Review: Zu Druid Mk IV 2008 Speaker

Category: Speakers

I had a pair of Zu Druids five years ago. They were not bad speakers - they did a good job with dynamics unlike virtually all medium-efficiency boxed speaker. And they didn't ever sound shouty or shrill unlike most single-driver, HE speakers (under a certain price-point). However, they did have certain audible colorations, and some seeming anomalies of the wideband driver - an odd 'metallic' aftertaste for lack of a better way to describe it. Still, all in all, a great speaker, especially considering its drivability.

Enter the Druid Mk IV with '08 drivers. I acquired a pair of these recently and they are really a much improved speaker - an exemplary one, even. They are smooth, balanced, and natural while remaining dynamic. They retain the Druid 'tone' thing completely. Mind you this is a very large achievement - a wideband driver with true high sensitivity that does not sound like a wideband driver.

The cabinet is pretty dead. You don't hear the cabinet. There are other HE speakers that admirably use cabinet crosstalk to their advantage, and in many ways it works wonderfully. However, there are times when it is a detriment. The Druid sidesteps this issue.

No, they are not 101 dB/W, but they are quite easy to drive. Probably more like 97 dB/W. I use a First Watt F3 which is an excellent match in all ways and plenty of power for quite loud levels. If you wanted 110 dB, certainly not, but I don't.

What other weaknesses are there? Well, of course, a speaker at this price-point doesn't do it all. The last octave of bass is not there. The tweeter does not have the finesse or extension of a ribbon. And of course they can be exceeded to a certain extent in this or that category by speciality speakers of all stripes.

But, all in all, they are a truly excellent speaker. I feel comfortable recommending them with no reservations at all along with the Audio Note AN/E (Kit 3) and the Tonian TL-D1 as low-power friendly speakers that sound phenomenal on virtually all music and that any sane person could live with forever.

Oh, and you can't buy them anymore.
I have had both AN/Zu speakers (own now).

Two different animals but both are speakers that will keep you owning them for many years.

I can't wait to buy the Zu Definitions MK2 someday.
Glad to hear that you've found the 2008's to sound marvy Paul.... the earlier model which I listened to at length sounded impressively, to re-pharase your own words, shouty, shrill & like most single-driver, HE speakers (under a certain price-point). In a word, rank.

Curious as to why, if they actually got it so right in the end, they deleted it from their product range....?

I mean if it's as good as you remark "recommending them with no reservations at all along with the Audio Note AN/E (Kit 3) and the Tonian TL-D1 as low-power friendly speakers that sound phenomenal on virtually all music and that any sane person could live with forever."

I can't see the AN/E being dumped by Audio Note anytime soon...... which speaks volumes to me !

AN deleted the early E's as they are not the same speaker they were 8 yrs ago. Same name but a different animal.

There are alot of happy ZU Druid owners out there so behave yourself from now on.
Hahahah.... behave myself, not in your right mind I won't...;-)

I shall exercise my rights to freedom of speech & express my honest opinions based on personal experiences, hoping that others continue to do likewise.

FYI: The current AN/E and the original Snell Type E from the 80's, remain more alike than different, after some 30 years of very gradual evolution...

P.S- Equally, there alot of happy ex. ZU Druid owners out there, but don't get your knickers in knot on their behalf.

Gradual evolution? More alike than different? Same size box maybe if even that.

Have you ever even owned AN gear?

It seems like your knickers are in knot over a review that you don't see eye to eye about.

Every speaker builder out there are changing designs and dropping models for newer ones.

By the way what speakers do you own if you don't mind me asking?

Zu blues.
By the way the old E vs. the new E. Different box/wire/ tweeter/woofer/binding posts/SOUND/price.

There is no way the old Snell E is in anyway the same as today's AN E.
The original Druids had weaknesses, for sure, but being shouty was really never one of them? An extended presence region peak, ala Lowther and (some) Fostex? No. That comment alone makes me wonder if you were serious. Then again, there is almost no speaker in the world regarding which you can't find someone here who has called them bright, etched, or the like.

I found the original Druid a bit muffled, and *down* in the presence region, if anything. New drivers seem to have better clarity and better smoothness too.
Replace to hi pass cap and resistor with Mundorf sio ala Def2 and the treble comes to life, but still not overdone or bright.

Nice review, these speakers sound alive, different to multiple driver/crossover types. The music, especially guitar solos etc jumps into the room and can startle you with realism.