Me too. Have a 4wpc tube amp and looking for more eff speakers
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I’ve listened to the Defs and Soul many times, many different front ends (mostly tubes), and I’ve rarely come away satisfied. Nearly all the time experienced ear-piercing sound to varying degrees. In fact, only twice have I heard them sound good, both times when they were set up by a person named Ron (forget last name) who had some kind of association with the company. Yet still not enough to get me to buy a pair. Yes, they are "fast", an attribute of which their owners are very proud. But they’ve never drawn me into the music or performers. To my ears they are more of the tizz-boom flavor of sound.
I own a pair of Omen Def Mk1-b that I bought in September (2015) under very special circumstances. It's a long story about how I got my speakers shipped directly from the factory in Ogden, Utah to Macau (via Hong Kong), so I will just focus on my impression about Zu.
I stumbled across Zu Audio while I was searching for a new pair of speakers to my tube amplifier and it was love at first sight! Everything about Zu seduced me in an almost metaphysical way: the looks, the hype, the sound... and finally the people at Zu.
Talking about the sound, I would describe it as a mix of qualities. It's a bit "in your face" like if you were in the first row of a live concert, it's full bodied and bold, but at the same time is detailed and delicate. And depending on the location and positioning, soundstage and stereo image can be (they are!) amazingly big and holographic.
Regarding materials and build quality, only good things to say. And visually they're not subtle nor invisible- these speakers are dressed to impress!
All this (sound, style...) may be subjective and of course there are people who love them and there are people who don't.
What I really think is the best at Zu is the bunch of people that makes that brand so special - hence the Hype!
I have read many things about how they support and follow up their customers and have read many stories about their way of making business; but only when I got in contact with them (through Gerit) I truly understood the Zu philosophy. Those boys are amazing! All the information they share and the help they give in their totally friendly and unpretentious way just makes us want to become one of them. I felt like I was entering to the Zu family! I know I am now part of the Zu family...
If you did listen to the Soul or any other model and you liked it, you won't regret going Zu. If you ordered without listening, tell us later what was your very first impression after firing them for the first time and how your impression evolved from that first moment.
My speakers, I will keep them for life!
I have both Def 4s and Omen 1Bs. Both were a little intense out of the boxes. All tube system.
They could be said to be a little tizz-boom initially. Here is my take.
They're clear, no smoothing of the edges speakers. Crossoverless, phase coherent and immediate. It's necessary to get the signal chain just right, and I have, at least to my liking.
Taking crossovers and their inherent distortions, TIM distortion in particular, along with phase anomalies induced by attempting to balance multiple drivers really affects the ability of a speaker to sound coherent, at least for my ears. As crossovers heat up, the frequency response of a speaker changes, the hotter they get the more compression one hears.
With Zu, one can roll tubes and cables and get a warm sound, if that's to your liking. I once put some "warm" cables in the chain and over did it. So yeah, they can sound too warm as well. I like to think I've gotten it just right.
As for Sean Casey and his guys, every time I've approached them with even the most obscure question they have followed up with the most practical, informative advice imaginable. It's like they're about to come over to see about it, and we are 2000 miles apart. Unbelievable!
Thanks Dentdog. I too have a tube amp, as it turns out.
I live in Canada and I have found a 2nd hand set of Zu Omen Def and Zu Essence for sale. Unfortunately neither are being sold by their original owners. Each set is about 5 years old. They're selling for CDN$1700 (US$1300) and CDN$1500 (US$1155).
Buying new, the Canadian dollar being what it is adds 30% to the price and shipping is extremely costly from the States to Canada. (If I go the New Zu route I'll have to drive to Niagara Falls and pick them up there).
I've just learned about the Vandersteen's. I can get a demo set of the 1ci's at $1700 ($1309), which isn't a great price. I'm going to listen to them this weekend.
I'm using their interconnects and speaker cables... I like them very much and well worth the money.. Every time I upgrade my components the cables and interconnects lets me hear the difference, like more detail.. I get the feeling they're not hiding anything... Using Libtec speaker cables and just purchased Mission MK2 balanced interconnects (replacing Mission single ended)...
I have second hand Zu Soul MKII's in my set-up. I've been using them for about 3 years. I really enjoy them but they can be challenging to tame. Room placement (how far to set from wall, toe-in, etc.) plays a role.
I visited Zu in Ogden when I was in Utah for work. I spent about 2 hours on a Friday afternoon with Gerrit, Harvey and James. Gerrit walked me through their operation and we had a really good conversation all the while James assembled a Clarity Cap/Juniper Bypass for me on the spot. My speakers did not have this upgrade previously and it smoothes out the tweeters.
This upgrade is still breaking in but I definitely like what I hear so far.
I have Event MKI mains attached to my Pass Labs XP15 Phono Pre and my Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum. I use Zu Mission MKI phono cables to connect my VPI Scout 1.1 and Mission MKI unbalanced interconnects between the Pass and Rogue.
I think their cables provide a very good return for the money especially when you can pickup Event MKI everything during weekly A-Gon auctions.
Along with great sound, WAF is high with the Soul's...no complaints here. My next move will probably be to the Omen Def MKII's. They are a little more forgiving.
I have leaned on Zu for all sorts of information over the years and whether it's Sean or Gerrit, they are always very helpful and eager to assist and to think that they are willing to help although I have second hand speakers bought here on A-Gon, they put service above all else.
Reading the boards, nobody is indifferent toward Zu speakers. You have those that do not like them or think that they don't perform well on a curve and you have those that really enjoy them and are repeat customers.
I am a music lover first, audiophile second and I listen to a wide range of music. I am very satisfied with the sound but a bad or lo-fi recording reveals itself rather quickly.
I've never heard a good show demo with Zu speakers. It was like the music was coming out of a tin can, no matter where I sat, and yet heads were nodding in approval. This was with tube and solid state gear. In the end, to each their own. The rooms weren't big so maybe that had something to do with it.
As for Zu in general, they are a pleasure to deal with and I'm a big proponent of their speaker cables. Their Event speaker cables simply get out of the way of the music and impart great extension, tone, detail and ambience.They don't come across as tone controls. YMMV.
All the best,
I have had Zu Definition speakers for several years, initially 1.5s then 2s and now Definition 4s. I was not thrilled with the 1.5s, more so with the 2s, and I very much enjoy the 4s. (I also have Zu interconnects and power cords.) But of course, it is all subjective. I listen to a wide range of music from Renaissance Polyphony to Alternative Rock, from full scale orchestra and chorus to solo vocal or instrumental performances; but boring music is boring, and poorly recorded music is hard to tolerate. The Def 4s have the tone and gravitas that I was seeking without being even a little bit fatiguing. I drive them with a good 300b SET. (Lesser powered SETs lacked the necessary oomph.) I have also heard them at the Capitol Audio Fest, the only show that I attend. The music that they play at shows may also influence perception of their house sound. My Def 4s were set up and positioned by Sean when he was in DC for CAF. I have not heard their less expensive speakers such as the Druid or the Soul (or their flagship Dominance, for that matter). As noted by everyone - even individuals who are not thrilled with the Zu sound - the people who work at Zu are a pleasure to deal with and are happy to share their knowledge and opinions. Speakers should be auditioned at home, even if it is not particularly practical. Showrooms (and audio shows) cannot duplicate the unique environment of one's own listening space. I have loved speakers at a showroom, but hated them at home - and vice versa. Zu is one of a growing number of manufacturers that offers an in-home audition program.
I had a pair of Zu Druid IV for several months. I bought them second hand from a guy that had them a couple of years
Never could get them to sound good in my room. They have a very loyal following but in my case weren't for me. I only used SS amps, no tubes- but I tried every position and gap I could think of. (bottom has a gap that can/must be adjusted for bass response.)
Most baffled I've been with a pair of speakers. May have been my room, 15x18 with some openings, or unsophisticated ears...