Harman Kardon Soundsticks 4 Review

Harman Kardon Soundsticks 4 Review
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The Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 speakers have a chic appearance and provide exceptional sound for almost everything. The sound quality of movies, music, YouTube videos, and video chats is excellent on this desktop speaker set. These speakers are not just another pair of desktop speakers; they are designed to improve the quality of the information you consume. Continue reading for a detailed analysis of the Harman Kardon Soundsticks 4 Review.

Harman Kardon Soundsticks 4 Review: Design

I have to confess that this specific look is probably not going to be appealing to everyone before we move on to the design section of the assessment. You either love or detest the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4’s distinctive and cutting-edge appearance. Since you’ve read this far, I’m going to assume that you’re also on the side of love.

Harman Kardon Soundsticks 4 Review: Design
Harman Kardon Soundsticks 4 Review: Design

The Harman Kardon SoundSticks have seen some minor design changes in this, their fourth iteration, but otherwise have stayed mostly same. All of the enclosures are constructed of sturdy, well-made translucent plastic. Don’t poke the four 1.4″ full-range transducers on the front of the two desktop speaker towers. The two desktop tower speakers don’t have any controls or connectors; the subwoofer has those.

The Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4’s subwoofer is encased in a sizable plastic dome made of the same durable quality plastic as the desktop speakers. A white LED light that illuminates when the speakers are on highlights the visible 5.25″ subwoofer within. The LED light also shows when the volume is increased or decreased. The volume up and down touch controls are located on the front of the subwoofer, on each side of the Harman Kardon logo.

Although I have seen several reviews that criticize this, since your smartphone can manage the volume, it is not a major problem for us. The power button and Bluetooth connecting button are located on the rear of the subwoofer. Additionally, there are connectors for the left and right speakers, an AUX port, a MicroUSB port for servicing, and four other ports.

Harman Kardon Soundsticks 4 Review: Performance

The SoundSticks 4 produce excellent audio. The speakers give a good blend of high-frequency clarity and audible, deep sub-bass for songs with heavy sub-bass content, such as The Knife’s “Silent Shout.” Thanks to some skillfully executed DSP (digital signal processing), which manages to preserve the drivers without overly smoothing out the lows, the speakers don’t distort even at maximum volumes. This sound signature has a strong bass component and is clear.

Harman Kardon Soundsticks 4 Review: Performance
Harman Kardon Soundsticks 4 Review: Performance

A tune with far less deep bass in the mix, Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” offers us a clearer idea of the SoundSticks 4’s overall sound. The subwoofer truly lends the drums here some added dimension, making them seem strong and large. The baritone vocals of Callahan receive plenty of low-mid richness as well, although they are in a whole different zone than the deep-sounding percussion. Although it should be evident, the drums and voices frequently seem to be fighting for the bass increase on other speakers, which results in a muddy sound. It sounds huge, full, organic, and sharp in this instance. The acoustic strumming is clear and precise.

These speakers’ stereo separation—made possible by their lengthy hardwired connections with included velcro straps for cable organization—is an absolute delight to hear and the antidote to the current upsurge of mono wireless speakers. It’s pleasant to listen to music that has been mostly recorded and mixed in stereo.

Harman Kardon Soundsticks 4 Review: Tabletop in mind

With these, Harman/Kardon continued a puzzling design decision: Each of the three components is obviously intended to rest atop your desk. There are no controls of any kind on the left and right speaker units. The front and rear of the subwoofer are where they are instead situated. Two raised white buttons on the front of the sub to regulate the volume, which you could probably just adjust from your computer. The power and Bluetooth connect buttons are located around the rear.

Harman Kardon Soundsticks 4 Review: Tabletop in mind
Harman Kardon Soundsticks 4 Review: Tabletop in mind

Additionally, the subwoofer’s LEDs emit a different glow when the volume is changed, it is turned on, or it is connected to a Bluetooth device, indicating that you are very clearly meant to see it light up, which you probably wouldn’t notice if it were placed in the typical subwoofer location of on the floor under the desk.

Conclusions

The Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 carry on the legacy of earlier generations by fusing premium design with robust, superior audio performance. The price may seem a little excessive given the lack of an app and the few bundled accessories, but the sound performance more than makes up for it. We also like the $399 Klipsch R-41PM and the $399 Audioengine HD3 in this price bracket.

Although both are in low supply at the moment, the $300 SoundSticks 4 win our Editors’ Choice for looking as fantastic as ever and offering genuine stereo separation and sub-bass accompaniment. If any of them are out of your price range, have a look at the $40 Creative Pebble Plus, a 2.1 system that isn’t as good as the others but offers good value nonetheless.

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