|Introduction & Specification|
|It doesn't matter how hard your earphones pound your eardrums with cranium shaking noise, you can't truly call yourself a power user unless you're ticking off the neighbors and scaring the hell out of the dog with a surround sound setup that rattles the walls and punches copious amounts of bass. Without it, you might as well give your man-card away to someone who plans on fulfilling the requirements for membership in an illustrious club that demands everything be over the top.
Logitech's famed Z-5500 system fit the bill, and there are many who consider it to be the king of multimedia speakers. But a king's reign can only last so long before either being usurped, or passing the torch to a successor. In this case, it's the latter, with Logitech's new Z906 speaker system stepping up to the throne as the company's new flagship speaker-set. Like the Z-5500, the Z906 comes ready to tackle your entire entertainment center with enough inputs to accommodate up to six devices at once, including your TV, DVD, DVR, Blu-ray player, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, iPod, and of course your PC or Mac. It has a Class-D amplifier, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS decoding, 500 watts (RMS) of power, and an 8-inch side-firing subwoofer to deliver the kind of thunderous bass you've come to expect from Logitech. But is it worthy of sitting on the throne once occupied by the Z-5500s? Let's turn the dial up and find out!
Going by the numbers, the Z906 has all the makings of a solid 5.1 setup for the living room or PC / game room. It's capable of pumping out 500 watts (RMS), with 165 watts going to the 8-inch, side-firing subwoofer. But what's really great about the Z906 -- and something we'll cover more closely on the following pages -- is how well it blends into an entertainment center. The stackable control console is compact and comes with a wireless remote, while the satellites are sleek looking with rubber strips on the bottom instead of speaker stands, making them easy to place.
|A Closer Look|
|Inside the Z906 box, users will find the 8-inch subwoofer, four front and rear satellites, a center channel satellite, the stackable control pod, speaker wires, and a 6-channel direct input cable for connecting the speaker system to your PC.
The included speaker wires are only 18-gauge -- plenty sufficient for mainstream use -- but the nice thing here is that you can replace them with thicker wires since the satellites and subwoofer all use standard color-coded spring clip terminals. Logitech also marked the end of each positive speaker wire with a red border, so even if this is your first time hooking up a speaker system, there's little chance something will go wrong.
Whereas the Z-5500 speaker set looked like it belonged in a computer room, the Z906 is much sleeker and would have a better time blending in with a modest entertainment center, if that's where you plan to use it. The speakers sport a light black/dark grey, plastic exterior with a non-removable metal grille covering the driver. Though it's made of plastic, the speakers feel solid and slightly heavy.
We whipped out our allen wrench to take a peek inside one of the satellite speakers. The Z906's 3-inch satellites are sealed and use paper cones. There's no tweeter to help out with the highs, and Logitech instead relies on a compression driver design with phase plugs to extend the high frequency response and reproduce the entire sound spectrum. Each satellite is fed 67 watts (RMS) of power for a total of 335 watts
As previously mentioned, the satellites (and subwoofer) all sport color-coded spring clip terminals, so you're only limited to the size of the wire you can jam into the opening. There's no love for the banana plug loving crowd, which isn't surprising for a multimedia speaker-set.
The Z906 satellites also come with screw threads in the back in case you want to mount them to your wall. If going that route, you'll need to supply your own hardware though.
We know what you're really interested in, and that's the subwoofer. Audiophiles place a high value on subwoofers to accurately reproduce those rumbling lows, and regular Joes want to feel the thunderous bass rattle their internal organs. The one included with the Z906 speaker system is an 8-inch, side-firing, ported sub with a 6th-order bass reflex enclosure. In terms of size, it's a bit of a downgrade compared to the 10-inch subwoofer included with the Z-5500, it's supplied with less power too (165 watts on the Z906's subwoofer versus 187 watts on the Z-5500's).
|Setup & Configuration|
|Setting up a 5.1 speaker system can seem like a daunting experience if you've never done it before. Fortunately for new users, Logitech treats the process as if this is your first rodeo, leaving little room for error along the way.
It starts with the back of the 8-inch subwoofer. Here is where you'll find all the necessary connections for your PC and home theater gear, including a 6-channel direct input (cable included), RCA input, two optical inputs, and a coaxial input. Just below sits the 15-pin console connector, and below that are a series of spring-clip terminals for hooking up all five satellites, each one clearly labeled (rear left, rear right, front left, front right, and center). One thing to note about the 15-pin console connector is that you'll want to be extra careful when plugging it in. We actually managed to bend, and eventually break one of the pins because we didn't line up the plug just right, rendering the entire unit non-functional (it won't power on if all 15 pins aren't intact).
Perhaps for the sake of appearance, and to help with location, Logitech shoved the amp inside the Z906's subwoofer rather than have it protrude out the back as with the Z-5500. For those of you concerned about overheating, the subwoofer never felt hot during testing.
Assuming you're more coordinated than we are and managed to plug the control console into the subwoofer without issue, everything should fire right up. The control console serves as a HUD of sorts, with orange LEDs indicating which input you're using, the type of decoding selected, volume level, and which speakers are firing.
There's quite a bit you can accomplish with the compact control console. There's a mute button, a level select button to adjust the volume on each speaker/subwoofer individually, and an effect select button with the following options:
On the right side of the control pod you'll find a headphone jack that, when utilized, mutes all other outputs, and an auxiliary input for connecting external devices like a media player.
We mentioned that the Z906 speaker system would fit right in with an entertainment center, and towards that end Logitech ditched metallic speaker stands in favor of rubber sliders on the bottom. This takes up a little less space and allows the speakers to blend in inconspicuously with the rest of your AV equipment.
Like previous speaker systems from Logitech, the Z906 includes a remote control so you can play the part of conductor from the couch or your bed. It requires three AAA batteries (included) and features an On/Off button, Input Select, Mute, Level Select, Volume/Level Up, Effect Select, Volume/Level Down, and Test button to make sure all the speakers are working.
|Sound Quality & Testing|
|To test the Logitech Z906 Speaker System, we loaded up a sample of low frequency bass tests, music files, CDs, games, and movies. Our goal is get an overall picture of performance rather than focus on just one area, like gaming. After all, not everyone is going to use these as strictly PC speakers, and likewise not everyone will shove these into their home theater setup.
Low Frequency Tests:
We hammered the subwoofer with a series of low frequency files, including those found here. The bass was more than adequate for an entry-level home theater, though it doesn't dip below 35Hz like a dedicated HT subwoofer would (or should). For the frequencies that it did it, the sound wasn't overly muddled.
While watching movies, the Z906 system again proved that it's more than capable of serving entry-level home theater duties. The satellites pump out volume without distorting, and the bass delivers a respectable amount of oomph for a $400 setup. It doesn't punch you in the gut like subwoofers that cost three times (or more) than the entire Z906 system, but it's a big upgrade over whatever built-in speakers your HDTV is rocking, both in volume and impact.
Playing games is where the Logitech Z906 excelled the most. A 5.1 setup makes all the difference in the world, and while some headsets do a superb job of replicating the various sound fields, sitting in the sweet spot of dedicated speakers just has no substitute. The Z906 was designed to hit hard and loud, and it delivers on both fronts.
We loaded up a variety of music files and CDs to test the Z906's ability to rock and thump and twang, and so forth. Overall the Z906 performed well, though music listening doesn't play into its strengths. Without tweeters, the satellites struggle a bit with highs, something that was evident when we fired up our Gangsta grass CD. Gangstragrass mixes rap with bluegrass (with brilliant results, mind you), and while the Z906 proved it gets loud, the one-way drivers had a tough time piercing the high notes of the fiddle play.
That said, if you're not an audiophile, you'll think we're offer our rocker for picking on the music performance of the Z906. Logitech's flagship multimedia speaker-set doesn't sound bad, it just doesn't put you in the middle of the orchestra.
|Performance Summary & Conclusion|
Performance Summary: Straight and to the point, Logitech has another winning multimedia speaker-set on its hands with the Z906 Speaker System. We've come to expect distortion-free performance at loud levels with hard hitting bass, and the Z906 delivers whether watching movies or playing games, at a street price around $320. The single satellite drivers struggle a bit with highs in music, but unless you're an audiophile, you likely won't notice.Logitech put a lot of thought into the design of the Z906, taking aim not just at PC users, but home entertainment buffs too. Like the Z-5500, the Z906 can accommodate up to six connections at once, but the Z906 is far better suited for an entry-level home theater. The compact console center is stackable, and all five satellites are sleek and light black/dark grey to better blend in with your other AV gear. We also like that Logitech ditched individual stands in favor of rubber sliders, so you can place the satellites in and around your home theater without having them stick out like a sore thumb.
We do have some complaints with the Z906. While the speaker-set features built-in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS decoding, it doesn't touch Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio. There's also no HDMI pass-through, an inexcusable omission for a modern speaker-set looking to infiltrate the living room. And finally, the lack of tweeters hurts the Z906's overall performance when it comes to music.
Negative points aside, there's far more to like than there is to nitpick. The Z906 is loud, it's thunderous, and it looks sexy while filling your room with sound. Whether you're looking for a entry-level home theater speaker system or a high-end 5.1 PC audio solution, the Z906 is a solid option.