The Logitech Z305 in Practice

Subjective listening tests were done with the usual suspects to get a feel for the speaker's highs, mids, and lows as well as the kind of spatial experience the Logitech Z305 was able to produce: a bit of The Prodigy (electronic), The Birthday Massacre (goth/industrial), and a few other bands for music, and Left 4 Dead 2 for gaming. We'll do this in reverse order just to get the weak point of the Z305 out of the way.

Logitech's website advertises "room-filling, 360-degree sound" and in some respects that's true: the Z305 can certainly fill a room. The problem that I ran into with Left 4 Dead 2 was that it was very difficult to discern which direction the zombies were coming from (barring the usual "OH MY GOD THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!"); basic stereo separation in the actual listening experience seems to be a real issue with the Z305. That's not entirely unexpected; these speakers fire outward, are in some ways obscured by the notebook lid, and ultimately aren't pointed at the primary user. Of all the sound equipment I've tested up until this point, I found the Z305 to be among the worst at producing any kind of directional audio. It'll fill a room, but it won't help you figure out where your buddy is when the Smoker is choking the life out of her--a real drag when she's one of your best snipers.

Music fares a bit better. The bar the Z305 has to clear is pretty low here: sound better than laptop speakers. Even the comparatively excellent audio the Dell Studio 17 and HP Envy 17 (review forthcoming!) produce can't hold a candle to even the cheapest straight up dedicated speakers. What the Z305 is really competing against are headphones, and in that case it becomes less about audio quality and more about practicality. If you need speakers everyone can hear or are tired of wearing headphones, most built-in laptop speakers aren't going to cut it, and that's the kind of situation the Z305 was made for.

So do they sound appreciably better than even the Studio 17's speakers? Yes. When testing something like the Animatrix Edit of Junkie XL's Beauty Never Fades, the Z305 does a fairly admirable job of producing that soundscape. At about the three minute mark, the song starts to produce well delineated highs, mids, and lows, and while the Z305 has a hard time holding a candle to better dedicated sets, it's certainly in the neighborhood of what you'd get paying the MSRP for other speakers.

That said, it has problems. The overall color of the sound is still somewhat muddy and tinny, and while the bass is at least somewhat commendable for speakers this small, the punch at the beginning of The Prodigy's Spitfire is sorely missed. Overall, the song feels a bit thin and doesn't quite have the kind of body that bigger speakers are going to give you. Something more complex and layered like The Birthday Massacre's Sleepwalking suffers the same issues: highs, mids, and lows don't separate as much as you'd like and overall any music you listen to is going to feel at least a little flat.

Of course, the Z305 also costs $60 and it's not designed to blow your doors off. After sitting down and listening to it for a while I gradually adjusted to the sound quality. While making the jump back to the Antec Soundscience Rockus 3D (say what you will, Antec produced speakers that sound remarkably good to the untrained ear) threw the Z305's deficiencies into harsh relief, I can say with certainty that this set achieves what it sets out to: provide a notable jump in sound quality over laptop speakers.

The Logitech Z305 in Theory Conclusion
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  • toms_usnavy - Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - link

    is that it?
  • toms_usnavy - Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - link

    i should say though, thats some damn good writing.
  • puffpio - Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - link

    I know what you're trying to say girl
    You're trying to say, "oh yeah that's it"
    And you tell me you want some more
    Well i'm not surprised but i am quite sleepy
  • erple2 - Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - link

    Well, _I_ got work in the morning...
  • fabarati - Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - link

    It's business it's business time
    I know what you're trying to say
    You're trying to say it's time for business
    It's business time ooh
    It's business it's business time
  • ProDigit - Sunday, December 5, 2010 - link

    better than nothing!
    If you don't like it, don't read it!

    The only good speakers for desktops are studio monitors with 8" drivers in em.
    Anything less does not give a good sound!
  • Evil_Sheep - Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - link

    The Z305's are hardly the only decent game in town for portable, affordable speakers. The Edifier MP300's go for $50-60 and are actually a honest-to-god true 2.1 that even come with a portable case. I've listened to these in store and frankly I wasn't impressed... the description of "donut" sound is accurate: highs and lows, but a large hole in the middle. But they've gotten decent reviews and I have a hard time believing they're worse than a small tube that hangs out behind your screen.

    Then there are the classic Creative Gigaworks T20 and T40...slightly more expensive, the T20 can be found for about $80 and at 6lbs can be thrown into a larger laptop bag. In terms of sound the bass is obviously weak but they're a lot more balanced than the Edifiers and probably worth the extra $20-30 if you're actually going to bother with external sound. Yes they're a bit bigger but still weigh less than a lot of laptops...and fact is you can't get around the laws of physics: when it comes to audio, bigger IS better.
  • jaredtrobinson - Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - link

    I think the point is that these are 'ultra' portable, vs the other ones. Try using those speaks you mention on the couch, or on the toilet lol.

    Those you mention are viable just different market imo
  • Evil_Sheep - Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - link

    Eww seriously, on the toilet?

    I could see that being a real winner in Logitech's upcoming marketing campaign--

    The New, Compact Logitech Z305! Now you never have to go anywhere without speakers again -- even when you're on the throne! For when a man wants to feel like a king.

    Or perhaps:

    They never leave your side. Even while you're taking a massive dump. The Logitech Z305. Coming soon, everywhere. Literally. Everywhere.
  • techcurious - Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - link

    I am not really an audiophile (yet), but I have a friend who is. And he has a pair of Bang & Olufsen stereo speakers that are smaller than a bowling ball each, and yet they put to shame my 5.1 tower JBL speaker system! I was blown away. True that his 2 small speakers also cost a lot more than my JBL, but the point I want to make is simply that your claim that when it comes to audio, "bigger is better" is utterly misguided and ignorant. Sorry.

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