capsule review

Logitech Z-5500 Digital

At a Glance
  • Logitech Z-5500 Digital

    TechHive Rating

Logitech Z-5500 Digital
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

Logitech's Z-5500 Digital surround-sound speaker system is expensive, but it offers the best balance of sound and features among the 5-1-channel models PC World has tested recently.

The Z-5500 was simple to set up. Its silver and black design looks sleek with or without the removable black-mesh speaker grilles. (Speaker grilles protect the hardware and--to some people--look cool. In most cases, though, you're better off removing them so there's nothing between the speaker cones and your ears.) The system comes with both a remote control and an easy-to-use hardware controller that adjusts the master volume as well as the volume of the subwoofer, back speakers, and center channel. The controller also has a headphone port and a 0.125-inch input for your MP3 player. Another plus: This was the only system in our currently tested batch that has digital inputs, both coaxial and optical, which will let you keep the audio stream digital as long as possible.

The Z-5500 decodes DTS and Dolby Digital audio soundtracks found on DVD-Audio and DVD video discs. This feature is redundant, however, if your PC's sound card already decodes DTS and Dolby Digital. More interesting is the Z-5500's support for Dolby Digital's Pro Logic II, which can convert stereo audio to simulated surround sound to take better advantage of all the channels on the Z-5500.

Performance-wise, the Z-5500 earned a rating of Very Good and ranked third out of six in our current round of sound-quality tests. I liked its sound best in bass-heavy audio samples such as a stereo music track ("Feel Good, Inc." by Gorrillaz), a DVD-Audio sample ("White Rabbit" on Blue Man Group's The Complex), and the opening space-battle scene in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. During the last sample, I found the surround-sound detail clear and crisp, as starfighters whizzed back and forth around my shoulders. However, the speakers tended to be bass-heavy even on audio samples where I would have preferred a lighter touch.

Logitech's Z-5500 is a slightly older model than the Z-5450, a previously reviewed system with wireless back speakers. We preferred the sound quality and lower price of the Z-5500, which is a better choice over the Z-5450 unless you really want the convenience of wireless back speakers.

Cheaper 5.1-channel speakers are out there, but Logitech's Z-5500 presents an optimal mix of sound and features.

Narasu Rebbapragada

This story, "Logitech Z-5500 Digital" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    Pros

    • Digital coaxial and optical inputs
    • Good sound quality

    Cons

    • Can be bass-heavy
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