Friday, 26 November 2010

Logitech X-540 Multimedia Speaker System (5.1) - Product Review

I wanted a surround sound system for my PC and, to be honest, was trying to justify spending £200 on an all singing, all dancing set-up. I really thought I couldn't expect much from a budget system. However, based on web reviews of the Logitech X-540s (and indeed the X-530s) I decided to bite the bullet and go for these. And am I glad!!! 

First off, even with free Super Saver delivery these arrived on my doorstep within a few days. Thanks Amazon, YOU rock. Second, on lifting the box I was pleasantly suprised to notice how heavy these speakers are, normally a good sign. Last but not least, opening the box revealed an array of extremely cool looking and well finished center / satellite speakers (each with two cones and built in metal grill), and a neat and tidy subwoofer with large bass port on the front, the cone being on the bottom between four sturdy rubber feet (take care when lifting / positioning as the subwoofer cone is unprotected). 

Basic set-up took 10 to 15 minutes, and was very user friendly as all cables are colour-coded. This was especially useful as the colours tied up nicely with my Creative Soundblaster Audigy sound card. The center speaker has a nice touch - the stand, which enables it to sit on the desk in front of your monitor, also doubles as a bracket which allows you to place it on top of an LCD screen. This obviously frees up desk space and works wonderfully well. 

Another 10 minutes and I had the four satellites mounted on my walls (again this is an option, not a necessity). This greatly improves spaciality and frees up yet more desk space. One potential negative here is the length of the satellite cables, especially for the rear speakers. However, they are adequate for a small room and extensions can be purchased easily and cheaply if required. 

The system also comes with a very useful remote which provides controls for "Power", "Master Volume", "Bass (Subwoofer) Volume" and "Matrix Mode" (it also has a "Headphones" jack). Matrix mode allows you to spread stereo sound to all speakers where your sound card may not have the ability to do so (CMSS on my Audigy card does this superbly - see later). Note that the remote control is wired to the subwoofer - not a problem for PC use as cable length is adequate. Also a wired remote means you won't be constantly changing batteries. 

Now to performance - WOW!!! These speakers rock for the money. The volume capabilities are enormous with no discernable distortion. I have my system in the converted attic of my bungalow and, even at half volume, I can hear it out in the street. One to aggravate those pesky neighbours for sure. 

Music sounds crisp, clear and incredibly rich and packs a beefy bass punch - but no bass overload, unless you want it of course. I usually have the bass volume up to about 40 percent and it sounds perfectly balanced, but plenty of room for adjustment either way according to taste. My Audigy card has CMSS mode, which means I can route stereo (eg music) sounds to all speakers. I find that the "Stereo Surround" setting works best as opposed to the recommended "CMSS" setting - you literally feel surrounded by the music, with different instruments appearing to come from all four satellites, vocals from the center - simply stunning! Don't be afraid to play with your graphic equalizer etc to get that perfect sound for you. 

And if your sound card soesn't have 5.1 / CMSS capabilities, just hit the Matrix button on the remote. This provides a perfectly adequate substitute to give you a great surround sound experience. 

Gaming is also excellent, with a real sense of immersion in the atmosphere of whatever game you're playing. From the deep, throbbing, underground machine noises of DOOM3 to the light, airy ambient outdoor sounds of Tiger Woods - everything sounds fantastic. The plasma gun in DOOM3 for example - you literally feel the vibration in your chest on firing (and recoil too I'd swear), and even the sound of reloading weapons blows you away. On the sudden appearance of an imp or such like I practically jump out of my skin every time (getting interested? LOL). 

Finally, movies. Again these sound stunning with full 5.1 dolby digital performance, giving that sensation of really being immersed in the action. I won't mention any particular movies here as you'll all have your favourites - just give this system a try and I'm sure you'll be impressed. 

Conclusion? I doubt you need one after all I've said. If you're looking for a budget surround sound system that gives unbelievable performance for the money, just try these. You'll be amazed at what you can get for £50 odd. I definitely am - one of the best purchases I've made in a very long time. 

Oh by the way, there is one VERY major downside to these speakers ..... if you're married that is. You are likely to make your spouse extremely irate with this system as he / she won't be able to hear themselves think while you transport yourself to another realm. But sure, what the heck? Just DO IT!!! After all, if they kick you out you can always bring your X-540s with you. Problem solved ;-) Click here to check it out.

Reminder: Do you christmas shopping earl. Amazon's Christmas Sale is now on. Click on the image to check it out.

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