Editors' note, April 30, 2010:The rating on this product has been lowered because of changes in the competitive marketplace.
The Logitech Z520 speaker system is the flagship product of the company's four most recent PC speakers and the first of which to include "360-degree sound." In noncorporate jargon, that means each speaker has two tweeters mounted on the front and back panels that project sound in all directions. The resulting sound is effective for blasting tunes or watching a movie in a small room, but $130 feels steep for a dual-speaker setup without a subwoofer.
We're inclined to recommend the Logitech Z520s if you can get them at a discounted price, but we prefer the $99 Logitech Z523 that includes a 4-inch subwoofer in addition to two satellite speakers for a richer aural experience.
The Z520 speakers break away from Logitech's traditional form factor and naturally curve upward toward your ears if put them on a desk at normal height, a small but incredibly useful upgrade. In terms of dimensions, the speakers measure 9.1 inches tall, 4.8 inches wide, and 6.5 inches deep and take up very little room with no subwoofer to get in the way.
The two speakers are free of clutter (if you don't count the removable plastic screens) with a single knob on the bottom of the right satellite that controls power and rotates all the way to the left for powering down. The back of it contains the power plug as well as a cord that hooks up to the left speaker, and you also get a hardwired 3.5mm cord that plugs into your computer. Finally, the right side of the right satellite contains two more 3.5mm ports for headphones and an empty jack for a listening device, like an MP3 or DVD player.
Each satellite contains two 2-inch dome drivers mounted on the front and rear, but only the front panels have subs built-in for an extra bass boost. Logitech specs the speakers out at 26 watts--just enough to keep you happy, but don't expect to get a dance party started with the Z520s- again, we prefer the Logitech Z523 series that bumps the wattage up to 40 for $30 less.
The Logitech Z520 delivers crisp sound with warm tones, but the 2-inch woofers simply aren't enough for bass-heavy music like hip hop and electronic beats. We queued up Kanye West's latest album, "808s and Heartbreak" and had no trouble filling the room with sound, but didn't feel the pounding low-end that Yeezy demands. Finally, this set doesn't let you control the bass or treble, so any tweaking you need has to happen on a digital equalizer like the one in iTunes.