Regular readers of my flat panel TV reviews will know that I almost never comment on a set’s audio quality, as my standard advice is to connect an HD flat panel to an external audio system. The last time I commented on a flat panel’s TV audio was a couple of years ago, when I tested an LG set that had audio supposedly “tweaked” by none other than audiophile guru Mr. Mark Levinson. At the time I noted that the set’s audio quality was typically mediocre, guessing that all Mr. Levinson was able to do was to elevate the set’s audio quality from crappy to mundane—an improvement to be sure, but in audiophile terms, nowhere near what qualifies as even “mid-fi”.
But, for those who’ve shelled out big bucks on a spiffy new flat panel HDTV, and who aren’t ready (or able or willing) to plop down additional dollars for a full-on surround sound system, consider Logitech’s Z623 2.1 channel audio system, which was clearly designed for the home PC market, but that also provides a very good audio upgrade for those wanting better HDTV sound.
Consider this product if: you’re looking for a great audio upgrade for that new flat panel TV you just bought, as the Logitech delivers fine sound and outrageous dynamic range for a very reasonable price.
Look further if: you want an on-wall or in-wall audio system, as the Logitech satellite speakers are for desktop or tabletop mounting only.
Compared to a full-on 5.1 audio system, the 2.1 Logitech package won’t give you the full surround effect that you’d expect. But, compared to the audio quality of today’s flat panel HDTVs, the Logitech is leaps and bounds above typical TV sound quality that barely reaches above execrable.
• 200 watts of power, although Logitech doesn’t spec which watts go where—I’m guessing ten or so watts per satellite speaker, with the rest going to the sub, which hauls almost all of the freight power-wise in a 2.1-channel sub/sat system.
• The sub features an 8-inch front-facing driver in a ported enclosure, with the driver protected by a beefy metal mesh grille.
• Two-way satellite speakers, each with a 3.5-inch mid-bass driver and what is probably a ¾-inch dome tweeter—it’s just a guess on my part, as there’s a protective cap over it, and Logitech doesn’t identify the tweeter type or size.
• Three audio inputs, including one pair of L/R analog RCA jacks, and two 3.5mm stereo jacks—one on the subwoofer and another on the right speaker, which houses the power button and volume and bass level controls.
• A 3.5mm stereo jack on the right speaker provides a headphone output.
My biggest complaint with the system is the ridiculously over-sensitive bass level control. In a roughly 2,500 cubic foot room, I was able to achieve a proper balance between the sub and satellites with the bass level knob at about the 9:00 position. The level control maxes out at the 5:00 position, at which point the subwoofer level is so far above a reasonable point one has to wonder what the Logitech engineers were thinking. Maybe they were taking a cue from Marshall guitar amplifiers, which “go to 11.”
The other gripe is that the cord connecting the right satellite to the subwoofer isn’t long enough to permit the subwoofer to be placed in a far corner. The cord is a multi-conductor affair, carrying power, low-level audio back and forth between the sub and satellite, and speaker-level output for the satellite itself. Fortunately, Logitech chose a D-sub 15-pin connector, the same type used for an analog RGB PC connection to a monitor, meaning that extension cords are readily available and not terribly expensive.
Unlike a home THX certified system, where the crossover defaults to an 80 Hz subwoofer transition point, there’s no way that the little Logitech satellite speakers could ever go that low. I’m guessing that the crossover is in the range of 120~150 Hz or so (a casual guess achieved by listening to frequency sweeps on a test CD). The problem with using a higher crossover point is that there can be a sonic disconnect of sorts between the sub and satellite speakers, with the subwoofer becoming distinctly as a separate sound source (with a lower crossover point, this problem would be much less likely to occur).