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Sound Sticks II 

These are a very unusual set of speakers from Harman Kardon a name that often comes up with speakers in notebook computers. However I doubt any other company has ever produced anything like these before.
Harman Kardon Sound Sticks 2

What you get are a pair of sound sticks each with four speakers and a sub woofer. The first difference is that both the sound sticks and the sub woofer are see through. They look like glass but are plastic.

Each sound stick is 25cm tall around 5cm across and at points 5cm deep. The sub woofer has the advantage that it is not as heavy as it looks and can be placed on the floor out of the way but of course being unusual you will want it on display. It is 20cm round and 25cm tall. The bottom 8cm has all the electronics and connections so the top 17cm is just an empty space but of course this together with the numerous holes in its floor help to produce the sound.

The connections are on the side of the sub woofer. First you plug the two sound sticks into a small dongle that protrudes around 8cm from the side of the sub woofer, interestingly the dual fitting on the end of it are totally different for each of the sound sticks. The other connections are for the A/C adapter a 3.5mm plug on a hard wired 1.8metre lead and a volume knob to adjust the output of the sub woofer.

Each sound stick has a two metre lead one ending with a light grey plug and the other with a dark grey din plug. The difference holds an important effect in my case anyway because when I connected them I heard nothing the volume on the sub woofer did not appear to help as eventually I found two metal contacts either side of the lead on the base of the din sound stick as a touch button to increase and decrease the sound. So if only one stick is in easy reach make it that one.

There is a Quick Setup guide (two pages of illustrations and minimal text in English) this just about shows you how to connect what to what. There is also a FAQ sheet with twelve bullet pointed questions and I later found it is mentioned there.

The setup mentions the lead going to a sound card on a PC and indeed I did use them with a couple of PCs but it says 'insert the lead into the computer or other audio device. So I also used it with a range of MP3 and iPods.

With the limited sound coming from a MP3 device the sound sticks give an adequate sound level, in fact that is all you can say about one of the PCs that had onboard sound and the settings on both the sound stick and the PC were at the top of the range. However the other PC has a sound card giving far more output and here you do have the ability to annoy the neighbours with the right (or should I say wrong) music.

It looks as so each of the sound sticks are fixed vertically in a weighted ring at the base but each can moved up to 180 degrees and while that is unlikely to give any benefit 20 or 30 degrees could be beneficial.

Next is the sound quality anything special, it is good with the four speakers in each sound stick but I am not sure that it is outstanding. Certainly adjusting the sound is fiddly, maybe I was expecting more. Of course the look is everything and here they are truly unusual.

Each sound stick is rated at up to 10 watts per channel, while the sub woofer is rated at 20 watts with response down to 44Hz.

Doing my Internet searches found the Harman Kardon Sound Sticks II at a best price of £98.70 including free delivery from the first link below.     

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0001W8EFK?ie=UTF8&tag=gadge0a-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634

http://www.harmankardon.com/product_detail.aspx?Region=USA&Country=US&Language=ENG&cat=MME∏=SOUNDSTICKSII&sType=C

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