Holiday Buyer's Guide 2005

Logitech Wireless Speakers

Headsets aren't the only wireless goodies we have under our tree. According to Logitech, the Z5450 Wireless 5.1 Loudspeakers series introduces to market the world's first THX-certified wireless rear speaker system featuring independent rear channels. The Z5450 speaker rig includes 5 satellites, 1 center channel, and a subwoofer. Left, right, and center channels are hardwired directly to the receiver, which itself transmits wirelessly and is then channeled to the recipient 6 channel (or better) computer sound card. The remaining rear channel speakers are the only two speaker components that are actually wireless.

Drawing 315 W total RMS power and operating at a sound pressure level (SPL) of 103 dB, the Z5450 won't fill a large room with quite the depth of Logitech's Z5500 (which draws 505W), but it is significantly better than typical close-range computer speakers. Frequency response is listed at 35 Hz to 20 kHz, so these THX-certified speakers should have no problem evenly distributing a wide range of sound. Among computer speaker rigs we've tested for prices under $500, this set-up comes close to matching the very best, and blows many other offerings away.

Logitech's trademarked Digital SoundTouch Control Center neatly ties all the components together, providing an assortment of connector types. These include two Sony/Philips Digital Interface (S/PDIF) optical, one S/PDIF coaxial, and a 6-channel direct panel with front, rear, and center/subwoofer connections. Also provided are line in and line out on the left side of the SoundTouch unit.

Critical configuration buttons appear on the face of the Digital SoundTouch Control, and those and many more also appear on the unit's infrared remote control. Using the remote, you can individually control outputs to the subwoofer, center, and surround speakers, S/PDIF outputs, 6 channel direct, and more. There is even a mute button to silence the entire system quickly.

About our only issue with the system is that it offers no method to synthesize multi-channel 5.1 sound from stereo inputs, as do many audio receivers or preamps/pre-processors. It's a shame to leave the center and rear channels unused when so much of what we listen to is simple stereo. To fill those channels, you will need a high-end sound card like the Audigy 4 or better on a PC, which offers CMSS 3D Audio technology, and produces 5.1 sound even from mono or stereo sources (purists may sneer, but we like it ourselves.)

You can order the Logitech Z5450 Wireless Speakers directly from the manufacturer Web site online for an MSRP of $499 USD. Other online etailers offer this speaker rig at prices as low as $340, however. If Santa or his elves are willing to do a little comparison shopping, this big box of goodies can find a place under the tree at substantial savings.

Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a long-time IT writer, researcher and consultant, and occasional contributor to Tom’s Hardware. A Windows Insider MVP since 2018, he likes to cover OS-related driver, troubleshooting, and security topics.