Which Zu for you


After attending the Newport audio show and hearing the Druid V I decided that my next set of speakers would be some Zu's. Unfortunately, the Druid are way above my price point. I am interested in hearing from people who have heard the soul superfly and omen def mkii and why they preferred one or the other. Also, if they have heard a budget integrated amps that paired well those suggestions would also be welcomed. I have already received some great advice from Sean and 213cobra who suggested the Almarro a205 or marantz 2215/20/30 as budget options. 
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I admire your restraint. I'm you I save for the Druids. 

Personally own the Def 1V and Omen 1B.
Has nothing to do with restraint. My wife thinks the money should go saving for my daughters college fund. 😉
I just bought a pair of Omen bookshelf speakers from Zu and scored a pair of HSU subs on Agon. I am still in the process of putting things together, but I think it is going to be a killer system. I think this might be a cost effective way to get into Zu, for you
I also own a pair of Zu Union speakers which I switch between my Vandy 3a sigs.
 The Union were a short run model that, I think, evolved into the Soul and Omen series. They sound pretty nice by themselves, but definitely need subs, if you want the full effect.
There are a few Zu's for sale on Agon right now. I know there is someone on Agon with Omen Bookshelves, but he wants to sell them with stands (-let me know if you want his name). If you do buy used, I would avoid the models with the ribbon tweeters, as they never seemed to catch on.
As far as power amps, I found a McCormack Micro Amp for my little system. More than enough for the Zu's. You can drive them with tubes since they are so efficient, so the choices are endless.

Sean and Phil (213cobra) always give sound advice - including selection among the range of Zu speakers. Zu speakers are designed not only at different price points, but for different listening conditions and environments. 

Yes, they do. I can't give enough thanks to Sean. He emailed me back and forth with advice even though it was about a used pair of speakers, and he had nothing to gain.  Zu really is one of the best companies out there. Seriously amazing product combined with customer service that treats everyone equally important. 
In my opinion all Zu speakers sound different and the choice should be based on the kind of room and listening. I bought the Omen Def Mk1b after having auditioned almost all their models. My favorite model was the Soul Supreme; I found them to be more "musical". I ended up buying the Omen Defs because it was a huge deal (nearly half price) and I'm very happy with them. This model is not as refined as the Souls, but can surely rock the house! 
As for amplification, any good quality low powered amplifier will do. I like the chinese tube amplifiers with Zu speakers. Line Magnetic, Cayin and Opera Consonance are great (I'm driving them with a Cayin Mt45 Mk2)!
I have Superfly and I have the Defheads (sealed top half of Definition).  I haven't heard Omen Def, but my Defheads are kinda like the Omen Def with a sealed cabinet and better cabinet build plus the Radian tweeter.  Let me tell you that Radian tweeter makes a difference, especially if you listen to a lot of digital.  I like my Defheads better, but the Superfly are no slouch.  I've used both tube and First Watt solid state amps.  If you want a big, rich deep sound, then probably go for Omen Def.  If you want a more intimate, focused sound, go for Superfly.  As much as I like my Superflys I have an itch to trade them in and go up the Zu line.

I use one of those tiny 3w Chinese tube amps from amazon with my Defheads and it sounds sublime.  How's that for a cheap integrated?

Zus are very revealing of amps.  I haven't used a vintage Marantz, but I have tried 70's vintage McIntosh solid state and Sansui.  They sounded a bit too warm and veiled for my taste.
Thanks for all the great responses.  I suppose my issue is that I have only really heard the soul supreme and Druid v and not any of the omen def or def speakers.  I almost bought the omen def 2 but decided I should sell off my old gear first. The thing I do like about the def2 is the ability to easily add the radian tweeter in the future.  Whoopycat does the defhead also give the emotional connection that the single driver provides? I think I would like the scale the def brings but What I fell for in Newport was the intimate nature of the Druid and my music interests vary but are similar to what Zu plays at their shows.  

Thanks for the info on the vintage amps right now I am leaning toward the Almarro a205 as Sean really seems to like it and it's not too much $$. Have to say though that I did love the pass with the Druid. Much better than the peachtree and soul supreme that I heard a few years back. 
I have the Zu Soul Supremes and the Almarro 205a 5w tube SET integrated and as a combo it has some real magic. Sean is right about the almarro. I'm not the only one who liked it either, the one I bought was from another friend who had the same speakers but he was upgrading and wanted a few more watts.  The supremes for me had the same thing as the druids, and I've heard the druids. Btw, the living room pic on the Zu site is my living room. 
I've never heard the Omens so I can't comment, but the amp is v.good. Before the Almarro I used a tiny mini watt N3 which actually was amazing considering what it was. It was definitely "fun"!
I keep looking a Zu but wonder about the 16 ohm impedance.
Are all their speakers 16 ohm? Don't know that much about it, but am lead to believe that pushing a tube amp (Woo WA5 in my case) into such high resistance is hard on the transformer. Any thoughts from those in the know?
Leotis, the twin driver models are 8 ohm.  Omen I believe is 12 ohm.

>Whoopycat does the defhead also give the emotional connection that the single driver provides?<

Yes and no... IMO the Defhead does dynamic peaks better and really puts you inside the music, whereas the Superfly has more of the "you are there, front row" intimacy.  As cobra213 has put in more eloquent terms in other threads, it depends on what you value more.  That said, I'm making the differences sound bigger than they are. 

BTW, my tube amp for the Defheads is similar to the Miniwatt that Robert used with his Supremes. 
Yes, go with a model that has the amazing Radian tweeter.
Zu speakers vary in impedance. Def 4s are nominally 8 ohms, Druid Vs are 16 ohms, Def 4s can be custom wired 32 ohms, etc. Check-out ZuAudio.com. Tube amplifiers prefer high impedance - in some cases (ie., OTL) the higher the better (ie., 32 ohms).
I recently acquired Zu Audio Druid with IBIS cables and use them in a 23x26x9 room. Captivating sound. Retired, I literally have music going 18 hours a day. Do yourself a huge service and talk to the folk at Zu. Their counsel is invaluable to you selecting the correct speaker based on room size and make up, listening preferences and associated equipment. All Zu are efficient leaving matching a room paramount. Never mind WAF. Room correction even artistic diffusion isn't cheap and takes over where ugly left off. Spending time in an schizo looking half home and half padded cell is not my idea of an inviting space. LOL.  Enjoy !!! 
Definitely no room treatments in my set up. The speakers are in the living room just flanking the TV on the wall. I know it's not ideal but it's the only option.

Robert, If you don't mind telling me what type of music do you listen to and do you ever feel that the almarro runs out of steam?

My thinking is moving more toward either omen def mk ii so that i can get the radian tweeter later or waiting to find a really good deal on some druid v. unfortunately, neither option pops up that often. like whoopycat said I just need to figure out which presentation i like better - which is a bit hard without hearing first hand. perhaps next year zu will bring a def to the newport show, although i would hate to be out of a system for another year.



Sorry didn't see the response till today.
The room is oblong like you see in the picture, the main wall is 40 ft. long and the depth is 25. So they are near field really since the couch is 6-8ft. away. Moderate amount of toe-in. 
I'll say that they do require a lot of break-in- or maybe I don't listen enough or loud enough:) Really it took about 6 months to a year but that was also swaps of components, cables etc as thing got better and better. So not exactly break in but more dial-in. That's probably normal and reflects my learning curve. 
The Almarro probably does run out of steam over 85-90db in the listening position. But that's pretty loud. About noon on the volume. I generally don't run them much louder than that. But i think that is more than loud enough generally, unless you are trying to impress someone else:)
I listen to a variety- mix of alt rock, rock, IDM, pop, electronica. About 60 percent Tidal and 40 percent vinyl. The RP3/10x5/schiit mani/ combo is pretty lively and competes very evenly with the digital stream. On digital I've been auditioning the Halide HD dac and the Schiit Bifrost multibit streaming Tidal hifi. different but both pretty engaging. Never bother with CD's or ripped stuff, I have a ton left over from the days and its all crap MP3. Probably will just trash can it. 
You said you really were interested in the Druid, the soul supreme is exactly the same drivers in a different cabinet. In a smaller room I think the souls might be better. The Druids being taller have a taller presentation, and perhaps a longer throw to the listening position is in order. I have a friend with the Druids which is how i got introduced to Zu in the first place. Also recco talking to the Zu folks on the phone and they will have good recommendations. 
Outright the best purchase i've made in music, i get delighted ever time I hear them. 
Robert

"I'll say that they do require a lot of break-in- or maybe I don't listen enough or loud enough:) Really it took about 6 months to a year but that was also swaps of components, cables etc as thing got better and better. So not exactly break in but more dial-in. That's probably normal and reflects my learning curve."

"Break-in" is the correct term. Most FRD (full range drivers) take a lot of break-in. . . more than what happens in the factory. It gets even longer if they are shipped in cold weather. Mine continued to evolve for almost a year without any tweaking in terms of cables, positioning, etc.
they are a lot better this year than when I got them. They were new in Sept 2014. 
Thanks Robert. It sounds like our listening habits are very similar and I would also be listening "near field" as our stereo is on the long wall of a 25'x15' or so living room so it's good to hear that the almarro is up to the job.  I thought of the almarro 318 but quickly dismissed it when I read it gets over 500F. That's too hot with a small child. Thanks again for your input.
Beautiful looking pair of honey walnut Superflys just went up on Zu's preloved site... that's a really good deal.
Hi Robert ,

You said that your friend introduced you to Zu through the Druid? Was this the Druid mkv by any chance? The reason I'm asking is because like you I also have the Soul Supreme and I really love them. However due to some differences in their cabinets ( Druid mkv compared to Supremes) and so many positive reviews online of the Druid mkv, lately I've had a bit of an itch with regards to trading them in ( or selling them) to get the Druid mkv. I'm hoping that your friend does have the Druid mkv so that you can better compare these speakers for me. I'm not too interested in the scale or presentation. My focus is whether the slightly better/more advanced cabinet of Druid mkv will make its midrange a bit more refined versus the Supremes. What about bass quality/quantity between these two speakers? There has to be noticeable audible difference between the two for me to jump to the Druid mkv from the Supremes which is currently perfectly suited for my small listening room ( bedroom system). The Supremes have amazed me every single time I've listened to them. They are so musical, organic, and sweet and have handled every single musical genre I've thrown at it so well that I'm not sure if its justifed to switch to the Druid mkv which like you said uses the exact drivers , internal cables, and even ZuB3 connection.
Kevin,
I heard both the Soul Supremes and Druid V this year at newport. While it's true that they both share the same sound I found that I liked the Druid V much more than the Souls. I can't point to anything in particular why except to say I felt much more emotionally connected to the music when listening to the Druids. I would recommend talking to Sean at Zu. The guy is so nice and honest that he was providing me with advice even though I was planning on buying some omen def mk2 used (unfortunately, that fell through as I didn't sell my speakers in time). He definitely won't steer you wrong.