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Logitech Z506 5.1 Speakers Review
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by Jamie Fletcher on June 6, 2011 in Speakers/Headphones

At their release, Logitech’s X-540 5.1 speakers were a hit, thanks to their affordable price and feature-set. In fact, our review from five years ago is still regularly read today. So what about their successor, the Z506? Carrying the same $99 price tag, does Logitech once again give us an affordable 5.1 offering worth considering?

Introduction

Logitech, no introduction needed, has been the go-to company for computer and gaming peripherals for many years. On occasion, the company does a product refresh, covering the same price point but taking advantage of modern advances. The Z506 5.1 speaker set is one such product refresh, replacing the now aging X-540, reviewed by Greg King way back in 2006 when Techgage was in its infancy.

The Z506 is a 5.1 surround sound system on a budget with a more introductory price point of $100; introductory for a surround system anyway. The size of the unit remains minimal and compact without sacrificing too much on style – this is meant for gaming after all. So what’s changed from the X-540?

The remote is no longer of the wired variety, so nothing to take up precious desk space with a hose-pipe for a cable; in-fact, there’s no remote at all! Wait, what? Well, as is quite common, volume and power are now integrated into the front right speaker instead of a dedicated remote. The only other major difference is that of style, gone are the 90′s super-blocky look and it’s back with the more friendly curved edges. Many of the features that made the original set popular remain, such as the Matrix Mode upscaling, ported Sub unit and the center speaker mount for placing it on top of a monitor.

Logitech Z506 Speakers

Taking everything out of the pack leaves nothing to the imagination, it’s a simple setup which doesn’t really require a manual. The sub houses the amplifier and all inputs are connected to it on the reverse. Each of the satellite channels are color-coded using RCA cables. An RCA input is provided on the back along with the three jacks for surround.

The RCA input may be stereo, but the Matrix Mode upscales it to utilize all speakers; unlike the original though, this mode can not be turned off and is always enabled. This does have the unfortunate side-effect of obfuscating stereo separation as you are enveloped with sound.

Logitech Z506 SpeakersLogitech Z506 Speakers

The eagle-eyed will notice the dial on the back and yes, it does what you think it does; sub volume control. I am going to be rather blunt here and call this quite a significant design oversight. Subs tend to be placed either on the floor or hidden away somewhere, so what good is a volume control where it’s inaccessible? When the remote was integrated into the right satellite, why didn’t Logitech integrate the sub control too?

It can be said that most will not fiddle with the sub volume too much, they’ll set it to a certain level then leave it. The problem comes when you need to check results, crawl under the desk, change the sub volume, crawl out, listen, crawl back, change, and so on. To save some the trouble, set it to just a notch below the mid level, any higher and it’s more of a rumble than a kick-drum.

The support legs lift the sub off the surface and provided a suitable perch with which to place your fingers when lifting. Much to my surprise, while taking the sub out of the box, my fingers nearly punctured the speaker. If there was one major complaint brought up about the X-540 by Greg, it would be the lack of a speaker grill on the sub unit’s main speaker.

Logitech Z506 Speakers

It is very unfortunate that this has not been remedied with the new model. There isn’t a realistic excuse either as to why one isn’t provided; grill plates are just a few cents and that added protection would easily recoup itself. Speakers are very fragile and all it would take is to either lift the speaker too firmly or to place accidentally atop of something pointy to trash the Sub – not a smart move.

Logitech Z506 SpeakersLogitech Z506 Speakers

The satellites from the original system made use of a dual speaker arrangement, not just in the center speaker, but in all satellites too. On the face of things with the Z506, each satellite looks like a dual speaker arrangement, a mid-range and a tweeter. The disappointment comes when you find that the ‘tweeter’ is actually just a molded piece of plastic (not even a port), as can be seen from the reverse.

Each speaker does have some minimal protection, much like the Corsair SP2200′s, with a thin fabric mesh over the front.

Logitech Z506 SpeakersLogitech Z506 Speakers

The center speaker makes use of a fold-out support which can be used to perch it on top of a monitor, or to aim it upwards if placed on a desk. This is definitely one of the more practical setups I’ve come across, despite its simplicity.

Logitech Z506 Speakers

Volume control, power on and headphone output are all handled by the front right satellite, doubling up as the remote. It connects to the back of the sub via an old-skool serial cable, often seen on many speaker setups. The headphone output is very quiet, significantly quieter than the speaker output. Master volume needs to be set to half in order to achieve a reasonable output; should headphones be accidentally pulled out, be prepared for a shock as the speakers spring into life – at quite a significant volume.

Page List:
Top

1. Introduction
2. Test & Final Thoughts


  • [email protected]

    I bought now 2 sound systems and both of them dont work on 2 of the 5 boxes. I am very fucked off of this shit! DONT BUY THIS!!!

    • Dilly Vue

      yes
      im glad
      its ok cause I have these at best buy LOL
      and its still work like new 100% :D

  • Jerico

    no power on my Logitech Z506 5.1 speaker/sub 3850.. any idea?

    • http://techgage.com/ Jamie Fletcher

      All that I can really suggest is to check the fuse on the cable – but if the fuse has blown, it’s usually for a reason. Any other workaround would require opening the unit up and checking the power supply for things such as blown caps, burnt-out resistors and such, since the power is internal to the unit. This would void your warranty, of course.

      If the unit is under warranty, RMA/return it if you can. If it’s outside of warranty, then that opens up a number of possibilities, but not something easy to fix via comments, lol. If you have friends/family that have any electronics knowledge, they may be able to revive the unit. Apart from that, anything else would be very time consuming and difficult.

      Disposable electronics, they’re a bitch. Sorry that I can not be of much help.

  • Timaaaa

    Wish i had been more patient with my speaker purchase. These speakers can’t be mounted which is a big disappointment.

    • http://techgage.com/ Jamie Fletcher

      Yes, especially since its predecessor could. I don’t know what happened at Logitech, but these speakers were a major step backwards. Maybe it’ll do better with a refresh in a couple years.

  • Gerry Brazell

    These work great, just as I intended.
    The only problem is a strange fuzzing and fading of audio when I plug headphones (stereo) into the headphone jack on the speaker. The odd thing is, it only seems to happen with YouTube videos. Games and other audio e.g. iTunes handle it fine. Presumably its either some issue with the 5.1 signal being sent to stereo earphones, or with the Flash Player youtube uses.- is there some way to fix this?
    Gerry

    • http://techgage.com/ Jamie Fletcher

      I’m not sure if this might be to do with the noise floor being exposed due to an active audio input – this is just a guess, so I could be wrong, but I’ll try to explain. When there is no audio input, some speakers/cards/DACs have a power-save mode, typical of class-d amplifiers and such, where the unit will switch off if there is no input. When it detects an input, there is usually a slight click sound and you’ll begin to hear sound. If that sound is very faint, you’ll hear the noise floor instead. What might be happening is that Flash is keeping the audio link active, preventing the power-save kicking in, thus you hear the noise floor.

      Since this is affecting the headphone socket only, it might be the headphone amp that’s at fault. Try disconnecting your headphones (but not while music is playing) and see if you can hear the noise through the speakers. Also, close your web-browser to see if things disappear after. This could be an issue with the speakers or your audio setup (soundcard). I’ll see if I can dig out my unit later and test it out as well.