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Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 review: Stylish and good sounding desktop speakers

The Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 desktop speakers are stylish looking and offer some outstanding sound for just about everything.

Techaeris Rated 9.4/10

Thanks to COVID-19, these days, many of us live at our desks. We’re not only working from our desks, but we’re also consuming entertainment. So this is why the sound quality at the desk has never been more important. No wants to work on TPS reports or design work in CAD with thin and useless speakers. This is why the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 was created.

The Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 desktop speakers are stylish looking and offer some outstanding sound for just about everything. Movies, music, YouTube videos, video calls, they all sound great on this desktop speaker set. This isn’t just any other set of desktop speakers; these speakers are meant to elevate your content consumption. Read on for the full review of the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 desktop speakers review.

Specifications

The Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 has the following features and specifications:

  • Transducers: 1.4” full-range x8, 5.25” subwoofer x1Yes
  • Output power: 140 W RMS
  • Rated output power: 140 W RMS
  • Power input: 24V/3.7A
  • Frequency response: 40Hz-20kHz
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 80dB
  • Bluetooth version: 4.2
  • Bluetooth profile: A2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.6T
  • Bluetooth transmitter frequency range: 2.402 – 2.480 GHz
  • Bluetooth transmitter power: 0 – 9 dBm
  • Bluetooth transmitter modulation: GFSK, π/4 DQPSK, 8DPSK
  • Wi-Fi network: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz)
  • Dimensions (W x H x D):
    • Woofer: 231mmx276mmx231mm
    • Satellite: 271mmx84mmx84mm
    • Weight: 4.432 kg

What’s In The Box

  • Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4
  • Power Cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Safety Sheet
  • Warranty Card
Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4
Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4

Design

Before we jump into the review’s design portion, I have to admit that this particular aesthetic is probably not going to appeal to everyone. The Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 have a very unique and modern look that you either love or hate. I happen to be on the side of love, and I’m guessing if you’re reading this far, you are too.

This is the 4th generation of the Harman Kardon SoundSticks, and they’ve mostly remained the same with some minor design updates. The enclosures are all made of transparent plastic that’s robust and well-made. The two desktop speaker towers have 4 1.4” full-range transducers with an exposed front, so don’t go poking them.

There are no buttons or connections on the two desktop tower speakers, those are reserved for the subwoofer.

Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4
Probably not the best placement but it works.

The subwoofer on the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 is housed in a large plastic dome, the same robust premium plastic used on the desktop speakers. The 5.25” subwoofer inside can be seen and is accented with a white LED light that glows while the speakers are on. The LED light also indicates when you turn the volume up or down.

On the front of the subwoofer, flanking the Harman Kardon logo, are the touch controls for volume up and down. I have seen some reviews complain about this, but your device can control the volume, so it’s not a huge issue for us. Around the back of the subwoofer is the power button and Bluetooth pairing button. There is also an AUX port, a MicroUSB port for service, a power port, and left and right speakers’ connections.

All of the cables and colored plastics are a bright matte white color that looks clean and should compliment your desktop nicely, especially if you’re a Mac user.

Overall, the design of the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 has a minimal and clean feel to them. I really love the way they look, but they’re certainly not going to be everyone’s slice of bread.

Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4
The backend of the subwoofer

Setup/Ease of Use

Setup of the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 is super easy, especially if you’re connecting via AUX. AUX setup is as simple as plugging an AUX cable from the subwoofer to your computer.

I chose to use the Bluetooth setup using my iMac. This is also very simple and only involves pressing the Bluetooth button on the back to pair. You then find the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 in your Bluetooth settings and connect. You can also pair your mobile device to these and play music.

The speakers automatically disconnect from my iMac when in sleep mode and automatically reconnect once the iMac is awake again.

Setup is a breeze, and these are very simple to use. My Apple keyboard also controls the volume very easily. Overall, super simple; anyone setting these up should have no problems.

HK SoundSticks 4 Sub
Great bass from this subwoofer

Sound

The Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 sound is well balanced, and the subwoofer does its job without overpowering everything. There is no EQ, so you’re stuck with how Harman Kardon tuned this. I’ve seen reviews complain about no EQ, but we don’t think it’s needed when the sound is tuned properly, and in this case, it is.

I used the SoundSticks on my desk, as I believe most will also use them. I do a lot at my desk, including listening to music, watching movies, watching YouTube videos, and attending meetings and presentations.

Music Playback

Over Bluetooth, the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 speakers sound amazing. I’m more than positive an audiophile may disagree with me, but non-audiophiles outnumber them, and they will be pleased. Music is crisp and clear with vocals coming through nicely, mids and treble are well balanced, and the bass is strong when it needs to be and subtle when it needs to be out of the way. I really enjoyed listening to music on these speakers, and they handle all genres very well.

Movies and Video Playback

Desktop speakers usually have problems handling the sound from movies. Generally, they’re too weak to handle the complex mix that some movies can produce, especially bass. The SoundSticks had no issues here, though. The 2.1 surround system easily handled movies and delivered all the rumble and shake from explosions, jet planes, and more during playback. While it wasn’t a theater experience, it was as close as you’ll get from desktop speakers.

Video Conferencing

I used the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 a lot during CES 2020, and participating in video conferencing and watching video presentations was really great. The speakers are strong enough to deliver everything in clarity, and I didn’t feel like I had to turn them up way high to hear anything. They also didn’t sound thin and weak like other desktop speakers. I could hear the bass in the presenter’s voice, and I felt as if they were in the same room.

Overall, the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 are outstanding when it comes to sound. Harman Kardon markets these as having “incredible bass” due to the subwoofer, and that is true. But it’s also not overwhelming everything. I think the bass is incredible indeed but don’t worry that it’s all you’ll get. The SoundSticks 4 easily win my pick for the best desktop speakers on the market.

HK SoundSticks 4
The design isn’t for everyone, but we love it.

Price/Value

The Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 are priced at US$299.95, which is a pretty hefty price tag for desktop speakers. Not everyone is prepared to pay this sort of money for desktop speakers. And that’s okay. But for those of us who spend a significant amount of time at our desks and want really amazing sound and beautiful design. Well, these are worth every penny and have a ton of value to the right user.

Wrap Up

The Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 aren’t going to be a must-buy for everyone heck; nothing is a must-buy for everyone. Sure, they are priced really high, which is going to scare plenty of you away. But the value is there. The Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 are the best desktop speakers on the market. Those who want speakers who can handle movies, music, and video conference calls while delivering high-definition sound. You can’t beat the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4.

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Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4

US$299.95

Design

9.5/10

Setup/Ease of Use

9.5/10

Sound

9.5/10

Price/Value

9.0/10

Nailed it

  • Beautiful and stylish design
  • Easy to use and set up
  • Really great sound, immersive and good bass

Needs work

  • $299 may be a bit much for some users for desktop speakers
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