As part of our Home Technology Demonstration for Small Spaces we need to try out a digital sound system to go along with the Windows Media Center. I had just seen a press release for the Logitech Z-5450 Digital Wireless 5.1 Surround System so I thought that would be the perfect match especially with the wireless rear speakers.

Setting up this equipment is fairly easy if you’re familiar with computer systems. To an audiophile it would be a bit confusing because there are no 14 gauge speaker wires and no separate amplifier. The power amp is built into the subwoofer so the 3 wired speakers connect to it (wiring included). The Control Center is connected to the subwoofer by a Serial Cable.

The wireless rear speakers set this system apart from others in it’s class. To operate independently, each rear satellite includes:

* An integrated 2.4 GHz digital receiver, which recieves wireless transmissions from the Logitech® Digital SoundTouch™ Control Center.
* A digital decoder to convert the 2.4 GHz signal into audio, which then is reproduced by the speaker.
* A built-in power amplifier and power cord, providing 42 watts of RMS power per speaker.

This design innovation provides people with unmatched flexibility in how they lay out their system, whether it’s for a PC gaming setup in the office or a home-theater system in the living room. The rear speakers are designed to work in a range of up to 8.5 meters (28 feet). Logitech testing showed that in some circumstances, they can connect at distances as great as 100 meters – a much greater range than would ever be needed for a home environment. With this robust wireless technology comes the freedom to place Logitech’s rear satellites virtually anywhere in a room — the only thing needed is a power outlet.

Logitech’s proprietary 2.4 GHz digital wireless technology provides the speaker system the ability to jump between different channels in the wireless band if there is interference. In Logitech’s implementation, the Z-5450 speakers are able to intelligently monitor 38 different channels within the 2.4 GHz band, and constantly maintain a list of clean channels. Both the transmitter and the receiver automatically hop to one of the clean channels to maintain a clear connection. This automatic frequency hopping technology ensures that the system is always transmitting on the channels with the least amount of interference.

One problem I had however was that the audio system interfered with my wireless home network thus degrading that signal and causing some slow down. Since I often work at night with the laptop in front of the TV this caused me a bit of grief … although it never crashed me completely … just slowed down the network considerably.

Once the system was all set up it provided a good solution to the small spaces home theater system. As you can see it certainly doesn’t take up much room and the sound, although not as full as dedicated (and much more expensive) audio system, provided us with a real theater experience without the clutter.

With a price tag under $500 this system certainly fits most budgets for surround sound systems. Logitech has done a good job using the latest of technologies to provide a cost effective solution for those not wanting wire running across the floor to rear speakers in a theater system.

Technical Specifications

• Total RMS power: 315 watts RMS
– Satellites: 199 watts RMS (2 x 38W front, 2 x 40.5W rear, 42W center)
– Subwoofer: 116 watts RMS

• Total peak power: 630 watts

• Maximum SPL: 103 dB

• Frequency response: 35 Hz – 20 kHz

• Input impedance: 9,500 ohms

• Amplifier: Ultra-linear high-capacity analog

• Drivers:
– Satellites: 2 1/2″ aluminum phase plug driver
– Band-pass subwoofer: 6 1/2″ high-excursion driver

• Surround sound effects:
– Hardware decoding for Dolby® Digital, DTS® and DTS® 96/24 soundtracks
– Dolby® Pro Logic® II (Movie and Music modes)
– 6-channel direct
– Stereo

• Supported digital formats:
– Dolby® Digital
– DTS® and DTS® 96/24
– PCM (uncompressed stereo): 44.1 kHz/16 bit through 96 kHz/24 bit

• Source inputs:
– (2) Digital optical for DVD or CD players, PlayStation®2, Xbox™*, or PC sound cards (requires optical cable, sold separately)
– (1) Digital coaxial for DVD or CD players or PC sound cards (requires coaxial cable, sold separately)
– (1) 6-channel direct (3 stereo-mini connectors) for 2, 4 or 6-channel PC sound cards
– (3) stereo-mini connectors for 3 stereo analog audio sources, such as CD and DVD players, PlayStation®2, Xbox™*, or 2 channel PC sound cards (some devices may require stereo mini to dual RCA adapter, sold separately)
– (1) Analog stereo-mini (on side panel of control center) for portable CD, MP3, or MiniDisc® players

* Requires Xbox™ Advanced AV Pack or Xbox™ High Definition AV Pack, sold separately

** For wireless transmission to the rear channels, Logitech introduces the world’s first THX®-certified wireless rear speaker system that features independent rear channels (no wires between rear speakers or a receiver box). This proprietary digital wireless technology offers state-of-the-art clarity and reliability with adaptive channel hopping, redundant transmission of music streams, and low latency using 48kHz sample rates. 96kHz audio streams are re-sampled to 48kHz in the rear channels only.