Using USB Speakers from a Palm PDA

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: 01/27/2007

I'd really appreciate help with a technical audio problem..

I have a set of the original Harman-Kardon SoundSticks USB speakers - these only work via USB cable, and were designed for Macs only, but do work with some PC's too.

I'd like to use these with a Palm handheld PDA (the Palm TX), either (i) via its standard analog line-out jack or (ii) via its USB port.

I don't know if (ii) can work as I'm not sure if it can drive USB speakers at all.

But (i) may work - however, I need a device that can take the analog output from the Palm PDA, and convert it into a USB audio stream for the speakers.

Am I right that the Griffin iMic is the only/best solution to this? Or will it in fact not work?

These SoundSticks speakers were designed to work specifically with the Macs, but apparently did work with some (though not all) PC's. The fact that it works more with Macs than with PC's, even though both can in principle drive USB speakers, makes me concerned that it may not be sufficient to just use an iMic from the Palm PDA, as there may be something Mac-specific that's needed. ?

Anyway, so far the only product I've found that can take an analog audio input and convert it to USB format, is the iMic. Does it sound like it may work with these SoundSticks?

Many thanks for any suggestions. I really appreciate it.

Joined: 02/12/2009

First, awesome idea. This would be great if it could work. And props for thinking creatively.

I think method (i) would be the best way to do it, if both have 1/8" analog audio jacks. If the speakers don't have a analog input, this won't work. I see that the Harman Kardon Soundsticks II have it (but no USB), do the original Soundsticks?

I'm not sure if (ii) would work, because the speakers likely need power over the USB port.

Another idea is to add a powered USB hub between the Palm and the speakers. That might give the speakers the power they need.

Quote:take the analog output from the Palm PDA, and convert it into a USB audio stream for the speakers.

This won't work either. USB audio interfaces like the Griffin iMic require software (drivers and/or control panels) at the other end of the USB cable to work. So they don't work as stand-alone devices. Most require a software install before they'll work, except for those that don't have software-controlled settings, AND when the OS has the drivers built-in (ie OS X's system-level Core Audio framework).

This is likely also the reason why those speakers only worked with OS X.

Joined: 01/27/2007

Many thanks for your reply (and your compliments!)

I was really hoping the iMic idea would work... guess not!
What about this device, it seems like a simpler version of the iMic...

Does it seem like it'll also need a computer-side interface?

To answer your question -

the original SoundSticks speakers (the ones we have) don't have a standard analog audio jack, only a USB interface; an analog audio jack interface was only added in the SoundSTicks II model.

I understand your point about needing power for the speakers, but in this case I think it's not a problem, as the SoundSticks draw their own power supply from a 240V transformer.

So we were going to try hooking up the USB cable from the Palm (which normally goes to a PC/Mac for synchronisation) with the fixed USB cable coming out of the SoundSticks (which normally connects to a PC or Mac) using a simple female-to-female USB adapter. I was worried this may not work though, as a Palm device, unlike a Mac or PC, may not be 'smart' enough to realise its USB port is plugged into a set of *speakers* rather than a computer for synchronisation.. but we'll give it a try just in case!

Thanks again.

Joined: 02/12/2009

Yeah, I think these are all long-shot ideas. If any of them work, I'd be pleasantly surprised! All of the USB devices (including the Palm) are designed as peripherals, not to be connected to each other.

That "Generic" device looks pretty bogus, and I wouldn't excpect much for $10. First, it's hard to see what the connector is, I assume it's 1/8" mini jacks for in and out. The tech specs say that it does 5.1 surround, which is utter BS, since it only has two channels output, so it must be a faux-surround effect. And, parts of the description jargon don't make sense. Read the user review that gives it one star for more bad points.

You'd be better off spending a few more $ for the better Griffin iMic.

In the end I bet you'll just use the analog audio out of the Palm in to a different set of speakers...