Logitech's Speaker System Z523 is one of a few models in the company's current PC-speaker line that feature a separate subwoofer. Available for around £70 online, the Speaker System Z523 is fairly affordable, and offers relatively good value for money.
Basic black boxes
When it released its latest PC-speaker line-up in 2009, Logitech departed from the modern, rectangular design of its USB-powered Z-5 omni-directional speakers and shifted to a more traditional aesthetic. We can't say the Z523 speakers look or feel incredibly snazzy, but they're attractive enough. The subwoofer isn't overly imposing, and it's small enough to be tucked under a desk without standing out too much.
As far as dimensions go, the satellite speakers measure 86mm by 196mm by 132mm, with 2-inch dome drivers on the front and the rear. The subwoofer box features a 4-inch, downwards-firing subwoofer, as well as a side-mounted, 6.5-inch passive pressure driver. Logitech rates the system at 40W (it can play pretty loud), and touts the fact that the satellite speakers offer omni-directional or 360-degree sound, which means you can hear their output even if you're standing behind them, thanks to those rear-mounted drivers.
While the rear of each speaker isn't as attractive as the front, you could have the backs facing you and still get the same sound. As with the Logitech Speaker System Z320, which doesn't include a subwoofer, these speakers are designed to be placed in the centre of a room, although the majority of people will probably end up with the rear drivers reflecting sound off a wall, since most people keep their speakers on a desk against a wall.
Bass all up in your face
Aside from its affordable price tag, the Speaker System Z523 has a couple of strengths. For starters, the compact subwoofer delivers a good amount of bass, and we like how you can adjust the bass levels with the knob on the right speaker (there's a volume control knob above it). With music, the Speaker System Z523 delivers ample low-end audio, and explosions in games and movies certainly pack a punch.
We also like the connectivity options. Hard-wired into the back of the right speaker is a cord with a 3.5mm plug for connecting it to your computer. You could also link the speaker directly to the headphone jack on your phone or music player. In addition, you get a headphone jack on the side of the right speaker and a 3.5mm audio input for hooking up other devices, such as an MP3 or DVD player.
Finally, the sub has a set of RCA audio inputs for connecting additional devices, which could include a gaming system or a small TV. You could, for instance, run a PlayStation 3 to a high-definition TV via HDMI, then run composite audio cables from the TV's analogue outputs to the Z523's composite inputs.
In terms of shortcomings, the Speaker System Z523 just doesn't offer all that much in the way of audio detail and clarity. This little system sounds good for the money and delivers ample bass, but don't expect high-end acoustics.
All in all, if you're looking for an affordable PC-speaker system, and don't mind having to place a subwoofer on the floor, the Logitech Speaker System Z523 makes for a good choice and is one of the better packages in its price class. In case you're comparing it to the lower-priced Speaker System Z320, this model offers significantly more oomph, but that's to be expected from a 2.1-channel system that features a separate subwoofer.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet