Logitech has four new PC speakers for 2009 ranging in price from $69.99 to $129.99. None of the new speakers are USB-powered and all feature what the company calls "360-degree sound," which "helps project audio evenly in all directions."
The Z320 speakers reviewed here are relatively compact, measuring about 7.5 inches tall and 5 inches deep (they don't include a subwoofer). The company's moved away from the modern, squarish design of its USB-powered Z5 omnidirectional speakers and has gone with a more traditional PC speaker design.
In our search for an adjective to describe the Z320's design, the first thing came to mind is "classy." The speakers have a clean look and high-gloss black fronts that slope back at an angle so the speakers fire upward at your head if you're sitting at your computer. It's worth noting that the speakers have no grille cover to protect the drivers, which may be a problem it you have young children who like to poke things. Yes, that glossy finish is a fingerprint magnet, but unless you're constantly reshuffling the speakers on your desk, it shouldn't be a problem.
As noted, these speakers feature omnidirectional sound, and the first thing you notice when you turn them around is a speaker driver that mirrors the one on the front (they're both 2-inch drivers). While the rear of the speaker isn't as attractive as the front, you could have the backs facing you and still get the same sound. These guys are designed to be placed in the center of a room, though the majority of people will probably end up with the rear drivers reflecting sound off a wall since most people keep their speakers on a desk that faces a wall.
The speakers themselves are fairly lightweight, but not totally unsubstantial. The left speaker weighs in at 1.1 pounds, and the right, which houses a 10-watt amplifier, come in at 1.4 pounds. Logitech has conveniently placed a volume control on the front of the right speaker. When turned all the way to the left, the speakers completely power down.
As for connectivity, the two satellites are connected by a 6-foot cord that should give you ample stereo separation. There's a dedicated cable for connecting the speakers to a laptop or desktop PC (or you could plug the minijack directly into an audio device), as well as a headphone jack on the right speaker that doubles as an auxiliary input for other audio devices, such as iPods.
In its marketing materials, Logitech says the Z320 speaker system "floods every corner of your room with Logitech 360-degree sound. No dead spots, missing high notes, or dropped-out bass thumps. You hear every note and nuance from every spot in the room. It's sound dispersed so clearly and evenly in all directions, you feel like you're in your music, movies, and games." Not surprisingly, that's pushing things a bit.
The reality is, the Z320s are compact computer speakers that deliver decent but unspectacular sound for the money. Their strength is their clarity while their weakness is their bass. There's just not much oomph here, so bass-heavy music (for example, hip-hop) and the explosions in movies and games sound restrained. But acoustic tracks and dialog in movies sound really good. (If you're looking for more bass, consider the identically priced Logitech Z323, a 2.1 system that includes a dedicated subwoofer.)
In the final analysis, while they're not a steal at $70, if you're looking for a pair of compact speakers that sound pretty decent and look nice sitting on your desk, the Z320s are certainly worth considering.