It has been a trailblazing year for Logitech, which introduced its innovative Bluetooth Wireless Headphones for iPod in June before extending the concept to wireless headphones that work with non-Apple MP3 players. Now Logitech brings its wireless initiative to multimedia speakers with the new Z-5450 Digital 5.1 speaker system, the first 5.1-channel multimedia speaker set to incorporate wireless surround speakers. With the Z-5450, you can experience true surround sound from your PC or game console without running messy wires all over the place. Despite having a high price and being outmuscled by the less expensive (though wired) Z-5500 ($399) system, the Z-5450's ($499) unbeatable convenience makes it a winner.
The Logitech Z-5450 comprises six speakers: two front speakers, two rear-channel surround speakers, a center-channel speaker, and a subwoofer. You operate the Z-5450 either via its wired control module, which functions as a preamp and a wireless transmitter rolled into one, or with the included 19-button remote control. The control module incorporates Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS, and DTS 96/24 processing, allowing direct connection to devices such as appropriately equipped PC sound cards, DVD players, and game consoles (you may need an adapter, however, to add digital outputs to your game console).
The Z-5450's control module measures 3 inches high, 8.5 inches wide, and 5.5 inches deep. Shaped like a typical wireless router, it has an antenna attached to its rear panel. It also has a 2-line-by-20-character luminescent text display, a large front-panel volume knob, and buttons for power, input, effects, settings, level, and mute. Together, the buttons provide easy control over the system's features and functions.
Featuring removable black-cloth grilles and black cabinets with silver accents, the attractive front and surround speakers each measure 7.5 by 4.5 by 3.5 inches (HWD), including their stands. The matching center-channel speaker measures 5 by 6.25 by 3.5 inches (HWD) and has the horizontal orientation you'd expect for a center speaker. The center speaker's stand tilts up or down so that it can perch on top of or below your computer monitor. The front and surround speakers have nonadjustable desktop stands that conveniently convert into wall mounts. Unlike the other satellites, the center-channel speaker cannot be wall mounted.
The Z-5500 impressed us with its A/V receiver-like assortment of inputs. The Z-5450 takes connectivity a step further. Its control module offers not one but two optical digital audio inputs, one coaxial digital audio input, and three 1/8-inch analog minijack inputs. You can configure the three minijacks as a group to connect a 5.1-channel PC sound card or independently to connect up to three separate stereo sources. The control module's side panel hosts a 1/8-inch headphone output and a 1/8-inch auxiliary input for playing a device such as an iPod.
According to Logitech, the system provides 38 watts RMS for each of the front speakers, 42 watts for the center speaker, and 40.5 watts for each of the surrounds. Each surround speaker has a single 2.5-inch aluminum driver mounted in a vented cabinet. The Z-5450 dedicates 116 watts to pushing the sub's 6.5-inch driver. By comparison, Logitech's acclaimed Z-5500 5.1-channel system has more powerful amplification, a larger and better-designed subwoofer, and 3-inch satellite drivers, but it doesn't have wireless surround speakers.