Product Review (September 2008) - Logitech®
Z Cinéma Advanced Surround Sound System

By Kevin Nakano


Logitech has recently rolled out the new Z Cinéma Advanced Surround Sound System, a 2.1 speaker configuration that is designed to accurately reproduce dialogue, film soundtracks, explosive gaming audio and subtle ambient sound. The Z Cinéma system features SRS® TruSurround HD™ audio processing that delivers a wide sweet-spot with an immersive surround-sound experience with just two satellite speakers and a subwoofer. This approach minimizes the number of speakers needed to produce high quality sound that rivals multi-channel speaker systems and makes watching movies and playing games a richer experience. Dialogue from film soundtracks are said to be clearer and easier to hear with this system making movies more enjoyable.

The Z Cinéma system has a unique tri-amplification design with a digital crossover and equalizer that provides greater accuracy and a more natural, balanced response. The two-way satellite speakers deliver a smooth frequency response with good detail and clarity. The accompanying subwoofer features an 8-inch long-throw driver with a flared bass port capable of producing powerful, distortion-free bass. What makes this system different is the audio comes through a USB interface from the PC allowing for high resolution digital audio. The system is designed to take advantage of Windows® Media Center which allows easy management of digital media whether it be music or video. An advanced IR remote control turns your PC into a complete entertainment center.

IR Remote
The Z Cinéma IR remote is well organized and has a set of controls designed to work with Windows® Media Center. The full-sized remote has large buttons that are organized to give the user full control of their media. The placement of the buttons takes some getting used to, yet proved to be effective within a short period of time. The base of the remote is made from a rubber-like, slip-resistant material that fits nicely into the palm of your hand and is powered by a pair of standard "AAA" batteries, making replacement simple when needed. The rotating ring at the center of the remote is used to control the volume and the design allows the user to precisely dial in the audio level. Dedicated buttons quickly choose between Music, Video and Photos. Standard playback controls (Stop, Play, Pause, Record, Skip Forward, Skip Backwards, Scan Forward, and Scan Backwards) for music and video content are provided. Additional buttons enable the SRS® TruSurround HD™ audio processing. On the downside, the remote is not backlit, so using it in a poorly lit environment may prove to be challenging.

Software
The software included with the Z Cinéma system provides the same information that is displayed on the base of the right satellite speaker. We downloaded the latest software (version 1.00.013) 38MB file from the Logitech website to ensure we were running the current version. Users can control the system using the included IR remote or from the connected computer. The software works with several music programs including Windows Media Center, Windows Media Player, iTunes, WinAmp, RealPlayer, Yahoo! Music Jukebox and more. When the Z Cinéma settings are not being displayed on the PC screen, an icon sits in the system tray on the bottom right of the Windows screen. The user can quickly launch the application to easily control the settings. Right clicking the icon displays the current status and allows the user to instantly change some of the settings. We initially had a problem getting the system to power on until we realized that the power needed to be controlled from the user interface. Once the unit was powered, the Z Cinéma system performed flawlessly with the music we streamed from our PC.

 

Speakers
The main satellite speakers are powered by 70 watts (35 watts per channel) with an additional 110 watts for the subwoofer. The design features brushed aluminum trim with a high gloss black surface giving the Z Cinéma a classy and elegant look. The speakers are 10" tall, 4" wide and 3.5" deep and are sloped back to direct sound towards the listener. The subwoofer is substantial in size measuring 11.5" tall, 11.5" wide and 16" deep with a protruding set of heatsink cooling fins protruding from the back of the cabinet. Both the satellite speaker and the subwoofer are ported designs that help to extend the bass response. The right front speaker provides the visual feedback to the user when using the remote or PC user interface. The Aux/USB indicator shows where the source is coming from. There is an SRS TruSurround HD and Headphone indicator that illuminates when the processing is active.

Separate amplifiers provide audio to the tweeter, midrange woofer, and subwoofer. Class AB amplifiers are used for the tweeters while Class D amplifiers provide power to the midrange drivers. This is something rather uncommon for PC speakers, yet the results are impressive with this system. Level indicators are provided for volume, bass and treble. Each speakers weighs several pounds and are fitted with rubber feet to keep them from moving around easily. Two 3.5mm jacks are provided for headphones and an auxiliary input from external device such as an MP3 player. There are no external controls on the speakers, so the remote and PC running the software are the only ways to control the settings. The speakers can play loudly without breaking up and fatiguing the ear.

The stylish look of the Z Cinéma Advanced Surround Sound System complements many new contemporary components including Logitech's own diNovo Edge wireless keyboard and mice. While the satellite speakers take a small amount of surface area, the subwoofer requires quite a bit of depth when placed on the floor. We found that placing the unit near a corner of the room produced the best bass response. The design works well with music without sounding thumpy like many systems we have listened to.

Performance
The Logitech
Z Cinéma is a simple 2.1 speaker system that incorporates state-of-the-art technology. The result is an easy to configure system that produces excellent sound quality through a single USB cable. The flexibility offered with the handheld IR remote makes this speaker system very powerful for controlling all your favorite media. The Logitech Z Cinéma system allows the user to not only listen to music while using the PC, but also access and control the user's media collection.

We were able to push the volume up on this system and it did very well without any significant distortion. In addition, the bass remained tamed and sounded well balanced with the front satellite speakers. The software installation and configuration of the media application may prove challenging to some less savvy computer users, but we were able to get it up and running without too much grief. The remote worked extremely well thanks to the strong signal received by the sensor. Controlling our music and video files was simple once we configured Windows Media Center.

Conclusion
Logitech has been placing emphasis on sound quality as is evident with the last several speaker systems we have reviewed. While the
Z Cinéma system is not cheap ($300 retail), it does offer users with a great sounding speaker package that integrates well with Windows Media Center. There is no need to have a full blown 5.1 speaker package to get excellent sound from a compact system. Logitech has achieved this with the Z Cinéma system.

- Kevin Nakano






OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Laptop PC - HP Pavilion dv9000


Review at a glance


Logitech - Z Cinéma Advanced Surround Sound System


Specifications

Total RMS power:

180 watts RMS

Tweeter:

9 watts RMS x 2 (into 16 ohms, @ 17.4khz)

Midwoofer:

26 watts RMS x 2 (into 4 ohms, @ 335Hz)

Subwoofer:

110 watts RMS (into 4 ohms, @ 45Hz)



Features

  • Surround sound without rear speakers: Experience surround sound with only two satellite speakers and subwoofer. SRS® TruSurround HD™ puts you in the middle of a broad sweet spot, creating an immersive sound experience. Dialog enhancement in the center channel ensures clear and intelligible voice reproduction.
  • High-performance audio: Unique tri-amplification design and digital crossover EQ provide greater accuracy and a more natural, balanced response. Two-way satellite speakers deliver incredible frequency response, detail and clarity. An 8-inch long-throw subwoofer with flared bass port gives you powerful, distortion-free bass.
  • Pure digital fidelity: USB transports both audio and data for simple, hassle-free installation and true 24-bit digital quality audio.
  • Multiple input and output options: Includes a headphone jack for private listening and an input jack for connecting an MP3 player or other audio sources.
  • Powerful Media Center remote control: An advanced remote turns your PC into an entertainment center. Take full control of Windows® Media Center and easily manage digital media—including Internet radio and playlists—with your other media applications.


Technical Specifications

  • Total power: 180 watts RMS
  • Subwoofer: 110 watts RMS (into 4 ohms, @ 45Hz)
  • Midwoofer: 26 watts RMS x 2 (into 4 ohms, @ 335Hz)
  • Tweeter: 9 watts RMS x 2 (into 16 ohms, @ 17.4khz)
  • Speaker dimensions (H x W x D, mm):
  • Satellites: 250.4 mm x 115 mm x 112.4 mm
  • Subwoofer: 292.4 mm x 290.6 mm x 413.9 mm


System Requirements

  • Windows® XP Media Center Edition, Windows Vista® Home Premium Edition, or Windows Vista® Ultimate Edition
  • USB port
  • CD-ROM drive
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 20 MB available hard disk space


Package Contents

  • Speakers: 2 satellites, 1 subwoofer
  • Wireless remote control (batteries included)
  • Cables (each 6-foot): USB cable, AC power cable
  • CD-ROM with Logitech® Z Cinéma software
  • User’s guide

Company Information
Logitech Inc.
Corporate Headquarters
6505 Kaiser Drive
Fremont, CA 94555 USA
Phone: 510-795-8500
Sales: 800-231-7717
Support: 702-269-3457

Part Number 980-000085
Source: Manufacture Supplied
MSRP: $299.99
Warranty: 2-year limited hardware warranty

URL: www.logitech.com

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