Product Review (January 2007)
Logitech® X-540 5.1 Speaker System

By Kevin Nakano


Logitech has recently introduced their new X-540 speaker system designed to give users a full surround sound experience with a set of five satellite speakers and a dedicated subwoofer. The system includes stereo matrix processing that is designed to create spacious surround sound from two-channel audio sources. A unique feature offered with this system is a center channel that can be placed on top of an LCD flat panel display. Logitech has an integrated patent-pending center-channel clip that securely attaches the speaker to the monitor, so it will not wobble or slide off. This not only looks good and saves space, but also places the center channel sound right above the screen for the best experience when watching movies or playing computer games. Amazingly, this system retails for under $100.

The Z-540 comes with a trio of stereo cables designed to interface with popular 6-channel surround cards found in many multimedia PCs. Each cable is color coded to make it easier to identify the cables on both ends. If only a two channel source is available, the matrix surround processing can be engaged for a simulated surround effect much like the old Dolby Surround processing. If a game console is being used, Logitech includes an adapter that accepts RCA phono plugs and converts them to a female 3.5mm stereo jack designed to mate to the main audio cable.

Center Speaker Clip
One of the best features offered with the X-540 speaker system is the ability to mount the center speaker directly above the flat panel display. It places the center audio right where it needs to be, close to the screen action. This is especially important when watching movies or playing video games and adds another level of realism to the experience. It is possible to get a similar effect using the right and left speakers to create a center image, but to have this work well it is highly dependent on the placement of the user's head. The center speaker has four rubber pads, two located under the cabinet and two on the front lip, both of which as designed to keep the housing from sliding around. This also provides some damping to prevent vibration or buzzing when playing the audio loud. The base, which also includes a long rubber pad, mates to the back of the display and accommodates various screen thicknesses while keeping the speaker cabinet perfectly straight. This innovative speaker clip design can also work as a standard stand to accommodate good old-fashioned CRT displays.

Speakers
The front and rear pair of speakers feature a swivel base that twists 180 degrees and allows them to be mounted on a wall or sit on a table top. Each speaker has two small drivers and comes in a sealed enclosure. I did notice that the top driver emits higher frequencies than the lower driver. My curiosity got the best of me and soon I had the speaker open to figure out why. As it turns out, the speakers are wired in series with one another. The lower driver has a 33uF capacitor across the terminals which is designed to limit high frequencies emitted from it. Most likely this approach prevents the speaker from sounding too thin. The design essentially uses two drivers for lower frequencies and transitions to a single driver as frequencies increase. The implementation works surprisingly well and the sound produced by these rather small drivers was impressive. As with most small satellite speakers, the crossover frequency is on the high side to help prevent a frequency gap between the satellite speakers and the subwoofer. Having a high crossover frequency can sometimes cause the subwoofer to sonically appear in the soundstage.

Wired Remote
The wired remote connects to the subwoofer cabinet through a long extension cable. The power button is on the left side and the button on the right is used to enable the matrix circuit. Each button has a LED to indicate status. The large knob on top is the master volume which controls the volume of all the speakers including the subwoofer. The small control between the buttons is the bass level, designed to work with the main level control. There is also a 1/8" headphone jack that will automatically mute the audio to the speakers when headphones are plugged in. The volume level is very easy to control with this remote and provides a smooth level change.

Performance
The Logitech Z-540 offers excellent sound for the dollar with clear midrange and smooth bass response. Moderate volume levels produce very enjoyable sound from the rather cheap audio electronics found in our PC. We easily heard a significant improvement in sound quality when we used an outboard HeadRoom Desktop Amp feeding the X-540 system. This outboard DAC produced far more detail than the DAC found in our stock computer system. This was good news and proves to us that the X-540 can produce even more detail when fed with higher quality audio. Similar results were revealed when using the Revolution 7.1 audio card from M-Audio. The advantage of using a 5.1 sound card such as the Revolution 7.1 is the audio is fully discrete with sources that support the format such as movies and games. So many users use cheap speakers with their PC that computer manufacturers pay little attention to the audio quality.

The center speaker did a great job at reproducing movie dialogue with the DVDs we played. We liked how tightly coupled this speaker was to the LCD screen, immersing the viewer into the video content. Logitech´s so-called Frequency Directed Dual Driver™ technology works well even though the name appears to have fallen out of the marketing department. Having identical speakers for each of the five channels helps to seamlessly pulls the audio together as sound pans from one channel to the next.

Conclusion
Logitech's X-540 5.1 speaker system is a real value with a price below $100. Any computer system with low quality speakers will immediately benefit from the 5.1 channels offered by the
X-540. The system will significantly improve the sonic experience of music, games and movies. The matrix decoder works well and adds depth and virtual surround to any two channel source. The center channel speaker design is both innovative and provides a practical solution to getting sound as close as possible to the video monitor. We have heard no other system priced under $100 that offers the features and sound quality found in the X-540 system.

- Kevin Nakano





OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Desktop PC - Sony VGC-RB34G
Display: Sceptre X20G-NagaIII 20" 16:10 Wide LCD
Sound Card : M-Audio Revolution 7.1
Outboard DAC: HeadRoom Desktop Amp


Review at a glance


Logitech X-540 5.1 Speaker System


Specifications

Total RMS power:

70 watts RMS

Satellites:

Two - 2" drivers per satellite
2 x 7.4W
8.4" x 3.2" x 5.0" (HxWxD)

Center:

Two - 2" drivers per satellite
15.4W
7.8" x 4.75" x 3.75" (HxWxD)

Subwoofer:

5.25" ported driver
25 watts RMS
11.25" x 6.5" x 9.75" (HxWxD)

Total Peak Power:

140 watts

Frequency Response:

40Hz - 20kHz



Features

Frequency Directed Dual Driver technology
FDD2 eliminates uneven response created by conventional dual-driver designs.

Matrix mode
Creates 5.1 surround-sound effect from 2-channel stereo sources.

Innovative centre channel LCD clip
Speaker attaches to the top of most flat-panel monitors.

Dynamic, real-time bass equalization
Maximises low-frequency response at all volumes.

High-excursion, ported, down-firing subwoofer
Displaces more air for deeper bass.

Package Contents

  • Speakers: 4 satellites, 1 center channel, 1 subwoofer
  • Control center
  • Color-coded audio cables
  • Game console adapter
  • User's manual
  • 2-year limited warranty

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 624402-0403
Source: Manufacture Supplied
MSRP: $99.99
Warranty: 2 year limited warranty

URL: www.logitech.com


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