Logitech has built more computer speakers over the years than just about any manufacturer, and it’s learned a thing or two about building decent low-cost models. Take the 2.1-channel Logitech Z323 system: We could name any number of speaker systems that sound better, but few that are priced better.
The satellites tilt up to project sound at your ears.
You can literally see some of the ways that Logitech hit that low price point: The satellite cabinets are made from cheap ABS plastic with permanently attached cables that plug into the subwoofer. Each satellite has dual, 2-inch, concave-dome drivers (one is mounted in the front of the cabinet and the other in the back, to deliver what Logitech describes as “360-degree sound”). So the system performs best if there’s a wall behind the satellites for the sound waves to bounce off. Each satellite also has a front-facing port. There’s a volume control and power switch on the right-hand cabinet, plus one 1/8-inch headphone output and one 1/8-inch stereo input, to support a digital media player.
The compact subwoofer cabinet (it measures 8.7x5.9x7.2 inches) is fabricated from the typical medium-density fiberboard. It houses a small amp and a tiny (for a sub) 4-inch down-firing dome woofer. The amp delivers six watts (RMS) to each of the satellites and 18 watts (RMS) to the subwoofer. The sub has its own volume control, along with a pair of RCA jacks that serve as a second auxiliary input for a gaming console, DVD player, or what have you (handy features in a speaker system priced this low).
The Z323’s favorable price/performance ratio, however, applies to games much more than music. Playing games such as Borderlands 2, we were pleased with the Z323’s ability to render the sound of gunshots and explosions, and the conversations with friendly characters and the taunts of enemies alike were rendered crisp and clear (well, with the exception of those babbling psychos).
When we listened to music, on the other hand, the vocals sounded weirdly detached from the rest of the band—and it didn’t matter whether the singer was male or female or even what style of music was being played. We tried several singer/songwriters, including “Crossing Muddy Waters,” from the John Hiatt album of the same name, Marc Cohn’s “She’s Becoming Gold,” from The Rainy Season, and Nanci Griffith’s cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Techumseh Valley,” from her record Other Voices, Other Rooms (in all three cases, the tracks were ripped from CD and encoded as 16-bit, 44.1kHz FLAC files).
This sonic detachment wasn’t as much of a problem with instrumental selections, but that’s not to say the Z323 system delivered a stellar performance. When we played Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, which the composer recently remastered for Bowers & Wilkins’s Society of Sound label, the album (available in both Apple Lossless and 24-bit FLAC formats), sounded somewhat lifeless and flat compared to what we heard on more expensive speakers (including Corsair’s stellar SP2500 system). But you could almost buy four Z323 setups for the cost of one SP2500, so that’s to be expected.
f you’re working with a tight budget and need speakers primarily for gaming, Logitech has a good set in the Z323. If listening to music is your core interest, on the other hand, you should keep looking.