New computer speakers

I love the sound of my Harman Kardon Soundsticks II, but I’ve been planning on getting rid of them for a while now. They have two major flaws.

1. The UI is terrible. There’s a knob on the subwoofer for controlling the level of the bass, which is fine, but the only other controls are two touch-sensitive buttons on the right satellite speaker, labelled + and -. These control the volume, and if you tap them at the same time, it mutes the signal. There’s no off switch, and no visual indication whether they are muted, or what volume they are set to. It’s also quite time-consuming to set your desired volume using + and – buttons, when a good old fashioned knob does the job so much better.

2. Since there’s no off switch, and the subwoofer sits there emanating a glow from its blue LED all night, I felt that I had no choice but to switch everything off at the wall whenever I turn the computer off. It’s a hassle, and I want to be able to switch the speakers properly off when not in use.

I had my eye on the Logitech Z-4 or Z-2300 which are 2.1 speakers with a nifty satellite unit that has a volume control, on-off switch, headphone socket and bass control on it.

Logitech LS21

Today in town I spotted a set of Logitech LS21 speakers at an attractive price. They have the same satellite unit (except that the bass control is on the subwoofer, but that’s no big loss) so I bought them.

I’ve discovered that this particular model is fairly quiet. I *think* they’re going to be loud enough for my needs, but I’m not completely certain. Also, the volume control on the LS21 is a scroll-wheel, whereas the more expensive models have a knob which gives you a visual cue as to what it is set at.

So maybe I’ll trade up in the future, maybe I won’t.

About Me Photos Stunt 2007

Stuff on my desk

*This is a companion piece to a similarly-themed article on Karen’s site which, all things being equal, should be published at roughly the same time.*

My desk

Here is my desk. It’s an Ikea Jerker that I bought about 14 months ago, when we moved into this house.

My desk (overlay)

(Yes, the PNG is transparent, so you can overlay it on the JPG if you so desire).

1. Three boxes. One contains AC adapters, one contains receipts, and one is labelled “Misc crap” and contains all those little things that you don’t have a real home for. Mounted on the underside of the shelf below these boxes is a little OSRAM LED lamp.
2. Red Dwarf videos. I’m currently going through a bit of a Red Dwarf phase, reliving my teenage years. One, or more, of these VHS tapes may have been acquired at a reduced rate by switching price labels in WHSmiths. Such a rebel, I was.
3. Camera box. Nikon D40. Haven’t quite got round to putting this box in the garage or loft or wherever. On top of it is my camera case.
4. Books. One that I’m reading, one that I’m yet to read, and my 2005-06 and 2006-07 diaries. Older diaries are kept in a storage box in the garage, but I like having my last two to hand, just in case.
5. My pyro box. Lighters, matches, and an ancient pack of Golden Virginia.
6. Audio cassettes. All the live recordings, taped rehearsals, and early albums by my old band. On top of this little box is my bank statement book, and in front of it are my watches.
7. Pile of Terror. One of these boxes is also labelled “Misc crap”. Everything in this pile has no home, but hopefully I will rectify this one day. It’s a low-priority thing, and to be honest, most of this stuff could probably be thrown away, and I would never notice.
8. Postcards that Karen brings me.
9. Keyboard. It’s a Casio CTK-671.
10. Monitor. It’s a Sony. It’s a good monitor, but still… Sony. Ugh. Sorry. Tucked beneath it is a hefty reusable plastic bag. In front, a notepad with a comb on it, and to the right of that is the magnet that opens the drawers down to the side of the desk.
11. Man bag.
12. 8 track. It’s a Yamaha MD-8. I don’t use this much any more, so it now lives under here, and can be slid out if/when I need it.
13. Keyboard. It’s a Microsoft. It’s a good keyboard, but still… Microsoft. Ugh. Sorry. Behind it is a cheap plastic toy that my dad brought back from China. Its purpose is to spin round, light up, and play the Crazy Frog theme. It worked twice, then broke. So sad.
14. Photo of Karen. Whenever Bernard sees this, he points and says “Mama” about thirty times in quick succession.
15. Margarine tub containing a secret project that I’m working on. In front of it are my two coasters, by Marcus Gray.
16. Backup CDs and burned Linux ISOs.
17. A4 paper for the printer. To the left, empty CD spindles.
18. Printer. HP Laserjet 4L.
19. Some old envelopes for the recycling box. I just left them here while I took the photo to make the place look untidy. I am smart like that.
20. Second camera. Pentax Optio S30. Again, it doesn’t normally live here, but it gatecrashed the photo shoot. Behind it, an empty CD spindle. In front of it, the lens cap for my camera.

What else is on the shelf with the monitor?

* Two speakers (Harman Kardon Soundsticks II, the woofer is down there on the floor, glowing blue).
* Letter rack, containing things to file, things to do something about, and envelopes.
* A little pile with some post-it notes and Carmex lip balm on top.
* Pen pots
* Camera manual
* Some more pieces of paper to deal with
* Spindle containing blank CDs.
* Desk lamp.
* On the wall, some photos.

How has my desk changed in the last year?

14 months ago, it looked like this. Those two shelves at the top used to contain a lot of junk, so I moved one of them down to act as a monitor shelf. This gives me more space to work with at keyboard level, and also allows me to raise the speakers by six inches, out of Bernard’s reach (he likes grabbing them and playing with them. I can understand why – they are quite lovely). And the 8-track, as I previously mentioned, is now underneath that shelf.

You can also see that I’ve installed the second side-shelf, and used it to make a nifty little keyboard stand (the other end of the keyboard rests on my bass amp). This has been in place for quite a long time now.

And finally, here’s a photo of my desk at the previous house. It’s only six months older, so much of the hardware is the same.



My power of speech has suffered greatly in the last two weeks. I wandered into Dixons and found a set of Harman Kardon Soundsticks II plugged into one of the demonstration computers. I switched them on and was instantly transported to heaven, that famous place which strips you of your ability to make interesting conversation. Here follows an actual, real, genuine hypothetical conversation:

“Hi, Pete. This is Abigail. She’s really fit and totally digs computer programmers who play the bass guitar.”

“Hi, Pete. I’m sooo hot for you.”

“Really? Have you ever heard of the Harman Kardon Soundsticks II? They sound absolutely awesome!”

“Uhm… I have to go. I think I left my cat under the microwave. I can hear him wailing now.”

“Well, shucks.”

Anyhow, I couldn’t buy them straight away, because it was only a few weeks to Christmas, and it’s just not worth the risk, as I have been expressing for some time that my existing computer speakers are old and muddy-sounding, and were basically the cheapest set of satellite speakers that I could get three years ago when I built my computer. It was possible that someone may take it upon themselves to get me a new set.

This year, I’ve been replacing bits of my computer, and have been moving from beige to black/silver. New keyboard and printer in summer. New tower case in autumn. Just the speakers and monitor to go.

When it turned out that I hadn’t been bought some new speakers for Christmas, I had a decision to make. Do I buy the fabulous sounding H/Ks, or do I get a nice pair of Logitechs that will match my black/silver colour scheme, cost half as much, but not sound quite as jaw-droppingly, pant-wettingly orgasmalicious? And LOUD.

Silly question. I think my neighbours may want to move out now.

*Originally posted here*