Editor note: Welcoming Chris Buckley to our roster of editors at DRN. Chris is a gadget enthusiast, and more importantly (to me anyway) a fellow whisky aficionado. Stay tuned because we will hear more from him, possibly even through the amber glow.
You may recall in early November that we published a piece on the launch of Logitech’s new brawler, the Z407 Bluetooth to the hotly contested desktop speaker market. Well, we’ve been fortunate to get our (slightly greasy) hands onto a set to review for you, the discerning consumer.
Now while I say it’s a hotly contested market, this unit IS from Logitech, and they are arguably the front runners when it comes to the entry and mid-tier consumer PC audio market. Their acquisition of Ultimate Ears to enter into the IEM (In Ear Monitor) market back in 2008 was an astute one that showed real intent in the audiophile space and it paid dividends- but I digress...let’s get stuck into a review of these 2.1 speakers shall we?
Unboxing the speakers delivers a pleasant surprise- minimal paper instruction manuals! There is one sheet of paper regarding safety and warranty information, and that’s it. The rest of the packaging is recyclable plastic wrapping. The instructions themselves are thoughtfully printed on the box’s flaps. Nice one Logitech!
Aesthetics wise, the Z407 keeps it simple. Matt black and clean lines. The Satellite speakers feature sliver highlights, are relatively small and can sit upright or sideways, depending on preference or your space requirements. It all feels quite solid and well built. The wireless control device is a testament to Logitech’s design team’s efforts to embrace a less is more approach; It’s conveys simplicity but hides a lot of functionality- which we’ll touch on in more depth later. It’s not without some small flaws though. It could do with a bit more weight in the base, it’s sufficient but a little more would help plant it well and truly on your desk and raise the quality feel. Greasy fingers tend to leave marks and it could also be a pain in the butt if it goes missing- there is no other way to control the speakers if it’s gone.
Set up itself is painless. Pairing your smartphone can be done in under 10 seconds thanks to the instructions on the box lid flap and you’re good to go. Once you’re set up, you can switch between 3.5 Audio, USB and Bluetooth with the press of a button, making this a great versatile unit that will be right at home in studio apartments or bedrooms thanks to its ability to also serve as a Bluetooth speaker for your smartphone. Great while chilling on the couch or entertaining.
The Z407’s control wireless unit I touched on earlier handles everything from the volume, bass levels, play/skip/pause and input selection with only three buttons, of which the third integrates with the volume dial. Nifty! While you do get a lot of functionality in the wireless control device, you will need to plug the sub into your PC with USB rather than the 3.5mm audio jack to take advantage of anything more than play/pause.
The sound itself is impressive for what is a compact system. Total output is 80 watts, and Logitech say that this system will deliver lifelike sound at any level. It took everything I had in my musical arsenal to find any flaws, and they are in reality, minimal. More on that later!
The first track I queue up is Pharrell Williams & Nile Rogers “Get Lucky”. It offers a good mix of mid low, mid and high frequencies to give me an initial impression of the Z407’s performance. And it’s mostly great- especially for the price. The soundstage is deceptively big, instruments and Pharrel’s vocals nicely separated and the down firing 20 watt sub delivers controlled bass that combines with the two 10W satellite speakers to deliver a rich, warm presentation of room filling music. Impressive.
It’s only when the source volume, speaker volume and bass are cranked to the max that the bass begins to sound a little sloppy, but after about 5 minutes, my ears were hurting so I don’t foresee this being an issue for the vast majority of listeners out there. As a bit of an audiophile, I’m nitpicking!
John Mayer’s 2008 live performance of “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” from “Where the light is” allows the unit to shine, showing some good separation in the several guitars playing together with nothing getting lost in the mid-range. Cranking everything to the max again highlights a little bit of distortion with a guitar solo in the high frequency range but let me reiterate, I’m throwing everything I have at this little pair of speakers. It really is performing admirably.
Next up is Hans Zimmer’s “Time” from Inception. I’m surprised. A lot is going on in this track; it’s huge. There's the booming bass and the electronic instrument fusion that Zimmer is known for but then there is an entire orchestra playing in the mid-range but boy do these speakers keep up! They ride the wave of sound as the track builds and deliver eargasm inducing goosebumps. Well, that caught me off guard! I need a cold shower.
Let’s be real here. For $149 RRP, these PC speakers offer excellent value and will take almost anything you throw at them up to nine tenths of the limit. For daily listening, entertaining and everything else in between, the Logitech Z407’s capability and versatility will keep the large majority or music lovers very happy.