Review: Harman Kardon SoundSticks Wireless

Thirteen years ago, Lars Ulrich filed a lawsuit against Napster, geocaching became a thing, and Harman Kardon released the Jony Ive-designed iSub 2000 Subwoofer and SoundSticks.

Today? Napster’s had its lifeforce sucked out by Rhapsody, geocaching is a bigger thing, and the timeless design of the iSub 2000 Subwoofer and SoundSticks keeps on keeping on with new guts and connectivity options.

At $230, the SoundSticks Wireless are almost identical to their turn of the millennium counterpart — or if you like, the SoundSticks III, an updated version of speakers and sub that Harman Kardon cranked out a few years ago. In fact, as far as I can see (they are transparent after all), very little about the hardware has changed this go round. The sole exception is the fact that these SoundSticks let you stream audio from a smartphone, tablet, PC, or Mac via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, that’s as far as the “wireless” goes with these things.

The whole package includes a beefy subwoofer with a 6-inch bass driver and two satellite pods with four 1 1/8-inch drivers each. Everything is connected together by thick cables. Also, unlike most Bluetooth speakers these days, the satellites don’t have an internal battery to keep them thumping along away from an electrical outlet. That’s probably for the best, as the hardware weighs over 11 pounds. You wouldn’t want to be shifting the whole rig around the house too often anyway.

Given the basic design of this sound system hasn’t changed in close to a decade, you’d think Harman Kardon would have some time to sort out the Bluetooth connectivity hiccups. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to have happened.

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