Logitech astounds us on a regular basis with their ability to produce dirt-cheap yet solid-sounding speakers. We can only imagine how thin their profit margins must be; heck, that’s probably why there are so few other players in this segment. But the quality of their latest offering, the Speaker System Z623, barely passes muster. It also leaves us wondering what value THX certification really holds for the consumer at this price point.
The Z623 is a 2.1-channel system equipped with a 200-watt amplifier that delivers 35 watts to each of the satellite speakers and 130 watts to the sub. The satellites have a single driver each--a 2.5-inch dome with an aluminum phase plug--while the subwoofer utilizes a seven-inch pressure driver with a bass port in its cabinet. As is typical in this category, the satellites have hard-wired cables that plug into the sub, where the amp is located.
Logitech's Z623 is a 2.1-channel system with a generously sized subwoofer.
Logitech offers plenty of analog inputs: The subwoofer cabinet has both stereo RCA inputs and a stereo 1/8-inch jack, and there’s a second stereo 1/8-inch jack on the right-hand speaker cabinet. The power switch, knobs for volume and bass level control, and a 1/8-inch stereo headphone jack are also on this cabinet. Unlike Logitech’s top-of-the-line speaker system, the $400 Z-5500, there are no digital audio inputs and no surround-sound decoder—not that we’d expect those features at this price point.
THX says they worked closely with Logitech during the Z623's development cycle.
What we do expect—at any price point—is good fidelity. THX certification notwithstanding, the Z623 speaker system falls short of that mark. We have no complaint with the system’s performance with movies or games; it delivered dialog and sound effects with gusto. But when we dove into our library of high-definition FLAC files (downloaded from B&W’s Society of Sound), we discovered that the satellites overdrive mid-range frequencies, rendering broad swaths of both vocals and instruments unpleasantly harsh at higher volumes.
Listening to “Arawen,” from the Toumast album Amachal, it felt as though band leader Moussa Ag Keyna was thrashing our ears with his hard-driving guitar work. We had similar experiences with other songs and other instruments from very different musical genres, including the languid piano work on “Slowly,” from Juliana Raye’s retro-sounding Dominoes album, and the vocals on “Nuwaruguma,” from the Aurelio Martinez album Garifuna Afro-Combo. Each of these tracks was encoded in either 16- or 24-bit FLAC with sampling resolutions of either 44.1- or 48kHz, and yet we couldn’t listen to the speakers in a near-field environment for more than 20 minutes before our ears felt fatigued. The problem is related more to the drivers than the amp, because we enjoyed a much better listening experience with B&W’s P5 headphones plugged into the satellite.
The Z623’s low price tag, combined with its good performance with movies and games, saves its bacon. If you’re looking for inexpensive speakers for listening to music, however, we think Logitech’s Z250 speakers are a far better value. They’re not THX certified, they don’t come with a subwoofer, and they’re only $20 cheaper than the Z623, but your ears will be a lot happier.
Logitech Speaker System Z623
Inexpensive, good performance with games and movies; lots of inputs; discrete bass control.
Poor musical performance, with an overdriven midrange.
2x35 watts RMS (6 ohms)
130 watts RMS (8 ohms)
2.5-inch dome driver with aluminum phase plug
7-inch pressure driver
Stereo RCA and 1/8-inch on sub; 1/8-inch on satellite