“The Z337 packs Bluetooth connectivity and serious volume into an affordable package.”
- Decent sound quality for the price
- Bluetooth connectivity is easy to configure and robust
- Wired remote is attractive and convenient
- Compact design
- Proprietary satellite cables are too short for some setups
- Distortion at high volume limits output
- Design and materials don’t scream quality
With so many wireless speaker options out there, the lowly PC speaker seems like something of an anachronism. On the one hand, investing in a set of PC speakers, all the way up to full surround-sound 7.1 setups, still makes sense for gamers and maybe video buffs who use their PCs for watching movies and TV.
On the other hand, if you’re primarily worried about playing the usual PC sounds, along with a fair amount of music, then a portable Bluetooth speaker begins to make some sense. After all, you can still plug most wireless speakers into your PC via auxiliary audio cable, and then enjoy the flexibility of unplugging them and carrying them around to use with smartphones and the like.
The Z337 provides good sound for the price.
Logitech decided to split the difference with its Z337 speaker system. It’s a rather typical 2.1 PC setup that requires A/C power and plugs in via audio cables, but it also has a twist. It’s Bluetooth-enabled, and so it can also work with smartphones and the like along with a PC, for some added convenience.
The Z337 isn’t terribly expensive at $100, which is $20 more than the Logitech Z333 speakers that have the same components, but without Bluetooth connectivity. Are they worth the added expense?
Lots of features in a compact design
The Z337’s components come packed tightly in their box, covered in plastic and segregated in cardboard containers that eschew any foam or padding. Upon pulling them out, one is struck with their rather non-descript, roughened matte finish that seems like it’s trying to look futuristic and modern. Unfortunately, the design and materials scream “plastic” instead.
The satellites are rather typical boxy rectangles with see-through fabric-covered drivers placed prominently in the center of the cabinets. They’re angled just slightly upward to direct the sound toward the listener’s ears, which isn’t adjustable — so hopefully they’re set at a good angle for your environment.
The subwoofer is a big box with a large driver in the middle and a port on the left side, and it serves as the central wiring cabinet for the entire system. The satellites plug into the back of the subwoofer via 70-inch color-coded proprietary cables, which complicates positioning. If you’re accustomed to placing a subwoofer under your desk (perhaps you don’t want to spend hours optimizing subwoofer placement with your PC speakers), then you might be hard-pressed to place your satellites on the top of your desk.
Located in the back of the subwoofer is also the 3.5mm output jack, and the included cable is rather short as well. Of course, the Z337 system is Bluetooth-enabled, so you’re not tied to cables. If your PC has a Bluetooth adapter, then you can bypass the cable concerns completely and connect that way. Or, you can use the Z337 wirelessly — or via the headphone jack — with your smartphone or tablet. There are a few combinations available to you.
Once you’ve paired a device via Bluetooth, then you can start and stop wired and wireless devices at will. In fact, you can play both sources at once — plugging in a wired connection does not disable the Bluetooth connection. Theoretically, you could play music from your smartphone while still hearing your PC’s system sounds.
The Z337’s setup is controlled by a wired remote that provides a volume dial, an on-off switch, and a button for Bluetooth pairing. Pairing via Bluetooth is a simple process of pushing the button until the light flashes blue and white, then initiating pairing on the desired device. The Z337 supports Bluetooth 4.1 with a rated 15-meter line-of-sight range. A 3.5mm headphone jack is also provided in the remote, which is a nice convenience.
Decent sound, within limits
The Z337 has a single 8-watt driver in each satellite, and adds in a 24-watt subwoofer to provide a total of 40 watts of power. Peak power is rated at 80 watts. Accordingly, the speakers put out a fair amount of sound that should cover the typical desktop space well.
Logitech clearly put some emphasis on lows with the Z337, hence the “Bold Sound” moniker it appended to the system’s marketing materials. There’s a knob on the back of the subwoofer for controlling the bass, and that’s a good thing. You’ll likely want to adjust the bass based on the type of music, because things can get very booming very quickly. Hip hop and rap benefit, but generally it can be a bit much and lower mids can get completely lost in just about any other genre.
Despite the sheer power provided by the subwoofer, highs still manage to be prominent. They can even be a bit shrill at times, with a brightness that pops on occasion and can become distracting. As with everything else about the Z337, it’s not that highs are poorly handled, exactly, it’s just that you won’t really find yourself marveling at their clarify.
Midrange is where the Z337 falls apart a bit. If you turn bass way down, then you’ll be able to better pick out female vocals and the like, but it’s not hard for the lows and the highs to dominate and the midrange to get somewhat lost.
Setup is controlled by a wired remote.
We ran the Z337 through a range of musical genres to give them a bit of a workout. Overall, they were good enough for just about anything we threw at them, but we wouldn’t classify them as particularly nuanced or detailed. They also struggled with some difficult pieces. For example, the drum intro in Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher can be a challenge for any set of speakers, and here there was some distinct clipping throughout while the bass shuffle was muddied and lost a good bit of its impact.
These are PC speakers first and foremost, so they’re also going to be used by many people for the usual PC and gaming audio and for TV and movie streaming. They provide plenty of volume for the typical desktop space, and the strong bass means that action movies and games gain some impact. They could even be used to add some audio punch to the living room TV in a pinch — if your living room is small enough, of course.
Ultimately, we like the Z337 as full-time PC speakers and part-time Bluetooth speakers for smartphones. They provide good sound for their price point, but anyone expecting highly detailed and nuanced music will be disappointed.
What are the alternatives?
There are hundreds of alternative PC speakers in the same price range as the Logitech Z337. In fact, Logitech offers a few themselves, such as the Speaker System Z523 and the Z625 Speaker System with THX. Perhaps the best alternative is the Z333, which can be had for $80 if you’re willing to give up Bluetooth. One could argue that the Z333’s sound quality at $80 is a much better fit as a PC speaker, while anyone looking strictly to play music could go with a higher fidelity – and more expensive — set like the IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors.
How long will they last?
These speakers are going to sit in one place and are reasonably well built, so there’s no reason to suspect that they’ll wear out very quickly. And with RCA, 3.5mm, and Bluetooth inputs, they cover just about every conceivable device that you’ll likely want to plug into them over the next few years.
Should you buy it?
If you really want Bluetooth connectivity in your PC speakers, then the Z337 is a good choice. If you’re just looking for a decent-sounding set of PC speakers, then go with Logitech’s own Z333 instead and save a few bucks.
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