Solid speakers for cramped spaces
Unless you're a serious gamer or a home-theater enthusiast, odds are you don't need elaborate multichannel desktop speakers. If you're content to rely on the spare combination of two speakers and a subwoofer, Logitech's $150 Z-2200 2.1-channel speaker system could turn even the most acoustically ambivalent person into an audiophile.
Each of the Z-2200's two 80-watt satellites includes a three-inch driver with an aluminum phase plug for cooler operation and more efficient dispersion of high frequencies than drivers with dust caps provide. The drivers are housed in an attractive, gray-metallic plastic enclosure that measures 7.0 by 4.3 by 6.0 inches (H, W, D) and features a removable dust cover. Our only gripe has to do with the hardwired speaker cables. Although the 82-inch cable is adequate for most desktop work areas, we would still appreciate the flexibility of quick-connect jacks to add longer cables, especially since the included speaker pedestals can be mounted on a wall.
The hardwired power cable on the 120-watt subwoofer is less of an irritant. Matching the design of the satellites, the subwoofer enclosure measures 11 by 11 by 15 inches (H, W, D) and boasts an 8-inch throw driver and a dual-flared port design for maximum bass output. Since this is a 2.1-channel system, connections are limited to left and right RCA satellite jacks and a 15-pin wired remote port. The 81-inch line-out cable is long enough to connect the sub to your PC without stretching. Logitech also throws in a color-coded adapter for connecting to PlayStation, Xbox, and GameCube consoles. The small wired remote plugs into the subwoofer and contains a large volume-control knob, a bass-level knob, a power button, and a handy headphone jack.
We connected the Z-2200s to a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy2 ZS Gamer LE sound card and loaded Pirates of the Caribbean, a THX-mastered DVD movie that we hoped would test the THX-certified speakers. Despite the lack of multichannel surround sound, we were impressed by what we heard (and felt). During the scene The Battle, cannon explosions shook the walls of our 10-by-12-foot office, while the satellites did a fine job of evenly broadcasting mid- and high-level sounds throughout the room, providing a virtual center-channel effect and a clarity that rivals that of most high-end systems.
Gameplay was equally impressive. We tested the Z-2200s while playing Halo: Combat Evolved with the bass set to three-quarter power, and we could feel the response with each explosion. Likewise, the satellites produced a fullness of sound that rocked the room. To test the speakers' music reproduction, we queued up the Ramones' "Howling at the Moon" track and cranked it way up--the way it is meant to be played. Let's just say that the boys from Queens never sounded so good. Even at the highest volume, the speakers sounded neither muddy nor distorted, though the neighbors got a little bent out of shape.
Despite our gripe with the hardwired cabling, we were completely blown away by the performance of the Z-2200s. For the money, Logitech's Z-2200 2.1-speaker system is hard to beat, whether you're into gaming, music, desktop theater, or annoying your neighbors.