SoundSticks III [Review]

November 17, 2011 by Gabe | [mmd] |

While the built-in speaker on my iMac is quite nice it's not sufficient for listening to music or podcasts, especially if I want to listen from another room. Over the years I've heard nice things about the SoundSticks but never had a reason to "upgrade". Well, I finally needed to reclaim my SoundWorks radio from my office and decided to give the SoundSticks III a go. I'm glad I did.

Getting It

Harmon Kardon lists the SoundSticks III at $169. I purchased mine from Amazon 1 using my prime account and received them within the anticipated 2 days.

The speakers arrived in a well protected cocoon of cardboard. It wasn't as elegant as Apple packaging but it was still well thought out and was not frustrating to separate from the prize inside.

Sound Quality

They simply sound great. The audio spectrum is full enough for my needs and with the bass on my large 1950's wooden desk, I get deep rich lows. The tech specs list the response range as 44Hz-20kHz, which is pretty standard for bookshelf speakers. Even with the volume turned up, they sound good and project into the adjacent rooms. Since the bass is a reflective speaker it works best when sitting on a solid uniform surface. I would not place this unit on a carpeted floor or on any other strongly sound absorbing material.

Appearance

They look like the classic SoundSticks, which is to says, they look futuristic. They at made of clear polycarbonate that are meant to showcase the elegant design of the system. It does that. The bass speaker is dome shaped and is intended to be a center piece. This philosophy is made evident by the constant bright white light that radiates from the interior of the bass speaker. It shows well, but honestly, I think it's a bit too bright and a bit too cheesy.

The satellite speakers also look a little alien but their diminutive size belays a large sound. While I hide the bass speaker away behind my iMac, I have the satellite speakers out in the open. This is not only to provide better stereo separation, but because they compliment the iMac.

These are meant to be seen and heard. They are awkwardly shaped and have limited speaker wiring to separate the satellites from the bass unit. If you want these on a bookshelf, they will stand out and take up a lot of space. They are really designed to fit in with your computer and compliment the design.

Features

When I first connected the speakers I was very disappointed with the maximum volume. I've never been the kind of person to read a manual and in this case, it was to my chagrin. The SoundSticks ship with the volume low. The volume controls are small touch sensitive pads on the right speaker. It was obvious after reading the manual but the controls are somewhat hidden in plain sight. That said, they look attractive and are convenient to use. Most of the time I use the keyboard volume controls on my Mac, but if I just want to walk in and turn down the volume, they are easy to access.

In addition to the touch controls, there's a separate volume control for the base speaker. This provides a bit of custom control over the audio quality. I don't like a lot of bass in my music and would be frustrated by anything that did not allow me to change it.

Complaints

I don't have any serious complaints. These are great for the price. I did try plugging in my iPhone 4S directly and was met by some strange alien artifacts in the audio channel. I did not pursue using a dock connector.

The only other warning I can give is that the satellite speakers use a custom connector. If you are thinking about wiring these up to span across a room, forget it. It's not worth it to buy this setup and Frankenstein it into something it was not intended to be. These are desktop speakers. They are attractive and sound good at close range.

That's about it for features. These are not meant to be feature rich but rather sound rich.

Conclusion

  1. They sound good
  2. They're awkwardly shaped
  3. They are just speakers
  4. They look good
  5. They're reasonably priced
  6. I like them

  1. I'm using my Amazon associate account. If you buy it from that link then I'll get a small kick-back 
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