Logitech Z-5500

Review

posted 11/25/2004 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
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When you talk about the subwoofer for this set, the first thing you have to say is it’s pretty damn big. It’s the first time I’ve seen in a computer speaker product where two plastic handles are provided for you to pull the sub out of the packaging. You’re going to need some muscle to get it out as it is pretty heavy. A large 10” long throw subwoofer driver is now in place, making the unit bigger in size. It’s still rated for 188 watts RMS even with the larger size. You can see how it’s grown compared to the sub for the Z-680. The back of the sub holds all the connections. You can see the speaker plugs that are clearly labeled and color coded. The control unit plugs into the sub via a serial plug and screws in nicely. The Z-560’s control unit had a weak plug and it was nice to see Logitech keep the serial plug that was introduced in the Z-680.

The Z-5500’s control unit has gone through some big changes. For starters, it’s now larger than the Z-680’s unit. You can now connect up to six different audio sources. There are four stereo 1/8” plugs, one optical digital plug and one component digital plug. If you’re connecting a computer with three plugs for front, rears, and center, you’ll lose two connections and render the unit being able to connect four different audio sources. You’ll easily switch from different sources with a push of a button. This is another aspect of the system that makes it ideal for tight spaces as you can run a good number of components through the Z-5500. A larger chrome dial is now the volume control knob and it’s very smooth to rotate with little tension. It’s an improvement over the Z-680 design and makes for adjusting the volume easier and faster. The display is also easy to read with a nice contrast between the dark letters and blue backlight.

What makes this set attractive to people with tight spaces is that the unit does Dolby Digital decoding without a need for a receiver. A set like this is very attractive to those in college dorms who are looking for a very nice setup without sacrificing too much space. Well, I guess you can’t say too much space now with the massive subwoofer that comes with this set. Besides Dolby Digital decoding, it also does DTS and DTS 96/24. DTS 96/24 is a new addition and it’s used with DVD-Audio. CDs are a 16-bit medium with a sampling rate of 44.1kHz. DVD-Video/DVD-Audio recorded in DTS 96/24 ups the medium to 24-bit and a sampling rate of 96kHz, hence DTS 96/24. It will also deliver the audio to 6 channels. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any DTS 96/24 discs to test out but I applaud Logitech for including this decoding in the new set. It’s ready for the future of audio if you are concerned about that.

First up, as usual, is musical CDs. Throwing in various genres of music into an Xbox that was hooked into the Z-5500 through an optical cable, I was greeted with clear mids and highs and a very good deep bass. Turning up the volume, the set stayed pretty clear even at extreme settings. This wasn’t surprising to me as I was used to the performance of the similar Z-680 set. And not surprisingly, my ears gave out before I could max out on the sound. On some CDs, I enjoyed using the Dolby Pro Logic II to transform the stereo output to a 5.1 output. It really depended on the music but some actually sounded really good at “pseudo” 5.1.
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