The Logitech Z-680 5.1 Channel
THX-Certified Speaker System
A Killer Home-Theater Sound System for Your PC...

By - Marco Chiappetta
February 5, 2003

PC enthusiasts are constantly upgrading their systems in an almost never-ending endeavor to improve their multimedia and gaming experiences.  All too often we find ourselves replacing our once top-of-the-line video cards and adding RAM or a faster processor, only to be unimpressed with the overall impact made by these upgrades.  That's not to say having a fast system isn't paramount to an enjoyable gaming experience though.  If your games, or movies for that matter, are chugging along at sub-par frame rates they're not going to be very enjoyable.  There is however, an often overlooked upgrade that can have a tremendous impact on your gaming experience... your speakers.

It doesn't matter how fast your system is or how large and crisp your monitor is, if you're gaming, listening to music or watching movies with a set of inferior poor quality speakers, the overall atmosphere will never be "just right".  Over the past few years, in an attempt to remedy this situation, companies like Klipsch and Altec Lansing have released some high-end speaker systems targeted squarely at users who are serious about their PC audio.  After witnessing the success these companies were awarded, Logitech, long known for their line of input devices, entered the fray with a few speaker systems of their own.  Our EIC, Dave reviewed Logitech's excellent Z-560 4.1 channel speaker system back in December 2001 and was immediately impressed.  I treated myself to a set of Klipsch ProMedia 4.1s and was similarly blown away by the volume levels and audio clarity coming from my system.  If you have never experienced a heated death-match in surround sound, you are definitely missing out!

Today on HotHardware.Com, we're going to take a look at Logitech's latest 5.1 channel speaker system, the Z-680s.  These speakers improve upon the already impressive Logitech Z-560 models, by adding a center channel, a wireless remote and by increasing the peak output power, among other things.  Read on to see what we thought...


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Specifications and Features of the Logitech Z-680 5.1 Channel Speaker System
Bass That'll Make DJ Magic Mike Proud...

         
(Specifications Taken Directly From Logitech.Com)

Home Theater Sound:
  • True Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround sound with built-in hardware decoding
  • Dolby Pro Logic II decoding creates a 5.1 soundfield from two-channel sound sources
  • THX certification ensures top sound quality
  • Connects to PlayStation2, Xbox, DVD players, satellite receivers, PC sound cards, and more to deliver immersive gaming and movie experiences
  • Home-stereo style connectors use standard gauge speaker wire
  • Four stylish satellites stand on desk or mount on wall to provide smooth mid and high frequencies
  • Center channel speaker rests on your monitor, on your desk, or mounted on the wall
  • Magnetic shielding in speakers protects your equipment
  • Internal power supply eliminates bulky wall adapters
  • Removable cloth grills on satellites deliver improved sound and variable aesthetics
  • Wireless remote control, batteries included
  • Uses regular stereo speaker wire (included)
  • Two-year limited warranty

Specifications:

  • Total output power: 505 Watts RMS
  • Subwoofer power output: 188 Watts RMS
  • Satellite speaker power output: 317 Watts RMS (62 Watts RMS per channel for satellites; 69 Watts RMS for center channel)
  • Total peak power: 1000 Watts
  • Maximum SPL: 114 dB
  • System frequency response: 35Hz - 20kHz
  • Input impedance: 10,000 ohms
  • Shielded satellites for use near video monitors

Source Inputs:

  • (1) digital optical for DVD or CD player, PlayStation 2, Xbox*, or PC sound card (requires optical cable, sold separately)
  • (1) digital coaxial for DVD or CD player, or PC sound card (requires coaxial cable, sold separately)
  • (1) 6-channel direct (3 stereo-mini connectors) for 2-, 4-, or 6-channel PC sound cards
  • (1) Analog stereo-mini for portable CD, MP3, or MiniDisc player

Reading through the above list of specifications should impress all but the most discerning audiophiles out there.  The Logitech Z-680s are a very feature rich set of speakers.  Their total output power is rated at 505 Watts RMS (Root Mean Squared).  317 Watts are distributed amongst the satellite speakers and center channel, with the remaining 188 Watts powering the 8" ported sub-woofer.  Peak power output shoots all the way up to the 1000 Watt mark, but don't read too much into that number.  High RMS power ratings are what translate to clean, continuous power output.  The Z-680's maximum SPL (Sound Pressure Level) rating is also rather impressive at 114 dB, but that number is tough to quantify.  The environment in which in which the speakers are tested, will affect the maximum SPL rating. One thing we can say with certainty though, is that these speakers can produce some serious volume levels!  If you live in an apartment building with thin walls, expect to alienate your neighbors.  The Logitech Z-680's frequency response is also quite good, but falls slightly short of a competing 5.1 channel product from Klipsch.  Being THX certified means these speakers have passed the audio output quality standards set by the discriminating engineers at Lucas Films.  George Lucas established the THX standard to ensure consumers heard and saw music and movies as the director intended.  You can read more about THX and the certification process right here.

The Z-680s also have built-in hardware for decoding true Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround sound, making these speakers ideal for use in a PC-centric home entertainment system.  Users looking to spice up the output of two channel recordings will also appreciate the Dolby Pro Logic II decoder incorporated into the Z-680s.  The Dolby Pro Logic II decoder can simulate 5.1 audio channels using a 2 channel recording.  We sampled quite a bit of music in "simulated 5.1 channel" mode, and found the output for the most part to be rather pleasing to our eardrums.

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