Pros: Cheap, accurate, compact
Cons: Cheap looking
I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember and ever since my first real job (at age 13) I’ve been buying music reproduction systems. My first audio system was an Emerson portable record player (with a single 4” paper-cone speaker) which cost about $10.00. I’ve purchased many audio components and several speaker systems over the years since and I have always liked the bright open sound of JBLfloor speakers, but for bookshelf speakers I prefer the warmth and presence of AR speakers. Choosing speakers can be a very difficult and challenging proposition, since the criteria for what constitutes the “perfect” speaker system are quite subjective. That’s why there are often only a couple of possible choices when you need to select a new computer, a wide screen monitor, or a DVDburner, but when it comes time to choose speakers there are usually more numerous options to consider. The speakers you choose are the voice of your system and in this day and age, when people use their computers for everything from listening to music to watching movies, those speakers may be the only voices you’ll hear. But, there’s a problem. If you are buying speakers for your home audio system then you will usually have at least a couple of choices at each price point, but not when it comes to buying speaker systems for your computer. Computer speaker options fall into only two categories – good speakers (which are reliably expensive) and all the rest - most computer speakers systems are junk.
I spend a lot of time on my computer and I really like to listen to music when I’m writing reviews, sorting/editing digital pictures, writing/answering e-mail, surfing the web, or wasting time on facebook. A little less than a year ago I bought the Insignia NS-PCS41 Powered 2.1 Speaker system to replace my beloved Bose Media Mates powered stereo speaker system. I bought my Bose “Media Mates” powered Stereo speaker system in 1996 as an accessory for my very first computer - a U.S. Navy surplus Zenith 486 with a 750MB hard drive and I’d listened to them with every computer I’ve owned since that crappy Zenith. They were heavily used (on an almost daily basis) for over 15 years and survived three household moves.
I’ve reviewed several Insignia products over the past several years and I’ve been consistently impressed with the Best Buy house brand’s bang for the buck, until now. After less than a year (of admittedly heavy use) my Insignia NS-PCS41 Powered 2.1 Speaker system suddenly lost power – they sounded fine, until the moment when they simply quit working. I have to have my music, so I sat down and figured out what I could afford to spend immediately and precisely what I wanted in a new computer speaker system. I decided that I wanted a speaker system with a subwoofer since I’d liked having one with my Insignia NS-PCS41 Powered 2.1 Speaker system. I also decided that my upper price limit was one hundred dollars. With my selection criteria firmly established I set off for Best Buy. I perused the computer speaker selections and listened to 2.1 systems from $399.00 (Bose) to $39.99 (Insignia) and half a dozen offerings in the range between the price extremes. The best sound I heard from a speaker system for $100.00 or less was the Logitech 2.1 Speaker System Z313. Surprisingly, the Z313’s were only $49.99.
I bought the Logitech 2.1 Speaker System Z313 to use with my computer. The two small satellite speakers look like exactly what they are – computer speakers. The ported satellite speaker enclosures are constructed of cheap black plastic, but the subwoofer appears to be constructed from a sturdier looking composite material. The speaker grills of the satellite speakers are flimsy diaphanous cloth that doesn’t look at all durable. These speakers are much lighter in weight than my old Bose speakers and they certainly don’t look like they are going to last fifteen years, but the included cables are heavier and better quality than I expected them to be – so that probably helps a bit on the audio quality front. The satellite speakers are magnetically shielded to allow for interference free placement near your computer monitor. Generally, the right satellite speaker has the power button, volume control, 3.5mm/1/8”auxiliary input, and the 3.5mm/1/8” headphones output, but the Z313 system features identical (and uncluttered) satellite speakers and a tiny wired remote. The wired remote features the on/off system button, a dim green LED power light, the volume control, and the 3.5mm/1/8” headphone output. There is no auxiliary input and the subwoofer has no separate bass volume control.
Set-up was simple and very quick – open the box, remove the contents, isolate the user’s manual and then follow the comprehensive step by step instructions. Once everything is hooked up properly select several favorite CDs and insert one of them in theDVD/CD player on your computer, or (as I did) go to your youtube account and select an appropriate playlist. Listen to the first song and adjust speaker positioning for best Stereo separation on your sound stage. My sound stage is my home office so my speakers are only about four feet apart.
Auditioning the Logitech 2.1 Speaker System Z313
No audio system component is harder to choose, none is more likely to cause disappointment, and nothing is harder to objectively judge than speakers. Almost everyone has experienced the impressive sound of a pair of speakers in the special comparison listening display only to find little evidence of that wonderful sound once you get them home. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed, you’ll have to live a long time with your speaker system choice, so take as much time as you need to be absolutely sure you’ve found the speakers that will define your system’s sound. The Logitech 2.1 Speaker System Z313 sounds better overall, than my Insignia NS-PCS41 Powered 2.1 Speaker system.
Technical Specifications and Audio Quality
The slightly angled front of the Z313 satellite speakers directs the sound toward the listening area with room filling accuracy. The overall listening impression is one of accurate imaging with clean highs, a very good mid-range, and solid bass. The satellite speakers each drive a 1.5” paper cone speaker with metallic dome tweeter. The subwoofer drives a 3” paper cone speaker.
In the final analysis it’s all about audio quality when assessing speaker performance. Compared to my late lamented Insignia NS-PCS412.1 Powered Speaker system, the Logitech 2.1 Speaker System Z313 provides more prominent trebles - cymbals were cleaner and sharper than they were with my Insignia speakers and the bass output seemed consistently more balanced and not quite as prominent as it had been with the Insignia subwoofer.
Power Output: 25 watts (RMS)
Frequency response: 48Hz to 20Khz.
Spatial Characteristics – the Logitech 2.1 Speaker System Z313 is capable of broad imaging, with fairly concise placement of instruments and vocalists, and decent stereo separation.
I generally try to have realistic expectations when I buy or test a new electronics product and it’s rare when a new product exceeds my expectations, but that was the case with my new Logitech 2.1 Speaker System Z313. The Z313’s performance easily rivals speakers that cost twice as much. This little trio of speakers can’t compete with a component audio system, but they are competitive with most other small 2.1 speaker sets. I doubt they’ll last as long as my old Bose Media Mates, but they sound better than my Insignia speakers and they cost $20.00 less and that’s good enough for me.