|Min OS X: Any Version Requires: Minijack Audio Port
Aural QualityAdmittedly, I have been spoiled by Altec Lansing's excellent 621 speakers, but knowing that they cost nearly three times more than the Z-340, I couldn't compare the two sets directly. Instead, I used the 621 as a reference against the Z-340. I ran it through the usual gamut of music, DVD movies, and games.
I was surprised at the responsiveness of the speakers to the Japanese pop (Utada Hikaru) and rock music (U2, Live, The Cure) I played. For instance, while listening to Utada Hikaru the midrange and high end are fairly clear and crisp, which was accentuated by electric guitars and violins or a high pitch note held by the female performer. At higher volumes, these notes can be almost piercing, but the details in some recordings were lost due to the single small driver.
Reproduction of audio from a DVD movie was good as well. Ideally, the Z-340 should be used in a smaller room (i.e. bedroom) at close range, but they were able to project the sound across my small living room, which is about 8 feet wide. I had to crank the volume up to about 75%, but even then, there was no noticeable distortion from the speakers or subwoofer. At this range, I was pushing the limits of the Z-340; the effect of stereo seperation was only average, but the speakers still maintained their sound quality. Again, the small drivers had trouble picking up the small details in the movie. For example, in The Fellowship of the Ring, there were several parts where the characters spoke in a low tone. I had to sit very close to the speakers to pick up what they were saying.
I was very satisfied with the Z-340's for games. The sound reproduction was nothing spectacular, but it was adequate for my needs. Sound effects in Max Payne, Elite Force, and Escape Velocity Nova all sounded good. Personally, I'm not a fan of boomy bass (one reason I prefer the 621 over Klipsch's ProMedia 2.1), so the Z-340's subwoofer added just enough "oompf" to my gaming experience.
In general, though, subwoofer performance was mixed. I didn't expect miracles out of a $50 set of speakers, but sometimes the subwoofer just refused to perform when detailed bass was required. The resulting sound was muffled and lacked punch. In most situations the low frequency effects (explosions and rumbling) were reproduced faithfully, but the staccato of gunfire or spinning helicopter blades sounded very average.
Final ThoughtsThe Z-340 is an able performer, especially considering its $50 price tag (as usual, it can be found for less online). Like the Pulse-424, the Z-340 will not knock your socks off, it merely performs well in a variety of tests. I was disappointed by the weak subwoofer the Pulse-424 lacked, but in light of the higher quality satellites, I was able to overlook that fault. Logitech's Z-340 should definitely be at the top of your shopping list if you are considering a low cost, high quality speaker system.
Pros:• Well designed and solid construction
• Plays most media ably
Cons:• Weak subwoofer
• Inconvenient positioning of bass control