Logitech Z-5500 Digital

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These speakers are our new favorites—and for good reason

Since Logitech’s Z-680 5.1 speaker set currently reigns supreme in Labville, and is the only speaker system to receive a perfect 10 verdict in the past two years or so, we wondered what Logitech could possibly do to improve them. Now we know. The Z-5500 Digital system is better than the Z-680 in every possible way, with one small exception (more on that later).

Essentially, this setup delivers the exact same hair-raising, soul-crushing power as the Z-680, but is much easier to live with thanks to a dramatically redesigned control pod and a few other amenities. The controls look more elegant and are now one thousand times easier to read, thanks to added contrast in the display. Additionally, the wheel lag that made dialing up the desired volume level in the Z-680 has thankfully been 86’d in favor of a knob that offers a much faster response time. The satellites have also been redesigned, and are now less pod-like and more sleek, and feature a swiveling base (a la the Z-5300) that allows for easy wall-mounting. The speaker wires are now attached to the satellites, which is unfortunate since the Z-680 set let you use any length and type of speaker wire you wanted. Fortunately, the 25-foot Logitech wires should be more than sufficient for most folks. If not, you’re up a creek.

Technologically, Logitech is sticking with its single-driver phase plug design, and we’re not complaining. During testing they delivered the same killer treble and midrange we experienced with the Z-680, making the two speaker systems virtually indistinguishable at the satellite level.

The subwoofer, however, has grown to such a gargantuan size that Lab technicians were heard muttering a respectful “holy sh--” when we removed it from the box, followed by an awe-filled “daaaamn…” when its girth was fully revealed. We had zero complaints about the previous set’s 8-inch driver, but the new all-black 10-inch unit is downright incredible. It’s not a night-and-day difference from the older unit, but it’s noticeably deeper at higher volume levels.

That said, we have to slightly amend the Z-680’s record. We didn’t notice it until recently, but the center channel in this speaker set emits a slight but continuous hiss that’s audible at a close proximity when no sound is playing—mind you, most people would probably never notice it. Sadly, this problem was not fixed on the Z-5500. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but it’s a small annoyance that Logitech definitely needs to address. --Josh Norem

+ Satellite: Easy-to-read controls, even more powerful sub, all-around awesome.

- Cellulite: Speaker wire is attached to speakers.

Month Reviewed: November 2004
Verdict: 10
kickass=yes
URL: www.logitech.com

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