Logitech Z-5500 Setup
As for connecting the system, we can say a lot about that - all of it good. The color-coded connections, both on the subwoofer and on the analogue inputs, make this a particularly easy system to assemble - unless you happen to be color blind.
There are two major steps involved in setting up the speakers and SoundTouch Control Center . First, connect the color-coded speakers and SoundTouch Control Center to the subwoofer which, similar to a Bose Acoustimass system, provides power and a fixed crossed-over signal to the satellites. The SoundTouch Control Center serves as the pre-processor, so if you intend to connect other input sources such as a CD or DVD player - this is the place. The second step is to connect your audio card output to the SoundTouch Control Center which processes and handles all input sources. Power is supplied by the subwoofer, so once all the connections are made, you're up and running - at least as soon as you position the loudspeakers in the room.
Make no mistake, this is a THX certified near-field loudspeaker system. We suggest placing the front speakers on a desk per the diagram shown here - just out of arm's reach from a seated position. The center channel speaker can be set on top of a monitor tilted down (if you are still using a CRT display) or below it tilted up. You'll want to toe all speakers inward, so that they are directed at the listening position. There is really only one "sweet spot" for this system, though you may wish to experiment with softening the sound a bit by toeing out the main speakers just slightly, especially for music. As with all multimedia near-field loudspeakers, unless you work in a closet or have a desk or wall directly behind you, placement of the rear channels may be a challenge. We used small speaker stands for this review and I'd recommend that as opposed to mounting them farther away on a wall, or worse, somewhere that is not located behind the listening position (such as a side wall.)
You'll want to move the subwoofer around the room to find the optimal location. I found the sub tends towards sounding a bit one-notey with some boominess that is readily noticeable during music and home theater use. Good placement of the sub will maximize output and potentially give you a flatter frequency response.
The brains behind the Z-5500 Digital Speakers is the SoundTouch Control Center. It features a two-line LCD screen and has inputs for optical or coax SPDIF, 6-Channel Direct (using the analogue outputs of a digital audio card), or three pairs of stereo inputs. The three pairs of inputs and 6-Channel Direct inputs are configurable as "either or" via a switch on the rear of the unit and cannot both be utilized simultaneously. An "Effect" button on the STCC controls the sound field effect selection (Stereo, 6 Ch Direct, Pro Logic II, DTS, etc).
The seldom used "Settings" button adjusts DSP parameters such as surround delay for most modes and some functions such as Panorama, Dimension, Center Width and Surround Delay for the Pro Logic II Music mode. The "Mute" button is provided to quickly mute the output of the system. Pressing the Mute button again or turning the Control knob will disengage the mute function.
Configuring the SPL output from each speaker can be done by pressing the "Level" button and cycling through each speaker. The Control knob allows you to raise and lower each speaker's output. In addition, the remote control offers direct control over center, surround and subwoofer volume levels. We used a C-weighted SPL meter to set up the system prior to any listening tests and preferred the subwoofer about 4-6dB higher than the internal test tones would indicate. Note that the levels are a global setting and do not change based on the selected input.
Using the System - Controls
Using the system is actually somewhat less involved than setting it up thanks to the excellent engineering and efficient layout of the controls. As detailed earlier, you select the desired input by pressing the Input button which cycles through all of the inputs in order. Once you've selected your input, you can cycle through the effects until you get what you want and then adjust the volume to your liking. The selected effect is input-dependent so you can set up your preferred mode per source.
The volume knob is solid and has a nice, weighted feel reminiscent of the old Lexicon OPUS digital audio workstations I used long ago. If you run the volume knob up to Maximum it will enter into "Boost Mode" which (comically) goes to 11 - all without overt audible distortion. If you're in Boost Mode however, the assumption is that it is for very low input signal as you might need a hearing aide otherwise.
We found the remote control to be extremely useful and ergonomically laid out. It is simple, but provides all of the buttons and functions you could possibly require to operate the system if you are positioned away from the SoundTouch Control Center (including Power and Mute functions.)