Logitech z313 Review

This review is going back to the roots of this site, helping the average consumer find speakers that don't absolutely suck.

The Logitech z313 is a stereo system with amp and a subwoofer included that is normally priced around $35. Not only are they amazingly cheap, these little computer systems are ridiculously popular, and with around 2000 4 star reviews on Amazon, people seem to like them.

Considering the price tag and form factor, I have no doubts that the z313 speakers will have flaws. The real question is: how bad are the systems that the average consumer uses, and what can we do to make them better?

Component Overview:

Driver

This is a two inch full range driver that looks to be made of aluminum, with a pretty hefty for the size rubber surround. One thing that Logitech got right here is that if you are going to do a full range driver you should make it as small as possible. Without a tweeter or crossover we will have cone breakup, but the smaller the driver the higher the break up will be, pushing into frequencies where human hearing is not so sensitive. Also, you can see an effort was made to avoid diffraction/boundary effect from the desk/monitor surfaces by putting in a little wave guide bezel around the driver.

Grills

Grills are some of the best material I've seen. It's a very open fabric that protects the speaker driver without any noticeable issues.

Port

At first glance the porting of the satellites seems retarded. It's pretty much a one sided flare that has some kind of barrier between the end of the port and the back of the speaker, probably to keep kids from trying to stash drugs in them. Maybe the ports serve a purpose, pushing to 250Hz for a 2 inch driver can actually pretty hard to do, so I'll withhold judgment.

Cabinet

You already know just looking at them that the z313 cabinets are plastic, light weight, and over all pretty shit. Here is the thing though, they are actually not very resonant giving a surprising plasticy thunk when tapped with my knuckle.

Crossover

No traditional crossover here, instead the sound is split between the subwoofer and the satellites by an active crossover in the plate amp at 250Hz.

Subwoofer

Little driver, little box, tiny port - this is the recipe for a boomy rattle trap. This is an ugly driver. The last time I saw visible tinsel leads on the front of a cone was on a factory speaker in a 1990 Ford Escort.

The back of the driver has a very small little magnet and a stamped steel basket that blocks off all air flow from the spider. I'm not sure how low my expectations can get, but looking at this dropped them quite a lot.

Subwoofer Port

Small maybe 1 inch port is tuned deep for the box, just eyeballing it I would guess that it's probably a 40-45Hz tuning. I'm expecting port noise to be an issue.

System Amp

The packaging for the Logitech z313 speakers says 25 watts rms and 50 watts peak power. I'm guessing that is total watts, so probably 6.25 watts for each sat and 12.5 for the subwoofer. The DC power supply lives inside of the subwoofer, so no power brick or wall wart which is pretty nice.

Remote

The system even comes with a cute little wired remote, and unlike other cheap desktop systems this one does not have any stupid tone control or bass boost options. Volume is linear with no limiting of bass as the volume knob rotates. No static or noticeable channel imbalance on the volume knob, which is better than many cheap stand alone amps.

Desktop Setup:

I started with the satellites flat on the desktop, but it was obvious they needed to be up in the air. My normal stands were too big, making a baffle extension in front and behind the tiny speakers. The elegant solution was bluetacking the satellites to chili cans. This provides a cost effective diffraction free zone for the little speakers to do their best. As for the subwoofer the best placement for the subwoofer is close to you, and away from walls to keep booming limited. The port should be facing away from you to help hide port turbulence rattle.

I'm sure you noticed the ports on the satellites are plugged, one with silicon ear plugs and the other a chunk of plastic wrapped in bluetack. This plugging was required because the ports were leaking the entire back wave, all the way up to 2k. Not only that, they had a 10dB whistle at 750Hz. Plugging did not affect lower midrange headroom, so this was nothing but an improvement.

Desktop Listening Impressions:

Okay, these are really bad.

I don't recognize any of my music, it's all been transformed into a slothful sloshing bass, sputtering port noise and screams like some kind of wounded animal.

One note boomy bass that is noisy rumble poop, completely unredeemable even at negligible listening volumes.

Cone break up is out of the normal listening band which is nice, but it's sitting around 12k turning cymbals into the audio equivalent to biting down hard on a fork.

Driving to distortion is just as quick a flick of the little volume knob. The amp does not just compress the sound when it runs out of juice, it clips the treble like mad and shits static distortion all over the midrange.

Outside massive tonal issues, spitting and hacking from the port, the subwoofer does play down pretty deep for its size and with my placement it's crossing over smoothly to the satellites which are doing their best to make a boomy mess out of the lower midrange.

I can't hear vocals, these speakers are otherworldly in their disregard for linearity.

Measurements:

Sweet Baby Jesus... 15dB bass boost, 10dB treble boost. I'm not sure what the 400-900Hz range ever did to Logitech, but they fucking hate it. This tone is an abomination, and it's engineered into the speaker. This has nothing to do with the little satellites running out of midrange power, they play clean down to 250Hz before smoothly rolling off. This is an active EQ designed into the amp of the system to completely fuck the response. These speakers may have actually been passable without this tone circuit, as it stands I imagine this is how music sounds to people with serious hearing damage.

DSP Correction:

Three weeks in the making, this is sixth or seventh revision of this correction. I kept the curve as smooth as possible to allow for the inevitable production discrepancies that happen with cheap speakers. This means that the speaker is still going to be hissing in a few spots from diffraction, port noise, and cabinet resonances but should be tonally passable even if the response is a little chunky in spots.

The big chunk I took out of the 12k range is the cone breakup, which was measured on a lot of angles on both speakers to track down all of the mess it made.

This is more like it. From 50Hz to 12k it's all pretty flat on axis and a -3dB point around 40Hz with the subwoofer 3 feet away from any walls.

This is group of measurements is from 0-45 degrees off axis in 15 degree intervals. These are windowed to avoid any reflection data from the room, which limits the results to 500Hz and above.

You can see the chunky treble around 7.5k that is troubling. I'm guessing this is diffraction from the baffle/waveguide. At 45 degrees off axis the cone break up tries to make another appearance despite the massive EQ cuts to that range. Other than that they roll off evenly from 1k on down with no crossover artifacts, because there is no crossover in this range.

DSP Corrected Listening Impressions:

I can hear different bass notes, although it is still sounds more like room gain than a woofer.

Treble is balanced, but there is sibilance that I could not EQ out of the z313 speakers that makes vocals rough.

Imaging very relative to placement, but can be pretty entertaining. Little point sources in small boxes can do a good job of performing on a desktop.

Vocals sound passable on 90% of music, this is a huge improvement.

The Logitech z313 still get pretty loud for near field, but you won't be throwing a party with them pushing only 90dB before it's just noisy.

Final Thoughts:

Only a few things in life are as fulfilling as turning shit into gold. I might not have gotten to gold here, but it's at least tin, maybe even nickel. Am I willing to stake my credibility on the effectiveness of the DSP correction and recommend the Logitech z313 speakers? In a word, no. This is because placement is so important to the performance of these speakers, and I know people will end up trying to tuck these under monitors and cram the subwoofer into a corner wondering why they sound like shit.

If you can apply the DSP correction and put these speakers in the right place you may get passable performance for $35. That's all I'm promising.

Click here to get the DSP correction file for the Logitech z313 speakers.

Click here to buy these speakers at Amazon.

Check out the system finder to see stuff I recommend that costs a little more.



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