Well I just spent the better part of five hours listening to the Z-5500 series from Logitech. My previous pc speakers were the Logitech THX Z-5300e series. My musical tastes cover a very wide range from older rock to rap, extreme bass, country, blues, and swing, reggae to instrumental and classical. Pretty much a little bit of everything in a nutshell.
When I first installed and setup the 5500â€™s I immediately noticed a much more precise and crisp top end. I also noticed that the subwoofer is a lot more accurate and geared towards quality then the 5300â€™s is, however after some intent listening I noticed that there a few areas that it will not keep up with a true high quality and well designed subwoofer. In my previous H/T setup I ran dual 15â€ Adire Audio Tempests in a separate chambered 4.485^3 tuned to 26.34HZ with 67^2â€ of port area all on a Dayton Audio HPSA1000 1024 watts RMS @ 4 ohms http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showd...number=300-808
One of my main concerns for someone interested in purchasing this system is the thought of the sub being so â€œbigâ€ that it will handle anything thrown at it with sheer ease, and assuming that it will be able to play those real low notes found in a lot of todayâ€™s rap and heavier rock music. This is not the case with the 5500. Much of anything below 40hz is pretty much inaudible unless you boost the wee out of the volume control and with the use of an equalizer. By the time you do that, you have totally defeated the purpose of what THIS subs intentions are. Donâ€™t get me wrong here, it can and will play those notes however, the drop off rate and consequences of making the sub play them loudly enough are not worth it in my opinion. I do feel that the 5300 sub is able to reproduce those lows with authority much easier due to the fact that it is in a woofer specific 4th order band pass enclosure and not a typical â€œaeroâ€ port enclosure tuned somewhat high like the 5500. I havenâ€™t crunched any numbers or anything but would imagine this enclosure is tuned somewhere around 40hz by how the driver is reacting to tones below and above that range. But then again this is only a 10â€ subwoofer and I am used to dealing with much larger and efficient drivers in both home and car audio environments.
Tonality wise on the subwoofers I would have to give the edge indefinably to the 5500 for being more accurate, sharper, and faster to attack. The 5300 just seems a little too loose and boomy in a lot of different music types. Keep in mind that your average listener would probably prefer a sub that is a little boomy and looser than a sub that has a really flat and boring kind of sound. Please also note that I have been designing and building enclosure for some 9 years now and by a little boomy I am not referring to what we used to call boom cars. They both have their advantages and disadvantages in certain areas, I just think that overall the 5500 (even lacking a lot in the real low end) comes out on top by a small margin.
Seeings how the subwoofer is being used as both a deep extending woofer and midbass in both of these applications I should talk a little about how they handle that as well. There were a few spots that the 5500 sounded thin and almost nonexistent on a few different drum tracks. This was something that struck me as odd and it almost sounds as if the driver had reached a phase sifting point with the enclosure or something. This could also be due to the placement of the sub under the desk and possibly using the remaining area as another chamber which in turns is canceling or deforming the frequency waves. It was hardly noticeable with normal music, but when I used a drum specific tracks form my Focal audio reference disc it showed its head some. Itâ€™s meant to bring out the worst in the very best systems
I do have to say that for both systems there is a narrow band of audio that is missing. But that is pretty common in the majority of systems that use satellites as mains and centers. BOSE FTL
On to the satellites. Again, upon first hearing them it is very evident they have a lot more top end than the 5300. They are pretty clean and crisp. There is a bit more definition and presence with the 5500. I wouldnâ€™t call the differences drastic but there is enough there to say the 5500â€™s are superior. There is however, a hint of resonance that shows at medium to high volume levels. As far as volume and loudness goes, either system should be more than enough for anyone without hearing problems. At higher volume levels, if you donâ€™t currently have hearing damages, you might when these things are finished. I was beyond the point of loud before hearing any really damaging distortion levels, but beware it is there.
The main reason for my purchasing the 5500 and not sticking with the 5300 was due to the toslink digital input. I am using a 3 position S/PDIF switch so that all of my audio signals from the computer, satellite receiver, and Future PS3 are all digital and easily inputted to one system. I simply flip a switch and have a digital signal to anything. This for me helps clean up a lot of room and additional unneeded large H/T equipment.
For my own personal tastes I am going to invest in a lowpass active crossover for the 5300 sub and use that below 40 Hz as I feel it is more capable of handling the sub forty hertz frequencies easier, with less power, less space, and cost than a conventional HQ sub with a built in amp.
A quick summary, Do I think an upgrade from the 5300 to the 5500 is justifiable for the $300 price tag. Probably not, unless you are in a pinch and absolutely need the digital input. At $180 as I have seen a few sales going on lately, I think it would be well worth it granted you have intentions of either using the 5300 somewhere else or are going to sell them to help cut costs.