Desktop speakers are in an awkward position these days. Either bundled with your computer or often available for less than $100, they’re an easy purchase when you need sound on your desktop. Logitech is going further, though, by making a set of desktop speakers that try, and succeed, to be a home or office multitool. They’re stereo satellites you can connect to your computer for loud, generally good sound, but thanks to Bluetooth, they can also be paired with up to three devices at once. At $149.99 (direct) they’re less expensive (but less portable) than some other quality Bluetooth speakers, like the Editors’ Choice Bose SoundLink Mini and Logitech’s own UE Boom, and much less expensive than the similar Audyssey Wireless Speakers, another stereo speaker set with Bluetooth. They’re a bit weaker in the extreme lows and highs than the Audyssey speakers or the wired Editors’ Choice Harman Kardon SoundSticks III, but they’re leaps and bounds above the sound your notebook or pack-in desktop speakers can put out, and they’re just flexible and powerful enough to use as the main speakers for your bedroom, office, or studio.
The Z600 is simple and elegant, looking more like slightly curved, white vases with gray fabric grilles, than desktop speakers. They’re neutral enough to go with your iMac or your PC, though a black version would have been nice too. A white strip runs up the length of the satellite from the audio cable connection. On the right speaker the white strip holds the Bluetooth and power buttons and, behind a rubber door, an 3.5mm auxiliary input.
Logitech intends for the Z600 to be used primarily as a Bluetooth speaker set, even if it’s built for use with computers. You can connect your PC or any other device to the speakers with the included 3.5mm audio cable, but it’s much more convenient to go wireless. The speakers can be paired with up to eight devices, and can be actively connected to up to three devices at once, so you can seamlessly switch between playing music from, say, your smartphone and your computer. If your computer doesn’t support Bluetooth, you can use the included USB adapter to output sound to the speakers with very little setup. The adapter is a great addition, because it ensures that you have the option to use the Z600 wirelessly with nearly any device you own. And that means fewer cables to worry about. The speakers still have to be plugged into a wall outlet, though, and the power adapter connects to both satellites so you don’t have to daisy-chain power from one speaker to the other, like many desktop speaker sets.
I played a mix of songs on my Google Nexus 7 through the Z600′s Bluetooth connection, and its performance was solid, but not without flaws. On our bass test track, The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the opening notes sounded clear and relatively impactful, and sub-bass kick drum notes had only the slightest hint of distortion. However, the bass felt fairly soft for a pair of powered speakers, even without a subwoofer, with the deep bass sounding processed and softened. The upper bass stood out against the reduced bass, producing a sense of vibration, but none of the hard rumble you’d get from really strong deep low end. The speakers definitely seem to pull back on the deepest lows to avoid distortion. Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” fared much better, losing the impact of the kick drum but keeping a strong sense of power thanks to its punchy upper bass and giving the song a nice, full feel.
The speakers do a good job of bringing out everything from upper bass to mid-highs, before showing a similar rounding to the very high end that it does to the low end. Rock and metal tracks like Red Fang’s “Wires” and Biting Elbows’ “The Stampede” form a great balance of drums, aggressive guitar, and harsh vocals (which tend to get swallowed up by the drums and guitar in many speakers), suffering only from the lack of impact of deep bass that the eponymous sound effect opening to “The Stampede” would benefit from. For more carefully crafted electronic songs, Daft Punk’s “Aerodynamic” sounded solid but not particularly bright, which is notable because the song itself has a distinct brightness with the funky, high guitar notes running through it. This lack of brightness indicates the speakers soften the high end like they soften the low end, preventing the extremes from distorting or sounding too tinny. For a very wide swath in the middle, though, they sound full, textured, and clear.
If your sound standards are higher than your computer’s pack-in speakers and you don’t need a model you can carry anywhere, the Logitech Z600 offers an impressive combination of price, performance, and connectivity. It’s a unique pair of speakers that can replace your computer, tablet, and smartphone speakers, if you don’t want to invest in a powerful or portable Bluetooth or AirPlay speaker. For $150, it brings together just enough good features from several different types of audio devices and puts them into one affordable, useful package. It’s a perfect audio solution for bedrooms, offices, studio apartments, and other spaces that don’t need powerful sound to fill them.
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