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Device repair and information for the Soundsticks II speaker, designed by Harman Kardon in 2004.

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Left speaker is much quieter than Right

My SoundSticks II have been giving great sound since 2005, but I recently noticed that the left speaker is much quieter than the right. The sound is not distorted, but it less than half as loud, giving a useless stereo image. When listening to each of the four drivers, it seems as though they are all working equally.

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I am the OP, replying with the solution I found.

The symptoms were very much as if a small resistance had been inserted in series with the left speaker. Peering at the circuit board, I noticed a pair of large-ish electrolytic capacitors near the connector that carries the speaker outputs, a common feature to remove the DC offset when driving speakers from a single-rail circuit. I also noticed that the cans were a little swollen. I guessed that the caps drying out or going bad could increase their effective series resistance, which could explain my symptom.

I opened up the case and replaced both caps with new low-loss audio-quality 1000uF 16v electrolytics (same ratings as the parts I was replacing). It worked! The stereo balance is now perfect.

I’d never heard of bad caps messing with the power of audio output circuits, only of them shorting out power supplies. But it seems like this is a real, if less dramatic, instance of the bad caps blight.

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FYI, here’s an image highlighting the caps I replaced in red.

Block Image

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Thanks, mine actually look still ok. I fiddled with the aux cable which improved it closer to 80% of the right speaker. Still noticable to the trained ear, but at least not constantly irritating as before.

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@gallina - You can often see swelling at the top of bad caps - see for example http://www.robotroom.com/Faulty-Capacito... .

Your problem could also be a loose connection. I’ve had problems with the spade connectors inside the speakers corroding or coming loose (but it’s hard to access those unless the adhesive holding the speaker cases together has also deteriorated to the point where you can open the cases). Maybe you can try wiggling the speaker cables to see if that has any effect.

It could also be a loose or broken connection on the audio input.

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thanks for reply; unfortunately, all the test made (also cleaning contacts and disassembling speaker, did not lead to a positive solution.

I am assuming the circuit inside the dome is not processing anymore the left channel leading out to the speaker.

So bad to switch to a different 2.1

:-(

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Hey there - had the exact same issue (In my case one of the caps was actually leaking). Huge thanks for the tip - I also noticed that the glue which holds the permanent magnets in the drivers, brittles over time making your speakers sound “metallic“ and a bit quieter as the magnets dislodge - mine came out when I was moving. Easy fix is to press them back in and re-apply some glue to hold them together for another few years .. (do take care to match them to the right drivers they came out of or they will sound weird).

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Hi, OP.

Thanks for you comments. It really helps a lot! For real.

I’ve got a small problem: my subwoofer button not long works well. When I switch it to adjust subwoof volume, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Kindly to know which capacitor(s) do I need to replace?

Many thanks!!

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It was the AUX connector problem, not the capacitors.

Fixed it already.

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My left speaker instead, just stop working; I wonder if it will be useful this same fix.

How can I be sure if the caps is actually swollen?

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In my case, it was the AUX connector that went bad, after I had tried many other ways.

Now, looking back ,it seems that this soundsticks.2’ capacitors were actually good. Mine has been used for more that 10 yeas. The top of capacitors looks good. But still, before i could find out the problem with AUX connectors, I had already replaced quite a few capacitors. Hope this speakers could work for another long period.

My subwoofer no longer worked. It was the capacitor problem, the 25v47uf one that near the power button. I replaced it, and everything goes well.

Again, the glu that holds the mini speakers was not in good quality. I re-applied some and fixed it. Guess it was a common problem.

My soundsticks.2 was made in China, Suzhou. The capacitors were green ones, other than black ones. The brand was ftom or something. It’s good.

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