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Shawn, Computer Engineer
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 275
Experience:  15 years of Mac software and hardware troubleshooting experience, 10 years of programming experience
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I just bought Harmon/Kardon Soundsticks II, to replace my original

Customer Question

I just bought Harmon/Kardon Soundsticks II, to replace my original Soundsticks that apparently stopped working with a Mac update. The new speakers use the earphone port, whereas the old ones used the USB connection. The old speakers aren't supported anymore, so I thought I'd just spring for the newer version. I have the same problem with the new ones. Power is on, all connections are good, the speakers buzz as I plug them in, but no music. The Mac thinks I'm plugging in headphones.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Mac
Expert:  Shawn replied 8 years ago.

Those speakers should be plug-and-play. Let's try some troubleshooting steps:

1) Unplug all of the speakers and reboot your computer
2) Try plugging the new speakers into an iPod or other audio source to make sure they work
3) Once you've confirmed the speakers work, plug them into the audio out port on the Mac (there's also a microphone in port that looks basically the same - make sure you get the right one)
4) Go to Apple Menu->System Preferences... and click on Sound
5) Navigate to the Output section and make sure that your external speakers show up and are selected, the output volume is up, and Mute is not checked

6) Try playing some sound!

Let me know how this works. Kind regards,

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I tried rebooting, and setting up system preferences. Soundsticks don't show up, but the Mac thinks there's headphones. The speakers buzz when I plug them in, which is a good sign, but they don't work in my iPhone, which is a really bad sign. I did buy these Soundsticks II used, and from the above I would think that they are broken. But the only reason I bought these is because my original Soundsticks just stopped working one day.

So now I have to sets of speakers that don't work. One set USB, and the other with a mic jack. I used this service to no avail for the first set. I thought for sure I was fixing the problem by getting the newer speakers. No such luck.

The original problem seemed to occur after an automated Mac security update.
Expert:  Shawn replied 8 years ago.

I looked at your previous thread with Rob trying to solve the same problem, and don't have any suggestions for the USB speakers that you haven't already tried. As the Harmon/Kardon people said in their support emails, the speakers are no longer compatible with Macs (which is a real shame - they are great speakers! I had a set of them once upon a time too). It basically boils down to a driver issue - anything USB requires a driver, and that driver doesn't work with the current systems.

The newer speakers are the right way to go, but unfortunately we've just confirmed that your particular set does not work. Since they were damaged on arrival, can you return them and get a different set? Then you'd be all set.

I'm sorry that I don't have a better solution! Let me know if you have any more questions. Kind regards,

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I checked another mp3 player, and the speakers work, but the volume is very very low. I rechecked the iPod, and the computer. Both work, but again, the volume is so low that I have to hold the speakers to my ear to hear it.

Volume is up in system settings, it's up in iTunes, mute is not on, and volume on 'bass' is up.

any ideas?
Expert:  Shawn replied 8 years ago.

Good thinking, and interesting discovery that there is a bit of sound still. It still sounds like a hardware problem with the speakers to me. You might try wiggling the cable where it enters the speaker and where it enters the connector that goes into your Mac, but all that will tell you is that it's a broken audio cable - still a hardware problem. Another possibility is that the previous owner overdrove the input by turning the volume up too high, which could potentially damage the preamp inside the speakers. This could explain why you hear the sound very softly.

BotXXXXX XXXXXne... they're not going to work without hardware repair. :-(

Sorry I don't have better news. Kind regards,