table in the HotHardware lab was almost not large enough to
display the setup. The subwoofer is very large in
comparison to the average supplied these days with PC
The satellites are constructed of fairly heavy gauge
cabinetry with steel stands that convert into wall mounts
when pulled out of the
base, reversed and plugged back in. This feature we
well designed and
little things like this really impressed us with this kit.
The legs have rubber skid pads that also double as vibration
dampening pads when mounted to a wall. The satellite's
screens are removable for easy dusting of the mid range
cones. Which brings us to another aspect of the
satellites. As you will note in this shot on the left,
there is no separate tweeter cone on this unit but rather a
port at the top. Will this affect the natural
reproduction of high frequencies with just this single mid
range driver setup? We'll get into some detail shortly
on this but for now, let's stay on track with the hardware
side of things. Finally, the back of the satellite
reveals high quality wire speed nuts that allow you to crank
down a solid connection between the speaker terminal and
your wire. Speaking of which, Logitech bundles in some
fairly sturdy 20 gauge cord with this kit.
The woofer is an
almost completely square unit measuring 11"H X 11"W X
13"L. It has a rather large heat sink and radiator on
the back to cool all 400 watts of the amplifier, that that
is located inside. There are separate right, left,
right rear, and left rear connections, as well as a hard
wired power cord, a fuse socket and circular din connector
for the control center plug.
center has controls for volume, fade and bass but no control
for treble. Frankly, we aren't sure why Logitech would
overlook this with the unit. There are also push
buttons for power and the "M3D" feature, as well as a
headphone jack and volume knob. We think the addition
of a headphone jack was a great idea and will make that
hook-up significantly easier than crawling around the back
of your system. Finally, the volume knob and M3D
button illuminate blue and green respectively, when the unit
is on. All told the Z-560s are a great looking setup
but looks aren't everything, especially when it comes to
speakers. Let's talk about sound quality and then wrap
foremost, allow me to point out a very important fact
relative to judging the performance of a speaker system.
Take it from a former Hi-Fi Store Sales Clerk, speaker sound
quality is probably the most subjective science known to
man. What sounds good to my ears may sound like
fingernails on a chalkboard to you. Having said this,
as you can imagine however, there are many common
attributes, that most people look for in a speaker system,
that will ultimately help to define its quality.
The single most
important criteria of any speaker system is accuracy, plain
and simple. The more a sound or instrument, that is
being played through a speaker, sounds like the original
source material, the better it will generally sound to the
user. You can have all the power in the word driving
your speakers but if you don't have a low level of
distortion or deviation from the source, you're just going
to have a lot of loud noise. It is with this in mind
that we've made our assessments here.
Highs and Lows:
In testing the Z-560s we utilized a number of digitally
mastered audio CDs, in order to listen closely to the
system's ability to reproduce the songs and instruments
being played. We tried a variety of Pop, Blues, Rock,
Jazz and even Grunge discs, including artists like Better
Than Ezra, Steely Dan, Eric Clapton, and Green Day.
The Z-560s did not disappoint. In fact we were totally
reproduction was tight and full with the subwoofer of the
Z-560 kit. The tonal quality was excellent and
completely natural without muddied or loose vibrations
spoiling a bass riff or drum beat. The power of the
subwoofer unit itself is fantastic and loud enough for
anyone's taste. We often found ourselves backing down
the volume on the sub at the control center dial. Down
boy... be a good doggie. This thing was just plain
mean. It wasn't too overbearing however and being able
to dial in just the right amount of bass on the control
center, was all we needed.
sounds were amazingly crisp, clean and open. High hat
symbols sound as brassy as they should, unlike the bacon
frying sounds that can be produce with lower end "SoundWorks"
sets were use to. The satellites had plenty of high
end response regardless of the fact that they don't
specifically utilize tweeters. In fact, we were
hearing subtleties with instruments, in some tracks, that we
haven't noticed before. Once again, we were simply
impressed by the natural warm sound of these units.
Gaming and DVDs:
We then tried our
hand with some basic
gaming and play a few moments of Id Software's Return To
Castle Wolfenstein. The Z-560's once again were
impressive, producing gun fire, thunder, and other ambient
sounds, with clarity and good spatial characteristics for
reverberated effects. Furthermore Logitech's M3D
technology really gave the 3D sound component of this game,
a nice boost separating front, rear, right and left channels
very prominently. Finally, the same could be said for
DVD titles where full dolby digitial was available but due
to our sound card's constraints, we weren't able to take
full advantage of the feature.
M3D for music, gaming and DVDs:
This was one unique
feature that we can't praise enough. We fully expected
to be disappointed with this as some sort of gimmick more
than anything else. I can't tell you how wrong we were
however. We basically left M3D engaged in every test
we did, since it was such a wonderful improvement in spatial
acoustics. When playing music CDs the effect is
fabulous, moving left and right surround sound channels to
the rear and literally separating instruments from the
source recording keeping the vocal track on the front
channel. The effect was impressive, giving you the
sensation of sitting amongst the artist being played.
It adds no reverb or echo to the sound whatsoever. The
effect is very natural and subtle.
Gaming and DVDs
once again faired pretty much the same with M3D.
Separation and appropriate positioning of sounds into the
left, right, front and rear channels allowed for us to get
very good quality surround sound effects from our sound card
that was really only set up for 2 channel audio. In
short, M3D really does "bridge the gap", to coin Logitech's
phrase, for users with good quality 2 channel sound
cards, that aren't interested in investing in one of the
newer 4 channel boards. It may sound like marketing
talk folks but it was THAT good.
Z-560 speaker system is a clearly a top quality high
fidelity setup for even the most discriminating audiophile.
Perhaps the market may not perceive Logitech as a pioneer in
high fidelity sound but this new PC Speaker System just may
put them in the lime light for some time, as a force to be
reckoned with. These speakers easily compete with
Klipsch's Promedia line and for some, they may even surpass
them. In our opinion, the Z-560s hit Klipsch square in
the eyes on quality and more importantly, on price.
We've seen the Z-560s retailing on the net at a street price
of $139, well over $100 less than the Promedia 4.1s from
Klipsch. With the quality and fidelity we've just
heard, we aren't sure why anybody would opt for anything but
The only small
shortcoming we could find was the fact that there is no
treble adjustment on the Control Center box but this was
just a minor setback. The bass control allowed us to
dial in pretty much any tonal adjustments we needed.
As such, we can't score the Z-560s a perfect "10" on the
Heat Meter but if there were a 9.9, the Z-560s would have
earned every bit of it.
these little gems are an easy Editor's Choice Award.
know about this hardware stuff? Then get into the New
H.H. Forum and Mix it up!