Logitech's 2.1-channel Z533 speaker system may not be the pinnacle of home audio, but it more than gets the job done at a very reasonable price.
Setup is fairly simple. The subwoofer is the hub of the system, with left- and right-channel outputs, plus 3.5-millimeter and RCA inputs, which can be used to connect a computer and/or a TV or console simultaneously (only a 3.5mm cable is included). Both speakers are very clearly marked with their channels, and there are no clips or bare wires to fiddle around with.
The only tricky part is positioning the subwoofer so that every cable can reach its intended device, and that the system's control pod is within easy grasp. That pod, incidentally, has 3.5-millimeter inputs and outputs of its own for the sake of headphones or pumping music from smartphones and tablets.
The Z533s are rated at 120 watts of peak power, with an RMS figure of 60 watts — 15 for each satellite, and 30 for the subwoofer. It's not the most powerful system you'll ever hear, but it's still louder than many alternatives for computers, and plenty deafening at high volumes.
With bass set at mid-level, the subwoofer delivers a satisfying "punch" to music, video, and game audio without overwhelming the rest of the sound. Maxing it out can have slight muffling effects — we tested this out with trance by Above & Beyond — but probably won't deter people who want oomph in their audio.
Ultimately the speakers sound pleasing, even if nuance isn't their forte. It's only when compared against something like M-Audio's AV-40s — studio monitors, meant for professional production — that you notice they lack some clarity, especially at higher frequencies.
The puck-like control pod has its own quirks, meanwhile. For the most part it's a solid idea, allowing users to adjust volume and bass without leaning over toward a speaker. The bottom is well-weighted, and the volume and bass knobs glide smoothly while staying where you put them.
The volume level marker is difficult to read however, and there's no notch to indicate medium volume. It could also stand a longer cable — not to mention one that's not permanently attached to the subwoofer, which makes moving the system around more cumbersome.
For $100, it's quite easy to ignore any of the Z533's problems. Even if audiophiles should probably look elsewhere, in most circumstances the system delivers plenty of power and range.
Score: 4 out of 5
- Loud, reasonably clear sound
- Powerful yet balanced bass
- (Mostly) simple setup, handy control pod
- Lacks some clarity, particularly at high end
- Ramping up bass muffles some frequencies
- Control pod could still be better-designed
Where to buy
The Z533s can be bought directly from Logitech for $99.99.