Logitech’s Z553 speaker system has a striking appearance, dominated by a cylindrical down-firing subwoofer which also contains the power supply and amplifier.
Two small satellite speakers provide mid and high frequencies, each with two 2″ drivers and designed like binoculars stood on their side.
Both the sub and the satellites have integrated stands including three firm rubber-spiked feet, preventing any rocking motion.
These speakers are designed for several scenarios:
- Position the satellites either side of a computer screen on your desk, have the subwoofer on the floor.
- Position the satellites either side of a television, subwoofer on the floor, sit back and enjoy.
- Connect your smartphone or tablet for ad-hoc music or video.
One thing to avoid: do not site the satellites on the floor, where they will sound dreadful. They must be on a desk or table.
The system is purely analogue (no digital input or dock) and purely wired, though there is a wired remote which Logitech calls a “control pod”. This pod has a rotary on-off and volume control, a red power LED, and a small and fiddly bass adjustment control which seems primarily to set the volume of the subwoofer; it makes a dramatic difference to the level of bass.
The main connections for the Z553 are on the back of the subwoofer.
Here you will find the power connector, 3.5mm stereo line in socket, left and right RCA inputs, RCA outputs for the satellite speakers, and a special connector for the control pod.
The control pod has connections of its own. On the left of what I suppose is the back of the pod there is an additional line in and a headphone socket.
The top of the pod is the volume control and has a smooth, weighty feel that makes it good to operate, having said which the ergonomics of the pod are not quite right. It is too easy to spin the main volume control by accident when operating the bass control, or just by brushing against it with your hand. The cable for the pod is a nuisance and it is a shame Logitech does not provide a wireless remote.
By way of mitigation, many sources provide their own volume control. For example, I used the speakers with Logitech’s discontinued Squeezebox Touch as input, and was able to use the digital volume control remotely from a web browser or tablet.
The connections are not difficult, but if you hate wires this might not be the system for you.
Another oddity concerns the inputs. There are three inputs altogether: line-in jack on the Pod, line-in jack on the sub, and RCA on the sub. However there is no way to switch between inputs if you have several connected; the sounds will simply be combined.
The Z553 system goes pretty loud, but the gain is not quite sufficient in some cases. I connected a Nokia Lumia 800 smartphone and found that even at maximum volume on both phone and Z553, I was not getting the maximum possible undistorted output.
If you care mainly about sound quality, you will be impressed. I was. I tried the Z553 in several scenarios, including close listening on a desk and playing at the other side of the room. The bass is rich and deep, and the integration between the satellites and the subwoofer seamless. Volume was fine for normal listening, though it would not do for parties or if you like your music very loud.
Compare the Z553 to a mid-price hi-fi system, and you may wonder why you bothered spending more. To be fair, the Z553 does have limitations. Compared to my usual active monitors, there is a little smearing of notes and congestion, and the bass is a little soft. You do not get the startling realism and depth you get from a high-end system. The Z553 holds up well though, given the price difference.
Pros and cons
The sound quality is great for the price, and the build feels good too. Just a few annoyances:
- No input switcher
- Awkward wired remote volume and tone control
- Too many wires
- Gain barely adequate for some sources
The styling is a matter of taste; I consider it inoffensive but would not recommend these speakers for their appearance. For me the sound quality is a higher priority, and for the price I cannot fault it. An excellent buy.
Subwoofer: 4 inches. Midrange drivers 2 inches.
Power: Satellites 2 x 10 watts RMS. Subwoofer 1 x 20 watts RMS. Max sound level quoted as 88dBc
Satellite speakers are 160mm (6.3″) high
Subwoofer cabinet is 381mm (15″) high and 160mm (6.3″) diameter
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