- Great value, clear and defined high and mid ranges
- Bass is either muddy or flat, limited controls
A great set of speakers for users interested in getting their hands on a cheap and decent 5.1 setup, but don’t expect thumping bass.
Price$ 149.95 (AUD)
This set of 5.1 surround sound speakers from Logitech exhibits some powerful potential, but is ultimately held back from excellence by a number of flaws. Their low price tag, however, gives them outstanding value for money.
The instant we took the speakers out of the box we were impressed as they look stunning. A tall and relatively slim subwoofer (a very welcome change from cubes!) houses connections for five satellites, while a knob on the back of the woofer controls bass volume. Each cable and connector is colour coded, making set up an extremely simple affair. The satellites themselves are sleek, black units, each with an adjustable stand to allow for wall mounting. The centre speaker is slightly different and being horizontally aligned makes it the perfect size and shape for sitting below a computer monitor without getting in the way. Volume, a headphone jack and the on/off switch are located on the front right speaker. We found cable length to be perfectly adequate for our setup, but users expecting to use the speakers in a spacious environment should check measurements before committing.
A two-minute setup left us eager to test sound quality on the X-530's, so we fired Queen's "A Night at the Opera" on DVD-Audio. One of the first things we noticed was an unusual amount of "hiss" in the sound. Freddy Mercury's voice lacked its usual sterling clarity, and was instead slightly distorted at irregular intervals. The 7.4 watt satellites delivered an impressive sound, with each and every note from May's guitar sounding clear and distinguished. The only time we found that clarity suffered was when we had the bass turned up to its highest setting, which not only muddied the bass itself, but gave mid tones a lot more of a rumble feel.
This was our major gripe with the X-530's. Logitech has implemented a system of bass equalisation which we found to be less than effective. With the bass at high levels it quickly became muddy and indistinguished, while too low and the bass was flat and uninteresting. Compared to other setups we've tested, we found it quite difficult and time consuming to achieve an acceptable level of bass, as well as finding a comfortable balance between front and rear speaker volumes. The lack of inbuilt controls on the speakers themselves further exacerbated this, forcing us to rely heavily on software. The Wu-Tang hip hop tracks we tested were hardly done justice by the subwoofer, and in fact any music heavily invested in bass was given a reasonably poor representation on the setup. 'Thumping' bass certainly isn't the strong point of this speaker set - certainly not if you are looking for distinct beats.
Nevertheless, an excellent performance in treble and a generally impressive reproduction of the mid range recommend these speakers to users who are less interested in bass. We found the battle scenes from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King to be incredibly vivid and lifelike, with the crashing of swords echoing around our test centre making viewing an intensely enjoyable experience.
For their incredibly affordable price, they deliver exceptional sound quality, which is only marred by low bass emphasis. A few design foibles left us wishing that some more controls had been included on the set (there's certainly enough room on the woofer), however the overall aesthetic was simple and pleasing. For budget users, the 5.1 Logitech X-530s represent an excellent buy, provided that less-than-perfect bass doesn't pose a problem.
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