Cork · July 15, 2009 - 21:47 EST #71
Great review and write up. but hey, I ran across a set of these speakers at a thrift store, problem is, no power adapter, and I cant find one anywhere. can anyone help guide me in the right direction.
Sidney Vincent · July 24, 2009 - 06:03 EST #72
Thank you for a most entertaining review. I will add Sarah Vaughan's Crazy and Mixed Up to my collection.
John Sudduth · August 20, 2009 - 17:32 EST #73
Will these speakers work with my 32GB iPod touch(2nd generation)?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · August 21, 2009 - 10:50 EST #74
John - They should. They use the same standard 3.5mm analog audio connector that any other computer speakers use.
Philip Taylor · October 16, 2009 - 17:47 EST #75
A very funny, well-written piece. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

I came across this while trying to find suggestions on how repair my 2001 Soundsticks. Like Lance #52 I dropped one while re-organizing my edit suite a couple of days ago. Exactly the same damage, which I didn't see at first. But I certainly knew about it the first time I got a Mac donk or hit some loud parts of the soundtrack. Unlike the Genesis 1.1s my broken Soundstick sounded absolutely square-edged on anything approaching loud.

Although unable to find a solution to 'how to repair your Soundsticks' on the world wise web thingy I have developed one that works perfectly: The knife from Heinz Baby Basics.

Yes, folks, baby's first knife. It's got a long, straight flat edged blade the same thickness as the groove joining back to front, and mine has a nice pink handle. Insert the blade flat edge to flat side of the Soundstick and then twist the handle. The long contact surface spreads the force, your Soundsticks pop open and you can hot glue the back magnet into place. A couple of discreet dots of glue will keep it closed again.

If you have trouble making this work, try a hair dryer for a few minutes – I did at first and although I don't think it did anything perhaps it weakened the original glue a little.
Marc Clasara · October 17, 2009 - 15:43 EST #76
Is there noticeable difference if i paired it up with x-fi creative? or any decent soundcard? thanks...
Mike Carroll · January 28, 2010 - 17:32 EST #77
Your review made me pull the trigger on these badboys and as i listen to them now i say thank you and you should get a cut off of the profit sales ;) They truly sound amazing and I am hearing things I never picked up before. Thanks!
Ton Guiking · March 31, 2010 - 08:46 EST #78
Checking info on HK's Soundsticks on the web, I found this review. Of course from the start I understood that the comparison was between a mosquito and an elephant. But hey, sometimes you must exaggerate things, even if is it mostly for fun. I must confess though that while reading it, it took some time before I felt the real punch. Very witty! I am a filmmaker, have been reading (and writing) many reviews about equipment and yes, I agree with your opinion on a lot of so-called reviews.

BTW, HK should be happy with your writing. Due to it, they apparently sold quite some sets to true believers... (and well, they DO sound well!).
I myself had a very good time reading the review, thanks.

P.S. Now I realize that I'm writing this one day before April 1st, six years later...
Scott · May 25, 2010 - 04:31 EST #79

Cat knocked my speaker off - luckly it just split down the seam but dont know what type of glue to use to put them back together??
Any help would be good as these dont sound nearly as good as they could with only 1 speaker!!!

Ali Murad · July 10, 2010 - 14:40 EST #80
Hey, great article, it taught me alot about sound systems, especially since i didnt know anything at all before reading!

I really don't think i can afford the 150,000 Genesis speakers but I'm really interested in the SoundSticks.

I listen to mostly Drum and Bass and Dubstep music, and i noticed that while you praised the Genesis in It's Bass, you didn't really make it clear to me about the SoundSticks. Are they anything close to the Bass ability of the Genesis? Because I don't want to buy them and then find out that I can't listen to the thunderous bass sounds of Dubstep!
Thanks in advance!
Jed · July 10, 2010 - 23:27 EST #81
Scott, same happened to me. my cat destroys everything including my speaker which split down the middle along the seam. help...
John Eppler · October 5, 2010 - 08:43 EST #82
Thanks for an amazing review. And really, who hasn't spent a bit of time staring at a curvaceous woofer?

I've seen that the power brick on the H/K Soundsticks outputs 16v 1.5 amps. A car electrical system runs on 12-16v, 1.5 amps, so it should be possible to devise a cable to connect the system directly to a car battery for a portable sound system. Has anyone tried this? Thoughts? Comments?
Jef Nuyts · October 29, 2010 - 09:40 EST #83
Good review I am not an audiphile but my brother is, kind off. For me it is not a comparison to his speakers. These are good but laks mid tones, voices are not "natural". Bass is not well damped.
Maybe I expected too much of these speakers.
One good thing is the richness and crisp sound of those speakers. My microsoft digital sound system 80 (10y old) are for me better. sorry
Jef Nuyts · October 29, 2010 - 12:33 EST #84
After intensive testing with someone who knows more about speakers and knows how to place them. I have to reconsider my opinion.
Real audiophile speakers are ofcourse better but for this price and dimension these sound very good.
Good speakers but you have to sit 2-3m away from the speakers than you hear what they can do.
Robert Burrowes · September 11, 2013 - 12:26 EST #85
Well, here I am in 2013 and I just bought the Soundsticks (up to III now) based on a bunch of personal research that somehow missed this review. I enjoyed your writing, your audio knowledge and your clever wit very much. Thank you for writing that review! It appears that you really do like these speakers. Did you or do you actually have a set of Soundsticks on your computer after all that? I am very impressed with the sound quality myself - much better than any computer (and actually some audio gear) deserves!
Krzysztof Rastawicki · April 16, 2017 - 11:17 EST #86
I am reading this review 13 years after it was written. Today, I have bought HK Soundsticks II – a used one, of course - for 50 USD. Well, I feel that Soundsticks are comparable or even better than my Bose MusicMonitors, which are twice as expensive. In particular, highs are very clear, mediums are similar and lows - due to the separate subwoofer - are much better than Bose. In fact, I bought HK only for the subwoofer, to play with my Bose. Unfortunately, as it appeared, HK sub play only with HK satellites. So, just now I am listening to HK and I am very pleased.
Thank you very much for your great review, albeit I found it after my purchase. All the best from Poland.
Ikook · June 24, 2022 - 04:56 EST #87
Super review, i listend the used records on Apple music witch given you a lossless source.

I have two HK soundsticks and one powerunit is lost. Who knows where i can find one thats redundant or cheap ?
KitKat · June 28, 2022 - 15:36 EST #88
I was given the subwoofer but no sticks. I have nothing to hook this up to.
Ebay, here I come...
Garishanth · April 28, 2024 - 10:43 EST #89
Wow! 20 years since this review was published. I got a MacBook Air (2017). I ordered a used one. I'm excited to try it out! I like the translucent design. I wish more tech these days used such designs.

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