Just a comment. With all that has been said recently regarding Zu speakers -6 Moons review etc. I would have thought there would have been more comments here. Compare and contrast impressions between these speakers would be interesting.
I've owned the Druids (now sold and waiting for Definitions). I've not heard the Abbys. The particular comparison request is, well, particular.
I do own some homebuilt Fostex 206E BR boxes. From what I've read, heard and surmised about these, I would expect the following:
The Abbys will be insanely fast with tuneful bass, though not particularly extended or hard-hitting. The small, light, efficient driver will provide exceptional life at lower volumes and with acoustic music. Agressive music and loud volumes will tax the small driver. Treble should be good, though rolled off somewhere audible. Single-driver cohesiveness is tough to beat.
The Druids will not be the last word in "liquid lightning" transient speed, though still excellent. The larger drivers are designed to "rock" when called upon, yet they are excellent with lower volumes and with simpler music. Bass extension and drive are very good and should easily trump the Abbys. The supertweeters ensure great top-end extension.
The thing that impressed me the most about the Druids was their blend of the things multi-ways do well (even and extended FR) with the cohesion and life of an excellent single-driver speaker. They fear no music or volume. There are very few of the breed that will do Metallica at 100 db without a sweat.
That's my half-baked comparirson. Anybody knowing the Abbys firsthand should chime in to pop my bubble if needed.
Abbeys were finalists on my short list of speakers for the room in which I subsequently chose Druids. I bought the Druids blindly after hearing the Abbeys on equipment I don't own and concluding that the whole Fostex approach just doesn't have enough latitude to be convincing to a music omnivore like me. I consider the two speakers competitive only on the superficials: similar footprint, high efficiency, full-range drivers, tall stance. On sound, the Zu matches the Abby on speed, trounces it on frequency extension, projects superior acoustic power into a room, sounds tonally more natural (and accurate) to me, and is altogether more convincing. Perhaps on small-scale very personal music, the Abby has an edge on palpable intimacy, but that's a bone to the Abby. The Cain & Cain sounded enticing, intriguing and oozes retro cool. But it has a way of just sounding old, which is not the same as better, when something inspired by forgotten research and updated with contemporary thinking and materials enters the stage, as the Druid Mk IV has. I wanted to prefer the Abby over Druid, and it costs less, but I judged it just not in the same class as a holistic projector of music fidelity in normal rooms.
213Cobra ... I haven't heard the Druids, but I do own SuperAbbys with one Bailey sub ... wanted the supertweeter to extend the range up to 20k and higher, and the same rationale for the sub. I've had plenty of speakers that would only hit 42 Hz or so, and generally that's low enough to keep me happy, but I was concerned that the speaker design, given the acoustics of my room, wouldn't go that low. I was wrong, but the addition of a sub guarantees me full-range enjoyment. I've owned Logans, B&Ws, Thiels, several Tylers, PSBs, and others, but the Abby offers the sound that I've always wanted. I know there are better speakers, and I know that every component change would alter what I'm hearing, but my current system has kept me smiling for the past five months (well, I replaced my Pathos with a Sophia and now an Almarro) and I won't be changing speakers. Entirely engaging and musical, enjoyable beyond all of my expectations.
I am interested in the monitor model and the Druids and am wondering how they might sound with the crossovers removed and either much better external passive crossovers built or active crossover with biamping.
Has anyone auditioned the moniter? Note its freq response is actually rated into 3db whereas the Druid has no rating. Appears as if the moniter may be the more accurate speaker and a better choice when used with a good woofer.
I've listened to the Zu Tone and the Zu Druid on the same equipment in the same room with the same music.
First, understand, neither speaker has a crossover. None. The full-range driver in each is naturally rolled off on both extremes. The supertweeter is rolled in on a simple filter at 12kHz. The full-range driver sees the signal directly from your amp, no electronic elements, passive or active, in the way. An external crossover of any kind is unlikely to be anything other than a step backward, especially if using SET amplification.
The Tone and the Druid are quite similar sounding, with the exception that the Tone does not go as deep, and that is apparent. The bass it has is fast and beautifully defined, however, as is true for the Druid. The Druid has the same footprint as a Tone on a stand, but its cabinet includes Zu's Griewe model and delivers the bass extension as well as some tunability for the bass character.
I've also heard both speakers used with Zu's excellent Method sub, which is the only subwoofer I am aware of that I could recommend for use with Tones or Druids, due to it having the speed and transient detail necessary to match the same characteristics of the Zu full range driver. It's a tough call whether 2 Tones + 1 Method is better than stereo Druids alone. The Druids would be cheaper, take up less aggregated space. The Tones + Method would go deeper. There are some differences in the FRD used in the two speakers, so overall, a pair of Druids have discernibly better balance, resolution and tone than Tones. Druids + Method are more impressive still, and that gets you 2/3 of the distance to Definitions at 1/2 the price. The Tone is not more accurate than the Druid, but it is a little different and I can understand some listeners being attracted to Tones + Method. If you do that, you NEED good stands.
I have a pair of the maple Super Abbys, w/ First Watt F3, Modwright SWL and Denon 5900. I haven't tried the Druid, but what I've been told about how the Druid reflects what 213Cobra says, somewhat. One of the biggest advanages of the Druid is the bass extension. Consider that the Druid costs 40% more new; the Abby is not it's equal.
The Super Abby is the nearfield model with tweeters. The nearfield has a Fostex with a voice range that starts lower than the driver in the Normal. Maple is said to give slightly better bass response. If you like heavy music the Abby with a sub or the Druid is probably your choice. Pink Floyd (Dark Side) is about the limit where the Super Abby excels, plenty of bass for me.
Appearance might be a factor too. The wood on all Cains is where they stand out, absolutely stunning and beautiful, the pictures don't do them justice at all. Zu's look nice, but not like that and aren't going to fit well with a lot of furnishings.
I doubt anybody has ever been unsatisfied with the Abby, except for a lot of people who gave up before they were broke in. Out of the box they sound like cheap radio speakers. But eventually you will hear a passage on a CD that will drop your jaw; the break-in is starting to take effect.
Also, it's a bad idea to throw away the shipping crate. Take it apart and store the wood, otherwise you may be kicking yourself later.
You may want to research the single driver speakers made from hemp. I own the omega maxhemps with triode corp. parallel SET monoblocs and can attest to their many strengths. I was told that the hemp driver is superior to fostex. I have never heard the fostex or Zu's so take my comment with a grain of salt.
I went from piega c-8ltd speakers and ss amplification to the single driver, SET amp setup and am very happy.
Haven't compared the two but can attest to Twc's comments about the parallel SETs.
A little history . . . after picking up the Zu Tones for my work office, I fell in love with the single driver sound and wanted to replicate the same in my home office.
Accordingly, I picked up the Micropure Kotaros (single 4" driver w/ Murata supertweeter) which is akin to the Zu concept, albeit, with a deliberately resonant cabinet. These have very little bass are paired with a REL sub. Like Twc, I picked up a pair of Triode Corp M300SEs (20W / channel). This is a wonderful pairing and I believe the two make a really nice second system.
If you get an oppurtunity, check the Triodes out. Again like Twc, I started with (and still have) a convential SS multi-driver (Focus Audio FS-888 & Audia Flight) system and it is wonderful in its own rite. That said, ever since the single driver bug bit, I find myself listening to the "1st" system less than before. It's a real blessing to have and enjoy two very different systems - keeps things interesting and is lots of fun.
Good luck with your search.
You may not be interested in this advice since you have narrowed your choices down. I have single driver speakers from commonsenseaudio.com
I have the Lowther 2.8 Ambience. You might consider giving then a call and describing what you are interested in.
never build a stereo around an amplifer. its the hi fi version of buying a car that favors a certain grade of gas.