Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Logitech Z-5450 vs. Z-5500

Tags:
  • Sound Cards
  • Speakers
  • Logitech
  • Components
Last response: in Components
Share
August 11, 2006 1:24:20 PM

I'm almost embarrassed to post this. I would not purchase Logitech speakers at their normal price. However, I am able to get the Z-5450's from Dell for $150 or the Z-5500's for $130 through my work, if I act today. Though I'm no real fan of Logitech speakers I think they may be worth $150.

For an apartment which would be the better choice? I know the Z-5500 are more popular and may sound better but the semi-wireless of the Z-5450's is attractive as well. There's no way I'm going to get to enjoy the bass potential of either as, again, I'm in an apartment.

Should I just skip this and not waste up to $150 or is this something I shouldn't miss?

More about : logitech 5450 5500

August 11, 2006 6:00:51 PM

As I read through the reviews I see that I can probably rule out the Z-5450's compared to the Z-5500's. It seems the Z-5500's are bass heavy (and in more than one review they recommend turning down the bass to even out the sound). However, all reviewers seem to like these speakers, and I've read about 8 reviews so far. They don't seem to be the best for music but for $162 delivered I might as well pick them up.

I read that the satellites beam like lasers, not good, and I imagine vertical dispersion isn't great either, but what the heck? ...end of summer snack. :roll:
August 11, 2006 6:16:53 PM

where did you find z-5500's for under 200, i am sooo jealous, i am in the market to pick those speakers up too...
August 11, 2006 6:25:40 PM

Its a promotion Dell's having for its EPP (Federal Employee Purchase). Our customer care rep e-mailed my team-lead. I have about an hour to make up my mind, there's a bunch of concessions it seems like I have to make with these speakers, but for the price I dare not whine too loudly. I understand the bass is somewhat over-powering, my new neighbors will not appreciate that. ...but it can be throttled back.

Since these likely sound better than the Bose Companion 3's I tried, and are considerably less expensive, they should be okay, since I don't have any descent PC speakers now anyways (hear me trying to convince myself?).

Its just a shame the speaker cables are attached and there's no vertical adjustment for the satellites. :?
August 11, 2006 6:28:21 PM

The wireless version has a reduced quality output on the rear speakers. The Z-5500 control panel is also superior.
August 11, 2006 6:29:23 PM

Personally I'd skip it and put the money towards some real speakers. I have a pair of Infinity Alpha 10 (5.25" 2 way) speakers hooked up to a 60s era Pioneer receiver (10W per channel) and my dorm-roommate who had a several hundred watt 5.1 Logitech sub-sat system was so impressed/envious that he went out, bought a decent receiver and some Alpha 20s (6.5" 2 way), and eBay'ed his Logitechs. We then hooked up the 4 speakers and got some serious 4 channel stereo going in our tiny dorm room.

-mcg
August 11, 2006 6:33:14 PM

I love the sound of Infinity's...their so light and airy sounding. With a decent sub its a really refreshing sound. You may be right, maybe I should skip this. I have enough toys laying around.
August 11, 2006 6:50:50 PM

There's only one name for computer speakers if you want it to sound good for everything from games to mozart. KLIPSCH, pair a set of promedia 5.1's with a sound blaster X-fi and then you'll see why it was a good idea to not get the logitechs. I see alot of their sat speakers from these sets for sale on ebay which tells me people are buying it for the sub alone and dumping the silly plug speakers for something else. There'll probably be some shareware program that you have to cancel each time the speakers are turned on knowing Dell.
August 11, 2006 6:51:10 PM

care to pm me the coupon code, i'd love to hit that up
August 11, 2006 6:51:36 PM

I have the Z-5450's for the sole reason that they have wireless rear speakers.

It's a niche market, if you need this then great. If not I'd have spent my money elsewhere :)  Z-5500 ftw if you have a bargain available to you.
August 11, 2006 6:53:33 PM

the cheapest i can find is 300 after tax and shipping...
August 11, 2006 7:09:27 PM

I went ahead and purchased them. I don't know where I else I can get 5.1 with a reasonable sub for $162 delivered. No coupon code, but if you've got an FDA badge ID....

I still want my B&K gear and am looking at the AV123's for my audio rig, but the Logitechs will hopefully be passable for the loft. I hope they send the version with the detachable speaker cables.
August 11, 2006 7:17:48 PM

Quote:
the cheapest i can find is 300 after tax and shipping...


...as much business as FDA has done with Dell?! I don't think its hurting Dell to try to leave a descent taste in our mouth. We've spent millions over the past 12 years with Dell. Only now are we beginning to look @ IBM/Lenevo (mistake). ...and while I don't love Dell, I sure as heck like them more than poorly engineered IBM desktops thrown together by 3rd party vendors with little care to quality control. ...but the taxpayers want their government employees to be using the cheapest equipment that is passable, and I can't blame them. So Dell is going to start losing some money from us. Dell makes a descent office PC and I've always had good experiences with their tech support. I hope they can bring their prices back into FDA's targets soon, they make a pretty supportable office PC, IMO.

...irrelevant, just my rants. I'll be curious to hear how the mouse-maker's top-of-the-line speakers sound.
August 11, 2006 9:45:25 PM

I have the previous generation Logitech Z-680's and I really enjoy them. They are extremely loud. They are not the most precise things on the planet (1-way sats) but damn they are loud. It takes a bit of tinkering to balance out the bass and get the most volume out of them.

Of course my home theater reciever is better but it cost me $300 just for the reciever and I got the entire Z-680 set for about $300 (what, 4 years ago? 8O ).

The problem I run into is connections. Connecting a PC to an A/V reciever via RCA connections loses the 5.1 surround sound necessary in BF2, but doesn't make too much diffrent if you are using a 2 channel source. I tried optical out from my X-Fi but the sound never came through as 5.1 even though the source was a DVD-Audio. It was weird.

All in all I think it was a good value purchase.

PS- if anyone has tips on getting 5.1 from PC to A/V reciever via optical I am willing to enertain ideas. I could try the digital out (not optical) that requires a 1/8" to optical cable but I'm not so sure about that. Any thoughts?
August 11, 2006 10:00:24 PM

The X-Fi's in all their glory (not) can only push out 2-channel stereo through its digital output. I mean, why would anyone want 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 digital output?! Dolt, Creative!

As for the Z-5500's, I've to see how I can set them up so as to make up for their laser-like dispersion (according to 1 review) and lack of pivoting stands. ...I'm sure I can find some low cost descent looking 20"-24" TV stands somewhere. Yeah, I'll just aim them at my head, that's it. I've a feeling I won't be using them for the primary HT for long, but playing with them should be fun.

Anyone that has them, is the dispersion really as bad as I've read? I read that they sound great as long as you're in their sweetspot, but drop off almost instantly outside it. I'm just curious as to what I should expect, besides a lot of bass.
August 12, 2006 12:24:09 AM

The Logitechs are worthwhile for a desk option. I had the Z-680s and I've heard the Z-5500s. Their main weakness I would say is voices/midrange, and you can definitely tell what direction the sound is coming from (the transistor radio effect) but they are pretty fun speakers for games.

I had to run the sub on minimum most of the time (don't have this problem with my current setup), because upper bass (the more audible bass) is quite peaky; back in the day Logitech did admit they engineered a 90hz +10db spike on the sub to mask the hole in the crossover region at 120hz, but this has a *slight* problem of overpowering the sats.

For about 2 years of gaming, I definitely didn't have any complaints though. It was trying to listen to music or movies that sort of didn't quite pan out so well.
August 12, 2006 12:36:49 AM

Hmmmm...thanks, and that is what I'd use these for. I'll really try them, they did get some decent reviews. They can always go in the bedroom for an ipod if they don't work anywhere else. I was attracted to their having the decoder with the digital inputs. For >$200 it still seems like they may still be a descent value.

Just for my edification, what is it that makes the dispersion so directional? The 3" cone or the phase plug ...or the fact that the 2 are mated together (I don't mean to sound so ignorant, I'm just trying to understand).

...just saw this, based on your other post: http://www.tnt-audio.com/ampli/t-amp_e.html ...interesting.
August 12, 2006 12:52:12 AM

Go for the Z5500's because I saw reviews stating that the wireless function is'nt all that great. Personally I recommend the Z5500's because I own a pair myself and they're awesome.
August 12, 2006 1:25:56 AM

Quote:
Hmmmm...thanks, and that is what I'd use these for. I'll really try them, they did get some decent reviews. They can always go in the bedroom for an ipod if they don't work anywhere else. I was attracted to their having the decoder with the digital inputs. For >$200 it still seems like they may still be a descent value.


Yeah, they are in a niche of their own. While the Creative G5s cost around the same, they lack the integrated decoder and connectivity.

Klipsch has been cutting its prices and the 5.1 Ultra has been $200 at Best Buys nationwide the last 3 months, but I can guarantee you at this point 99% of BBs are out of those, so this is the next best thing.

Quote:
Just for my edification, what is it that makes the dispersion so directional? The 3" cone or the phase plug ...or the fact that the 2 are mated together (I don't mean to sound so ignorant, I'm just trying to understand).


The phase plug isn't an acoustic device, it just there to cool the voice coil (the phase plugs on my Ascends are freezing cold even hot days) and reduce distortion by adding more voice coil/driver mass. They don't move with the actual flexing part of the driver to produce frequencies.

One-way designs are by nature directional, because high frequencies are the culprit. They cause drivers to shoot forward like a laser (if you ever use a microphone, you'll see what it means; you can measure a 6.5" driver up to 75 degrees to either side at 2m and still get 95% consistent output...on a tweeter, if you are off by as little as an inch in an open chamber, you get basically NO output). This is why there are tweeters (so that the midrange can be properly propogated in a wide area, rather be constricted, and limit the speaker from many people being able to listen to it, to just the person sitting directly in front of it).

This is why in music, they say aim the tweeters to your ears, and at ear-level--because they don't disperse at all (they might bounce about in a small room though, slightly improving dispersion). In home theater, the midrange (vocals) are the most important, so that's why single tweeter designs have worked so far (the highs aren't that audible anyway).

The problem with a 1-way design with 3" drivers is that, first, the highs aren't that audible, but the 3" drivers (which aren't good at reproducing them anyway), are forced to, so the driver dispersion suffers. So, this design really is only going to work for listening in a small area.

Quote:
...just saw this, based on your other post: http://www.tnt-audio.com/ampli/t-amp_e.html ...interesting.


Class D and Class T are various designs that were studied in the mid and late 90s and only recently came into fruition, partly because of the market, and partly because of problems they didn't understand (high frequency distortion, which has been more or less solved). They are cheap as heck to make, and are cleaner than analog designs, provide power at the truckloads, and have abysmally low heat generation (because they don't use up huge amounts of idle power. Classic analog designs are like helicopter gas turbine engines. Even if its idle, its still burning a hell of a lot of gas).

Panasonic's digital line as well as the Sonic T-amp are examples of low and medium powered Class-D entry-level products. Some companies, like Sony, Samsung, H&K and various other companies are more interested in a profit, so they've been milking their analog products (their flagship 150W/channel receivers) and they are both trying to maximize profit as well as give digital a big splash when they officially kick it into the market--alot of their market entry digital designs are 250W+ 7.1 behemoth receivers at $5,000 pricetag (they are charging it like an analog product, because more expensive means better, right?) whereas some of the entry-level gear is just as clean, and only costs $100-200, and power wise more than holds its own against current analog flagships in the $1k region in terms of power and distortion.
August 12, 2006 7:34:53 AM

Thanks man, it makes more sense now. From reading some of the hype it sounds like they'd mated they'd mated the tweeter and the midrange together, like they were both there, just using the same axis. Now, if I finally understand correctly, the tweeter's simply missing, there's just one full-range driver. I read like every review I could find, must've read 10 or more and that hadn't been quite clear.

I typically sit on the floor to listen to music (been doing that for 30 years). I'll likely experiment with just placing the sats on the floor with them aimed upwards at my listening position.

I'd read that there were problems with the Klipsch ProMedia Ultra's subwoofer. that made me not even consider them. Do you know if those problems have been remedied?

Thanks for the info on Class D and Class T amps, I was kind of amazed at that ~$30 amp.
August 13, 2006 4:55:02 AM

Quote:
Thanks man, it makes more sense now. From reading some of the hype it sounds like they'd mated they'd mated the tweeter and the midrange together, like they were both there, just using the same axis. Now, if I finally understand correctly, the tweeter's simply missing, there's just one full-range driver. I read like every review I could find, must've read 10 or more and that hadn't been quite clear.


I think Logitech was saying something along the lines of "well the phase plug reduces distortion, so the midrange can play highs better, so its like having a tweeter. But, it's not, since tweeters were designed to solve the problem of one-way systems (which is weak dispersion). All the plase plug really does is make it a slightly better one-way sat.

Quote:
I'd read that there were problems with the Klipsch ProMedia Ultra's subwoofer. that made me not even consider them. Do you know if those problems have been remedied?


The Promedia Ultra is such an old set that the circulation of different variants are huge. Getting an Ultra via retail would be like playing Russian roulette--you might get an older system, you might get a newer one. The alternative is to pay through the nose and buy directly from Klipsch, which isn't really realistic obivously for the deal-hunter.

Quote:
Thanks for the info on Class D and Class T amps, I was kind of amazed at that ~$30 amp.


No prob. Though it's sort of the budget pet amp these days, if I didn't tell you, you would've found out eventually =P
August 13, 2006 5:17:53 AM

Well, I did get the Z-5500s, they should arrive tomorrow. Since I move in early September I'm not sure its even wise to unpack them, but I probably will. :p 
August 14, 2006 1:23:04 AM

Well, too late to put in my 2c, then, but you did what I would have advised. I'm using the 5500s in a 10'x10' room. The thing with the 5450s is they're not exactly wireless, you still need an AC socket for each rear speaker, which can be more of a hassel than cabling the ones for the 5500s.
August 14, 2006 2:01:05 AM

WORD :D 
I got em as well and I love em, my favorite saying about these babies is that the bass KICKS @ss and the sound is so awsome and loud that it'll kill BACTERIA On the wall :wink:
PC mag says though that the 5450's have an annoying hiss from the rear sats

RIG specs
Antec P180 PerformanceSeries Mid-Tower Case
SeaSonic S12 600 watt power supply
Asus A8N32 SLI mobo AMD N-Force 4 SLIX16 (bios 1103 V02.58)
RealTek 97 onboard digital 5.1 Surround
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Toledo Core, 2 X 1mb L2 cache (AMD driver 1.3.1.0 w/MS hotfix & AMD Dual Core Optimizer)
2 gigs of Corsair TwinX3500LL Pro @ 437Mhz 2-3-2-6-1T
2- BFG 7900 GT OC 256mb in SLI (nvidia driver 91.31)
Western Digital RAPTOR 74.3 gig 10-K rpm HDD for XP & Apps
Maxtor SATA II 250 G HDD for gaming, movies, MP3's
Maxtor SATA II 250 G HDD for document backup (unplugged)
Sony CDrom 52X
Plextor 708-A DVD/CD rom
August 14, 2006 8:23:33 AM

Quote:
WORD :D 
I got em as well and I love em, my favorite saying about these babies is that the bass KICKS @ss and the sound is so awsome and loud that it'll kill BACTERIA On the wall :wink:
PC mag says though that the 5450's have an annoying hiss from the rear sats

RIG specs
Antec P180 PerformanceSeries Mid-Tower Case
SeaSonic S12 600 watt power supply
Asus A8N32 SLI mobo AMD N-Force 4 SLIX16 (bios 1103 V02.58)
RealTek 97 onboard digital 5.1 Surround
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Toledo Core, 2 X 1mb L2 cache (AMD driver 1.3.1.0 w/MS hotfix & AMD Dual Core Optimizer)
2 gigs of Corsair TwinX3500LL Pro @ 437Mhz 2-3-2-6-1T
2- BFG 7900 GT OC 256mb in SLI (nvidia driver 91.31)
Western Digital RAPTOR 74.3 gig 10-K rpm HDD for XP & Apps
Maxtor SATA II 250 G HDD for gaming, movies, MP3's
Maxtor SATA II 250 G HDD for document backup (unplugged)
Sony CDrom 52X
Plextor 708-A DVD/CD rom


They kill bacteria on the wall? That should prove useful. I'm looking forward to seeing how bad or good these little puppies are. I'm sure they'll be at least adequate for the price and the "annoy-thy-neighbor" factor I've read that they provide.
August 14, 2006 10:12:49 AM

Hey Hal................"annoy thy neighbor"....that they WILL :lol: 

But on a serious note, they are good speakers for the money. If I had the extra $ 400 CDN (about 340 USD) I would have gotten the Klipsche Pro Media 5.1's.
The pro medias retail for about $ 680.00 CDN. :cry: 
But the Z-5500's are an awsome set of ear candy that will definitely even annoy a deaf person :wink: and still sound great. What I like about this setup is the desktop console that houses the built in de-coder for digital sound. It's also capable of hooking up a DVD player right up to it and you can use it for a home theater.

The BIG ENCHALADA though is the 10 " sub that weighs in at a hefty 45 pounds !!!!! 8O
The sound they put out is quite impressive I must say.

Enjoy em when ya get em bro, you won't be disapointed.
August 14, 2006 10:39:22 AM

Just hope you have decent earthing in your house, otherwide there's a good chance anything you turn on or off on the same circuit will create a popping in the speakers. It was really bad for me at first, but a lot of the little noise went away after I finally got my X-Fi instead of using onboard sound. Now I hardly notice the odd time it happens, as it's usually only my heater plugged into the same wall socket that does it.

BTW, it's not isolated, Logitech are offering full refunds for people affected.

But I'm keeping them. They look sweet in my room, and the sub is the perfect size to fit under a tabble I have.
August 14, 2006 12:20:57 PM

Hey ARU,
That popping sound you mention, I notice it like when the exhaust fan in the bathroom is turned on or off. And when you mention earthing, what do you mean? Is there any way to eliminate it? I do in fact use on board sound... my AC97. let me know if there is a way to get rid of this :cry: 

RIG specs
Antec P180 PerformanceSeries Mid-Tower Case
SeaSonic S12 600 watt power supply
Asus A8N32 SLI mobo AMD N-Force 4 SLIX16 (bios 1103 V02.58)
RealTek 97 onboard digital 5.1 Surround
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Toledo Core, 2 X 1mb L2 cache (AMD driver 1.3.1.0 w/MS hotfix & AMD Dual Core Optimizer)
2 gigs of Corsair TwinX3500LL Pro @ 437Mhz 2-3-2-6-1T
2- BFG 7900 GT OC 256mb in SLI (nvidia driver 91.31)
Western Digital RAPTOR 74.3 gig 10-K rpm HDD for XP & Apps
Maxtor SATA II 250 G HDD for gaming, movies, MP3's
Maxtor SATA II 250 G HDD for document backup (unplugged)
Sony CDrom 52X
Plextor 708-A DVD/CD rom
Logitech Z-5500 Digital 5.1 THX 500watts
August 14, 2006 12:54:36 PM

Plug everything into a common ground curcuit, and pray that its clean =P
August 14, 2006 12:54:56 PM

Quote:
Hey Hal................"annoy thy neighbor"....that they WILL :lol: 

But on a serious note, they are good speakers for the money. If I had the extra $ 400 CDN (about 340 USD) I would have gotten the Klipsche Pro Media 5.1's.
The pro medias retail for about $ 680.00 CDN. :cry: 
But the Z-5500's are an awsome set of ear candy that will definitely even annoy a deaf person :wink: and still sound great. What I like about this setup is the desktop console that houses the built in de-coder for digital sound. It's also capable of hooking up a DVD player right up to it and you can use it for a home theater.

The BIG ENCHALADA though is the 10 " sub that weighs in at a hefty 45 pounds !!!!! 8O
The sound they put out is quite impressive I must say.

Enjoy em when ya get em bro, you won't be disapointed.


Actually, the console/pre-amp is why I went ahead and looked at the Z-5xxx series, at all. That with the rediculous sub made me think they could be useful, even if the sat's don't have the best dispersion. ...a lot of utility, so I'll be interested to see what they can do with music, despite my skepticism. :roll:
August 14, 2006 1:02:13 PM

Unfortunately it IS plugged into one power bar. It's not a Monster power bar so maybe thats one solution. I know those power bars have that "clean sound 1 an 2" or something like that.
However like I said it's only when certain lights or switches are used and I don't have any feedback so it's not a total loss :( 
It would just be nice to be able to eliminate that poping sound like I described earlier. Do you think a good "Monster" powerbar would do remedy it?
August 14, 2006 1:19:50 PM

Quote:
Unfortunately it IS plugged into one power bar. It's not a Monster power bar so maybe thats one solution. I know those power bars have that "clean sound 1 an 2" or something like that.
However like I said it's only when certain lights or switches are used and I don't have any feedback so it's not a total loss :( 
It would just be nice to be able to eliminate that poping sound like I described earlier. Do you think a good "Monster" powerbar would do remedy it?


Sounds like a good line conditioner/noise filter might do the trick. Yet, you don't have to spend "Monster" money to get this: Consider the Tripp-Lite Isobar series ( http://www.tripplite.com/hometheater/surge.cfm ).
August 14, 2006 1:46:15 PM

For what its worth I figured I would add my input on this situation. Last summer I decided to buy a set of Klipsch promedia Ultra 5.1 speakers. The first set the amp blew out on pretty quickly, so I returned it and got a new set.
The second set worked fine, but I was greatly disappointed int he sound of them. I was using an M-Audio card at the time for music, and an audigy 2 for games, but the impression I got from the speakers was that they were highly overrated in terms of music playback. All I can remember is that the highs were too powerful to the point that they got annoying. Anyway, I ended up returning those and picking up Z-5500s. I can honestly say that when I first hooked them up and turned on some music, both me and my brother agreed they sounded better than the Klipsch set that I had owned.

The sub is loud as most people have said, but most of the music i listen to contains little bass, and I still think these speakers are decent for music. Anyway this is just to help set your mind at ease, they certainly arent crappy speakers, especially for the price you're paying for them.
August 14, 2006 2:03:07 PM

Thanks for the input Vash, they should arrive today.
August 14, 2006 3:00:17 PM

Quote:

The problem I run into is connections. Connecting a PC to an A/V reciever via RCA connections loses the 5.1 surround sound necessary in BF2, but doesn't make too much diffrent if you are using a 2 channel source. I tried optical out from my X-Fi but the sound never came through as 5.1 even though the source was a DVD-Audio. It was weird.

PS- if anyone has tips on getting 5.1 from PC to A/V reciever via optical I am willing to enertain ideas. I could try the digital out (not optical) that requires a 1/8" to optical cable but I'm not so sure about that. Any thoughts?


There is a way in which you can 5.1 via optical, but it requires a hardware modification. Here it is, but I am not responsible if you mess up your computer:

1. Turn off your computer and ground yourself (ALWAYS DO THIS)
2. Remove the X-FI card from the motherboard
3. Replace the card with an M-Audio 5.1 surround card
4. Replace drivers

:wink:
August 14, 2006 3:14:48 PM

Quote:

The problem I run into is connections. Connecting a PC to an A/V reciever via RCA connections loses the 5.1 surround sound necessary in BF2, but doesn't make too much diffrent if you are using a 2 channel source. I tried optical out from my X-Fi but the sound never came through as 5.1 even though the source was a DVD-Audio. It was weird.

PS- if anyone has tips on getting 5.1 from PC to A/V reciever via optical I am willing to enertain ideas. I could try the digital out (not optical) that requires a 1/8" to optical cable but I'm not so sure about that. Any thoughts?


There is a way in which you can 5.1 via optical, but it requires a hardware modification. Here it is, but I am not responsible if you mess up your computer:

1. Turn off your computer and ground yourself (ALWAYS DO THIS)
2. Remove the X-FI card from the motherboard
3. Replace the card with an M-Audio 5.1 surround card
4. Replace drivers

:wink:

Smart @$$. You had me here, right up to step #3. :lol: 
August 14, 2006 7:38:43 PM

I've just hooked up the Z-5500's. Not too bad. The bass is rediculous, yet tamable. They seem decent enough for music. A fun set. I'm surprised, they're not half bad, hmmm.... Heck, the mouse-makers did alright with these. 8O
August 14, 2006 10:47:05 PM

Yeah, popping fix can be one of a few things.

1) Wait for Logitech's promised replacement that will never happen.
2) Rewire your house so the circuit you're on is properly earthed.
3) Spend as much as you did on your speakers on either a good line conditioner or a decent UPS.

Realy, it's logitech's fault, you shouldn't have to worry about this with speakers, there should be a good band stop filter on the power supply.

And the difference I noticed with onboard sound: Apart from my mouse creating a high-pitched whine that increased whenever you moved it, my mum using an electric carver in the kitchen made my computer unusable. Lights in the bthroom caused popping, fan in the bathroom etc. After instaling an X-Fi, most of the noise sources disappeared, it's now only what's plugged into the same wall socket as my speakers, now, pluss a random pop every so often, but it's not very common now. I think using onboard sound provided a second source of line noise, that was more sensitive.
!