We tried a $130 Logitech speaker system to see if you really can get surround sound on a budget
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- For its low $130 price tag, the Logitech Z606 surround sound system sounds very good.
- It's certainly not a high-end surround system, but given the fact that the best sound systems cost in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, it's a good buy for people on a budget.
- If you don't want to spend more than $130 on a surround sound setup and you can live with certain limitations, Logitech's Z606 is a good option.
The question is: Is the Z606 system worth considering as a budget sound system? In this Logitech Z606 review, I'll walk you through my experience from setup to playback, noting all of the highs and lows I went through along the way.
What is surround sound?A 5.1 surround sound system is comprised of six parts. The first number, five, notes how many satellite speakers there are to handle high-end and midrange frequencies, while the second number, one, notes the subwoofer.
In a 5.1 arrangement, you have left and right speakers like you would with headphones or any two-channel setup. You also have a center speaker, as well as left and right back speakers. Combined together, surround sound systems can create a virtual auditory space, bringing a new level of depth to music, movies, and games.Most surround sound home theater setups are expensive, especially if you want high-end audio. Our own guide to the best home theater systems has options that cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000. The Z606 system costs just over $100, making it only a fraction of the price of high-end sound systems. For that money, you're getting five speakers, one subwoofer, a remote, and the cables to hook everything up. It's a marvel that Logitech can even bring a 5.1 system like the Z606 to the market at such a low price, so before getting to the few criticisms I have, it's important to understand where the system stands in relation to the rest of the market.
It's a budget-focused system, and like any budget option, it has a few shortcomings, especially when unfairly compared to more expensive systems. Throughout the review, I'll be noting some of those issues, but that doesn't necessarily mean the system isn't a worthwhile budget buy.
Setting up the Z606There isn't much to setting up the Z606. Logitech has clear instructions in the box, but you could easily go at it alone. The subwoofer is the center of everything, with all the inputs and outputs on the back and the control panel on the front. Setting up the speakers is easy with color-coded clips on the back for the front, back, and center speakers.
Logitech has thought about placement, too. The front and center speakers have 2.2 meters of included speaker wire, which should be enough to reach the subwoofer, and the back speakers get 6.2 meters of wire. While that should be enough for most rooms, you may need to splice some extra wire on the back speakers if you have a large room.
As for setting the speakers up, the process is simple. All you need to do is attach the speaker wire to the color-coded clips on the back of the subwoofer. There are small, foam pads on the bottom of each speaker, as well as a hole in the back for wall mounting. It's not the most elegant wall mounting solution, but it'll get you by.Logitech also sells a wall mounting kit for the speakers, which, unfortunately, isn't included with the system.
Logitech has shown in the past that it understands how a standing center speaker could be an issue. The Z506 and Z906 systems both have center speakers that sit horizontally, so I'm not sure why the Z606 has a center speaker that stands vertically. During my testing, I had to lay the center speaker down on its side to not block my screen, and while the sound was fine, the overall look of the system suffered.Perhaps it's a design decision brought up by the prevalence of wall-mounted TVs. The speakers aren't especially tall, so it's an issue that's easily dealt with, but it should be pointed out.
There are some minor annoyances with controlling the system, too. The remote works well, but on-unit controls are located on the subwoofer. Like the center speaker issue, it's something to may not come up often, but it is a small shortcoming of the system.Nitpicking aside, the Z606 system is cheap, and because of that, the conveniences of some more expensive surround setups can't and shouldn't be expected. I'm here to split hairs, and when I do so, the Z606 is still resilient. Logitech
"True" surround sound
The Z606 system is a true surround sound setup, but not out of the box. Logitech only includes an RCA to 3.5-millimeter jack, which isn't suitable for true surround sound. Instead, you'll get a simulated surround sound, as a 3.5-millimeter jack is only suited to carry a stereo signal with two channels.
The result is a mixdown of the two channels to simulate true surround sound. The same goes for Bluetooth. Out of the box, the Z606 system isn't a surround sound system. It includes all of the speakers and connectivity options to become a surround sound system, but it's just an emulated shell otherwise.That's one of the issues of using an entirely analog setup. Including an HDMI or optical input would allow you to carry a full surround sound signal to the TV without the need for an external box. Based on what's included in the box, it seems like the Z606 system is designed for plugging into a computer more than anything else.
In order to get true surround sound, you'll need a receiver that supports five channels of analog audio over RCA, as well as the RCA cables to plug everything up. That doesn't make it particularly easy to hook the speakers up to your TV, Blu-ray player, or game console. Most modern TVs don't even include analog RCA plugs for stereo speakers, much less inputs for surround sound. Analog to digital conversion is expensive, I understand that, but modern home theater and desktop setups rely on digital inputs.
However, that's hard to ask for considering how inexpensive the Z606 system is. Take the Yamaha YHT-5920UBL, for example, which costs around four times as much. It includes HDMI inputs and wireless connectivity, but for the extra money, the sound is much better.That makes the Z606 interesting. Yes, if you want true surround sound, you'll need to invest in a receiver at some point. However, if you only have $130 to spend now, the Z606 offers something that Yamaha and most other surround sound manufacturers can't: a starting point.
Great for movies, so-so elsewhere
The Z606 system is a budget surround sound option, so I'm not going to make any bones about it. if you're looking for the best in audio fidelity for your home theater setup, the Z606 won't deliver it. However, as a value-oriented option, the system is great, boasting an impressive sound despite the low price.While not THX certified, I was surprised by how good the Z606 system sounded. Logitech's spatialization works very well, separating the nuances of reverb in quiet moments while throwing sound across the speakers during intense action. For watching movies, the speakers sound excellent.
However, that exposes one of the downsides of the Z606 system. As an analog system, it can't be tuned in any way. What you hear is what you get. Clearly tuned for movies and video games, the Z606 system has a less pronounced top-end and clearer midrange. For dialogue, in particular, the more pronounced midrange works well, but for everything else, it leaves a lot to be desired.Any music that has a dense midrange - think rock, orchestral pieces, and most jazz - suffers when put through the speakers. Instead of dividing the nuances of the music, the Z606 system folds on itself, pronouncing the midrange to the point of drowning out the other aspects of the song. It isn't too bad - you can still enjoy music on the speakers - but it's clear the speakers are optimized for movies. That wouldn't be an issue if there was some way to add an EQ curve to the setup, but that's impossible. It's an unfortunate downside to an analog system that you'll have to contend with.
Given the price, though, I like where Logitech's head is at. Instead of investing in digital expansion and making just another expensive surround system, it balanced the speakers to perform well while using them for their intended purpose. Music doesn't sound great, but as a surround sound system, I'm willing to trade fidelity there for an overall higher quality of sound with movies and games.
The bottom line
In a world of high-end surround setups, it's difficult to place the Z606 system. A few design oversights and a couple of unfortunate connectivity omissions clearly show that it's a budget system.However, the trade-off is worth it. Instead of adding massive platform support, Logitech provides just enough to work with, focusing the budget on sound instead. That's what makes the difference.
If you're new to the world of surround sound or just don't care to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a system, there aren't many other solutions that match the Z606 system. With a focus on sound and accessibility, the Z606 misses in a few spots but hits the mark where it counts.
If you're looking to speed a little more, I recommend checking out the Monoprice Premium 5.1 system for around $250 and the Klipsch HDT-600 system for $450. The Monoprice system is slightly more powerful at 200 watts and has similar audio quality, while the Klipsch system maintains a similar power rating with much better audio fidelity.Subscribe to our newsletter.
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