We haven’t auditioned many cheap speaker systems lately. Why? Well, let’s just say we don’t enjoy subjecting our ears to the sonic equivalent of waterboarding. But Logitech has a knack for packing big sound into inexpensive boxes, so we agreed to review its new two-channel Z520 system.
You’ll have to decide for yourself if the Z520 system’s $130 price tag really puts it in the “cheap” category, and we imagine the folks at Logitech will cringe to hear us describe them as such; but you can cut only so many corners before we begin to ask, “Why bother?” Judging by these speakers’ performance, Logitech’s engineers know just how low they can go.
When we see small speakers, we usually pigeon-hole them as near-field monitors: short-throw speakers that produce a small stereo soundstage that collapses as soon as you move more than three feet away from the cabinets. There’s nothing inherently wrong with near-fields, especially in a PC environment, but they have their limitations. So we were surprised to hear Logitech boast that the Z520 could provide a “great listening experience throughout the room.” We decided to put that claim to the test as soon as we took the speakers out of the box.
Logitech this week announced four new multimedia speaker sets, each one touting 360-Degree Sound, otherwise known as omnidirectional acoustics. These include the Logitech Z320, Z323, Z520, and Z523.
Unlike standard speakers with forward-firing drivers, all four sets boast both forward- and backward-firing drivers in each satellite. According to Logitech, this creates a substantially wider sweet spot and comes as a boon to anyone who struts around their office.
"Many PC speakers focus sound in one direction, which is fine if you're always sitting in the same spot," said Mark Schneider, vice president and general manager of Logitech's audio business unit. "But now with 360-Degree Sound, whether you're listening to your favorite song on iTunes, watching a video on YouTube, or playing your favorite game, you can enjoy rich sound and minimal distortion throughout your room."
The Z523 and Z323 are 2.1 speaker sets with a 6.5-inch down-firing subwoofer, with the former pushing 40W of power and the latter pushing 30W. The Z520 and Z320 take it down a notch by discarding the subwoofer and pushing 26W (Z520) and 10W (Z320).
Interestingly, Logitech has priced both the Z320 and Z323 at $70. These will be available starting in August (Z320) and September (Z323). Equally interesting, the Z532 is expected to be available this month for $100, while the sub-less Z520 will be available this month for $130.