Well, it would be an understatement to merely say that he liked them. But, I find it difficult to call a $9k speaker a bargain. There is quite a bit of competition when you get into the upper 5 figures and there are some baby dolls in this price range. I am sure it is an excellent speaker and would like to audition a pair but, frankly $9k is a bit out of my price range. Also, I am not convinced Zu has resolved all relevant issues with driving a 12" cone to 12Khz either. But, I have not heard it so must reserve comments until(or if) I get a chance to listen to them. Heck, maybe they have successfully resolved the issues that have historically badgered the high efficiency single driver status quo community.
Regardless, I applaud this company "ZU" for being innovative and enterprising. We seem to be seeing more of this lately in our audiophile community and I hope it continues. I wish them success.
The Druids are utterly amazing. They are the most lifelike speaker I've ever heard. The peakiness typical of many hi-eff speakers is MIA - they're flat as a pancake but with HUGE dynamics. I traded in my Gallos for them and to me, no contest - the Druid is a far superior speaker.
And, I'll be trading them in on the Definitions in a couple months. The Zu boys are geniouses. Check out the Tone monitors too - They'll probably end up in my living room system.
I notice that 6moons has my speakers, the Fab Audio Model 1, on their upcoming review list. These are in the same vein as the ZU stuff - very high efficiency dynamic speakers - but without the powered bass of the Definitions. I've added subs to my system to achieve a similar effect. It will be very interesting to see the comparison, because they run in the same price bracket.
I was fascinated by the review, though the fact that they needed to adjust the bass level will bear some watching.
While we're on the $9,000/pr Definition subject, I'll make an educated guess. The Druid is better than 75% of its performance - for 1/3rd the price. After adding the $2,500 Method subwoofer to this equation, you'll cut the Definition's lead in half again, to get 87% or more of its performance for now 60% of the price
Two months later:
As Sean's visit drew to a close, I asked him to take my Druids and the Method sub back to Ogden and bill me for the balance. The Definitions are my new big-rig speakers
40% more money for 13% return in performance. Now there's a true audiophile. My educated guess is that he didn't pay that, but he probably would have after hearing what a difference 13% can make.
Nothing is more annoying than whan reviewers and people use a percentage as a relative measure between two audio components. Well, nothing other than people driving slowly in the left lane.
How many percentage points does a cello sounding more like a cello get? What is the percentage difference between a speaker that makes you lose your interest in music because the piano does not sound quite rich enough and a speaker that has that little bit of extra richness that makes you immobilized in the enjoyment of the music? 2%? 5%? 50% 100% 110% ?
Srajan's turned over a new leaf. Check out his "Realsizing" series and any of the latest series on the lo-power, hi-eff phenomenon. The basic premise is "how can I minimize $$ without losing the musical message." He dumped his $5k Audiopax preamp for a $2k Modwright unit and sold his Audiopax mono amps. I'm pretty sure he sold his Avantgarde Duos too.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.... IMO 6Moons is turning into just another Tout, whether intentionally or not. There's always something coming down the pike that's the greatest thing since sliced bread.
I auditioned the Gallo's after reading the "glowing" review - and pretty much wrote off 6Moons opinions as being incompatible with my own after that. But this review takes the cake - the guy's getting carried away - this is a rambling, self indulgent rant full of Zu publicity photos. And after reading it like 3 or 4 times, I still have no idea what these speakers are supposed to sound like. I'm sure they're very good, and a "real bargain" for $9,000. And just like Talons, some will love the sound and some will hate it.
And on a separate note - what's with these self-powered boxes being marketed as high efficiency, SET compatible now?!*&X??? Bull... If I put a 1000 watt solid state amp inside each of my sealed boxes, does that make my speakers "high-efficiency"? Now I only need an exotic one-tenth watt tube amp? I get it - so put the amps on the outside and you're speakers are power hungry, but put 'em on the inside and they're "S.E.T. friendly" !
Srajan is a good writer IMO, but you have to sift through a tremendous amount of technical hyperbola to get any discription of the sound. Did anyone see any review of music or particular tracks that gave examples of the speakers strengths?
Granted Part deux is on the way, at which time I hope he delves into the musicality of these speakers. I want to hear more about the imaging, soundstage (depth/width), air around the instruments, width and heighth of the sweet spot, transparency, how difficult they were to position and whether they're halographic. How do they handle vocals, piano, drums & guitar? He says they sound like a live performance... on the surface that tells me they are a transparent window into the peformance and instruments; however that's not the full picture, because I've seen live performances that sounded like walls of distortion. See 1980's indoor arena concerts for further details (Omni Atlanta).
Technology is great, so is innovation... but I'm most interested in how they sound in practical applications.
I'm obviously being curmudgeonly today, so one more thing, that Dawgbyte brought up - Everytime someone writes, "These (whatever) sound just like live music..." I want to groan. It's the most overworked, meaningless cliche in all of High End. As Dawgbyte was getting at, live music is generally a fun experience, the performers are interesting to watch and hear, and the communal aspect is nice - BUT THE SOUND QUALITY (from an audiophile perspective) SUCKS. Period! Good recordings at home are vastly superior as a pure Listening experience. Equipment either reproduce accurately, or they introduce color - that's it. SO what does it mean to say a piece of equipment sounds "just like live"? It's a marketing hook that nobody seems to question, plain and simple. (IMHO, of course).
The main drivers cover 40 hz to 25 khz and are covered by your main amps. The internal amplifiers power only the sub drivers on the back from 40 hz downward to 16 hz. So, they are atypical powered speakers.
I got the Druids before Srajan and own the same pre as him. His reflections on the Druids are spot-on with my experience and what I've gathered from other owners. Thus, I trust if he traded in my favorite speakers on these, there's a sound reason.
Whether anything can be a value at $9k is a personal choice. Somebody looking to spend $20k might think so. And, coming off $20k speakers, Srajan would be qualified to say.
Opalchip, I agree that live music CAN sound like crap and often does( lots of crappy musicians and sound men out there) but when you mix great musicians with a caring, experienced soundman the results will trump recorded music. Musicians feed off each other as well as the crowd in live sets, you generally don't get that in recordings, as most are recorded track by track, as opposed to one live take. Your drawn into that excitment in live venues, but rarely in recordings, where you concentrate more on imaging, bass, treble, midrange, intamacy etc. Live music never invokes those thoughts with me. Recorded music in a studio is generally quieter as they employ noise reduction, and usually more clinical as you have the luxury of punching in and out mistakes and multi-tracking to make things "fuller", along with a plethora of different mic's at hand if one is not giving the desired results. Rarely though do I get that "rush" of a live performance in recorded music. So when someone claims a piece of gear or certian speakers sound like live music, thats what I think of. My GMA speakers certianly have that quality. I think it's a high honor indeed to have someone say your product sounds like real live music.
But back to the actual Zu's themselves - it'll be interesting to hear them. I'm a fan of full range driver based speakers, I'm just curious as to what the Definition actually does better than a pair of Druids and 2 subs don't do at a lower price point.
Unless your head's at perfect ear-level with center of the two main drivers, and doesn't move from that position, it seems to me that having TWO mains in each box is going to introduce slight phase error that at certain frequencies partially negates the coherency of the full range driver concept. Just food for thought.
Regardless of Srajan's choice of words and the style of his reviews, it does say something special when we know he actually purchased the Zu products. Srajan has reviewed many speakers including Green Mountain Audio's C-3 (their flagship model) and wrote a glowing review, but when it came time to plunk his hard earned money on a pair of speakers he chose Zu's.
What this really tells me over any hyperbola is that the Zu Definitions must be quite remarkable. The question we must face as consumers is whether our taste in audio listening is comporable to Srajan's. If it is, then one would probably find the Definitions to their liking. If not... well...
What Dawgbyte says is true - Srajan obviously enjoys these speakers. And I don't doubt his good intentions.
But on a general level (not necessarily pertaining in this instance) do keep in mind that when a reviewer says they "bought" the equipment - they sure didn't pay retail for it. Usually the insider price is so low that reviewers can resell used at breakeven or a profit later on. 6Moons prohibits their reviewers from selling at a profit - but I guarantee, they don't pay anywhere NEAR what you or I would. So the turnover risk for them is low - they know they can enjoy for a year and then flip it at no, or minimal, cost. It's NOT the same decision as for you buying a $9,000 per pair (+ tax and shipping, too) of speakers, knowing that once you open the boxes they're down to $7,000 and a year later $5,500 or less. When a reviewer "buys" it is nearly always the result of a combination - they really DO like the equipment AND a sweetheart deal was offered to them. So to say a reviewer is using "hard-earned" money may not tell the whole story.
I recommend that anyone who actually reads equipment reviews for other than sheer entertainment should consider Arthur Salvatore's opinions and experience on his website - especially this essay: http://www.high-endaudio.com/magaz.html
Tvad and opalchip: reviewers pay way less for everything, not just the Zus. They compare pieces of equipment in exactly the same way we do, simply with less money involved all around. Srajan as the opportunity to buy a helluva lot of speakers at discount prices. These are the ones he chose, and that means something (if you care about what reviewers choose to buy). He has more perspective on what 'good value' is simply because he's heard so much, even if he doesn't have to pay full price.
Another way to look at it is he had the Avantgardes, at 20k and he likes the Zu's better at 9k. Whether he got them free or paid 1000 to 7000 for them, I don't care. It's arguable whether 9k for anything is a value. It is not arguable that 9k is less than 20k.
I own both the Druids and Definitions. I seldom find reviewers really understand equipment that I know well, but in this case, the 6 Mooms reviews of both speakers pretty much nail them. The Druid review is perfectly descriptive of what you'll hear. If anything, the Definition review under-represents the speaker. The Druid is an idiosyncratic speaker that will sound "wrong" to many people for several minutes to an hour or so. This is not a fault of the speaker but of what has come to constitute "hifi" in the industry. You can search for my other posts in the past few months on this to get details. The Definition requires no such orientation and is an ideal electrical match for a broader range of amplifiers. Good as the Druid is -- and it is the kind of speaker that leads you to think it might be better than anything you've owned -- the Definition actually IS the best speaker most people would consider attainable. And it's much better than many that are unattainable.
Quote from the article - "As Sean's visit drew to a close, I asked him to take my Druids and the Method sub back to Ogden and bill me for the balance."
Now, at the insider "accomodation" pricing, how much do you think that "balance" was? Whatever it was, at that amount of $$$ it's a no-brainer and I wouldn't hesitate to take 'em right now, myself.
Which is not to say that the these aren't GREAT speakers. They very well may be, and I'd love to hear them. But I think what TVAD and I are trying to say is, the fact that a reviewer buys them - especially under the "trade-in" nature and pricing of these circumstances - is not valid criteria for forming a premature opinion, which colors what many people hear in a live audition later on (the placebo effect).
In my interactions with Srajan (extending back to conversations before he became a reviewer), he has consistently impressed me as having very high ethics. I don't think he's the kind of person whose passion can be bought. I think he's genuine, and he and his organization are a great asset to high-end audio.
Frankly I'm interested in checking out the Zu speakers. I'm skeptical of some of the claimed performance of the Druids, as the combination of -3 dB point/efficiency/box size doesn't add up. But then I'm used to reflex enclosure modelling; perhaps the hybrid backloaded horn-ish enclosure of the Druid succeeds while somehow avoiding the cancellation notch(es) that typically plague backloaded horns.
As for the Definition, I don't see how in the world the sealed upper range enclosure can be crossed over at only 40 Hz; I'd have expected the crossover point to be at least an octave higher. I admire the innovation evident in the powered bass section; while I have yet to hear a speaker with a powered bass section that I thought really blended well with the unpowered drivers, Zu's approach may well avoid dynamic discrepancies and so just might pull it off.
Of course these comments are all before hearing the speakers, and I'm not engineer enough to be able to really figure out and evaluate what Zu's doing.
And getting back to Srajan, I am convinced his passion is genuine. I may or may not end up sharing his enthusiasm for the Zu's, but I do believe he's calling it like he hears it.
I think the primary motivation for selling the Avantgardes is related to his "realsization" quest, told in about 3 parts on the website. Essentially, how much money can be saved without losing the life of the high end. Relating to the budgetary constraints of real people is a premium. So, he's replaced his Audiopax preamp (with the same Modwright I own), Audiopax mono amps, and Avantgardes to see how cheap he can go to effectively replicate the musicality of much more expensive stuff.
I think it's noble and pragmatic goal. He said in the Druid/Method review that the tandem left nothing meaningful on the table vs. the Avantgardes. Then, he traded that combo for the Definitions. Whether he paid a dime for it is immaterial. Even if he was getting the Def's for free, he still chose them over the Druid/Method.
And, if this guy is a shameless panderer, I'm quitting reading reviews forever. He seems very geniune. And, his reviews on the Druids (which I own) are dead-target on. In fact, his reviews of the Modwright, Clari-T amp, and Druids, all of which are currently in my system, have been extremely accurate. Thus, I trust him and will be buying Definitions as soon as finances allow.
Is it fair to say that I detect a note of cynism and skepticism out there in audioland? Sounds like a lot of hair splitting and over analysis to me. Perhaps one should listen to the speakers and judge for oneself.
All things being equal, here are the facts:
1. Srajan has the opportunity to listen to a wide array of speaker products at various price points across the audio spectrum.
2. Srajan has some knowledge of acoutistical/electric engineering. To what degree I don't know.
3. Reviews by customers of both GMA and Zu speakers on the web have been very positive and enthusiastic.
4. Srajan has reviewed both GMA and Zu speakers.
5. Srajan owned a pair of $20K (retail) Avantegarde Duo's as his reference speakers. He also owned a model by Triangle.
6. He now owns Zu Cable Definitions.
7. 1+1 = 2
You do the math, connect the dots and figure it out for yourself.
Sure! I'm a leaper though. Sometimes it pays, big. It did when I sent my dough off to Zu for the Druids, having never heard one of their speakers, and everything I've had from Modwright, and Red Wine Audio's stuff, and when I sent Srajan a few long e-mails about the Druids, which partially prompted him to make the same leap by ordering the speakers for himself. Yep, I had 'em first.
The caution is well-founded though. A cool breeze on a warm day magnifies the pleasure of the sun. Keeping a balanced perspective is invaluable. I be sunshine, you be coo' breeze!
While it does seem that Srajan's reference gear changes on a somewhat frequent basis, he's usually pretty upfront about his motivations and desires.
I've had my Druids (they were Runes until I had them upgraded back in April) for almost two years and have been very pleased. Srajan's review of the Druids also closely matches my experience. Whether he paid full retail or not doesn't really have much meaning for me. If I were a reviewer, I would expect manufacturers who want their stuff reviewed to ship it to me free of charge. In the case of the Definitions that Srajan bought, he clearly states that the deal was done at the end of the review (unless he's a completely dishonest lout), and that he told Sean Casey (co-proprietor of Zu) to bill him the difference between the Definitions and what he had paid for the Druids and Method sub.
In his review of the Druids, he indicates that he purchased them from Zu and many here have assumed that he didn't have to pay full price. There's no evidence that he contacted Zu to advise them beforehand that he was purchasing them in order to review them, so how can we categorically state that he must have got a deal? I got a deal when I returned my Runes for the Druid upgrade, but only because it took them longer to get the work done than had been estimated and the fact that the people at Zu are EXCELLENT in the customer relations department.
As a result, I'm inclined to say that it appears that Srajan may have bought the Druids at retail ($2,800), and there's a good chance he bought the Method sub ($2,500) in the same way, for a total outlay of $5,300 (plus shipping). The Definitions are $9,000 retail and if we accept that Srajan was invoiced for a difference between the Druid+Method combo and the Definitions, even at accommodation pricing, it would surely have been for much more than the $200 to $800 suggested above.
Accommodation pricing may be one of the necessary evils in the world of hi-end audio reviewing to get the exposure for equipment that might never see the light of day otherwise. As long as such deals are concluded after a review has been conducted, I don't see much of a problem.