Configuration

Getting started with the Z515 is actually as simple in practice as Logitech makes it out to be, at least if you're using the 3.5mm minijack or the wireless dongle. Obviously using the audio jack doesn't require any driver installation, but the wireless dongle did work as advertised. All you have to do is plug it in to whichever computer you want to use, and it automatically installs and is up and running, no sweat. Unplug it again and the computer is back to whichever default sound hardware it was using beforehand. Even unplugging it during midplayback produces a minor jump, but WinAMP at least didn't seem to mind.

The Bluetooth support, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. Using the internal bluetooth on a Lenovo ThinkPad X100e or an external Bluetooth dongle with a Dell Studio 17 achieved the same net result: the Z515 was recognized, identified as a "Z515 Speaker" bluetooth headset, and then promptly needed a Bluetooth Peripheral Driver that wasn't available. A trip to Google was able to find me a driver—the first entry on the page, actually—and after that the Z515's were up and running, producing sound indistinguishable from the wireless dongle.

Sound Quality

If you're looking for better sound than your laptop speakers, you'll get it from the Z515, but beyond that is a bit of a mixed bag. I gave the Z515 a legitimate challenge by comparing it against the excellent (by notebook standards) speaker system in my Dell Studio 17. The Studio 17's main speakers are smaller, but the notebook itself boasts a subwoofer. The Z515's were also compared to the aforementioned Bose Companion II speakers connected to an Asus Xonar DX—not a fair comparison as the Companion IIs aren't designed to be portable and you can't buy a Xonar DX for a laptop—but it's one worth making anyhow. For playback I principally used the song "Spitfire" by The Prodigy, which—in addition to being awesome—has excellent and distinct highs, mids, and lows.

First impressions: the Z515 is capable of producing bass. Not a whole lot, but at least some, which signals a definite upgrade. Most notebook speakers simply aren't capable of hitting deep bass, and the bottom tends to fall out of most music. The Z515 doesn't have that problem. Where it loses points is the unfortunate fact that these are still comparatively small speakers, and they can't work miracles. Sound is still tinny, and the range between highs, mids, and lows isn't very clear. While "Spitfire" played back fairly well, something busier like "Shallow Grave" by The Birthday Massacre doesn't fare nearly as well and starts to get a bit muddy. On my desktop, where I have the privilege of a pair of Bose connected to a Xonar DX, the instrumentation and vocals on "Shallow Grave" separate much, much better than they do on the Z515. The difference is night and day.

But the Z515 wasn't designed to compete with quality desktop audio, it was designed to replace notebook audio, and in that position it fares much better. The Dell Studio 17 has the benefit of a subwoofer, and while it produces excellent sound for a notebook playback has a hollower quality than it does on the Z515. Sound quality is actually pretty close, but the Z515 seems to hit higher highs and lower lows. Given that the Studio 17 is a 17" notebook with the best speakers I've ever heard on a laptop (miles better than the competition), it's fair to say the Z515 would be a definite upgrade over any built-in notebook speakers. As for being able to pair with an iPhone, iPad, or other bluetooth-enabled device? Given how small those are, they're an easy win for the Z515.

Wireless Range

Here's where I was really impressed by the Z515. While the wireless MX3200 keyboard and mouse set on my media center have dismal wireless range using the same 2.4GHz wireless technology, making them usable by at most four feet from the receiver, the Z515's claimed fifty foot range actually winds up being fairly conservative. While carrying the Z515, I was able to leave my apartment, walk down the stairs, and cross the street before the sound started to cut out. This was true using either Bluetooth or the wireless dongle: if you want to run music from a computer on the other side of the house, you can do it with the Z515. You can probably bring it over to the neighbor's house.

Introducing the Logitech Z515 Wireless Speaker Conclusion
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  • Sebec - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    I agree. Also, the writing is pretty shoddy by Anandtech standards. I've never seen "suck" as a word in a title article on this website EVER, until now. There are also several grammatical errors, mainly ending sentences with prepositions. Frankly, I found this article worse than the stuff on Tom's HW. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    Seriously?

    I'll admit "suck" probably doesn't belong in a headline, but you're going to call in the grammar police?

    I try to keep my writing style fairly conversational and casual, too dry makes for a dull read. I'm sorry if that doesn't work for you, but it's kept my readers pretty happy since I started.
    Reply
  • bahamakyle - Saturday, October 16, 2010 - link

    I registered for the first time after frequenting this site for 10 years to chime in the harsh responses to this review. By AnandTech standards the article was just fine. You provided all the information that one should need about a low-end set of speakers in a clear and coherent manner. And I don't think that there's anything wrong with having the work "suck" in the title. It was nice to see a bit of lightheartedness added to the front page. Can't please everyone I guess. Keep up the good work Dustin.

    Cheers
    Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    "This is the part where a lot of audiophiles would be ripping their hair out, but hear me out: the Companion II's produce excellent bass and dynamic range provided they're connected to a good sound card"

    look, it has nothing to do with whether or not you're using a "dedicated subwoofer," there are plenty of great full-range speaker options out there, but Bose are, well, an acquired taste.
    Some folks really like how Bose speaker color the music to their own particular sound, but many "audiophiles" are not looking for speakers that change the sound so much.

    however, i am not one of them. i used bose laptop replacement speakers for a long time and i think they gave a good, full sound for a low cost.
    i know that sounds crazy, because bose are not the cheapest option, but when you compare them to a real audio system that actually sounds really good, the cost is negligible.
    they do not produce excellent anything,
    not by a long shot,
    but they do a very good job of covering up poor recordings and bad mp3s.
    Reply
  • warisz00r - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    lolgitech

    and Bose = Buy Other Sound Equipment

    For the same amount you're paying to get a Bose, you can build a much better sounding setup, sometimes for even less.

    http://www.intellexual.net/bose.html
    Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    No highs, no lows... it must be Bose! Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    ha. that takes me back.

    actually, i think they have changed their design philosophy since the days when that rhyme was coined.
    to me, they sound more bassey/muddy then they used to, and less mid-rangey.
    but the highs still suck.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    For a home theater system, sure.

    My Companion II's are a $100 pair of computer speakers. I've tried other similarly priced speaker sets and found them to deliver the best sound quality, at least for my needs. We're talking about a budget here, for a computer, not a home theater speaker system.
    Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    for the more expensive multispeaker setups, i agree with you, but the companion 2s that i got for 85 bucks are hard to beat if you don't have any space for something bigger.
    now, i'm using JBL control 2p speakers, and they do kick the crap out of the bose, but they cost more than twice as much.
    once you start looking at the 350 dollar or greater options, your absolutely right, bose really suck.
    i also find it really abnoxious that they won't publish their speaker specs.
    they rely on their sound coloring techniques rather than accuracy and power.
    frankly, i understand the approach, because most people don't even understand speaker specs anyway, so bose focuses on making a rich, recognizable sound that will capture people's attention.
    what bothers me about them is that they are probably using their 'secret sauce' to mask inferior components.
    however, there is no way to say that for sure without ripping them open and testing them, and who wants to blow cash on that?

    in the meantime, i still stand by the cheaper bose speakers as a good way to cover up flaws in poor sources like mp3s and bad transfers.
    in fact, if you have really good speakers, your mp3s will actually sound worse, because you can hear how poor the quality is. (even without superb hearing)
    when you are talking about non-computer, non-mp3 usage, like a home stereo, all of this goes out the window of course.
    Reply
  • tleeds - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    Get your hands on a set of Wharfedale Audio Diamond 8.2 Active Studio Monitors. Should run you about $350.00USD .. Unbelievable sound for that money. Reply

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