I believe Zu offers a trial period of 30 or, maybe even 60 days. This, and the fact that the Definition speakers are held in such high regard right now, would sway me into giving them a try. Indeed, they sound like special speakers from what I have read. It would really be great VS, or their dealers offered a similar audition policy. It's worth checking on since virtually all credible dealers provide an audition-at-home policy. The potential issue I see with this is that the DB99 may not be stocked. Therefore it will be difficult to auditon it unless VS provides an audition policy.
Verdict: If you can't listen to VS, go with the Zu's. You can always return them should they do not meet your fancy. But, I really don't think you will return them once the disk starts spinning.
I'd like to hear some comments on these two comparisons also. I own the 99's and have posted several times on my comments about their sound. Feel free to look those up by doing a search. I Use them with Consonance Cyber 211 mono blocks-would highly recommend these. Read enjoythemusic.com Dec review of them. Nice review.
It goes without saying that I do enjoy the 99's but since I have never heard the Zu's I will refrain from making a blind/deaf comment regarding the 99's being insanly great in comparison to the Zu's. Don't like other's doing that-won't do it myself.
These two are quite different designs. Some things to consider just by LOOKING at them:
The VS uses a 10" seas woof, commendably placed low down to get benefit fm floor boost and with a transmission line. There's a 7" mid in a tapered back chamber (I think? What's a "terminated" transmission line?), & a tweet with a wave-guide (both drivers of undisclosed origin). The mid has a quoted 100db sensitivity -- which is unusually high given the quoted motor specs; maybe this sens is using the internal amp. In any case it's excellent.
The bass is active and, again it seems, they use a high input buffer on the internal amp to power the mid as well (difficult to understand VS' techno-marketing). There is a passive xover, possibly a series (what on earth is the quoted "Global Axis" this xover is supposed to integrate? Phase?) and L pads to help tune some of the drivers.
The system's sensitivity isn't evident; what's quoted "in room" looks like ~90-92 anechoic.
Interestingly, given the "booster" amp, the system's impedance should be very benign (with reserve re, the techno-maktg). Excellent characteristic.
OTOH, does this mean that one has to go through that amp's circuitry before reaching the mid+woof?
The Zu uses two 10" woofs (sourced possibly fm Eminence, "US made"), active, covering apparently a single octave (~50-~25 Hz) with a line-level 24 (L/R?) filter. Then there are two wide-range units in a MTM config and an Audax tweet with a wave-guide.
The two wide-rangers cover most of the musical spectrum, so you have a quasi point-source that's driven full-range -- i.e. there's no added xover (is there a notch filter s/where in there?). The amp drives these more or less directly and full-range.
The Audax tweet kicks in full blast very commendably high up, ~15kHz with its 1st order filter @ 12kHz (excellent idea, nice 90 degrees phase angle, and you can do that with ONE component only).
Design wise, this is starting to "sound" real good: minimal (if any) phase, delay, amplitude & power anomalies, in the critical range ~100-~10kHz.
OTOH, 1) you get narrow horizontal dispersion as you go up (due to the 10"ers beaming) 2) how do they integrate TWO drivers to simulate a single point-source???
So, on paper, the Zu looks as lovely as the VS interesting. In theory, the Zu should offer very good transient attack, coherent and well-balanced sound. In theory it won't image exquisitely -- but well enough. It should also be relatively easy to place and drive.
The VS should offer a meaty, dynamic sound, and should be exceptionally easy to drive, and should image easily and very well.
All this fm looking -- now how 'bout s/one who's tasted the pudding (to coin a phrase)? Cheers
Gregm, your post is based upon speculation, not having heard the Zu Definitions (which you graciously admit). Unfortunately it contains some errors.
Nealhood, Zu offers a 60 day money back guarantee and in fact insists that you keep the speakers for that long so you give them a chance to break in. They sound great with tubes and are OTL friendly.
Gregm - Zu makes all their own drivers. Each cabinet contains 4 x 10 inch powered woofers in the rear. Each front sports two 10 inch mids and a super tweeter in the MTM arrangement you described. These present 101 db efficiency at 6 ohms. This is a nearly resistive load so it is very amplifier friendly.
Actual listening seems to support their claim of 16Hz on the bottom. I found imaging to be very good and depth of soundstage very convincing. I hope to be buying a pair of Definitions very soon. Meanwhile, I bought the Druids. These are much more cost effective than the Defs but with 5 fewer drivers per side, they don't quite do the same thing.
Essential, old sport, a most unfortunate misfortune in my post seems to have inopportuned you. Which, pray, are the erroneous points? The mistakes (as opposed to the errors)?
BTW, if you own (or have used) Zus, can you give a quick summary of actual sound characteristics?
Jokes apart, it's really a very intriguing design.
(BTW, don't want to be seen as bashing the VS -- I just happen to be interested in the Zu). Cheers
Thanks Macrojack. I had overlooked that there are 4x10" woofs per side (rather than 2). So much the better. I expected the imaging properties to be good - I just want to know if they present a pin-point/ "reductionist" image (which I doubt) or a more holographic type. Fm what you say, the latter seems to be the case.
Using two wide-range drivers is what intrigued me -- they cover a very large range downwards and I wonder how they dealt with intermodulation and coupling the two.
BTW, looking at the Druids I can understand your interest in the bigger model. BTW, the yr spkrs have a different tweet and a heftier hi-pass filter than the Definitions.
For what it's worth Gregm's identification of how the 99's sound from the specs is spot on. Meaty/dynamic and very good sound imaging. I would add that with the 99's rear firing tweeter with ambience control one can adjust for pinpoint or focused imaging to more dispersion with the turn of the dial. Sound stage depth/width/highth are all there. Singer is in the room. I would add "clean" to the descriptor list for the 99s.
Still-- gotta be someone out there who has heard/compared both. How about those who have attended audio shows?
The Druid comes much closer to the performance of the Definitions than an educated guess would allow. Someone wrote not long ago that the Druid provides 75% of the performane for a third of the price. If anything that is an underestimate. The Druid is far better than it appears in pictures. In fact, I suspect it would embarras many vaunted designs by famous manufacturers. My guess is we'll be hearing much more from Zu.
I know nothing about the DB 99 so I can't provide the requested comparison.
I own both the Druids & the Definitions. They have a similar "voice" but the Definion has a better (IMHO)presentation of low level detail & micro dynamics, and obviously the bass. The bass from the Definition is so fast & clean. The Druid MK 4 is a little bass shy, but it was never marketed as a full range speaker.
Great customer service & great products!
I am adding a third speaker to the above two, the AG Duos. I am getting a fantastic deal on them and they are pretty much the same price of the above two. How would the Duos compare with the Zu's Definition and VSA DB99.
The Druid comes much closer to the performance of the Definitions than an educated guess would allow
Interesting. Maybe the smaller *sounds* clean, or "faster"?
The differences, such as they may be, can probably show up easily on orchestral music (classical).
I think Ton1313 could help here:
Trying out a piece that requires a full symphony orch -- just to gauge if the bigger speakers allow one to "see" more of the musicians; it doesn't matter if the upchain system is different.
You guys have got me intrigued by these spkrs:)
To those who have both Druid and Definition, allow me to state the obvious assumption (hopefully true), that any comparisons you make are done in the same room with otherwise identical equipment, etc. As bass response is very much the issue here and it is highly affected by the room, I am sure you have nullified this variable, but just wanted to be sure.
I owned the Druids and upgraded to the Def's. I've compared in the same room with the same equipment. The Def's keep the strengths of the Druids (speed, immediacy, tone) and add deep bass, even more power handling, a more refined top-end, and a bigger soundstage.
But, the Druids are spectacular in their own right. This isn't on-point to the VS vs. Zu so I won't elaborate - just a response to previous question.
I have a question about the Druids. From looking at their pictures they look thin. They look like sound panels. That and from what I read in the past about one cone drivers that combination does not equal a very loud dynamic speaker. Compared to maybe Paradigm v100 or Silverline Sorino or VS-4 JR's. The weakness of one driver to do it all was they could not play loud. From the looks of things I get that impress with these. They seem to me to be very nice speakers. Reading the litiature of their website says that these speakers do play loud. But how loud is that?
I have new Druids and I can tell you that they will play louder than anyone should listen. Loud enough to damage your hearing.
This is the most original, engaging and exciting audio product I have ever bought in 30 years of perpetual experimentation.
They are fast and friendly, clean and rhythmic, magical in their presentation, and modest in their requirements. High efficiency combined with high power handling capability opens the door to any amplifier you care to try.
I would say that comparison to electrostatics might be more apt than comparison to conventional cones. The Zu Druid will leave that stuff in the dust. I replaced Goldmund Dialogues, one of the all time great designs and one of the fastest cone speakers ever with these Druids. The speed and ease I now have make the Goldmunds forgettable.
I felt I was gambling when I bought these Zu speakers but I can tell you that there is no gamble involved. Try a pair.
I have an AA Capitole CD and Capitole Power amp. I am expremely happy with both.
I believe that you will need to set the Capitole CD volume control around -45 db to listen at average levels with 100db efficient speakers.
I find that below -30 db, the Capitole's analog volume control has a slight loss of transparency.
You may want to look into a Modwright 9.0SE remote-controlled tube preamp. Its signal to noise ratio is excellent, more than 120 db (outstanding for tubes) and it got rave reviews.
I am buying one, together with a pair of Zu Druids. I believe it makes sense to control the overall system gain and improve the S/N ratio.
Good luck on your speaker hunt!
I haven't heard the VS DB99s. And specs seem sketchy. I own Zu Druids and Zu Definitions in two different systems, placed in two different rooms, but I have directly compared both Druids and Definitions in the same rooms, using each system and moving the required speakers around. So I can answer some of the matrix of questions here.
A little preamble: The DB99 is described as a 3-way, implying that it uses passive crossover elements in the signal path to all the drivers. If this is true, it would likely be the primary weakness compared to the Definition. Until I got Druids and then Definitions, I had not ever heard a full-range-driver-based speaker that I could also describe as being tonally accurate or natural. But once you get the combination of full-range driver + tonal accuracy, the presence of a passive crossover -- even in speakers I formerly enjoyed -- is very hard to accept ever again. A crossover just asserts itself, squeezing life out of the music and disintegrating the holistic sound you've now become accustomed to. It's that holistic difference that SET adherents cite over push-pull amps, made large. Obvious. Anyone can hear it. We've all been living with this limitation for eons and now we don't have to. The holism and tone of the Zu designs is the first reason to make the effort to consider them.
Certainly the VS and the Zu Def are evenly matched as marketed items, costing close to the same, having pretty much the same design objectives, and consuming very similar footprints.
How does one describe a Zu speaker to someone who hasn't heard one before? It's a fully integrated, holistic sound. As a former Quad ESL owner, Druids most remind me of what was compelling about Quads -- intimacy, quick & uniform transient behavior, excellent octave-to-octave balance, beautiful tonal accuracy. But they add true dynamics and high sustained SPLs on very little power. You have huge latitude for amplifier preferences, everything from 2 watt 45s to McIntosh solid state monster monoblocks. No worries.
As usual, someone speculates that the Zu FRD must beam problemmatically. This is not a practical issue. The 10.5" FRD rolls off naturally at 12kHz and its directionality is much less constricted than a Quad ESL-57, and somewhat more than, say, an Anthony Gallo or a Spendor S3/5. I have one system on the short wall of an oblong room and the other system on the long wall of a less oblong room. I have absolutely zero seating positions where I cannot maintain a dimensional soundstage with convincing frequency response. And the swet spot is a good 3 bodies wide for Druids and more for Definitions.
The Definition is specifically designed to reduce floor and ceiling effects and improve horizontal disperson over the Druid, partly as a nod to mixed-use (video HT / serious music) systems. The MTM array on front, while not strictly a D'Appolito configuration by the placement math, acoustically controls the upper mid and treble response of both the FRD and the super-tweeter. Here, in any practical domestic room I can imagine, beaming is simply not in evidence and dispersion is both quite unlumpy and controlled for excellent practical use. The Definition is easy to set up and pretty much a drop-in for an existing system, from which point you may wish to re-optimize based on your inevitably new satisfaction criteria.
Again, absence of crossover is a commanding, compelling attribute. As I've written before, it turns out that when you eliminate crossovers in the meat of the music range, and retain phase linearity, lots of affordable sources are perfectly fine. I think a lot of what audiophiles have been wrestling with in endless upgrades has been traceable to the "pinhole" effects of crossovers being assigned to dissatisfaction elsewhere in the system. My point is, if you get any Zu speaker and are the type of person to put 40% of your system funds into your disc player or TT/TA/Cart, you will want to stop that right now and realize that the fulcrum of fidelity in your system has just moved to the power amp. With Zu speakers in place, your power amp selection will now have the largest effect on your system other than moving further up the Zu line or finding something else to exceed them.
As for playing loud, any Zu speaker is up to the task of caving your skull in, if you ask it to. Even Tones. Druids can put you awash in cell-squashing SPLs in normal rooms, on a relative handful of watts. Don't underestimate what one Zu FRD can load a room with. The Griewe model in the tower gives you quick, tuneful, articulate and full bass down to a little below 40Hz before it smoothly rolls off. The Druid is deceptively simple, but compared to most speakers, scales just fine.
One look at Definitions and you expect them to scale. They do. That 16Hz - 40Hz range missing from the Druids? There are 4 ten-inch light-paper-cone drivers fed by an in-built amp to take care of that. The lower range is present and accounted for as claimed, but unlike the vast majority of subwoofers and other deep-bass speakers on the market, this array on the back of each Def does more than indistinctly rumble and slop around. It retains the speed and articulation that are hallmarks of the main drivers. The dual FRDs perhaps sacrifice some of the Druid's ultimate focus and single-driver intimacy, but they burst with startling realism, projecting sound into the room multidimensionally and laying out a soundstage as captured in the recording. They do, in my experience, require at least 9' - 10' of listening distance for the soundfield to fully integrate in your mind, compared to the Druids which can be used relatively near-field. Of the recording is up to it, you will feel the power of a full symphony orchestra in your skeleton. The SACD of DSOM will be clean and clear right up to the dynamic limits of your room. Definitions live up to their name, being stellar in their ability to keep simultaneous sounds and musical events distinct as density, intensity and SPLs rise.
In Zu speakers you can find both truth and beauty. As even Zu admits, the Druid is less perfect than the Definition, which is why there's a Definition. The Druid is discernibly less linear as you'd expect being less than 1/3 the cost of the Definition, but has superior small-scale intimacy. It is a seductive, beguiling speaker and a true revelation the first time you experience it. I'll suggest further that in your home is the very best way to have your first Druid or Zu experience. The retains compelling if not-quite-Druid intimacy, and improves everything else across the board. These are not euphonically colored speakers. Definitions in particular are ruthlessly revealing of any hash, grain, or general unpleasantness elsewhere in a system. Get the power amps right for your purposes and everything else is pretty easy to sort out. Pianos will sound correct. vocals will include the person instead of being disembodied. Dynamics and transient uniformity will be responsive to the music and you will hear an aliveness to performances that is seldom achievable in home audio.
Certainly, there are many people who revere the VS DB99, citing some of the same attributes. Different people are sensitive to different properties in our highly imperfect devices for sound reproduction. What I can see about the VS online does not give me confidence it can achieve the holistic sound of Zu that is vital to me, but I'd have to know more and hear them to be sure. Here's what we do know: with a Zu speaker today, your amp signal goes to the driver(s) producing the 40Hz - 12kHz range without passing through a crossover network. No RC. That FRD rolls off naturally on both ends, and the supertweet rolls in on a simple filter. Do you hear the holistic sonic character made possible by that, without giving up real highs and bass? If so, you're likely to prefer Zu. If not, your preference may drive a different outcome to your decision.
Since owning Zu speakers, I've had more moments of being startled by a moment of "live" sound, than in all the previous 30 years I've been buying audiophile-grade gear.
You write very well and your observations support my experience. It seems to me inevitable that Zu will insinuate themselves into a great many homes over time but I wonder why the progress is so slow. As soon as I learned about this Druid speaker I was hellbent to see and hear them. The inherent superiority seemed obvious to me. All I needed was to determine if it was indeed as clearly superior as the design suggested. So I ventured up to Ogden, Utah and visited the Zu lab. My answer came upon me instantaneously when Adam fired them up.
I urge everyone out there to try a pair on their trial basis.
They tell me that only one pair has been returned out of several hundred. So it seems likely your biggest problem will be finding someone to take your crossovers off your hands. If you hurry, you might still find someone who doesn't know about Zu.
And, Phil, your earlier writings played a big part in my decision to visit Zu. Thanks.
Thank you MJ, and you're welcome too. As is the case with many good ideas that come from small companies, lack of awareness limits the rate at which Zu finds its rightful place in the market. The company is small, and clearly has very limited funds for promotion. Talking to Sean and Adam, I get the impression that aside from supporting its workers, whatever money Zu makes gets quickly ploughed back into the business. It's hard to raise money for hifi manufacturing from a standing start so these guys bootstrapped the company and are exporters. I am sure there's very little left for marketing. Clearly 2005 has been a breakthrough year for Zu, with exposure in 6moons.com especially helping to energize interest in the company and products. They've been building interest in Asia faster than here on product quality and word-of-mouth, fueled by the high-purity school of SET-oriented Asian audio.
As you can see from some reactions here and elsewhere online, Zu's speakers and its FRD are disruptive to a lot of accepted practice and perception in hifi. The last hifi product I've seen elicit so many "it can't work" pronouncements from people who never got within a hundred miles of the actual device was David Gammon's Vestigal Tonearm at Transcriptors in the 1970s. It's partly because of that very low-mass, low-wear arm that I have vinyl discs today that are eminently playable 30 - 40 years after purchase. With a Denon moving coil, too. But of course, it couldn't work with anything other than a high-compliance Shure V15 or ADC XLM, everyone who never heard one said. That reminds me...I think I'll go get mine from my gear closet and put it back on my turntable. Then I'll have two "it can't work" items in my Druids system; one at each end!
I didn't know it at the time I bought my Definitions in March, but they were only beginning to be shipped into the market. The Druid has had more time to motivate the market. The depth and velocity of word-of-mouth awareness of Zu is beginning to amount to something. I've seen this before in hifi, companies beginning small and getting sales traction before they could promote or find mass distribution: Advent, about 1969. The original early '70s Mark Levinson. Nakamichi around 1972/3. Ariston, Linn & Rega around 1974-78. Dahlquist, Koetsu, Nagra, Infinity. Apogee in the '80s. The SET revival making its way from Japan to Europe and the US without mainstream press support and before the WWW. More recently 47 Labs, Red Wine Audio, Omega, Cain & Cain and Zu.
All of these companies and movements made a lasting conceptual contribution to the industry and forced people to question accepting some of their thinking about what makes good hifi. But Zu speakers in particular seem to polarize people before they hear them. It looks like a 2-way but it's not quite. It uses a full range driver but it's not a "referenceable" Lowther, Fostex or something else already in the club. It's a 101db/w/m speaker that can handle several hundred watts of amplification. It's supposed to beam, honk, shout, be less efficient than rated, and have no bass whatsoever, but sadly for skeptics it fails to honor any of those obligations.
I haven't heard the VS DB99s. And specs seem sketchy.
A little preamble: The DB99 is described as a 3-way, implying that it uses passive crossover elements in the signal path to all the drivers. If this is true, it would likely be the primary weakness compared to the Definition.
Based on your first quote that's nothing more then an assumption which holds no merit in the real world. I don't care what speakers you like or don't like, but don't say you don't like something you've never listened to - that just screams narrow mindedness.
What I can see about the VS online does not give me confidence it can achieve the holistic sound of Zu that is vital to me, but I'd have to know more and hear them to be sure.
I agree with your last statement, but I am at a loss of what more you could want to learn from the website that you could learn about the Definition's on Zu's website?
I have never heard the Definitions so I have no observations on there performance, but based on the information on their website the specs seems sketchy - see what I mean ;)
Wow 213cobra,, I had to re-read your post several times just to make sure your observations were not a actual direct comparison of the VSA dB99's and the Zu's. The glowing review of the Zu's blurred the fact/fiction line for me on a couple of occasions. I was nearly seduced before realizing your only comparison of the two speakers, were those darn "online" specs of the dB's versus your impressions of the Zu's that you purchased and own? Crossover's asserting themselves, just "squeezing the life out of the music", and "disintegrating the holistic sound" whew, powerful implications. I was nearly tempted to burn my dB's! And the VR1's too! You really must hear the 99's before jumping to any conclusions about them. They truly are anything but the picture you have generically painted them.
For those interested, the VSA dB99's can be seen and heard at the StTropez Hotel Rm#1002 at the upcoming CES. Though not the most conducive venue to audition anything critically,, surprising sometimes the lasting impression a system will leave on you.
Nakoawala,, find dealer nearest you or,, spend a few hundred dollars, and jump on a plane if necessary to audition them or any speaker system you are laying $10k down for. A small amount of $$ and time invested, will save you a lot of grief in the long run.
If you read my text about the DB99, you'll see an IF, as in "If this is true, it would likely be the primary weakness compared to the Definitions." The "if" refers to whether the DB99 is a true 3-way with a passive crossover in the mid. I have enough experience with this to be able to outline my areas of doubt. It's not narrow-mindedness and in fact I repeatedly make reference to the need to hear the VS to be sure, and still accept that someone prioritizing things differently than I do might prefer the VS even if there's a crossover bigger than your head separating the signal to the drivers.
What I would like to know that I haven't found so far is a spec on the DB99's crossover frequencies, for that would tell me quite a lot about the nature of the beast and whether my "if" should be a "will".
Zu's specs are sketchy to some people in some respects. I don't buy speakers on specs alone so I don't care. They could be more thorough however, for marketing purposes. But in the realm of loudspeaker specs, it is peculiar for a company to describe a model as a three-way without listing the crossover points. That's the only thing I'm looking for.
Well, Jack, in fact crossovers have always been blatantly in evidence and intrusive to me, so I have no reason to expect that I won't hear it in the DB99. What's changed is that the ABSENCE of a crossover in the middle in Zu's speakers has made my prior acceptance of crossover attributes moot. I haven't ever heard a speaker with a crossover, in over 30 years of listening, where it was anything other than a necessary evil. So I'm sensitive to that and have lived with it. Now I don't have to and neither do you or anyone else if you choose not to. The thing is, we've all heard speakers stuffed with crossovers. Not many have heard tonally accurate speakers with 16Hz - 22kHz or better range, and lots of dynamics, with no crossover in the midrange. So until you hear that and determine whether and how that absence affects your perception of fidelity, you really don't know what it means for you. I don't know whether it will make you want to burn your VS speakers, but it might. I can say that even very simple crossovers like inside Sonus Faber speakers introduce the same kind of deleterious consequences I described.
All I wanted to know was what the crossover points are in the DB99 for the SOLE purpose of understanding whether there is a crossover in the midrange signal path, as with a conventional 3-way, or not, as in a Zu. I gather it's the former from the obfuscation in your post.
If VS has managed to put ten pounds of RC network in the path of the midrange signal and end up with that presence having no negative consequences, then my hat will be off to that company's designers. I'm entitled to my doubts. I had doubts about Zu speakers too, before I heard them. That didn't keep me from appreciating their excellence.
A last thing. I have seen in many threads of these forums that ownership of an item somehow disqualifies someone's objectivity. That's a deeply flawed assumption. We all have been through a raft of equipment changes. Most audiophiles show very little loyalty to anything they buy. McIntosh or ARC brand-loyal consumers excepted. Truth is, I have the means to churn if I want to. If a speaker out-innovates Zu and delivers a significant leap in performance over what I have, I am fully willing to write its praises, whether or not I choose to make a change. This is experiential for me, not ideological. I have simply described Definitions for the original poster, and answered some other questions that arose in the thread, and gave some guidance as to what to look for in VS when comparing the speakers. If you read carefully, you will see that I was comparing Zu speakers to what is generally experienced with otherwise good speakers that use passive crossovers in the conventional way. With respect to the VS speakers, the requisite 'ifs' were present and accounted for.
Phil, I listened quite attentively to the Zu's at the Rocky Mtn Show in Denver a couple of months back. First time was not charm for me and several others in the room,, though I promised myself another audition in a setting more appropriate.
I too am an audiophile for 30 years, plus. I make it a point to listen to the latest, whether attending CES over the last 8 years or so, the Stereophile Home Show, now the Denver gathering,,, or making it a point to visit the "hi-end" brick and mortar stores in every large metropolitan area I visit,, in this country and abroad. My eyes and ears remain open! I too have developed a keen sense for the dyanmics, transparency, imaging, soundstage, and accuracy. I'm a club member Phil and wholeheartedly and passionately endorse the dB99's as you do the Zu's. Take a listen to the 99's,,, it may change your world!
213 Cobra, with respect I really think you are making too many assumptions on the effect the DB99's crossover has on its sound without hearing them first. Of course you are entitled to your opinion, but I think you *really* need to hear them before writing long-winded diatribes as to their supposed deficiencies to Zu (even if you inserted the word "if" as if it were just an afterthought).
There is nothing wrong with loving your speakers, and I don't think it discounts your opinion in the least. What I *do* think is that you should keep your observations limited to the speakers you have heard (owned or not). This takes nothing away from the Zus, it just does not attempt to catagorize the sound of the unknown in the process.
All that said, it sounds like you have found exactly what you are looking for in the Zus... Congrats!
At ease. Nothing to defend here. If you like your speakers, That's fine. I didn't hear Phil attacking the DB 99s at all. What I got was a physics lesson. "No crossover" is superior to any crossover, whether it is Wilson's, Von Schweickert's, or Bose. I feel the same way, having just replaced Goldmund Dialogues with crossover slopes in excess of 60 db per octave.
For my part, this is an invitation, not a challenge. There is something better available. Find out now or find out later. Zu has moved beyond convention in providing a grounbreaking new product. If you aren't interested yet, that's also fine. In time, however, this one will find it's way to your house because it isn't an arguable gimmick like bi-wiring. It's a whole new ballgame.
At RMAF I think I would not have liked Definitions either. The reason being that the room was too small to allow enough distance between the speaker and the listener. If you're too close to Definitions, your perception of tonal balance will be torqued by unintegrated treble energy. As I described in prior posts, I recommend people buy Definitions only if their listening position allows 10' or more of linear distance from the face of each speaker; 9' might be OK. There may be room and power amp factors that could be adjusted to make closer listening just as satisfying, but I haven't found them. The disparity between reaction to the Druids and the Definitions at that show pretty much bears this out. I've never taken any hotel demo very seriously. At the VTV show here in SoCal, I really didn't hear any convincing sound from anyone at the show, but in a relative sense the Druids were fun to listen to and the crowds seemed to enjoy them. So, it surely is understandable, Jack, that the first time you heard Definitions wasn't convincing to you.
If the DB99 were described as a design eschewing any crossover elements in the midrange signal path, I'd be motivated to go out of my way to hear them. But with a crossover in the signal path of the midrange, it becomes just another speaker, perhaps nevertheless worth hearing when I can. However, the consequences of a crossover are not going to change. They can only be ameliorated. For example, I used to like a Sonus Faber Cremona and Amati. But in the context of a crossoverless Zu speaker existing in the market, they are no longer interesting or satisfying for me. Curiously, no one has yet answered my question about the crossover points of the DB99.
No one has so far contested my assumption the DB99 has a crossover in the signal path to the midrange. Which tells me the DB99 is an attempt to build a better speaker on conventional architecture. OK, as conventional architecture speakers go, it might be very good. However, frankly, that approach hasn't yielded much progress recently and I've been at this long enough for it to have become a dead-end. Anyone considering both speakers should understand what they're really comparing. If, fully informed, their decision is in favor of the VS over Zu, I have no argument with that and wish them the best.
The Zu Definitions require a larger room than as used at RMAF in Denver in order for the drivers to integrate and allow enough breathing room for the woofers, so comments about the sound there should be discounted.
Bornie, many may not be aware of your affiliation as a Von Schweikert dealer, as was the case in the Speaker Asylum
when you posted as Jack B there.
Both speakers have their proponents yet are quite different, so home auditions are very important. I have no connection to either company.
No disclaimer necessary to encourage someone interested in a pair of speakers, who hasn't listened to them, to audition before deciding which speaker system to buy. I think if you read my posts above, their is no hidden agenda or message other than,,, listen to the VSA db99's for yourself before deciding on a purchasing decision. And that goes for the originator of the thread or anyone spending $10k+ for speakers,, and I believe Phil agrees.
Brian, I'm curious if you've heard the dB99's? With or without super tweeter? Show conditions or home setting? Your impressions?
Bornie writes >>No disclaimer necessary<<
Wrong!! Anytime a dealer is endorsing or recommending a product here without disclosure, it is unfair to all of the readers. Beyond that it is highly unethical.
If Bornie is a VS dealer, it's imperative he makes it known very clearly.
WC65mustang, agree 100%. To airily dismiss the disclaimer after being called out is being disingenuous and misleading. It is quite one thing for an argument in favor of a component to come from an amateur/enthusiast and another for a dealer/mfg/distributor to say the same thing.
If he can't be candid about such a thing what credibility do the rest of his statements have?
I agree completely. Not only did Bornie not identify his prejudice but it appears he never intended to. Only when he was outed by another member did he own up and even then he claimed it wasn't necessary.
That explains why he did not address the topic of crossovers that Phil raised. His intent was to advance his agenda rather than the discourse the rest of us were pursuing.
Having experienced the "no crossover" presentation, I fail to see how anyone could dismiss the concept so readily. At least now I know why one person did.
Thank you gentlemen.
I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Definitions which should be here late next week.
Happy New Year to both of you!!
Come on--Deciding on which of these speakers sounds best is like trying to decide which high end wine tastes better: Depends on what your eating, what the ambiance is, and most importantly-who your with.
AND-if you an't ever drank it- don't talk about what it tastes like from reading the label.
P.S: for those who are curious NO I am NOT a wine salesman :) Happy New Year!!
Wc65mustang, you are referred to as Bill in your Audiogon feedback
, you list an East Amherst, NY zipcode in this ad
, which is less than 5 miles from AudioFeil International
in Clarence Center, NY
. You have mentioned attending Sheas Buffalo theater (in Buffalo, NY)
, which is less than 15 miles
from East Amherst, NY.
These are several clues, but none so pertinent as e-mails received by Boa2 from audiofeil's e-mail address when Boa2's questions were originally sent to Wc65mustang, as discussed in this thread
Your identity is important, Wc65mustang, because if you are Bill Feil you espouse the benefits of Esoteric gear
, and in effect promote a product which you sell...something for which you are taking Bornie to task. You have also positively mentioned Silverline, and Canary
, which are products carried by AudioFeil International
So Bill, Wc65mustang, are you Bill Feil, audio dealer?
Since it appears that it could help my credibility, I will confess to being unemployed and unaffiliated.
That said, after visiting the Zu factory and buying a pair of their Druids, I will allow that I am not entirely unbiased in this matter. I would very much like to see these wonderful young guys make a go of it with their speakers.
TVAD - Keep up the excellent sleuth work. I love it when the pot gets caught calling the kettle black.
Wc65mustang, you are referred to as Bill in your Audiogon feedback, you list an East Amherst, NY zipcode in this ad, which is less than 5 miles from AudioFeil International in Clarence Center, NY. You have mentioned attending Sheas Buffalo theater (in Buffalo, NY), which is less than 15 miles from East Amherst, NY....snip
Damn Grant, the dude's gonna need to bring Johnny Cochran back from the dead to beat this wrap! I think I saw a bloody glove in the "Digital" forum too! I'm gonna come clean before you out me too: I'm actually channeling Harvey Rosenberg when I post.
I would very much like to see these wonderful young guys make a go of it with their speakers.
I agree, I purchased a pair of Zu WAX speaker cables when Zu was a very young company, while I hated the cables the guys over there were an absolute pleasure to deal with. They had a great attitude and were helpful, its shame I didn't like there products more.
Tvad - I think its only fair that you share with us who you are, that's right folks we have Gil Grishom posting now ;)
I visited the ZU factory this past Thursday and met with Adam and Sean and will post pictures and opinions later this weekend when I can formulate my thoughts, but I will tell you I was very impressed with the Definitions driven by Audipax mono 30 watt tubes or the all solid state PS audio they had on hand. Listening to both electronics lead me to believe this speaker will sound great with many different types of gear. Two things hit me; effortless, dynamic sound and seamless presentation. Very musical speaker. I wouldn't hesitate in the least to try the Definition. My guess is you won't send them back.
Phil, do you think the Druids combined with the large subwoofer would be an upgrade over my Hale Design T-5's?
My name is Desmond. I am Mr. Phil's factotum. He told me to ask you if your speaker has a crossover. Good Evening, Sir.
I'm a dealer, but sell neither Zu nor Von Schweikert speakers. Not even sure I can spell the latter.
I'm also a longtime amateur speaker builder and shorttime speaker manufacturer. I have some experience with fullrange drivers.
In nearly every case I have found fullrange drivers to benefit from a response-shaping network of some kind, and/or rolling off the bass to allow a dedicated woofer to handle the bottom octaves, and/or augmenting the top octave or so with a supertweeter. Compared with the anomalies and distortions typically present in drivers, in my experience the minor distortions introduced by high quality capacitors, inductors, and resistors is trivial.
In my opinion the relatively un-speakerlike sound of the Zus is related to something other than freedom from capacitors, resistors, and inductors in or parallel to the signal path. I believe it is related to their unusually uniform radiation pattern through the midrange region, where most speakers have severe radiation pattern anomalies. So yes the crossoverlessness is beneficial, but I think for different reasons than are normally put forth.
That being said, I do have some reservations about the Druid and Definition; in my experience they do some things well, and some things not as well as I'd like.
I have been pondering high sensitivity speakers to match my SET amps for a while. You guys have convinced me to audition the definitions, they are now available in the UK.
I appreciate your evenhanded approach to this topic. Could you specify what you like and don't like about the Druid and Definition separately as they are a bit different? The Defs, for instance, do receive subwoofer support from below the mid array. The Druids, on the other hand, achieve their bass response from a downward firing transmission line, a sort of bass horn.
What I like most about the Druids and Definitions is that they don't sound like speakers. Their presentation is definitely free from something that most speakers are doing wrong, and as mentioned above I think it has to do with radiation patterns, but I could be wrong about that. They are a welcome relief in that respect.
On music that I'm familiar with I thought I heard a peak somewhere in the midrange region that modified the tonal character of voices, along with a lack of energy somewhere in the "presence" (lower to mid-treble) region, and the clarity and articulation were not what I'd hoped on complex vocal or orchestral arrangements.
In the bass region, the Definitions sounded fine to me - the bass wasn't overdone, which I appreciate. It's easy to get carried away and want your 16-Hz capable speaker to let the world know it can do 16 Hz even when the music barely dips down to 40 Hz. I am skeptical of the bass extension claimed for the Druids unless they get substantial boundary reinforcement.
The bass thing on the Druids doesn't bother me; it's easily addressed. And the minor tonal issues don't really bother me much either, for the ear becomes accustomed to and ignores minor tonal bumps and dips, and besides who's to say that my ears weren't calibrated for my own speaker's colorations such that I was totally mistaken in my assessment. But what I perceived as a lack of articulation on complex passages is something I don't know how to address. Maybe it's a break-in issue or associated equipment issue; I've only heard Zu speakers under show conditions. The Definitions might have been a bit better than the Druids in this respect, but not as much as the price difference led me to hope. I still think the Druids are very competitive in their price range, but in my opinion the Definitions aren't quite as competitive in theirs.
The Druid in particular breaks new ground as far as efficiency combined with acceptable bass extension in its price range, and frankly I do like the topology of the Definitions very much with the built-in powered woofer section. Both are exceptionally compact speakers for the level of performance they offer. I like the horn-loaded tweeter, as that blends much better with the 10" fullrange driver than a direct radiator would have.
I'll admit that it's quite possible I haven't heard either speaker performing at the level its happy owners routinely experience in their homes. And perhaps my expectations happen to zig in an area where the Zus happen to zag a bit. Obviously these speakers are doing some things very right to have engendered the following they have.
I hear nothing very negative in your comments. As a Druid owner, I guess I would have to say that my speakers are about fun. They're just so musical and so high on the PRaT scale that I just notice my toes tapping and disregard any concerns about accuracy. Others have said that they are linear, precise, accurate, faithful, cohesive, etc., and they may well be. I find them to be engaging. As for bass, I didn't have much extension until I experimented and it turned out that in my room they worked best right up against the front wall. Also, it is important to gap them properly from the floor in order to optimize the Griewe loading. The Zu boys have been over the top motorcycle enthusiasts for most of their young lives and as a result of that passion came upon a fellow named Ron Griewe who is a former editor of some biker mag. This Griewe fellow had conducted research over many years in the area of flow and displacement in motorcycle exhhaust. Sean and Adam recognized the potential this held for speaker design and purchased the rights to apply his findings to their designs. This is a large part of why the Druid performance is so much bigger than the speaker itself. Srajan stated that the Druid was equal to his AG Duos in almost every way. WarrenH is correct when he recommends trying them at home. The Definition is no more fun than the Druid but it offers a more solid state friendly impedance curve, more downward extension, better resolution and more compactness than you get in a Druid/sub arrangement.
Show hotel listening conditions are compromising to every piece of gear exhibited, but are especially challenging to loudspeakers. I've heard Zu at 3 shows and while they were more than competitive relative to other speaker exhibitors under the same conditions, the sound available in the peculiar floated construction of hotel buildings was not more than a fraction of what's attainable at home.
Zu has sometimes exhibited with speakers that were not fully broken in, and during the break-in period, there is definitely some peakiness to midrange tones that levels out. That trace of horn-like shout you can hear when brand new, is real and disappears.
MJ mentioned that he thinks the Definition has a more solid-state-friendly impedance curve. While the Def's impedance curve is smoother over frequency range, most solid state amps will sound smoother and more musical into the Druid's 12 ohm load, though they will be down on power while doing so.
The 38Hz bass performance of the Druids is not dependent on proximity to boundary reinforcement. They will do that in the middle of a room. The boundary that counts is the floor, where the gap spacing for the Griewe model is set. On Mk4 Druids, Sean specs a CD jewel case thickness worth of gap. Tiny deviations up or down from that make significant differences. On older Druids, that gap should be about doubled. Narrowing the gap will make the bass drier and tonally less rich. Widening it will soften bass definition and introduce a fatter bottom. Amp characteristics can be countered with some slight tuning.
I agree with Duke that the absence of crossover likely has benefits additional to the ones I've previously cited as being obvious, but in general a crossover speaker sounds regressive after hearing the octave-to-octave consistency of Zu.
Has anyone here used the Lamm ML2's with the Zu's?
Phil, Cobra, Desmond or Freddy... Are the Druids with the two speaker sub better than the Hales T-5's? Yes I believe the Hales have a crossover.