Z-5450 Build Quality, Setup, and SoundTouch Control Center
The system sports a combination black/silver design, which will allow it to fit in quite nicely with a variety of computers, DVD players and game consoles. The speakers and control center are black with a silver trim. The removable speaker grilles are black with a Logitech/THX logo plate. The control center has a two line blue digital display. The power button glows red when off, and blue (that matches the display) when on. There is a large black control knob that adjusts volume, subwoofer, center, and other levels. There are five other buttons that control Input, Level, Effect, Settings, and Mute. The large knob has indents so you feel the adjustment as you turn it. The five other buttons (as well as the power button) have a nice solid click that you can feel when operating.
The aesthetic design of the speakers strikes me as rather dull, but certainly not unattractive. Each speaker is a traditional boxy rectangular shape, sort of like an old Volvo very safe and functional, but far from sexy and exciting. In fact, I would go as far as to say they are a bit boring. But they will blend nicely with most equipment, and do not take up much space. The brackets can be unscrewed and swiveled to a mounting position for reasonably secure wall mounting via a keyhole slot that will allow it to hang on a screw or nail head. But you are limited with this, as there is no way to pivot the speaker left to right, or up or down. It is a fixed position, either tilted on a desk or parallel to the wall, with no available adjustment to either. Another unusual aspect that stood out to me was that the surround speakers are a bit larger than the main front speakers. (The rear speakers are larger due to the power source and built-in amplifiers.)
The sub has a good feel to it. It is a heavy, all black enclosure with a side firing port. There is a Logitech/THX logo plate on the front. Reaching inside the port I can feel some cushy black insulation, that helps keep the cabinet from sounding too hollow when you thump it - or more importantly - when it begins to thump! The amp section is mounted into the rear of the cabinet and has cooling fins, standard hookups for speakers & the control center, and a power switch.
Set up was pretty quick and very simple. After taking all of the satellite speakers out and positioning them around my desk, I used the supplied 15’ speaker cable to connect the three front speakers. They all have standard red/black spring clip type connections. The cables are connected to the same type of connections on the rear of the subwoofer. The control center is connected via a serial (15-pin) connection. The only other switch on the subwoofer is for the power.
The control center has two mini jacks on the side of the unit, one labeled for headphones and one for a portable music player such as an iPod, CD or MiniDisc. On the rear you will find three stereo mini jacks – green (front), black (rear) and orange (sub/center) – designed for a PC sound card. There is a small switch to select between 6-channel or stereo 1-2-3 for these stereo inputs. (For an Apple computer, you would use one of the optical inputs.)
There are also three digital inputs: 2 optical, and 1 coaxial. Whatever you are connecting, you should have no problem finding an input for it. There is also a short antenna that flips up on the rear, similar to what you would find on a wireless router.
Here is an example of a typical setup using the control center's
Optical 1 - X-Box
Optical 2 - Playstation 2
Coaxial - DVD player
6-channel direct (3 stereo mini jacks) computer sound card
side mini jack input- iPod
As you can see, the Z-5450 can handle a large system without having to swap cables. The power is supplied through the subwoofer. There are two green LEDs that will glow solid to confirm that the unit has a connection with the rear wireless speakers. The lights will blink when searching for the signal.
You will no doubt find that tweaking your speaker positions will result in getting better results. The fact that the rear speakers are wireless makes it much easier to place them properly. Understand that wireless does not mean that the rear speakers have no wires, it means that they have no speaker cables. Each speaker has an electrical cord that needs to be plugged into the wall. For some setups, this will defeat the purpose of purchasing a system with wireless surrounds, but in general it is far easier to locate a nearby AC outlet than run cables from the controller to the surrounds.
As is always the case, sub placement can impact the clarity of your low end. You should try as many positions as your space allows for optimal sound. But in the real world, at least on my busy desktop (not my computer screen, my actual, real life- top-of-my desk), placement of the sub or satellites may not be optimal. This system is not built for critical listening, but it will provide an impressive sound field for you, and my guess is that it will re-shape your thinking about a multi-media speaker system for your computer.
Everything you need to control your system can be found on the control center. It matches the speakers, and looks like a large wireless router. Pressing the "Input" button repeatedly will cycle you through the above-mentioned inputs. The "Effect" button does the same thing when connected to a digital source, allowing you to cycle through stereo/Dolby PL II Movie/Dolby PL II Music. The "Settings" button lets you cycle through available settings for a selected mode.