My mother always said if you can't say something nice......
How do you like the sound of tin cans or table radios ask yourself these questions. I have a very hard time understanding the hype but they supposedly require a very, very long break in but I guess I never heard them in their proper burn in state or the emperor has no clothes! Sorry ZU guys but someone had to say it.
Your going to hear pros and cons as usuall. Do yourself a favor and talk to Sean or Adam about your needs they are straight shooters no BS. I have the Druids and Iam very pleased. It is a 60 day trial, no better way than to decide yourself in your room.
Check out the Cain & Cain speakers, no crossovers, probably 95-96 dB ... worth every penny. Driving my SuperAbbys with 4.8 watts, but 2 will do. Great speakers!
I have the Zu Tone monitors, and if they are anything like the Druids, this is what you will get IMO:
1) A speaker with electrostatic speed and detail without the power requirements, limited sweet spot, and space requirements.
2) A speaker with absolutely huge soundstage, both front to back and side to side.
3) A speaker that is SET amp friendly, although I dispute Zu's claims about 101db sensitivity; see below.
Not So Good Stuff
1) Tonally, the speaker is very innaccurate. I spoke to Zu about this, and they claim that the speaker was tested for a very even frequency response in an anechoic chamber, but even after many hours of break-in, I dispute this. I have taken many measurements with varying measurement devices and techniques, and maintain my opinion that these speakers (at least my pair) are not accurate. If you read the article in the Jaunuary 2006 Absolute Sound about the 2nd Rethm speaker (which is full range), this IMO also describes the attributes of the Zu Tone (both positive and negative) almost perfectly (with the exception of high frequency extension, which Zu speakers have due to their supertweeter). The most apparent tonal anomalies of the Zu Tone's are a very peaky upper midrange (about 7-8 db, centered about 1.4kHz but going all the way to over 5kHz), and a reduced bass response (about 8 db) centered about 70hz.
2) As others have indicated, there seems to be a pretty long burn-in time (which reduces some hardness), but it is not nearly as dramatic as some have suggested.
3) Since they are so detailed, they are not forgiving of other sources in the chain, especially poorly recorded music, which there is an awful lot of.
I use digital EQ to correct the tonal anomalies described above. Once this is done, the 'sensitivity' of the speaker will be reduced. One reason I believe it measures so high is due to the big bump in the upper midrange (which requires less power than lower frequences), and the reduced bass output.
If you are willing to correct for these anomolies using EQ (or of course if you like the sound of the speakers without it), these speakers sound absolutely lovely. I've never heard a dynamic speaker sound so detailed and image so well, and I've had some pretty good speakers (including large Martin-Logan electrostatics). Even the bass once corrected, is very fast and detailed (although I am supplementing the low bass with a pair of subwoofers).
One other thing I forgot: the speakers can play quite loud without breakup, which might help with your HE speaker decision.
this combo is good provided the music you enjoy is simple, acoustic fare. for rock and classical, a push/pull of moderate strength(35 watts or more) would be advised with the zu's. the energy from these musical genres needs umpa.
Agree with Bufford, talk with Sean or Adam they are the one of the most honest companies I have ever dealt with.
FWIW, I own Druids & Definitions and am exteremly happy with their sound.
Out of your 4:
Full body - check! Absolutely and undeniably
Smooth and non-fatiguing - Check! Hours on-end, no sweat
Good dynamics - check! Take away the XO and Wowsers!!
Bass impact - not so much. They are tuneful and fast in the bass, but they won't kick you in the chest. You'll need a sub for that.
I owned these before upgrading to the Definitions and they're special. They handle big, tough music with aplomb - you wouldn't even guess they're hi-eff on that material. And, they preserve what's great about single drivers and high efficiency.
Zu will even extend your in-home trial to 90 days if you need it.
Listen to them before you buy. I heard them and was not too impressed and neither was the dealer who was showing them.
However, the problem may have been an issue of a less than ideal amp for the speakers. I plan to hear them again with different amplication before I pass judgement.
Many have bought the speakers and love the sound. Judge them with YOUR ears and good luck with your decision.
Your experience is your experience but I have to challenge your characterization of the Druids. Mine are only 2 weeks old and they sounded very special right out of the box. If they are going to get better as they break in, that will be so much the better but I am absolutely thrilled with my purchase.
I replaced a pair of Goldmund Dialogues with the Zu Druids and never had a second thought. I have new Rowland electronics (Concerto and 201s)and Zu cables (Libtec and Gede). The sound is very natural, fast and precise. There is an openness and realism that might be disappointing to those who crave pyrotechnic sound affects, but for the lover of acoustic sounds and mellifluous vocals, nothing in my experience exceeds them except their larger (and 3 times as costly) sibling.
Perhaps someday you'll have another opportunity to evaluate this remarkable product. I've been in and around this biz for many years and to my mind the Zu Druid represents a paradigm shift. Different people will catch on at different times but these are the real deal.
I predict that most of us will own these or someone's imitation thereof within just a few years. The concept is unassailable and the execution amazingly effective.
I heard the Druids at the VTV show in Arcadia and I have to agree with the first comment. I was not in the least impressed. Maybe they were not fully broken in but....
Nakolawala, I just returned from CES where I spent more time in the Zu room than anywhere else at the show. The Zu Druid was one of may favorite speakers at the show. IMHO, at its selling price, it has no competition. Of the four criteria you mention, it will do the first three in spades. As far as great bass impact goes, you may find it a bit lacking on its own. The bass is articulate and has good impact to about 50 Hz (though will measure flat to 40 Hz when properly set up), but I found the addition of one of Zus subs really rounded out the overall performance. With the sub added, well, it just doesn't get much better than that. Based on my experience, you can buy this speaker with confidence. Drive this speaker with a high quality SET and you'll be in musical heaven.
I heard the Druids at the VTV Show a few months ago and it should be made absolutely clear that the demo rooms were far too small(8'x10'?) and needed quite a bit of acoustic treatment to tame the negative influences. Some vendors got it right, some could not. It seemed to require and equal dose of time, effort, and luck. All of those can be in short supply at trade shows.
In that regard, I found it nealy impossible to form any credible opinion about the Druids except to say they demonstrated some promising potential. The glare and hardness I heard could have easily been a result of the bare cinderblock walls, windows 1 foot behind the speakers, etc. Most likely was.
One thing that impressed me about the physical nature of the Druids was how incredible shallow the cabinet seems to be. My guess is that they are only 6-8" deep, yet produce impressive bass for a cabinet with so little volume.
But, no high efficency single-driver speaker is ever going to do kick drums, timpanis, etc justice. Part of the reason for the single-driver's perceived "speed" and transient attack is it's low-excursion cone. Bass requires high-excursion, cabinet volume, and/or surface area. The deepest and most powerful bass out of a single-driver speaker I've heard is from the Hammer Dynamics Super-12's that I own. They use a custom Emminence 12" driver and have a 70 litre volume. My 6 foot tall Cain & Cain I-Bens using 6.5" Fostex 168EZ Sigma single drivers don't come close to the Hammer's punch. (But, I've got dual subs to help out)
So, in my opinion, you have to trade sub-60Hz bass for great midrange and highs(w/ the help of a supertweeter). Subwoofer is the only way, which really makes "single-driver" speakers three-ways. Where they surpass normal 3-Ways is the lack of a crossover, it's influence is unmistakable and intolerble (for those like me) once you've gotten use to it's absence.
Also, the coherence of having the entire "critical range" eminate from a single point source is intoxicating. But, like everything else in audio, it comes at a price. As a former drummer, I still sometimes lament the loss of palpable kickdrum "thump" or sheer lightening fast transient attack of true compression horn speakers.
Then, I throw on some Nat King King Cole, Sarah Vaughan, cello, oboe, piano, etc. and all is forgotten.
One very important point about Zu, no matter what the detractors say, Sean and Adam are great guys. Music lovers first and foremost, gadgetheads second. I spent the better part of one full day at the VTV shows just hanging out with them, spinning discs, talking music, audio, life, etc. The second day I probably was in their room for a couple more hours.
Give them a call, I got a strong sense that they are very honest to deal with and extremely accomodating. If the speakers clearly aren't right for your needs, I got a sense they would say so. Then again, their 60 day return policy speaks for itself.
Druids are competitive with a wide range of speakers in a very broad price range above and below their $2800 list. If you value very high tonal fidelity, holistic sonic representation, focus, intimacy, domestically-usable frequency range, phase coherence and state-of-the-art octave-to-octave uniformity of transient behavior, then you cannot help but become enamored of the Druid. It is incisively direct, non-fatiguing, natural and very flexible in placement.
The Druid takes break-in and some re-orienting of your sense of fidelity to fully understand and appreciate what it's doing for you. The absence of a crossover, combined with high sensitivity and tonal accuracy, has dramatic consequences to your perception of reproduced sound. The Druid can be sensational on a number of relatively inexpensive but tonally-sophisticated amplifiers, yet it is revealing enough to fully exploit high-end amplification 5X - 10X their cost.
Hotel rooms don't do them justice, by and large, nor much of anything by any other company either. But even there Zu has been able to deliver compelling aural evidence of the Druid's musical beauty. They are 12 ohm speakers, able to make many solid state amps sound better than they have any right to, and are tube-friendly as well. There's no place like home for evaluating them, and very few people return them.
I have been reading about this speaker and am very curious about them--I have been in serious experimentation mode for the past 6 months with my stereo. That said, I don't change speakers lightly and would demo these before I ever sold my VR4JR's. I like my JR's. I listen to mostly Jazz, and rock (the likes of the Stones, Police, REM, Wilco, Peter Gabriel) -- and lots of internet radio. One of my most cherished works of all times is Bill Evans, Live at the Village Vanguard.
I don't listen at high volumes. In fact, low level listening has to be superb for me. Am I a candidate for the Druids?
Pass Labs X250.5
Cary 306 SACD (just received and is breaking in)
See rest of my system for details
Here is what Stereophile has to say about ZU @ CES
The Zu Druids do have a very full-bodied sound with great dynamics. To my ears they have a subtle characteristic sonic signature that I couldn't promise you'd find non-fatiguing, but evidently many owners have. In my admittedly limited experience they are somewhat weak in the bass region, but for a fairly small, very high efficiency system they do surprisingly well. It's just that if you want "great bass impact", I think you'll need a sub.
The Druids are a very interesting design. I like the basic concept a great deal - namely, that of using an augmented fullrange driver. I do something similar in a speaker of my own design (though mine isn't in the same league as the Zus in terms of efficiency).
The Zus have been highly recommended to me by industry members who have no vested interest, and obviously have a very enthusiastic following here and elsewhere. I've heard Druids and Definitions at several shows now, and agree that they do some things very well. Perhaps I just happen to prefer a different set of strengths and compromises (all speakers have 'em), but I'd have to recommend that a prospective buyer audition them with familiar program material before committing. Fortunately, Zu makes this relatively easy to do.
Finally, the tonal balance will probably not be its best with a high damping factor solid state amp like your Pass Labs; they prefer SET or OTL tube amps.
They offer a free 60 day home trial.
Why don't you see for yourself as opposed to depending on the opinions of those of us who have been converted (sold, shammed, biased, however you wish to look at it) and the opinions of the theorists who have read a book or article and KNOW these speakers can't be any good.
Indeed. An in home audition is the only way to know. We'll see. Anyone have a
pair of Druids and live near SE Michigan that wouldn't mind me stopping over for
a demo? Thanks all,
A friend invited me to listen to his new Druids. He was thrilled. He felt he was finally "there". The smile on his face was as wide as the couch he was sitting on. His eyes beamed with joy and excitement. He was dumping his $10,000 speakers in favor of these tall, thin, black wonderboxes. I believe he felt he finally attained audio nirvanna. BUT ... I didn't get it. Their sound had punch, but no weight. I did not find them musical at all. They had clarity but no depth. No ring. Almost as if you took a driver and hung it on a pole. It sounded like it was spitting out the correct frequencies, but they were dry as the desert. No tonal lushness at all. So I just smiled, tapped my toe to the "music", and made a hasty exit. Tarzan no like.
I'll chime in on the side of the Druid-lovers. I've had mine for ~3 months, and my wife often has to pry me away from them to get on with the rest of my life. I start to listen to one song, and the next thing I know, it's 4 hours later. I run them with modified Flying Mole digital amps, and they sound great!
Rockadanny, I suspect all your smilin' and toe tappin' won't mean squat if your friend reads Audiogon discussion threads. :)
Yikes! Good point. No harm intended toward unamed audio bud. I (me, I) just didn't get it. Perhaps I was experiencing an abnormally earwaxey kind of day. Yeah, that's it.
How many tubes are in your friend's system? They really brought out the body and depth in mine, just like they do with my Definitions now.
No tubes. All solid state gear. Maybe that was the problem.
Gotta say, Zu's definatly(Druid and Definition) need some type of tube in the line to react their best... at least the preamp or possible a very good tube CD and Phono stage.
Anyone in SE MICHIGAN own Druids and welcome some company?
Can't speak for Michigan but I'll gladly show mine off in western Colorado. Just e-mail me if you're within traveling distance of Grand Junction.
I've got both the Definitions & the Druids, with no tubes in either system. I find the sound very pleasing. What type of SS gear was being used?
I am running the Integra Research RDC-7 & RDA-7 with the Definitions, and Flying moles with the Druids.