Like all of Logitech’s G-series products, the G51 surround sound system is designed for gaming, and delivers impressive features and performance for its $200 USD price tag. It has a long list of features, including matrix surround mode for two-channel audio, and customizable satellites that can have “skins” added to them (even ones you make yourself) for a unique look. Though the subwoofer isn’t powerful enough to rattle your teeth, it’s great for gaming and the whole system is very well-balanced overall.
Features and Design
The Logitech G51 is a 5.1 speaker system with five satellites and a subwoofer. The satellites feature two 2” drivers apiece, while the subwoofer houses a 5.25” downward-firing driver. The whole system is controlled by a tethered remote that offers a number of control options.
The four surround satellites output 20 watts RMS, while the center channel pumps out one watt less at 19w. Each satellite features a removable “skin” that can be customized either by downloading new skins from the Logitech website or by making your own with Logitech’s software. The center channel features a clamping attachment that allows you to mount it on top of your LCD; a clever idea if you ask us. The satellites can be wall-mounted too by swiveling the base around and then hanging it on a support, but Logitech does not provide any hardware to accomplish this goal.
The center channel can stand on its swiveling base, or be clamped to your LCD.
The down-firing subwoofer pounds out 56 watts from its 5.25” driver. All the inputs are on the back of the subwoofer as well. It uses a bass reflex enclosure and there’s a plastic covering on the port designed to match the satellites.
The control “pod” is weighted and features non-skid feet so it won’t move around on your desk. In addition to volume control, it also allows for adjustment of the subwoofer level, surround level and center channel volume too. It sports connectors for both headphone and microphone, along with mute buttons for both too so you can mute the mic while still listening to the game, and vice versa. A button on the right side toggles the Matrix surround mode, which emulates surround sound with two-channel audio sources. It has both a gaming mode and a music mode.
Image Courtesy of Logitech
Use and Testing
Setup was quite easy once we had removed all the parts from the box. Logitech has hard-wired the speaker cable to each satellite and color-coded it with its associated port on the back of the subwoofer, which makes setup a lot easier. Though some might gripe about not being able to add custom-length speaker wires, we found the rear channel cables were sufficiently long for use in our small office area. We placed the rear channel speakers about three feet behind our chair, and still had a few feet of slack in the cables.
We tested the G51 by listening to everything from Pantera to Too Short, and came away generally impressed by their power and overall sound quality. The system seems very well-balanced, as the subwoofer never overpowers the satellites and vice versa. The satellites offer crystal clear highs and mids, and never get muddy or crackly at normal and even high volumes. If you turn it up really loud, your ears will give out before the satellites do. The subwoofer sounds great at moderate volumes, but does not totally pound the floor as the volume increases. The Matrix mode works really well for music too. It doesn’t just mirror the front channel, but rather adds a more ambient version of the music to the rear channel.
Given their heritage and design, the G51 really shine in game play, and deliver a very immersive experience. We tested them with both Portal and Bioshock, and were blown away by the accuracy of the sound field and how we could hear splicers coming up behind us. The whole system worked very well together to provide an immersive experience that truly put us into the game. Since we normally use 2.1 speakers (we don’t have room for a rear channel), we had forgotten how immersive a 5.1 system could be.
The G51 support both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS surround sound. We tested it using our favorite surround sound DVD, Roy Orbison’s Black and White Night. It’s a great showcase as you can hear the backup singers in the rear channel and Roy in the front channel, as if you were standing on stage with the band. The G51 sounded fabulous, delivering natural sounding instruments, a wide soundstage and crystal clear vocals on all channels.
One of the more intriguing features of the G51 is that it allows for customized skins to be wrapped around the satellites. Logitech offers several skins for download on its website, but you can also download the software (Windows only) and make your own. The software is easy to use – you just open it and are presented with a blank template that is the shape of the skin. You can select any image and manipulate it to fit inside the wedge-shaped template. Once it’s to your liking you can print it out and slip it onto the satellite by removing two screws, inserting the skin, and re-attaching the screws. We made our own skin of a dog meeting a horse, and the whole process took about 15 minutes.
Our custom G51 skin is called “Dog meets horse” and it took about 15 minutes to make.
The G51 is a very attractive package for the money and leaves us very little to complain about. It provides better-than-average sound quality and power, and is reasonably affordable too, slotting in perfectly between the high-end Z-series speakers and the low-end X-series. It’s loaded with great features and sounds fantastic regardless of whether youre gaming, rockin’ out or watching a movie. Though MSRP is $200 USD, you can get them for as little as $140 online, which is an absolute bargain for such a high quality speaker system.
• Lots of power
• Matrix surround works well
• Great controls
• No wall-mounting hardware included
• Subwoofer is decent but not super-powerful