Logitech z-5500 5.1 speaker system

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Logitech z-5500 5.1 speaker system

Post  ciprian on Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:02 pm



When the Z-680 5.1 channel digital speakers from Logitech, gamers ranted and raved about finally getting a solid surround speaker set for under $500.
While they didn't have mind-blowing specs, and personally I thought they sounded quite dull, they were better than anything in their price range. They were a good alternative to Klipsch, who at the time only had a 2.1 channel set available. And besides; the woofer pounded, and that's all that matters to a lot of people.
Logitech has since replaced the Z-680 with a brand new 5.1 channel set; the Z-5500. Several improvements have been made, and we'll get right to them.

All of the Z-5500's settings are done through the "SoundTouch" control pod. Everything is set here, from the input mode, audio effects, bass/trebel levels, etc. There is also an IR receiver, to be used with an included remote. The display is backlit (blue, of course), and is on whenever the speakers are powered on. Unfortunately, there is no way to disable or even dim the display, so having it reside next to your monitor in a dark room while watching movies may prove to be annoying.
The remote is capable of setting absolutely all of the features as you can from the front of the pod.

On the back of the pod, you'll find the various inputs for the speaker set. The three stereo inputs can be set to 6 channel direct, for use with 5.1 capable PC soundcards, or can be used as three individual stereo inputs which can be switched from the front of the pod.


Both digital and coaxial inputs are available, for those who wish to use the set mainly for watching DVDs. The Z-5500 can decode Dolby Digital and DTS 96/24. If you are using this with a HTPC system, you have the choice of using the digital inputs, using the Z-5500 to decode the signals, or have the soundcard decode the signals itself, and pass it through to the Z-5500 via the analog ports. It also supports Dolby Pro Logic II, for both movie andmusic stereo expansion (there are two modes).
Two more ports can be found on the side; an additional Line-In port (which comes in handy if you're already using the three main ports with a soundcard) and a headphone port. When a headphone is plugged in, the unit switches itself to stereo mode.
Because of the wide array of input modes, the Z-5500 is not only suitable for gaming, but also smaller home theatre systems, and even music from sources like CD players and MP3 players.
Manufacturer's Specifications

  • Bass power output: 188 W (188w my ass)
  • Satellite power output: 4 X 62 W + 69 W (center module)
  • Frequency response: 33 Hz - 20 kHz
  • Inputs: 5.1 line or 3 line, auxiliary line in, digital S/P DIF optical and coaxial inputs
  • Headphone jack: on Control Pod
  • Satellites: 3" full-range with phase plug
  • Subwoofer: 10" woofer
  • Satellite dimensions: 3.7" X 7.4" X 4.7"
  • Subwoofer dimensions: 13" X 13.3" X 18.1"
The Subwoofer

The subwoofer unit houses both the 500W amplifier (500w my ass)

and subwoofer itself. On the back, beside the huge heatsink, you'll find all the speaker cable


outputs, port for the control pod, and an AC power cord. I appreciate the fact that we only have to plug in one cord to the back of this box, aside from the speaker cables.

Don't be fooled by the size of this speaker grille; there is not a 12" woofer in there. Instead, Logitech uses a long-through 10" woofer. The grille is so big, it looks like they had to cut the sides off to get it to fit on the already-huge box! Unfortunately, that's not the case. Nothing more than a visual effect here, folks.
On the side, there is a HUGE 4" port, to get the bass booming on a relatively low amount of power. In fact, all of the speakers are ported on the Z-5500. Obviously, Logitech is going for loudness over pure audio quality. Knowing that they are targeting gamers and low-end home theatre owners, it's hard to argue with them.

The Sattelites
Unlike the Z-680's, you won't be embarassed to have these sitting around your widescreen monitor.The satellite enclosures are attached to plastic feet, which can swivel 180 degrees for wall mounting. The feet have holes in them, to further facilitate this type of mounting. Unfortunately, the speakers can't be swiveled vertically, so you are quite limited with how you can mount them. It's obvious that the Z-5500 are more suitable for PC systems than anything else.
The center unit is identical to the rest of the units, but is mounted on a stand horizontally. Unlike the other units though, it offers a wide range of vertical adjustment.
Logitech opted to use full range phase plugdrivers, with the tweeter and woofer integrated as one. This has its advantages and disadvantage. The main advantage of course is size; the speaker housing doesn't need to be as big to hold just one speaker unit. Also, having the sound come from the same source generally improves imaging. Of course the disadvantage is that no single

unit speaker setup can be as precise as an individual tweeter/woofer setup. Still, the difference should be acceptable to those looking for a $300 set of speakers.

The ports on the sats are situated on the rear this time, which should help eliminate port whistle. The use of ported enclosures across the entire system helps Logitech get nice sound level results from just around 500W of power (divide that by 6 speakers, and it doesn't look like such a big number anymore). However, this is often done at the expense of more precise sound. Is this the case here?
On the back of the satellite units, you will find clip terminals for the speaker cables. This is obviously an advantage over integrated cables, as you're able to use any speaker cables you want, be they longer or shorter than the original cables included.

The Sound
The best I can do for you on this review is give you my personal opinion on how I find the Z-5500 set to sound. Note that these comments are purely subjective, based on my personal opinion.
The first thing I had to do after the speakers were set up was to tone down the subwoofer a bit. At default level, the bass essentially drowns out the other speakers. Mind you, many people might actually prefer this, but my recommendation is to level it out a bit, to try to maintain the same level of sound the original composers intended.
Once that was done, I spent the last few months using the Z-5500 as my 'main speakers' for everything from music, to movies, to gaming.
Music
First and foremost, the thing that stands out most about the Z-5500 set is the imaging. When listening to a stereo source, with absolutely no enhancements, the staging is wonderful. At first, I actually found myself putting my ear to the center speaker, to see if any sound was coming from it.
However, when at the other side of my considerably large office, the wonderful imaging was all but gone. The speakers sounded weak and the sound was dispersed. So when set up as a desktop speaker configuration, the Z-5500 exhibits superb imaging and staging. However, they are not suitable for filling a large room.
Movies
Again, when set up on a computer desk, the Z-5500 sounds wonderful. Imaging is perfect, and the five identical go together to make a perfect sound stage once again. Just be sure to turn down the subwoofer a bit, or the dialog may be drowned out in some scenes.
Gaming
Gaming is where the Z-5500 is allowed to truly accel. Go ahead, crank up the bass! This woofer can take it. Paired up with a Creative Labs Audigy 2 ZS, the Z-5500 are really something to behold when playing Doom 3 or Half Life 2. Unfortunately, this is the one case where a 7.1 setup would have advantages over this 5.1 setup. Of course, such a speaker set would be a lot bigger, require more power, would be a mess to set up, and probably would be quite a bit more expensive. Still, although 5.1 is sufficient for movies, games can really make use of the extra sound sources.
Overall
Besides the imaging issues when not situated perfectly in the middle of the speakers, the drivers produced a clear, precise sound perhaps lacking a bit in the crispness you'd get from using 2 way speakers. The bass, once tuned properly, is deep and strong when in its element. The 10" woofer may have issues in larger rooms, but again, when you're comparing to entire setups for around $300, this is tough to beat.

Conclusion
First of all, you have to consider the scenario these speakers will be used in. For a computer setup, where space is limited, I think you can't do much better than the Z-5500. Just sit in front of them, and listen to a stereo source. The imaging is absolutely stunning.
If you're the type who watches movies on the computer, again, these would be just right for you. Possibly because they were designed with gaming in mind, the subwoofer provide more than enough punch to make action movies even more exciting, and games absolutely exhilirating.
However, take the Z-5500 out of their element, and their deficiencies show up right away. When the satellites are placed farther apart than most desks would require, the perfect imaging is all but lost. Also, while the subwoofer fares okay, the sats just don't have what it takes to fill a larger room with their usually-clear sound.
That's probably just as good too; the speakers won't exactly be easy to install in a non-computer environment. The stands only swivel one way, and while they support wall-mounting, you won't be able to direct them exactly how you want. This is even a bigger problem due to the fact that the speakers are so directional; if they aren't seated just right, say goodbye to the precise soundstage.
Overall though, there are quite possibly no better solutions for surround gaming than the Z-5500 from Logitech. You'll have all the power you need when seated at your desk, for under $300. Wow.

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Re: Logitech z-5500 5.1 speaker system

Post  wolfman on Tue Nov 24, 2009 10:54 am

Not too bad .You going to buy that ciprian ?

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Re: Logitech z-5500 5.1 speaker system

Post  ciprian on Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:33 am

nope too expensive & my home made system is better haha

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