I've heard them. They have no restriction through the frequency range. My impression was that they have no personality unto themselves...they will reveal exactly what you put in front of them.
31 responses Add your response
Ton1313 thanks for the info, I just got back from hearing them in PA. The Definitions were first with SS amps and they played a live drum solo from a Rush album. Really incredible dynamics. We played some other music with female vocals to orchestra and they were great but something was missing. Next they played the Druids with the same amps and although the drum kit was not as good, everything else was better. Finally, they used a 811 tube amp and a 300b tube amp on the Druids. That sound was incredible. I was blow away at how open the midrange was and how dynamic the instruments seemed. They did not play these amps on the Definitions while I was there, so I can't comment. I can't say about the Definitions, but the Druids are incredible speakers that have no business costing only 3K.
I own both Zu Definitions and Zu Druids on two separate systems, and I am a former Quad owner. I can pretty much answer anything you want to ask about Zu speakers and am happy to. I'll start by saying that the Definition and Druids are the only dynamic speakers in existence that I think can satisfy a Quad owner, as they combine the speed, articulation and transparency a Quad leads you to continue to expect for an illusion of fidelity, along with tonal accuracy and adding the dynamic impact and bandwidth that Quads are unable to deliver. Definitions are the most convincing speakers in your price range, bar none, IMO.
213cobra - Do you think the Definitions are better than the Druids or just different. The limited show listening I had showed them to be different in sound. The Druid seemed to have that single driver magic that made music sound seamless and coherent. The Definitions sounded great, but similar to many other box speakers. What is your experience?
Definitions are absolutely superior to Druids. Broader bandwidth, better power transfer, smoother and more extended top end, better treble dispersion for a broader sweet spot. Bass response flat to 16 Hz if the room is big enough to support that.
All the single-driver magic is present, but the speaker is less forgiving of an average amp. It's resolution is higher so assets and flaws of recordings and associated equipment are more transparently communicated. The Definition scales to big production music better as well. Also, because the driver arrangement of the Def allows the tweeter's acoustic performance to be partly managed acoustically, its high-pass network is simpler and the Definition excites fewer room effects, particularly diminishing the influence of ceiling and floor.
The Definition is tonally more accurate, and its very smooth impedance curve and low reactivity makes it a very easy load for an amplifier to drive.
The Def is 3X the price of the Druid, so you'd expect it to be better. But that's not to say the Druid doesn't have advantages over the Defintion. For one thing, the Druid, while a little more euphonically colored -- and I mean a little -- is the more intimate speaker. It can also be used in a relative near-field listening position, say 6.5' to 8' from the listener, whereas the Defintion is brought into focus when you're at least 10' away. The Druid has an extended shelf around -2db from about 4kHz and up, giving the Druid a slightly warmer character. And being a 12 ohm speaker, it makes a lot of SS amps sound cleaner than the Def's 6 ohm load.
If you like an intimate speaker and are willing to sacrifice a some soundstage scale and accept a smaller sweet spot, then you might enjoy and even prefer the Druid's focus and intimacy. Both speakers share the same transient incisiveness, dynamic consistency octave-to-octave, and with high efficiency plus high power handling, offer explosive aliveness with tonal accuracy.
All Zu speakers are notable for their lack of listening fatigue. I don't think the Definition sounds more similar to other box speakers, but it is a less idiosyncratic speaker so one more types of people instantly like.
I have both speakers in separate systems. Here's the thing: these speakers share common designers who imbued the same traits into both of them. When I am listening to one, I don't miss the other but I am always glad for having both. Despite the Definition's deeper bass and more linear tonal accuracy, and it's $9000/pr price, listening to both raises the question of whether Defintions with, say, $1500 in amplification are more satisfying than Druids with $9,000 in amp. There are some days you''d have real trouble resolving that one.
The Definition is the "better" speaker, superior on most worthwhile criteria. But there are people who will prefer the Druid and for certain if they must sit close, have a restricted space and wish to proceed economically. It's a big step to go from $2800/pr to $9000/pr for most people. If that's a concern you're not going to regret "settling" for Druids. But if you can afford Definitions and have one system only, you'd feel fine about reaching for the best.
Sakes alive, Phil. Your volunteer efforts in support of Zu are exemplary. Your writing is concise and communicative. Following your dispatches (partially), I have sold my Druids and will be receiving custom-painted Definitions in about 3 weeks.
I loved the Druids, but they don't go below 40 hz. For rock or synthesized music, the lowest octave is a big part of the sonic picture. Subs are always an option but are fraught with peril. Everything I've read is that the Def's maintain the strengths of the Druids and add to them. This was crucial for me, as the Druids (aside from low-bass response) were the speakers I've been seeking for a long time.
Though you said the Def's are less idiosyncratic than the Druids, the Druids don't take long to love. They keep the single-driver strengths and smooth out the response, effecting a hybrid of sorts between the camps. I've always correlated "non-fatiguing" with rolled off treble, and aggressive or bright with tipped up treble. The Druids have very nice, extended treble, but they take non-fatiguing to another plane.
Single-driver lovers will already understand this. Because these speakers portray nearly all of the sound spectrum without crossovers and multiple drivers, the music all gets through the amp, to and through the speakers as one contiguous signal. It's never broken apart and sent in pieces to different drivers in separate locations with different voicing with the final product expected to be coherent and smooth.
I posit this generally necessitates work by the brain to reintegrate disparate parts. I never thought this until owning the Druids. They truly let your brain forget there's hi-fi in the room. I just hear music without parts. The parts are there, they just don't demand attention. How often have you sat listening thinking "how clear the cymbals are" or "nice bassline". Not with the Druids. They put it all together with one true voice that is astounding and unspectacular at the same time. Neat trick.
Anyway, preservation of these extraordinary strengths and adding deep, stereo bass would be the only way I'd switch speaks. And now I will.
Which version of the Druids did you have? I used to have version 1, then upgraded to 2. Then sold & upgraded to the Definitions.
This past weekend in Easton PA, I heard the MK 4 version of the Druids. Their bass extension was much more satisfying than I could remember. We listened to them both with & without the Method sub. The Method definitely adds to the lower octaves, but when playing withou the sub, the Druids were quite quite satisfying.
They were the MK-IV's. The bass is taut and very satisfying down to 40hz. They don't have the kick of a true fullranger, but overall I'd definitely take the Druids over any multi-way I've heard.
I was contemplating subs. It's expensive to get a reference quality sub that would be fast enough to keep up with the Druids and still provide 20 hz extension. And, you'd need two of them for true stereo. I thought about the Method, but then it's not stereo and you're at $5,300 for the tandem, which is getting closer to the Def's.
I was worried about room integration and space. Accurate subs aren't small. And, you'd potentially be fighting room issues forever. Overall, the Definition is an excellent solution to all the concerns I've had about other arrangement. It's the 7-driver, single-driver speaker. :)
I'm happy to help to the Zu guys, if writing here makes a difference. When you have a 30+ years perspective on hifi as I do, you realize how few new designs and products stand out; how few there are that change your agenda as an audiophile; how few expand the possibilities. Especially in speakers.
In speakers in the 1950s, before I was involved, the AR1 was transformative. In the '60s, the Quad ESL, the KLH Nine and Janzsen peeled back enough veils obscuring fidelity to make plywood, by making the electrostatic speaker viable in the home. In the 1970s, when I was getting familiar with the realm, the Dahlquist DQ10 showed you could get electrostatic-like detail and focus with much better dynamic range, through carefully networked dynamic drivers; and the BBC LS3/5a defined a surprising new paradigm for nearly 2 generations of compact monitors. The '80s had little to show for design advances, apart from the magnificent aberration of Apogee. Most of the energy was put into applying rapid advances in materials and manufacturing quality to derivative designs. In the '90s the slap upside the head in speakers was the revival of efficiency and full-range drivers, instigated by the rediscovery of the loveliness of SET amps. Not all of these developments are equally noteworthy.
Now we have Zu and the founders have channeled their dissatisfaction with shouty horns, wimpy FRDs, and music-strangling cross-overs into an honest investigation for how to do it all better. They dove back into dormant research already learned and forgotten, re-examined the physics of getting fidelity from transducers, innovated and brought us speakers that have it all. Not perfect, but clearly better than what came before, and a real advance for any kind of listener with nearly any music or amp preference.
Few have done such a thing, lately. And no, little balls or big colorful plastic horns don't count. Nor does a Frank Gehryesque stack of boxes in nice paint, for example.
New, small companies like this progress on the evangelism and energy of their early customers. And the fact that this is a company committed to manufacturing in the USA and...AND...is making money exporting to Asia, only makes it more worthwhile to spend a little time explaining Zu when I can. It's all stream-of-consciousness writing however and I only wish I had time to write it more concisely.
By the way, it is in the treble where a Druid owner upgrading to Definitions will find their first surprise. Everything from impedance curve to frequency response on the Definition is flatter. That means the Druid's trace of old-school warmth is mitigated. As wonderfully open as the Druid is, the Definition puts Tom Waits' and his cigarettes in your living room. So, get a can of Glade, before they show up at your door.
At $9K+ they are not going to be showing up at my door. Maybe the rich neighbors on the other side of town, but not mine. The Zu guys appear to be a talented and dedicated bunch, so let's hope the next piece of innovation they bring us is priced for the average joe. By definition, innovation doesn't have to be expensive.
Nealhood, agree $9K is not average joe territory, not in my neighborhood anyway. But much of this thread has been extolling the virtues of the Druid which, it has been said, may be preferred by many to the Def. At under $3K I would surmise it is not too far away from the average $ most audiophiles spend on speakers, Bose brainwashees not counted. The Gallo Ref 3, for example, has been lauded as being a great value for money and it is in the same price range.
Also, I need to pick a nit here, less so from a grammatical than a polemic standpoint, although both apply. When you say "by definition" you are implying a textbook/dictionary meaning, but then you cannot qualify the qualifier by saying "doesn't have to be". Just a very confusing sentence there dude, and that's not even considering your ostensibly Freudian-slip use of the word "definition", as in... the speaker under discussion!
My Def's showed up. They will not be leaving my house, probably ever. I haven't heard the Wilsons, but I'll compare with crossover'd speakers in general.
Yes, there's a big difference. Not having the signal smashed through a complex crossover, divided up, and sent to drivers with varying properties produces a whole, organic sound that is at once warm and accurate. The inconsistencies that are (speculating) inherent in the typical multi-way design and construction processes do not exist with the Definitions, or Druids for that matter.
The brain is released from the chore of hearing these different voices and integrating them into one. Since the drivers are identical and parallel, the music reaches the ear already as one whole sound. Based on my experience with multi-ways, I don't think this is possible with drivers of different sizes in different locations made from different materials.
Their bandwidth is limitless, which the Wilsons should be. The presence region is more forward, and Treble and bass are not tipped up like other hi-fi speakers. Thus, they may not be the best for some rock music. But, I wouldn't change the tonal balance one bit, as it is NATURAL.
And, the sum is MUCH more than the parts. Anybody in Seattle wanting to hear these, let me know. These speakers WILL catch on.
Cobra (Phil) my history with speakers is longer than years given that I have been at it for 45 years. I have had many horn speaker and presently have the Acapella LaCampanellas which are horn down to 600 Hz. Previously I had the Beauhorn Virtuoso. I loved the largely full-range Lowther driver in the Beauhorns, but it needed support both at the top and bottom. I heard the Definitions at the RMAF recently and was impressed, but in their small room listening very near field I did not get much imaging which is a strength of both the Beauhorns and the LaCampanellas. Have ever heard a Lowther horn? I would be very interested in how close you think the ZU driver is to the Lowther.
Also, you say that the Definitions are the best in their price range. Does this mean you know of more expensive speakers that are better?
The Def's are not good nearfield speakers. That's one advantage of the Druids over the Def's. According to Zu, and borne out by my experience, these need 10 - 20 feet of distance from listener to speaker to come alive.
FWIW, Sean at Zu told me they weren't happy with the results they were able to get with the Def's at RMAF. They thought the results with the Druids were good though.
I know of speakers more expensive than Zu Definitions that are different and might be better in some environments. However, one thing I am learning about Zu speakers is that all the models are so good at their price that they shift the focus to the quality of the power amps. In fact, rather than spend any more on speakers, I think it is entirely sensible to end up with power amplification that is considerably more expensive than the Zu speakers are. I have both Druids and Definitions and on both I have amps considerably more expensive than the speakers. I have no doubt that in the case of Zu Defitions, it is better to put $9,000 in speakers and, say, $16,000 in qualified amps, than $20,000 on other speakers + $5,000 on amps. This principle applies to the Druid even more dramatically.
You cannot properly audition and evaluate Definitions unless you are in a room that allows the listener to sit AT LEAST 10' from the face of the speakers. Any closer and the tonal balance is disturbed, octave-to-octave tone no longer consistent. The Druid works wonderfully closer than 10' but the Defintion will not fully integrate closer. This was the foremost problem with Definitions at RMAF and yet many people heard through that.
I have heard Lowther-based horns and other architectures, and have not liked them. Very good dynamics, small windows of holography and strobe-like flashes of uncanny midrange tone but overall not natural, consistent or convincing to me. The Zu driver as implemented by Zu has broader truthful frequency range, more speed and impact where appropriate, is considerably more tonally accurate to me, and you get a more practical sweet spot. But look, I've never heard a Lowther-based speaker that to my brain has not been crippled by deeply distracting tonal anomalies. The Zu driver is convincing whereas Lowther, Fostex, etc., have not proven to be so, IME. Many other people obviously are hearing them differently.
Someone local to me who was at RMAF opined that the Bastani Apollo is better than the Definition, $15,000. I can't say as I haven't heard them, but....Dude can hear, so maybe he's right.
Tbg, the Watt/Puppy 7s dont sound boxi for me. I think they have superb soundstaging. How could Definitions better this?
Can you explain more about timbre,tone,naturalnes of instruments(violin, cello, etc.), agility,speed and musicality ...between this two speakers,please.
They say ZU sperakers are not audiophile speakers, but speakers for music lovers?!
I am new in a SET arena.
Schorly, all that I can really suggest is that you get a listen to them. Word are a poor excuse for sounds. One of the reasons for pursuing efficient speakers is that then you can use single ended triodes and typically the less powerful tubes. I, however, chose horns because of their ability to respond more rapidly to the signal they receive and to stop more quickly after the signal stopped. As many have said, all speakers represent a compromise typically between price, size, speed, efficiency, and frequency response. It is much like the weather depending on where you live. You have the choice of freezing your butt of in the cold of winter and having confortable summers or sweating heavily in the summer and confortable winters, but you have got to withstand a 100 degree difference between the heat of summer and the cold of winter.
Lets put it this way the Definition will be like standing in the middle of a huge military air show, all around Huge soundstage, incredible dynamics and far higher DB with effortless bottom end, they have attack like no other speaker anywhere near the price, the only ones in some comprable terms are the Avantgarde duos, and at a far less accurate level the mighty klipsch K-horns, the wilsons will be like one of the jets coming at you from a mile away still capable but just not as impressive. Is the Zu more enjoyable or accurate? I don't know it will be up to the listener, but I heard the Grand slams or something in a 70,000 system and would take the Definitions any day of the week, OH actually I lied I would take the wilson system so I can sell for Way more money and still buy the definitions all electronics and maybe a Mercedes :)
This is not a slam at wilson but cost wise a no brainer if you are looking for Big effortless with much less money.
Tbg No I have not, I like the Duo's a lot however, but yeah for integration definatly the Zu's are much easier to deal with and more natural I guess, and CHEAPER!! But for the type of package you get with the Zu's I think they have it down pretty good mainly because at 4500.00 a piece where are you gonna get speakers with 16hz bass (4) 10" adjustable, and (2) full range very capable 10's? They are super simple which I like, and am sure the Beauhorns or Lowthers can do a lot of it, but then you get like (1) 9" driver or something in a full range, no matter what they will not compete on the full frequency spectrum or surface area sound up agains 6 10" woofers, but I could be wrong :) Mainly I speak on a value for the money with this, but It all depends on the music you like, I am mainly a Rock guy so Set based amps with single drivers will not perform as well for me is all, but there is something for everyone.
Matrix, the woofers on the Definitions are only from 40 Hz down as I recall. The Lowthers are only good down to about 64 Hz. You do need a subwoofer with them also.
As you suggest, the Beauhorns are not for big group sound such as swing big bands, opera, or symphonies. When I got the Acapella LaCampanellas, I realized what I had been missing in the midbass area.
Tbg, not the front woofers, they are True full range crossoverless 10"'ers and respond from 40hz up to 12khz perfectly, the 4 rear 10's are in fact only 40hz Down on their own amplifier, the supertweeter picks up the range at 12khz up to who knows, but something in the 30khz or something but yes beyond 20khz... they will also put out 130db no sweat, but you will :) So they are basically a 2.5 way I guess would be a good explanation, maybe a 3 way but with no filters. They are super natural and very dynamic and extremly powerful sounding, I would not get into a street fight with them they might punch you thru the backwall.
Yeah, these buggers will play obscenely loud. And, bass doesn't get compressed when they're loud. There truly is no substitute for driver surface area. I live in a 3-story house. The stairwells don't match up. Last week, the family was playing in the upstairs bedroom with the stereo playing in the basement and Jack Johnson was clear. The sound was excellent, not compressed or distorted. Wowsers.
These speakers do something I've never heard. They turn the air in the room into another medium. Not air, not water, the room's atmosphere becomes more dense, like something you could touch and ripple by running your hand through it. Like if it was just a tiny bit denser you could see it. It's utterly amazing.
They won't do this with all amplifiers. My Clari-T with its reduced gain gets it a little bit. The AudioZone AMP-1 doesn't really do it at all, but with the hi-gain Clari-T, the result is astounding. Mine has been sent back to reconcile the gain.
So, I wouldn't assume these will be perfect with every gear combination, but if you get it right, the result transcends hi-fi.