|Min OS X: Any Version Requires: Minijack Audio Port|
With their popularity over the years, it's a safe bet that a large percentage of gamers already own some product from Logitech. And while the company has long been known for quality 2- and 4-speaker setups, the Z-640 5.1 speaker system is their attempt to bring the holy grail of 5.1 surround-sound to gamers at a reasonable price. The set, which originally debuted at the $100 price point, can now be found for as little as $70, while still promising to deliver rich, vibrant 5.1 sound for games and music playback.
The Z-640's 71.2 watts RMS of total output power is made up of four identical 7.3 watt satellite speakers to reproduce high to mid-range sound, a 16.3 watt center speaker which is meant for front audio and dialog, and a sturdy subwoofer to handle low bass tones. An included adapter for gaming console systems allows you to hook up a GameCube or Playstation 2, should they be in the region of your computer.
SetupThe most noticeable addition — for those who are upgrading from smaller speaker sets — is the center speaker. This is not only larger than the satellites but also houses the set's volume and fader controls. In case you're listening to sound which doesn't have a true center channel, a "matrix" button is also present to feed the middle speaker with what it thinks would be appropriate audio.
While it's meant to rest on the monitor in front of you, those with flat screens will have to put it at a slightly less-than-ideal spot of flat on the desk. In addition, because of the thickness and short length of the wires leading into it, even those with CRT monitors might be hard-pressed getting it to balance properly. My last gripe is that the center speaker's blue light can be rather distracting if you play games in low light situations (not something your mother would recommend, but it happens).
The satellite speakers have a great feature where they can all be modified to use their legs as mounting pieces, assuming you have a spot on your wall where it makes sense to do so. Unfortunately, one of the cost saving measures the set uses is to have the speaker wires connected permanently into the units. This means you can't replace them with longer speaker cables if they don't reach far enough. Though the rear satellites did have enough cord for my needs, I noticed they were slightly shorter than the wires in my old set of Altec Lansing speakers.
The subwoofer sits easily underneath your desk. It's a solid piece and actually looks fairly decent, even if it's probably the least visible of the units. The satellite speakers all plug into it, and then feed a cable up into the center speaker. For some inexplicable reason though, the bass volume control is separated out, and must be adjusted on the subwoofer itself. This can be a pain if you've got a similar mess of cords under your desk as I do, and it seems like questionable positioning, considering you're controlling everything else on the center speaker.