If we're grading strictly on sound quality, the Logitech Z515 is a tough sell. If you're planning on paying $99 for a pair of speakers that will spend their useful life sitting at your desk, you can do a lot better. The Z515's an improvement on notebook speakers in any capacity, but if it's just going to be stationary throughout most of its life, you can do better with a pair of conventional computer speakers. Fortunately, we aren't grading strictly on sound quality.

The Z515 is clearly designed to be as portable as humanly possible, an effort to strike a balance between sound quality and mobility, and on that front they feel like much more of a success. Playback over the Z515 was perfectly fine for casual use, and with the volume cranked up it can definitely fill a room (and it does sound much better at higher volumes.) But it was meant to be on the move, as aptly demonstrated by the space for the receiver in the back and the black zipper case it comes with. Supporting three different methods of connectivity—wireless dongle, Bluetooth, and 3.5mm minijack—makes it as flexible as you could ask for, and the wireless range is outstanding.

Something else to consider is that with the USB wireless adapter, you're not saddled with the built-in audio on your laptop, and you don't need to use the headphone jack. We've encountered quite a few laptops over the years where the internal speakers and audio jacks both have a lot of electrical noise/interference. By going the USB audio route, Logitech eliminates that concern.

That's where you're really going to have to decide whether or not the $99 MSRP is worth it to you. If the flexibility and wireless range are attractive, I'm not sure where you can expect to find better on the market. As a strictly stationary speaker the pricetag is onerous, but under those circumstances you aren't using the Z515 as it was intended. I've been in situations where a pair of speakers like the Z515 (because it is essentially a pair of stereo speakers) would've been incredibly useful and worth their weight in gold, but it's going to be up to you to determine whether or not the Z515's mobility and flexibility are going to be relevant enough to make up for the $99 pricetag.

The Z515 in Practice
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  • ckryan - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    I ditched all manner of PC and home audio based audio solutions looking for good sound at my desk... including an expensive Bose Cinemate II, a Logitech 5.1 system, and a 2.1 system. I instead switched to some near field studio monitors designed for critical listening applications. While low end as far as professional audio goes -- the accuracy and input options are second to none. As far a ditching the sub goes, I think too much bass is the problem with a lot of the options out there. I prefer less but "higher quality" bass to way too much nasty, overwhelming bass. Balance is the key to most things.
  • Spivonious - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    I totally agree with you, but Bose is overpriced crap, and Logitech systems are designed for video games. Not exactly the best options you could have chosen for music listening.

    What nearfield monitors did you get? I don't like boomy bass either, but most desktop speakers simply cannot reproduce frequencies much below 120Hz.
  • ckryan - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    Not all Bose are terrible (just most), just overpriced, plus they were a Christmas present. I play pc and console games mainly with the monitors. Basically, they're a lot like wearing headphones. I don't listen to music too much with them, as you are absolutely correct -- they drop off precipitously below 120hz. As for the monitors, they're a long discontinued set of Roland's. They really aren't the accurate, razor flat, colorless monitors you'd want to use in a real studio. Their low end nature makes them great for general PC sound tasks -- they use a 5 1/4 inch driver with a dome style tweeter. They're self amplified, have rca, 1/4", optical AND coaxial digital inputs. They have their own D/A onboard, with a mono sub out.
  • Samus - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    M-Audio Studio Monitors FTW.
  • Devo2007 - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    I like my M-Audio Studiophile AV-40s. It sure surprised me just how good they sounded despite not having a sub. I know they aren't anything special in terms of "monitors" but for me they work just fine.
  • Nataku - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    I got the same AV-40s at home, my girl friend started complaining her speaker system wasn't good enough after lol, looks like I have to get another pair for her (and they aren't expensive either)
  • JPForums - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    I'm currently using Creative Megaworks speakers. Side note: these are the direct result of the acquisition of Cambridge and are the successor to the Cambridge Soundworks series. (Gigaworks may have too much Creative influence though) Do not confuse these with the Creative Inspire junk. While the base on the Megaworks is overly powerful, it is fairly high quality and I find that at around a quarter volume, they strike a decent balance.

    The frequency response of the system is great for PC speakers, but leaves much to be desired in the studio world. With a good audio card it should allow you to adjust the power at particular frequencies, allowing you to flatten the frequency response of the system. I checked the response of my system by recording different combinations of frequencies output, including white noise, at my sitting position and running FFTs on the data in matlab. Then I adjusted the settings and tried again.

    I realize this isn't something everyone is willing to put the time out to do, and to be fair, I still intend to get some nearfield monitors studio monitors when I can afford them. However, it has allowed me to put off getting those monitors until I can afford the ones I really want.

    Keep in mind that the room you listen in can be just as important as the speakers you use. For this reason, I'll be adjusting the studio monitors as well, though I expect much less of an adjustment.
  • jkostans - Sunday, October 17, 2010 - link

    You should try Room Equalizer Wizard

    Amazing program that does everything you just listed without the matlab hassle. (must register on home theater shack or pro audio shack) Plus it lets you input equalizer settings (center frequency, Q and gain) and will show a corrected curve. I use an audigy card with the kxaudio drivers and the adjustments are dead on. It makes flattening a sound system for a room incredibly easy.

    Although you really should have a good measurement microphone otherwise you are assuming the microphone response is flat which is never the case.

    I'm very impressed with your knowledge and resourcefulness...
  • numberoneoppa - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    For a beginner setup, I'm usually hastily recommending the KRK Rokit series. Very good for the money.
  • Akdor 1154 - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    What's the latency like for the wireless methods? I get that it won't make much of a difference for music, but movies and games are quite sensitive to this.

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