It's true and we're all aware of it: laptop speakers, with few exceptions, are horrible. They can be fine in a pinch, if you're just going to play a quick game on a LAN or just want to hear the audio on a YouTube video, but generally speaking the speakers built into your notebook—and you know they only get worse the smaller your notebook is—are awful and utterly inadequate for any but the most basic use. If you're a music or movie fan, they just aren't going to cut it.

You could always replace them with a dedicated speaker set for when you're at home, but what if you're traveling? What if you're away and you just want to unwind to some music? There are a healthy number of situations where you might want a better pair of speakers than what's built into your notebook, and some manufacturers recognize this. Hoping to offer a better alternative, Logitech brings us the Z515 Wireless Speaker.

Historically, Logitech has made some solid if unexceptional speakers. I actually used to own a pair of Z4's that I was pretty proud of; they produced excellent bass and in general use seemed to have a solid dynamic range. Since then I've upgraded to a pair of Bose Companion II speakers on my desktop, doing away with the subwoofer and getting my bass just from two small but powerful speakers. 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. This is after going through a lot of different speaker sets.

Notebooks don't really have those luxuries, which is where the Z515 comes in. On paper, the Z515 is pretty awesome. What it brings to the table:

  • Plug and play wireless connectivity through an included USB adapter, no drivers necessary.
  • A built-in battery pack good for ten hours of wireless playback from a full charge.
  • A 3.5mm minijack for inputting audio from MP3 players.
  • Bluetooth connectivity with iPad, iPhone, or any other bluetooth device.
  • Two-inch drivers.
  • A claimed fifty foot range.

The Z515 comes with a black zipper carrying pouch, and the wireless receiver can be stored under a hatch on the back; that hatch folds out and works as a stand for the speaker. Of course, if you have a bluetooth-enabled notebook that may not be an issue for you. Logitech clearly designed the Z515 to be as flexible as humanly possible, so how does that work out?

The Z515 in Practice
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  • Setsunayaki - Sunday, October 17, 2010 - link

    years ago, on Consoles you were able to buy an Audio Solution that was cheap....but had something nice to them..

    They had a Sub integrated with an External Amplifier. All I do is simply throw a line to the computer and the computer actually sends the sound to the system which gets processed by the external amp and sub and has the sound come out of my speakers. Do to this along I've gotten better sound quality than $400 sound cards and good SNR as well.

    The only thing that the sound depends on is a better DAC and since Linux has many sound drivers one can choose from a drop down menu in the same category you can always get the one that functions the best...compared to the entire Windows Philosophy of One Driver, Per hardware piece installed or bust attitude.

    The unit I have works pretty well and has also things to connect it to consoles, PCs and other devices. ^_^
    Reply
  • GullLars - Sunday, October 17, 2010 - link

    Sure, these are speakers, and are nice if there is more than one person going to listen to the audio, or headphones are impractical to wear, but in almost any scenario i have encountered where i needed audio from my laptop, a pair of Koss headphones did the job just fine. I actually don't own speakers, and use a high-end headset with mic on my main rigg, while using koss headphones or earplugs on my laptop (and ipod) when travelling.

    How do these speakers fare against a $99 headset? Or a DAC + headphones?

    You also mention laptop speakers, or Z515 as replacement for them, for LAN gaming. I've never been on a LAN where anyone with a laptop didn't use a headset, and the only case anyone used speakers was for background music when there was no gaming.
    Reply
  • GullLars - Sunday, October 17, 2010 - link

    BTW, does anyone here know of an USB DAC with 2 (or more) 3.5mm jack outputs? Sometimes it would be great to have the ability to share the audio from my laptop when traveling without disturbing others, like with the person sitting next to me on a train, buss, or plane. (most people traveling, and everyone i travel with, bring some kind of earplugs or headphones with 3.5mm jack) Reply
  • mastercrumble - Monday, October 18, 2010 - link

    The best pc speakers I have ever used are made by a german company call Teufel. Not a pricey as Bose but at least as good: http://www.teufelaudio.com/ Reply
  • Morely the IT Guy - Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - link

    "the wireless receiver can be stored under a hatch on the back"

    Should I assume that you mean the USB wireless transmitter? I would expect the receiver to be permanently wired into the speakers, someone inside the case.
    Reply
  • Morely the IT Guy - Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - link

    "somewhere inside the case." Bugger auto-correct! Reply

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