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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon September 23, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I own several PC speaker systems that have a manufacturer's suggested retail price in the same ballpark as Logitech's Z523 system. (I also own several traditional stereo systems for use with stereo amplifiers; I've been kind of a speaker addict since my late teens.) To my ears, as well as to my eyes and hands - in other words in terms of sound quality, visual design, practical hands-on use/user-friendliness, and sturdiness of build - the Z523 system makes all the other PC speakers I own obsolete. If you want to know specifically what I am comparing the Z523 with, here is a list of the other PC speakers I own that are in the same price range as the Z523 system (in case some readers don't know what 2.0, etc., means in this context, a 2.0 system is one with two front speakers, one left, one right; a 2.1 system adds a third component, that being a sub-woofer; Altec Lansing uses 2.2 to refer to a system they developed that has two front speakers each with a built-in down-firing sub-woofer): Creative GigaWorks T20 2.0 system, Creative GigaWorks HD50 2.0 system, Altec Lansing Expressionist Bass 2.2 system, Altec Lansing Expressionist Classic 2.0 system, Altec Lansing Expressionist Plus 2.1 system.

With the exception of the Altec Lansing Expressionist Plus system, I can turn the bass all the way up on the aforementioned systems and sometimes feel that I wish I could turn it up even more. When I have the bass at the maximum level on the Expressionist Plus system I don't necessarily want more bass, but some folks might, and if that were the case, they couldn't get it.

In contrast, I cannot imagine ever wanting to turn the bass control knob on the Z523 system to the maximum level. The knob, which is conveniently located on the lower right front of the right speaker, starts at the 7 o'clock position and stops when turned clockwise at the 5 o'clock position. With rock, pop, and classical music, as well as with "instant watch" movies streamed from Netflix, I do not feel a need to turn the bass past the 10 or at most the 11 o'clock position. This means that there is a lot more bass to be had should I ever want it.

While I love the sound of the Altec Lansing Expressionist Plus 2.1 system, not only does the overall sound quality of the Z523 system surpass it, but the Z523 system has a much more user-friendly design. The bass control and power on/off knob (power for the whole system) on the former is on the sub-woofer, which means that if the sub-woofer is on the floor (and it's really too wide to be put anywhere else), the user must either operate it with her foot or she must bend or get down on the floor (e.g., crawl under a desk). With the Z523 system, once the sub-woofer is where the user wants it (e.g., on the floor under a desk and out of the way of feet, etc.), the power, volume, and bass level for the entire system can be controlled via two knobs on the right front speaker.

I assumed (as I did in my review of the Altec Lansing Expressionist Plus system) that instead of placing a down-firing sub-woofer above a carpeted surface, it would be better sound-wise to put a piece of wood under it. I apparently assumed wrong. I emailed Logitech about this, my email was forwarded to the Product Manager for the speakers in question, and in his (very quick) response, he said, "from a practical standpoint it really doesn't matter the surface the sub sits on - as long as we're not talking 3" shag carpet that's significantly decreasing the space between the bottom of the sub and the carpet." And so I removed the piece of wood that I had placed under the sub-woofer, and I could hear no difference in sound quality, certainly no deterioration. The Product Manager also said, "low frequency sound coming from the sub is non directional so as long as the airflow isn't materially reduced you won't notice any affect on the sound." As far as my ears can tell, he is right.

In addition to being tapered so that they sit on wide bottoms which make it more difficult for them to accidentally tip over (I've knocked over the Creative T20s a number of times, sometimes just by slightly bumping the desk or table they were sitting on), the Z523 speakers have metal grills on their fronts and backs. This means that if I do knock a speaker over or if I should clumsily poke a speaker with a finger or some object, the speakers are well-protected. All of the other speakers listed above have only soft protection, which is no protection at all, over the speakers. (As another reviewer of the Z523 system notes, the down-firing sub-woofer itself is fully exposed, and if one isn't careful one could manage to poke a finger through it when removing it from the carton.)

The Z523 system is billed as a 360-degree or "omnidirectional acoustics" sound system, and indeed it is. I have the system set up in a room that runs 17' by a little over 30' (a living room with a dine-in kitchen off of it separated only by a sofa). I have the sub-woofer on the (carpeted) floor, and the speakers on a card table where I do a lot of work on a laptop. Before I had the Z523, when I moved from my chair in front of the laptop to a place behind it, such as the sofa or the kitchen, I would turn whatever speakers I had on the card table around so they would continue to face me (assuming I was listening to them). With the Z523 360-degree sound system, it is not necessary for me to turn the speakers around, and they sound as good from behind them as they do from in front of them. This is because they have speakers facing both the front and rear.

I think it worth mentioning that the power cord for the system comes out of the back of the sub-woofer, and thus there is no power brick to deal with, and what plugs into your wall outlet or power strip is just a standard-sized two-prong plug. When the system is turned off (by turning the upper knob on the right hand speaker counterclockwise till it clicks and the light goes out), there is no little light that stays on anywhere on the system. All the other PC speaker systems I own have power bricks that have little lights on them that stay lit whether the system is on or off. I should also mention that the light on the Z523 power knob is, unlike, say, the overly bright light on the Creative T20 system, not the kind of light that you may want to cover with black tape.

The Altec Lansing Expressionist Plus system, which is the best comparison with the Z523 system of the systems I own, has a rating if 33 Watts RMS, while the Z523 system has a rating of 40 Watts RMS. The Z523 definitely has more oomph, with no sacrifice in overall sound quality. The system provides my ears with good sounding treble and mid-range in addition to its excellent bass.

As I say above, the Z523 system makes the other PC speaker systems I own that are in the same price range obsolete. It's nice to have PC speaker systems in different rooms so I can conveniently hook up my laptop or MP3 player or a portable CD player. It would be even nicer if they were all Z523 systems. With the amount of bass this system puts out, it probably would not be an option for someone who wants a system for a workspace shared with others, unless of course everyone in the workspace wants to listen to the same music, etc. But for a home workspace and for home entertainment, I think this system is outstanding.
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on August 21, 2009
Just got my Z523's today. Quick shipment from Amazon, despite my using super saving shipment. First impressions: nice attention to detail: velcro wraps for all the cords. Sound is good, but VERY heavy on the base. Had to adjust it way down to sound good. The sub seems well put together. Watch out for the down firing speaker though. It is unprotected, and you could easily put your finger through it taking it out of the box. They should put a grill of some sort over it to protect it.

The biggest reason i bought these is that it was a good price, and it offered a seperate line in, so i could hook up an ipod without having to un-plug it from the computer. You would be surprised how hard this feature is to find in a ~$100 2.1 system.

Hopefully it will last a lot longer than my Klipsch Pro-Media's, which sounded great but needed to be repaired every year. I could have bought 3 sets of Z523s for the money I spent repairing my Promedias. Enough was enough.

Z523's = thumbs up!
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VINE VOICEon October 1, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I decided to take a video of the sound difference with the speakers hooked up to our TV. You will see two clips in the video, both from the Harry Potter 5 DVD. (Fair use of copyrighted material, used without permission in order to demonstrate a product, clips are well within fair use guidelines on length and content, and quality. [...]

The first part of the video is a recording of the scene with just the TV audio. I have the Logitech speakers turned off at this point. The second part of the video is the same scene, now with the Logitech speakers turned on. I have the bass on the speakers set to about 50%, and the volume set to about 75%. You will notice a clear difference in the sound quality. They ADD to the TV sound, they do not take over for it. What you won't notice (because recorded sound can't reproduce it), is the awesome bass that the bass unit kicks out. It is QUITE a noticeable, if you are in the room. It is actually a little TOO powerful for an apartment, actually. ^_^

We have the speakers hooked into our TV with standard audio composite cables hooked into the auxiliary input for the speakers. It works very well. When you have it setup this way, the sound is linked to the TV. If you mute the TV, then the Logitech speakers are muted as well. If you lower the TV volume, they lower their sound output as well (regardless of what their control knob is set at. If the knob is set to maximum, then the Logitech speakers will output a maximum boost of whatever signal it is being sent. So, if the TV volume is at 25%, then the speakers will be outputting a 100% boost of that 25% signal. Etc.)

I also tried hooking the speakers up to the laptop, and the desktop computers in the house. In that setup, they are a bit less impressive. We have a 5.1 audio system for the desktop, and it outshines these speakers fairly well. For the laptop, it puts the built-in laptop speakers to shame, but that isn't hard to do. ^_-

As for the rest of the bullet points put out by Logitech, I couldn't notice any difference that their supposed "360 degrees of sound" offered. The speakers seem to me to put sound out in a LINEAR path away from where they are facing. I tried putting the speakers to the sides as far away from the TV as possible. I tried putting them behind the TV and pointing them up, point them down, etc. I put them in front of the TV, and I put them up high. In all cases, the sound seemed to be strongest wherever they were POINTED. I am sure they are sending out sound in 360 degrees (due to truth in advertising laws), but I heard no appreciative results of it. I could certainly hear the sounds they were projecting forwards, but from the sides it is less convincing. I CERTAINLY didn't hear any sounds coming from BEHIND me (with the speakers situated in front of me, by the TV), like they claim they can do. "Rather than using only a forward-firing driver, Logitech speakers are acoustically engineered with both forward- and backward-firing drivers. So sound is projected and reflected more evenly and over a wider range of space. Result? Your whole room becomes a sweet spot filled with clear, rich, music--even if you're behind the speakers." [quote from amazon product page]

The speakers DO fill the room with sound. That claim seems to be a bit stretched to me. The speakers are loud, and they are decent, but they are certainly no substitute for a real 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 sound system. They are a good hold-over until you get such a system, but don't expect miracles.

In the matter of the down-firing sub-woofer, THAT claim is accurate. The freaking thing is so powerful, that we are uncomfortable using the bass in the evenings, when the neighbors are home. When/if we have the bass enabled, we keep it in the 5-15% range.

The connections, and controls are all excellent too. I ESPECIALLY like that the speakers are smart enough to take their sound level cues (including mute) from their input source! I have had some bad experiences with speakers not smart enough to do that, in the past.

Over all, this is a 5 star product for what it is. If you go in expecting a decent 2.1 sound system that is NOT going to perform miracles of sound with some sort of PR voodoo concept of "Room-Filling Logitech 360-degree sound" somehow replacing a real surround sound system, then you will be pleasantly surprised with these speakers.
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on November 25, 2009
I ordered these based on the generally positive reviews and had great expectations for them. I was replacing a pair of Cyber Acoustics speakers that cost much less than these, so surely these would sound better! In my opinion, they don't. In fact, I think they sound so bad that I was starting to wonder if I had done something wrong installing them, but it's pretty idiot-proof. I listened to numerous favorite songs, and was unable to find a comfortable bass level using the bass control knob. It's either waaaaay too much and rattles nearby items with the vibration, or nothing (same is true of the volume knob, by the way). The bass is not at all to my liking (and I do like bass), I suppose it may be good for explosions on games and movies and that sort of thing, but it's horrible for music and you'd be constantly adjusting the knob for different types of music. I also found the treble very poor, and the sound generally muddied and unbalanced. I tried to like these, I really did, especially since I hate the hassle of sending things back. These are going back. I reconnected my Cyber Acoustics. They're not great, but I like them much better than these. I may be the only one who thinks so here, but these are awful. Listen to them first before buying (and not just on explosions) and see if you agree
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on May 9, 2011
This is just great, first sub I've ever purchased. Loud, room-shaking sound, great for dubstep or anything. Clear and beautiful sound quality. There are speakers on both sides of the twin speakers, both equally great, even if you have to put them against a wall and can't take advantage of both sides the quality is still peak! I may buy another, more expensive sub woofer when I have the money to blow but as for right now this is all I need. I get complaints all the time
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on April 10, 2010
I will keep this short. If you like a lot of bass then you can't go wrong with this system.
The subwoofer delivers in this regard. The problem comes in the mid-range and non-existant high end.
This system do not have a tweeter only one small speaker for both mid-range and highs. And while
it does an acceptable job for mid-range it doesn't have any highs.

I tried using the software EQ to boost the highs but then mid-range got messed up...I couldn't get
it right. I eventually returned these for the Z520s. And while the bass is not there the sound
is much more balanced across a wide range of different material.

In summary, if you want a lot of bass get these. If you want an overall good sounding speaker
get the Z520.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Logitech Z523 is a classic two satellites/one subwoofer setup at a fairly reasonable price.

The largest piece of the set is the subwoofer, which is a 9" cube with a very nice black matte finish, a large chrome-rimmed grille for the passive radiator on the side, and a down-firing 6.5" sub speaker. The subwoofer contains the amplifier and the power supply. On the back you will find the connection panel with the power cord, a D-sub connector for the right speaker, an RCA connector for the left speaker, and a pair of RCA jacks for an auxiliary input. The Z525 uses a world-compatible switching power supply (100-240V 50/60Hz).

The right satellite speaker features the volume/on/off button and a bass level control in front; on the side you will find the headphone minijack connector as well as a minijack for a second auxiliary input. Two 6 foot long cords are attached in the back, a thick one ending in a D-sub connector that plugs into the subwoofer unit, and a thinner one with a stereo minijack that plugs into the main input. The main volume control features an orange light that glows when the speaker system is on.

The left speaker looks just like the right speaker without controls or jacks, and it only features a single 6 foot cord that plugs directly into the subwoofer via an RCA jack.

The satellite speaker configuration is fairly unusual; instead of a single front-firing speaker, they have a second identical rear-firing speaker which is probably what justifies the "360 degree sound" claim. Other than this unorthodox choice, the rest of the construction seems fairly common for this type of speaker, with a bass reflex port in the rear of each unit.

The sound quality is on the upper range of what you would expect for speakers of this price. Don't expect to run a disco party, don't expect the accuracy of a studio monitor. However, they do a very nice job with music, video games and movies. The "360 degree sound" is not going to revolutionize speaker technology, but it does fill up the room as promised. The subwoofer delivers a pleasant, tight low end and complements the satellites well.

PROS
----
- Great sound for the price
- "360 degree sound" helps this small speaker set to fill up a room
- Well thought out cord system keeping tangles to a minimum (velcro straps included)
- Universal power supply built-in (world-compatible, no wall-wart)
- Two auxiliary inputs
- Auxiliary input and headphone port available on front speaker

CONS
----
- Satellite speakers look cheap
- No volume control on auxiliary inputs
- Non-standard, non-user-replaceable cords. Make sure 6' is enough for you...

CONCLUSION
----------
Despite some minor shortcomings, the Z523 is an excellent choice for many users looking to fill up a room with good sound at a reasonable price: it's the perfect speaker system for a dorm room or a study. Highly recommended.
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on April 27, 2010
There are several lengthy reviews on these speakers already, so I'll keep this short. I think the four and five star rated reviews are pretty much spot on. Yes, the woofer can easily overpower the desk speakers. That's why there's a separate volume control marked "bass". Look, this is not a home stereo system. It's a set of good quality computer speakers with a woofer footrest. By any measure, they're better than whatever came with your computer, and most likely better than whatever came with your TV. This is the 5th or 6th set of computer speakers I've bought over the last 25 years. They're the best thus far.
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on March 12, 2011
The sound fills a classroom and then some. Provides clear and understandable sound for videos. The sound quality compares well with Bose and other speakers in other classrooms. The controls are easy to reach on the speakers for on and off. Installation is simple. Quality of sound has been great. The price was great for the quality. The sound is so good we run music through the computer now, too.
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on December 1, 2010
These speakers are superb, and at its current purchase price of [...], I couldn't recommend them more ([...]).

Sound
-Sound is clear and crisp.
-Sometimes when playing certain songs, the volume can feel irritating. Adjusting the bass and equalizer really helps.
-Bass is strong

Design
-designed very well. Controls are at the tip of your hands as well as no unnecessary wires.
-looks very sleek and shiny
-cable wraps on all wires, a major PLUS.
-*****for those UC students interested, this desk fits the bottom row of the shelf of all UC desks perfectly.

Construction
-subwoofer is sturdy, 4 pegs do its job
-speakers do not tip over easily
-speakers are perfect size for my desk

Packaging
-careful attention to detail. a plastic/rubber nipple like covering over the 3.5mm audio input jack when shipped
-the sticky plastic stuff over the speakers to protect it from scratches
-wires are wrapped nicely, everything packaged nicely and fits nicely.
The only reason I gave it 4 stars is because of the one reason i mentioned above, that the sound may feel too much sometimes. I know this may sound obvious, but if with my previous pair of speakers, which were the Logitech S220 2.1s (which were also superb for their price of [...]), if I turned it up, I still got quality sound and volume.
But with these speakers, if I turn it up, AT THE SAME VOLUME, the sound feels too powerful that its piercing and uncomfortable. I'm not talking how loud the sound is, but how powerful and piercing it is.
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