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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  • 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. Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • Samus - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    M-Audio Studio Monitors FTW. Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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) Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply
  • numberoneoppa - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    For a beginner setup, I'm usually hastily recommending the KRK Rokit series. Very good for the money. Reply
  • 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. Reply

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