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UNDERWHELMED BY THE LOGITECH Z5500 SPEAKERS

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April 1, 2007 12:08:16 AM

I did my homework, waited for Newegg to get it back in stock, and dropped a good chunk of $ in it, but the Z5500, with my current set up anyway, sounds very dull. Less so with Winamp than WMP. Attempting to get better dynamic range by tweaking the EQ results in base or treble distortion.

It could be my lack of a sound card, but the onboard audio Realtek 7.1 on my BADAXE Mobo is supposed to be pretty decent, and from what I read here a sound card might or might not make much of a difference.

Any suggestions? Does anyone think an SPDIF optical cable would improve fidelity?

C2D E6600 2.4
Intel BDX2D2
eVga GTS 8800 640
2G Corsair 6400
Seagate 320G X3 RAID 0
April 1, 2007 12:25:27 PM

creative x-fi soundcards are like sex for your ears, no matter how shitty or good your speakers are you will notice a huge gain, i recommend this.
Anonymous
April 1, 2007 1:17:34 PM

Quote:
creative x-fi soundcards are like sex for your ears, no matter how shitty or good your speakers are you will notice a huge gain, i recommend this.


Me, too... Onboard sound just isn't the same.
Related resources
April 1, 2007 1:26:54 PM

what music do you listen to?
i personally have the z5300 and they play my hardstyle (very bass intensive) a lot better than my heavy metal music, so it depends on the kind of music you play i think.
April 1, 2007 1:39:45 PM

Exarrkun,

Wide variety. Strangely the music tracks that I accidentally ripped from my GTR2 game sound the best. Most of my tracks have been encoded at WMA128kbps and WMA192kbps, but the GTR2 tracks are WMA320kbps.

I was told that the diff was negligable. Anyone have experience with these bitrates?[/quote]
April 1, 2007 1:44:01 PM

:) 
i mostly play my music at mp3 320kbps, but also have some wma 128kbps tracks
they sound the same for me :) 
perhaps i'm going to frequently to parties, my poor ears 8)
April 1, 2007 1:46:11 PM

I have the Z5450 speakers, and they sound great.

I would have to agree with most of the other posters though - install a decent sound card and you will notice the difference.

I'm running with an X-Fi Music, and it does make a difference.

After spending good money on a set of quality speakers, it's really worth investing in a decent sound card.
April 1, 2007 1:48:55 PM

128kbps can sound poor.

192kbps and above should sound great.
April 1, 2007 2:07:02 PM

Linky no worky...

I cound't find mine on Newegg (X-Fi XtremeMusic), but I think it cost me around €130 when I bought it.
April 1, 2007 2:50:00 PM

Checking that link, the reviews weren't so good.

This one looks better based on the reviews, but I'm not really an expert in this area.

I would suggest checking some reviews to get an idea of what the community considers good/bad.

Maybe someone with more experience would be willing to suggest something.
April 1, 2007 3:36:19 PM

Quote:
but I'm going to buy an x-fi sound card down the road anyways


Somebody is saving money now eh
April 1, 2007 4:53:53 PM

One thing I have found that may help you out a bit deals with the device that Winamp uses to output the sound. By default, a generic DirectSound driver is used, which tends to have poor quality on the trailing edge of high tones, especially when mixed with bass tones. It annoyed me for a long time, and the Creative Media Source player didn't have this problem, so I finally went through the Winamp settings and found what was wrong.

If you go into Winamp, go to Options, Preferences. Near the bottum, under plugins, click on Output. You should see that DirectSound is selected. Click the Configure button. On the Device tab, change the dropdown box from "01: Primary Sound Driver" to "02: XXXXXXXXX" where the Xs are the name of your devices. For people who have an X-Fi, it will be "02: SB X-Fi Audio [AC00]". From what I can gather, it seems that this switches Winamp from using generic DirectSound driver calls to using hardware specific ones, which improves the sound quality if your sound card is better than Microsoft's reference.

This may not fix your immediate problem, but it's something to keep in mind if/when you get a better card.
April 1, 2007 5:05:56 PM

Quote:
sup man, but for me, down the road means about a year or so, you know I've been saving up my money forever. Now that I have $260 from Iranian new year, I'm deciding between getting a new monitor, or saving it for a k10 cpu upgrade with a raptor in July when my birthday comes, knowing amd, they are going to release some cheap k10 dual (hoping a cheap quad for only a few hundred, otherwise I'll wait more) for am2+ and just pop that in my my crosshair, otherwise I need a new monitor because my current $5 20" is dying on me (really disappointed too, this is the best monitor I have owned, yet I bought it for $5), so it's a tossup between that, and raptor.


Also I'm hoping to get a high dx10 card, but that's for 2008, where I'm hoping I can get an 8900gtx/r600 for just $350 8)


I suggest you start saving now :) 
April 1, 2007 5:25:18 PM

Quote:
Don't worry, I've been saving up since my birthday in July, I haven't spent any money of my own yet (my parents bought me that keyboard since they owed me something like 4 months of allowence, so I made a deal with them)

I'm just deciding which I survive longer without, a new monitor to replace the dying one (which I must say, this cheap sceptre is really looking quite appealing now, it supports 1080p, has hd glare-whatever that is, but it's cheap, cheaper than most 1", and tons of good reviews on it), or a new cpu in July when k10 is released and I get birthday money
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Taco, Im so pissed that Sceptre canceled that LCD that I wanted so much. Remember the 24" one? with HDCP 2xHDMI and everything else youcould imagine? Well is canceled :( 

Looking for another LCD like that one, I found an even better one, but pretty expensive :p  But at least this guarantees 1080P. I saw some pics in VR-Zone forums and its just amazing with a PS3

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
April 1, 2007 5:49:42 PM

Yeah, I know, instead they came up with a Komodo crap...
April 1, 2007 11:06:39 PM

If you think it could be the source, try to see if higher quality sources like CD/320kbps Mp3/FLAC are significantly better.

If you think it could be the sound card, hook up your speakers to a CD player (or DVD player) or another external source and test to see if you hear a significant difference.

If all of these things fail to meet up to your standards, then you know for sure it's the Z-5500s that are underwhelming. The good thing is, it's not very hard to find stuff that can be significantly better. The bad thing is, for the money you spent on your Z-5500, you can probably only get a very good stereo setup (which is perfect for music). But if you find a surround setup necessary, getting a surround setup that will also perform much better, will obviously, cost quite a bit more.
April 1, 2007 11:31:16 PM

Go Klipsch! or Bose. Logitech is good for mice, keyboards & steering wheel.
April 1, 2007 11:54:45 PM

The Z-5500's are adequate for personal surround, and can sound somewhat entertaining when used with a card like the X-Fi, but if you want to be truly satisfied you'll find Astrallite's advice dead on...you'll need to spend a bit more. The Z-5500's have dispersion problems and sloppy loose bass but that's a popular sound...just not accurate. ...good for killing bacteria but questionable for true listening enjoyment.

...recommend at least getting a reasonable sound card (the X-Fi's sound fine with the Z-5XXX's, their DAC is smoother sounding to me than the Z-5500's) and you'll be fine until you want something your ears can truly appreciate.
April 1, 2007 11:57:30 PM

Quote:
Not all cd players have good amps in them though, I know the ipod's is pathetic, this set of wireless headphones that have built in amps have far better sound quality than most headphones on the ipod because of it's crappy amps


I suggested to hook an external device to the speakers instead of the onboard soundcard, because onboard sound cards sometimes suffer from very poor EMI shielding. The other stuff is usually satisfactory.

Quote:
Not all cd players have good amps in them though


Terminology wise, CD players do not have amps. Neither do sound cards. They are pre-pro devices that tweak the voltage of a continuous power source (either battery or AC power) for gain modification.

Quote:
I know the ipod's is pathetic, this set of wireless headphones that have built in amps have far better sound quality than most headphones on the ipod because of it's crappy amps


External amps (devices that boost power) are sometimes necessary because the base gain of the electronic device adjusted too high (usually because, for an ipod or cd player, it is necessary for decent output), resulting in distortion of the source. that is audible.

All one has to do is--if the gain is adjusted too high by default--to merely turn down the volume of the electronic device and raise the volume on your amplifier, which in this case, would be the speakers.

So essentially, your advice can be applied to this problem by merely adjusting the CD player's gain.
April 2, 2007 12:05:28 AM

Quote:
Yeah, but if you get a better sound card, you wouldn't need to turn down the volume of the system


And if you had a better mp3 player you wouldn't need an external amp?
April 2, 2007 12:44:16 AM

Hey man, don't complain. I have my Logitech system hooked up to my laptop, my crappy old HP laptop. There is only a mic in and stereo out on it, so the only wire I can run into the laptop from my system is the green one.

Get real. Audiophile = irritating the hell outta me.
-cm
April 2, 2007 12:45:11 AM

lol, Taco, you make me smile.
-cm
April 2, 2007 12:49:29 AM

Check out that post count, baby. Breath it in...

-cm
April 2, 2007 1:24:11 AM

Well, its like a birthday. Its just an arbitrary number, but in this day and age anything that gets me excited is worth having. Post count gets me excited.

Jeez, the one star rating thing is mean...
-cm
April 2, 2007 6:42:45 AM

anything apart from the x-fi extreme music is a good x-fi card, they are worth it, i have a set of creative s750 speakers (yes, i am a creative fanboy, but with good reason, since they are the only company that makes a decent sound card), they sound much better on the x-fi than on integrated, also, 128kbps is pretty good, but since storage space and bandwidth generally isn't a problem for most people i don't see why not go for 320kbps, it's worth the minor effort.
April 2, 2007 11:18:48 AM

What is is about the X-treme Music you take exception to. I find the X-treme Audio a bit underwhelming but am curious about any issues with the X-treme Music.
April 2, 2007 12:16:37 PM

I own an X-fi extreme music and the z5500, they sound great together

you should definately get a sound card, the onboard ac97 stuff is crap.

oh and i personally dont listen to compressed music at any less than 256kbps

incidently i also use the z5500 on my dvd player for dd 5.1 via coax. its fantastic. Saving Private Ryan sounds better than ever and no distortion
April 3, 2007 5:58:34 PM

Sound IS important. I always watch movies on my laptop with the 15 inch screen instead of the TV because of the beast sound system hooked up to it.

It seriously does make it better. Master and Commander is insane, and is driving my hall mates crazy.
-cm
April 4, 2007 1:39:07 AM

i meant audio, my bad, confusing names, lol
April 9, 2007 9:12:21 PM

I think its obviously the lack of a sound card. Onboard is always decent, but personally I think the sound offered by a decent sound card is way beyond what onboard can give you. I went through a m-audio revolution, audigy 2 zs, and a X-fi extreme music, all 3 sounded a little different for music. The M-audio was the best for music, but its not very good for games, so I went to a audigy 2 zs. then when X-fi finally came out i got one shortly after. It's better for music than the ZS, but still not as good as my M-audio was I don't think, but never did any side by side comparison.

Also, I would try some much higher bitrate stuff and see if it sounds better. Even on my crappy old 35$ 4.1 speakers I could hear the difference between cd audio and 320kbs MP3s. On better speakers the difference becomes even more noticeable. If you just listen to music I'd go with some cmedia or m-audio card. I can't personally recommend the cmedia cards, but I've heard they're good. Also, don't bother trading them for Klipsch, or especially Bose. I had the 5.1 Pro media Klipsch set before I got the Logitech Z5500's. Let me just say that their PC speakers are not as good as their other lines. I went through 2 sets of them where the amp blew out in a week, and got the Z5500's instead. Not only have I not had any problems with them, I think they sound much bette than the Klipsh set. I've never tried Bose, but I would never pay the ridiculous amount they ask for their speakers.
April 11, 2007 11:53:52 PM

I have the Klipsch 5.1 promedia system and it's great. I've had mine for about 3 years after my first one went bad after about a year. The newer models seem to be holding up better (at least for me). There's nothing bad about the Klipsch, just that their satellites are a little under-powered in my opinion and you HAVE to use better speaker wires. The stock wires are crap and dont carry signals too well, especially when you're trying to wire across a large room.
Last year, I decided to hook up my Yorkville studio monitors into my front speakers on my system and now it's ON!
April 14, 2007 12:39:07 AM

Thanks Vash and purplepusher lots of good information. Does anyone think any of the manufacturers will be coming out with a completely Vista compatible card with an SPDIF optical port in the near future?

The Creative support site has a lot of mumbo jumbo about why EAX and such can never be compatible with Vista. Presumably, Creative has to come out with a card that is, eventually, or perhaps this is the killer app that Turtle Beach or some other has been waiting for to scoop Creative.
April 23, 2007 4:05:17 AM

I'd like to stress that, the reason why all these sound cards sound different with the same speakers is because of the quality of the Digital -----> Analog converters and vice versa. Hence why a cheap, onboard sound card sounds like crap with good speakers. A lot of quality is lost in the digital to analog conversion if the d/a is cheap. That's why one poster said his M-Audio box sounded the best. It has industry standard D/A converters for recording, so they have to be very high quality. I have an EMU 1820M which has the same D/A converters as the ProTools systems have, and I can make crappy speakers sound good on this (well, it helps to have all kinds of onboard DSP eq's and such)

Anyways, upgrade your soundcard, you will notice the difference. My guess is at high volumes, you are overdriving the chipset, which is clipping the signal ( sounds very nasty and harsh) and that's what you're hearing. Good luck man, let us know how it pans out!
April 23, 2007 9:10:58 PM

No, not high volumes or clicking just poor separation, low fidelity.

Since Creative has not come forward with dedicated Vista drivers and none of thier cards have the square SPDIF optical port, I have been looking into Auzentech sound cards. I like what I see. They have a new card coming out soon and I may wait for that. I have an email in to their tech support, just to see if they respond. Reviews have been up and down on their support, and as a less known mfg of cards they need to have good support.
April 23, 2007 9:52:06 PM

Quote:
Exarrkun,

Wide variety. Strangely the music tracks that I accidentally ripped from my GTR2 game sound the best. Most of my tracks have been encoded at WMA128kbps and WMA192kbps, but the GTR2 tracks are WMA320kbps.

I was told that the diff was negligable. Anyone have experience with these bitrates?
[/quote]

The speakers are apparently good enough that you're hearing the difference in bit rates on your mp3s. You just said so yourself.

Edit - WMAs not MP3s - ehh same difference, sounds worse than a cd.
April 23, 2007 9:58:16 PM

My X-Fi works perfectly fine in Vista, but I jsut pass out analog with it. Like someone else said, ounds card have better DAC's than OB usually has. Something else I forgot, if your software for your sound is using any kind of surround creating crap or something like that. In creative's software they automatically enable their surround stuff, which sounds like crap. If you pass digital to your speakers they'll just be converted there, and I don't know if that sounds better than passing analog from a good sound card. Anyway I forgot most of the stuff fromt his thread...but I hope what I posted helps with something lol.
April 24, 2007 12:30:47 AM

Quote:
I did my homework, waited for Newegg to get it back in stock, and dropped a good chunk of $ in it, but the Z5500, with my current set up anyway, sounds very dull. Less so with Winamp than WMP. Attempting to get better dynamic range by tweaking the EQ results in base or treble distortion.

It could be my lack of a sound card, but the onboard audio Realtek 7.1 on my BADAXE Mobo is supposed to be pretty decent, and from what I read here a sound card might or might not make much of a difference.

Any suggestions? Does anyone think an SPDIF optical cable would improve fidelity?

C2D E6600 2.4
Intel BDX2D2
eVga GTS 8800 640
2G Corsair 6400
Seagate 320G X3 RAID 0


Honestly, what did you expect from a very budget 5.1 system?
I spend that much on 1 skeaker.
April 24, 2007 12:42:47 AM

Wow much do spend on two skeakers?
April 24, 2007 1:25:41 AM

$219/pair (going for a 2nd soon.)

I spent about ~$700 on my subwoofer. $200 on my reciever. Looking into a reciever upgrade too.

And not to brag any... But I spend ~$1500 on my monitor 8)
April 24, 2007 6:12:57 AM

Not to brag either, but, just as an example of what "really" good research can do, but for around $240 ($100 for the speakers, $120 for the T-amps +the AC power supply [or a cheap receiver], $20 for speaker wire) you can set up a 5.1 system with Insignia NSB-2111s and three Sonic T-amps. Those bookshelves have 1" silk tweeters and 6.5" kevlar mids.

That's ~630% more surface radiating area than the Logitech Z-5500s and significantly better driver materials and enclosure material. Large room dispersion, bass extension, transient response will improve. Distortion will drop considerably--instead of a 3" driver handling 20-20,000Hz, you have a 6.5" driver handling 20-2,200hz, and a 1" tweeter handling 2,200hz - 20,000hz; a smaller driver that can handle resonating at higher cycles better than a 3" driver can.

Logitech sells decent stuff, but it's still mass-market goods.

Photo linky from Firingsquad review of the Insignia's:

April 24, 2007 8:32:26 PM

Yeah, a photo linky means a link to a photo. Were you expecting something else?
April 24, 2007 11:02:57 PM

Quote:
Generally people only link a photo when they are linking it to say a review, or a place to buy it. I was expecting the review that ou were talking about


Well generally speaking I don't share your semantics.

But if its that hard to google "firingsquad insignia", then I have done so for you:

http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/insignia_ns_b-2111_...

Not that I expect you to read it, as generally people who are interested in something will find a way to type in the google text box to find what they want.
April 25, 2007 1:05:49 AM

I agree with Asrallite. I have a pair of those. Great sound for the money. No way I could pass it up!

Also, there is a $50 crossover upgrade that someone is selling on the net. Its also worth its weight in gold :) 
!