|March 2, 2003
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Okay, so the first thing
that is probably running through your head is: why is a website that is
about running your own webserver from home on DSL or Cable modem doing
a review about speakers? Good question. Well, like many other
computer geeks out there, I have a profound interest in home theater and
sound equipment. Audiophiles and computer geeks are apparently cut
from the same fabric. Anyhow, I was a home theater enthusiast and
audiophile long before running servers caught my eye. Many of you,
like me, have DVD collections. However, I have a freaking laserdisc
collection of my favorite movies. That's how old school I am.
Every time I look at my 50+ laserdiscs I cringe at the thought of how much
money I have invested in there. Damn. Anyhow, back on topic.
Let's look at the Logitech Z-340 2.1 speaker system.
In order to orient ourselves,
the retail price of this system is $49.99. Why do I mention this
so early? I bring up the price so you'll have an idea of what range
of features and functions you get for $50 bucks. I tell you the price
now so you can either be overwhelmed or underwelmed by the system.
Otherwise, if I tell you the price at the end, as you read the review,
you're not sure if you're getting your money's worth or not. Spoiler:
at $50 this system is very very good.
Let's get some quick and
dirty terminology out of the way first. What the heck does 2.1, 4.1,
or 5.1 mean? The first number is how many satellite speakers the
system has. So a 5.1 speaker system has 5 satellite speakers.
The .1 refers to the subwoofer or bass unit. I have never liked the
concept of ".1". The reason the bright audio engineers decided to
give the subwoofer a number that is one tenth of a regular satellite speaker
is because it handles only the low frequencies of the audio spectrum.
However, I feel that this minimizes the importance of the subwoofer since
the low frequencies are extremely important in music and movies.
Also, the sub usually requires the most power of all the other speakers.
That's just my own gripe. Moving on.
Why would anybody go with
a 2.1 system when 4.1 and 5.1 systems are all the rage? Actually,
for many reasons. First of all, with the 4.1 and 5.1 systems, there
is the problem of where to place those pesky rear speakers. In most
people's rooms or offices, there simply isn't a good place to position
the rear speakers. If you do find a place, they usually end up asymmetric
in some far corner of the room. Also, many people don't need surround
sound at their computers. Surround sound is cool for some games,
but not 100% necessary. One may argue that surround sound is necessary
for watching movies on your computer. While I do have a DVD drive
on my computer, personally, I don't enjoy watching a movie on my screen.
I'd rather flop down on my sofa in my home theater. Yes, there are
many reasons to buy 4.1 or 5.1 systems, but for many people, a 2.1 system
fits the bill.
The system we'll look at
here is the Logitech Z-340. Logitech - wait, doesn't that name sound
familiar? Of course, they make mice, keyboards, webcams... they make
speakers too? That's right. As we'll see soon enough, pretty
good ones at that. I guess the move into speakers is an attempt by
Logitech to encompass the gaming market. Not a bad idea.
Let's take a look at the
specs of the Z-340 system.
So basically, the sub gets 20
watts and the satellites get 6.5 watts each. The frequency response
is rated from 35 Hz - 20 kHz. This is a nice little stat, but it
really doesn't tell us much. First of all, most adults can't hear
past 13,000 Hz anyways. You could maybe hear 20 kHz when you were
born but every year since then, you lost your hearing a bit. At age
25 you'll be lucky to hear 15,000 Hz. On the low end, 35 Hz is decent.
It's not going to be shaking the ground, but should be acceptable.
The main reason that I say that the frequency response is not very useful
is because while the speakers *may* be able to span that range, the more
important issue is how flat the response curve is.
Total power output: 33 watts
Satellite speaker power output:
6.5 watts RMS per channel
Subwoofer power output: 20 watts
System frequency response: 35
Signal-to-noise ratio: 85 dB
Input impedance: > 5,500 ohms
Signal output (headphones):
3.5 mm (1/8") stereo mini-jack