Some impression on Zu Omen Definition

I just pick up a pair of Zu Omen Definition, and I have mixed feelings. It sound very different from my B&W.

First of all, the height of the sound. For my B&W, the sound is a bit higher than my ear level. But for the Zu, it is the same or a bit lower than my ear level. This sounds a bit weird. Because usually the singer will be on a stage, so, it is more natural to expect the sound is higher from my ear level.

Secondly is the depth. For my B&W, the singer is behind the speaker plane. For the Zu, the singer is very forward. It almost feel it is in front of the speaker plane. I don't know which way is better. Due to this difference, for the 30 mins or so .. I feel very weird listening to Zu.

Why would 2 speakers have so much different in presentation? The zu is much taller than the B&W, so, I expect it will project a bigger soundstage. And usually the sound stage is behind the speaker. But with the height and forward sounding, I can't say produce a big sound stage. Or can I say it produce a sound stage in front of the speaker plane, and I need to sit back further?
Gte - I own Zu Omen standard. For the height, I have them tilted back, iow the front spikes are longer than the rear spikes.
Singers are not in front of the speakers with mine, not sure what's up with yours in that regard.
I found out the speakers are actually tilted downward as the spike in the front are shorter. Now, it correct the problem to some extend. I am doing some A/B test with my B&W. I think the sound stage is about the same. The height is also about the same with B&W sounds a little bit higher. The B&W is more lay back, or relax, or darker. The Zu is more dynamic and brighter. But the Zu definitely has less bass than the B&W.
I don't hear the coherent magic people rave about. How should a coherent speaker sound like? Base on my understanding, in theory, if all frequency comes from the same spot or same cone, then it is coherent. If for the 3 way driver, since the tweeter, mid range and woofer has different distance, so, some calculation is required to make the sound coherent.

But for the Zu definition, there are still 2 cone separate apart. Then from the coherent perspective, how is it more coherent than traditional 3 way speaker like my B&W? Can a good 3 way speaker still sound coherent?
I have compared my system to a local audio store with a $10,000 McIntosh and the top of the line B&W's and mine kicked it's butt!

1. Follow Zu's in room set up guide. Even a few inches off and the bass will be missing.
2. The Omen Defs like lots of space. Mine are 4 feet off of the back wall and three off of the side and the soundstage is behind the speakers and huge!
3. Tilt the speakers up by going and buying new bolts for the underneath spacing. Mine are tilted back 3/4 of an inch.
4. How far away are you? These guys need space to become coherent.
5. Any upstream weaknesses will be very apparent with the Zu
6. What amp are you using?

Are the Zu speakers broken in?
Either you just need to experiment and fine tune speaker setup or you may simply prefer the sound of your B&W with your present components.

3 way speakers can be very coherent with proper implementation.

My Coincident speakers are 3 way(first order crossovers) and probably 90% of the time(depends on the recording) they`re invisible.

I`d give the zu more time.
Best Regaeds,
Well, my system is not good now. I am having too much gain in my amp, and that affect the sound a bit. So, I am looking to change the amp to a SET amp.

Maybe another reason is my room is too small. It is about 17 in. from the back wall and 3 feet from the side. The Zu is alot bigger than what I expect. It somehow seems out of placed when place in my living room. This may be one of the reason.
And I did some more A/B testing. I think the Zu is more musical, and has more detail. It is brighter, but not bright or harsh of any sort. It is still neutral. I think it depends on the type of music. For instruments like acoustic guitar, saxophone, piano, the Zu sound better. For vocal, I think it is a tide and depends on individual. I like the Zu a bit more as there is more detail. But the B&W is darker and more relax. For cello and violin, I like B&W better as it deeps down to the lower frequency range more. Cello sounds more solid and sweet.

I start to like the Zu, it's just I hope to get a bigger sound stage out of it. But as mentioned, I need to experiment with a different amp. I can't do much in terms of the room though.
If you really only had 30 minutes on them when you bought them, they will be changing a lot in the MONTHS to come. If I had to name a qualm with Zu speakers (FRDs really) its the length of burn in.

Some guys seem to enjoy it, but I just want everything sounding awesome and ready to roll day 1. I already paid for it, I don't like working for it :)
I bought it used. The previous owner said he has about 100 hrs on it. He said the suggested burn in period is 200 hrs. Let's see. But I am not a big believer in burn in. I can't imagine the sound change linearly with time. I think for the first 50 or so hours, maybe there will be some changes in sound, and eventually, it will settle down. Like the cone now becomes more flexible compared to new. but I am not sure if it really requires 200 hrs. Maybe ... but even there is, probably the improvement will be hard to notice.

And I am with you. I buy something, and I want it to work in day one, or shortly after.
That speaker surround is very stiff so 200 hours may not be an exaggeration.
Well, just because you believe in something or not does not change the fact that it will take a minimum of 200 hours for break-in, and mine kept improving for maybe 300-400 hours. If you fall out of a tree it doesn't really matter if you believe in gravity, you are going down!

I was never a believer in break in either till I heard it myself with my Omen Defs. They went from so so to decent to great to crap all over the course of a week. I was questioning my decision to buy them on more than one occasion, then they settled down and now they sound great.

As for amps, you cannot go wrong with a Pass XA30.5 or F3, or pretty much any quality set amp. But if you have any weakness, your system will suffer.

And if you cannot get the sound you want, then your maybe too which case the Superfly's would be a much better choice as they are much smaller.
yes, I am researching on an amp, and I read someone said SS is better match to Omen Def, and particularly the Pass F3 and XA30.5. But I check, the XA30.5 has 26dB gain, which is not too much lower than my McCormack DNA-1 of 30dB gain. I am looking for something around 20dB gain. The F3 may be better as it has 12 dB gain.
What are the difference between the F3 with the SET on definitions. I listen to vocal, sax, cello, violin ...
I have had both of the SS above and several set amps, it just depends on your room, your taste, and the synergy of your system.....tubes give you a bit more intimacy and improved tone, especially with jazz and vocalists, while the SS gives you a bit more dynamics, increased bass, etc.

With your music choices, I think a Set would be a good choice, but until you try both in your system you will not know what each can do for you......I bet Gopher can chime in as he has both also, and he is better with words than I:).

In my system, I love the Pass XA 30.5 as an all around performer for rock, electronica, jazz, all sounds good......and I just am selling an Art Audio 845, and for jazz, I am yet to hear better As for as tone, intimacy,soundstage,etc. ( though I think my new 300's will be my preference I just don't have enough hours on them yet to comment).

My guess is that if the McCormack is not the best pairing, then the next thing I would try would be a SET.
Actually, the McCormack sounds ok, I think. I cannot say if it is good or bad as I have no comparison. The only problem is the gain. I cannot turn on the volume knob of my preamp pass 9 o'clock, and I feel the sound is not as good as I turn the volume to a higher range.

but I just want to understand. For the Omen Definition, it seems it is better to have more watts compared to Druid or Essence. If I am looking for SET, what power I should get? I am thinking something 20 or above, but I think it is rare and expensive.
I have had similar issues with gain in my system. I fixed it by using a jumper to bypass two of the tube sockets in my Atmasphere S30. Having had an F3 in my system I do heartily recommend that you try it. A wonderful sound. The Pass designs are wonderful. I would also recommend paying attention to the damping factor of an amp. With drivers like Zu uses, I find that overdamping can be an issue and negatively impact the bass. Aleph 30 for example was a fabulous amp, except that it had too high a damping factor for my full range drivers.
What is too high of a damping factor for Zu speakers? I was thinking of trying an Aleph J clone with my Soul Superflys. Damping factor is 20, whereas the Aleph 30 you mentioned has a damping factor of 100.
I have absolutely beautiful music with a 6 watt art Aurio Px 25 and an 8 watt Coincident Frankenstein 300. Sean casey at Zu loves the 2 watt Yamamoto A-08 at 2 watts.....

Actually I felt the 18 watt ( if I remember correctly) Art Audio 845 was too much wattage for the volume I listen to. Certain amps hit their stride at certain levels and I felt like I was driving a Ferrari in first gear...but at higher volumes it was amazing (but my neighbors did not quite hear it the same way:)).
Hi, Morganc, your comment is specifically for omen def, right? Just want to make sure as I read some ppl comment that the omen def needs more watt than other model like Druid. Just want to make sure.

I have auditioned many of the FirstWatt amps with my full range drivers that I had before the Zu Superflys. The Aleph 30 was the only one that I found to be overdamped. But might want to check with the folks at Zu on this. And if you do, please let us know what they recommend.
Yes my recommendations are for the Omen Defs......

roscoeiii: the F3 is recommended by Zu and the XA 30.5 are Sean Casey's favorite amps with the Omen Defs (heard it from him myself).
"I have auditioned many of the FirstWatt amps with my full range drivers that I had before the Zu Superflys. The Aleph 30 was the only one that I found to be overdamped. But might want to check with the folks at Zu on this. And if you do, please let us know what they recommend."

Will do Roscoeiii
Hi, I need some advise on picking the right amp. I have limited budget around $1000. I can stretch it maybe to $1200. I will buy used equipment. So far, based on other people's comment and my budget and reviews, I have the following 3 candidates:

1) a local AES SE-1 for $800. This has low hour Audio Note 300B tube. 7 watt per channel. I think this is a pretty old unit and $800 seems too much. I think it is retail ~ $1500 in 1995.

2) Decware Mini-Torii. 3-6 watt. I read good reviews about Decware amps. I found a used one for $1100.

3) F3 clone. I am not sure how much. Maybe $700?

Which one do you think will give me the biggest bang for the buck?

I love mine with an Emotiva XPA-2. Have not tried any
other amps, but feel no need!
I'm listening to a pair of Superflys with an F3 clone as I type this and its damn good. You should be able to pick one up between $500 and $600 here when they come up and I strongly suggest you do to assess it for yourself. They re-sell easily if you don't like it and you've got nothing to lose.

This F3 along with a Redgum RGi120 (integrated) are the two solid state standouts I've found for Zu speakers. I'm driving my F3 clone with a Shindo pre and the presentation is very similar to my 845 SET monos. Not sure I'd know which was playing if blindfolded--it really is SS that sounds like SET.

The Redgum makes for an exceptional, energetic synergy as well. Not quite the level of refinement of the Shindo/845 or F3 combos, but dripping wet, nicely textured and with awesome bass and drive.

I've got a Redgum RGi35 sitting on my dining table that I've been meaning to compare to my buddy's RGi120 (also on my table) and contrast the 2 against the F3 for my summer amp duties (845s too hot), but since the F3 has gotten here I haven't had much interest in pulling it out to A/B.

Someone on AC said that Mini-Torii was highly recommended by one of the Zu boys and has an exceptional synergy with the Omens. I haven't heard it, but my interest is piqued in that amp. I was strongly tempted to buy the used one on AC to demo for myself, but I've got four amps on hand at the moment and there has to be SOME end to my wife's patience with me, lol.
I am very interested in the Mini Torii too. I think it looks very good, better than a F3 clone. And I am using a SS now, so, I am tempted to try a tube SET even though the F3 sound very close to a tube SET. One thing is, the Mini Torii is much more expensive than a F3 clone ... and I can't find any review or comments with someone directly comparing the two.

BTW, is the mini Torii an integrated or a power amplifier? It has a volume knob, and it seems it has a preamp section, and it stated on the web site that a preamp is not needed. But what if I already have a preamp? Would it alter the sound in a negative way if the signal is preamp twice?

And it has 3.5 watt into 4 ohm, not sure how much watt will be there for Omen Def which is 6 ohm .. like 4.5 watt?
The Mini torii has a volume control, but many amps come like this in the SET world. So you can use a pre amp or not, and it will not harm the quality of your sound if you do. Either the F3 or the Decware will be a winner for you, though I am betting the Decware would be much less similar to your current amp than the F3. BTW you will have to be very patient, and move quickly to get a used DIY F3. I bought the one Gopher had within an hour or so of it posting and Gopher snagged mine in about 15 minutes. That was the only one I have seen for sale in two months. If I were you, based on what I know about myself and Gopher, I would grab the Decware before we jump on it. If I were not breaking in a brand new fabulous amp with two other fantastic amps sitting next to it, I would go for it myself:). But I am spontaneous and may change my mind at any second:).
Oh ... I just found out that the F3 has an input impedance of 10k Ohm, which is too low for my PrimaLuna Preamp with output impedance of 2800 ohm!!! I almost overlook this part. Gee ...

So, the F3 is not good for me then? Would other First Watt product good for me? I think I read someone post the preference for Zu is

F3 -> M2 -> XA 30.5

I don't know the difference between F3 and M2 by reading the web site. Does anyone has any experience with M2 and Zu Omen Definition?
Why don't you just get a different pre amp then? Everyone can give you an opinion, but your room, your electronics, and your music preferences will dictate what will work best for you. Opinions are just that, and vary depending on all the above factors. Where are you located btw? Maybe you can find a local that you could audition with? That is a good way to get a taste of what different set ups will give you.
>I love mine with an Emotiva XPA-2<

LoveD, you mean?

Moving on to the next thing, eh?

I hope I can audition them too, but it is not possible. I am in Vancouver, Canada. I don't think there is anyone in Vancouver carry Zu and PrimaLuna. So, I can only audition different amps but not the whole system. So, I mainly rely on my internet research and other people's comment. I know other people won't know exactly my electronics and room setting, but just trying to get most opinion as possible. And I don't have an acoustic / electrical engineering background. I am sure there are a lot of very knowledgeable people here, and has vast experience of different brands. So, all of your opinion are actually very important to me =)

I read the First Watt web site. It described the design concept of each model which I don't understand. Reading 6moons and other people's comment, the M2 seems to be the next choice which pass my sanity test. It has a low gain of 15 dB (checked), a higher input impedance of 100k (checked), it has warmer sound than F5 and J2 per 6moons (checked), it has a low output impedance which suppose to give tighter bass, right?

Do you think M2 would be a good fit for me? Does it give a tubey sound close to SET amps? Anyone?

My hesitation in snagging the mini torii is that that low wattage is into 4ohms. Into my 16ohm Superflys that is truly flea power (will that be LESS than a 45 SET?)

I wouldn't underestimate the F3s, they're pretty darn good to be honest. Some say its the best sounding Nelson Pass amplifier, period. Driven by my Shindo it makes for a very musical presentation.

I'm going to bring it to a buddy's place this weekend to see how it does driving a pair of Sunny Cable Co speakers.

what is the output impedance of your Shindo? I know F3 is a very good amp and good match with Zu based on all the reviews and comments, and I am almost set on it until I realized the input impedance. The rule of thumb is that it should be 10x the preamp's output impedance.

So, if I use F3 (input impedance of 10k Ohm) with my PrimaLuna (output impedance of 2800 Ohm), how would it affect the sound? Of course, i can change the preamp too ... but I want to keep it if possible as I like its sound.
ok, based on my research, if the input impedance of power amp is not high enough (10x of the output impedance of preamp), then the system will be more prone to sonic distortion. This is because there is a reduction of signal from preamp to power amp. And the reduction is a function of frequency. So, the reduction is not a constant that can be balanced out by turning up the volume knob. That means, the sonic is changed, whether it is good or bad will then be subjective, and depends on each unit, I guess.
My Shindo has a 5k ohm impedance and seems to match better well with the Rawson F3 clone I'm using.

This is an excerpt from an email with the buddy that turned me on to the F3:

"I did not run the Aurieges with the F3 and am not sure it would match well. Actually, it probably would - I now recall Dr. Pass saying that the F3 requires an extremely tiny current to drive and so even pres with high output impedance are nearly always fine."
Hey Shakeydeal, If you mean my Omen Defs?? Yea I put them up
just to see what the deal is with the Lores or maybe one
of their higher speakers.
I love the Defs and do not care one bit if they sell. In fact
I (and my wife) think I'm crazy for even bothering!?!? Probably true!

If they sell, I'll try the Tektons for fun, (What it's all
about right?) and if not, I'm way good, and may try another
amp...maybe tubed. As as much as I love the sound with the Emotiva, I can't help think of how they might sound with
something else. Thinking Naim...Sim...or???

The Omen Defs are great speakers for sure!! I'm on my second pair! :o)
That's cool. You sold me a pair of Roman Audio Centurions back in 03. You go through speakers like I used to. Those things were sure purty....... but I couldn't get em to sound very good in my room.

I've got no affiliation with the seller, but FYI there is a Rawson F3 clone on now.
Holy smoke, it is SOLD!!!!
And I would also highly recommend that all Rawson fans try a Pass built FirsWatt. The clones don't hold a candle to the FirstWatts built by the master...

You and Paul Folbrech's comments have me on the lookout for a good deal on a used commercial F3. He mentioned too that his Pass built F3 sounded better than his Rawson.

Is it the Rawson builds that are inferior or DIYs in general? I ask because I know some people critique Rawson's work, but could someone more 'meticulous' in sticking to the plans provided to the DIY community build an equal, or did Pass keep a few tricks up his sleeve?
Rawsons are not even close Ive owned 3 of his and 4 1st watt.
The Rawson F3 that I had was not even close to the XA30.5 that I have btw, but I think that is an unfair comparison to the First Watt Products. The F3 Clone was pretty durn good though.
The Definition (full Def 2 - I've never heard the Omen Def) with the First Watt F3 was just an incredible pairing. It did it all and had no real weaknesses, on any type of music.

(With that setup with my Tom Evans phono & line stages, for the first time ever I was completely satisfied without a tube in the chain anywhere. Gave up absolutely nothing to any tube gear in the areas where tubes are typically considered to be superior. But then the TE gear is not like tubes or transistors.)

Of course, I still sold the F3 (my 2nd). I got a Graaf GM20 OTL amp and like it just a bit better - but it was really a matter of taste, not superiority. In fact, I'm not sure I can say I've *ever* heard an amp "better" than the F3. When that thing is warm it's like the best low-power SET in tone and dimensionality but with real extension and a much lower noise floor.

(You may think your 45 SET is extended, and quiet, and it may be, but it's not like what can be done with no output transformers and - gulp - little chunks of sand instead of tubes. I have had other tube gear that was utterly silent for all intents and purposes (Shindo Monbrison) but not a tube amp that had a noise floor as seemingly nonexistent as the F3's. Now, why did I sell that thing again?)

It's such a crazy hobby, what with the virtually infinite number of permutations of gear possible. Not really a safe mix with the overly curious.
Hey Paul,I know what you mean in regards to curiosity. The First watt amps intrique me based on their very simple(I love) design and reviews/word of mouth reputation. I have absolute passion for my Coincident Frankenstein 300b monoblocks, but would love to compare/contrast with a First watt amp. The tone,harmonics and pure naturalness of the Franks is the best I`ve heard so far. Paul have you heard the F5 or the J2 versions? This truly is a great hobby if approached with the right attitude.
I also had an F5 once. I liked the F3 better by a decent margin. I think I had AN/Es then (also a great match with the F3).
Just an update on this thread and share with you guys. I am not convinced that my Preamp with such high output impedance (2800ohm for mid and treble, 11.5k ohm at 20Hz!!) will match with F3 with input impedance of 10k.

I decided to give the AES SE-1 a try. It is good, it has 7 wpc with the 300B tube and can drive the Zu no problem. The problem of having too much gain is also alleviate. I can now turn the preamp to about 10 - 11 position, with the volume control in iTunes at about 1/4 of the bar.

The sound is also improved for instruments like piano. It seems the treble frequency is improve. There is no significant improvement on vocal, which surprise me. Because 300B is well know to deliver very smooth vocal. Don't get me wrong, the vocal on my system is very good, I am quite satisfied, that means the McCormack can delivery vocal as good as a 300B SET amp, this is what surprise me.
Congradulations with your new amp. The 300b is a very good tube, but keep in mine there are quite a variety of flavors among them. They can sound very different from one brand to another ,i.e. frequency extremes,dynamics, midrange tone,harmonic overtones etc. Change a tube and vocal performance changes along with it.
Best of Luck,
I finally got my system up and running again after a lengthy downturn recently. I have the Frankensteins going finally after having constant ground loop hum issues and break in on the Black Treasure 300's. Also I just bought a Dood Tube Buffer as my new pre......both of those and my upgraded Tranquility Sig DAC, and we have definitely found some magic.......
Hi Morganc,
What was the cause of your ground loop issue?
The Frankenstein/Dodd preamp sounds very interesting. I`d imagine it`s quite transparent and live like.

Congratulations! This sounds like an exceptional system you`ve put together.

I`ll tell you though, as the amp and the Teasure Series tubes accumulate hours, it keeps getting better still.

Are you still auditioning the Art Audio PX-25? if so what do you think about it thus far?
Best Regards,
Yes, I still have the Art Audio PX 25 and I also just put a new Dodd Battery tubed Buffer in my system, so between the BT break in and the new pre, I cannot compare them just yet.....but I will in the next month or so. I am still hanging onto the Pass XA 30.5 also to have three to choose from.

My first impressions are that the Coincident paired with the Dodd have a lot more body, definitely more defined bass, and less edginess on the top end. But that is comparing my last listening sessions with the Px-25 without a pre or buffer to the Coincident with the buffer.

I can honestly say that my system has never sounded better, but I cannot decide what is the source of the improvements, though I do think the battery powered buffer must be responsible for some of the added bass and depth of the sound stage. Though I have also recently added an Uber Buss with Furutech receptacles, upgraded to the Tranquility Sig Dac, and have an upgraded PC for my Mac as you can see, I am smiling and loving it, but will now have to dissect in reverse to determine what I like the best!