Who OWNS Zu Audio Speakers- Especially Definition

I have recently tried a number of speakers, and I seem to have a problem with them all sounding too clinical, especially as the volume goes past 95-100db. This is key; I enjoy my stereo most when the volume is up. I currently own MA GS60's. They do loud very well, but are too lean for my tastes.
Various stores, various equipment, etc., so I can't say it was a controlled listening experience. Some were in my home.
I'm figuring the Zu Definitions would be different- I'd like to hear from some owners and those that have taken up on the 60 day trial period. What's good, what's bad?

BTW, some of the speakers I have listened to and found wanting:
Magnepan 3.6
Focal 1037Be
Reference 3a Grand Veena
Monitor Audio GS60
PSB Synchrony One (actually enjoyed these most- great dynamics, but felt something was lacking in the highs)
I own Zu Definition 2s and have enjoyed them a lot over the past 2+ years. They are dynamic and rich and full and enveloping and capable of filling a large space with great music. Not at all lean or clinical. And, of course, full-range. (The reviews in Positive Feedback, HiFi Choice, and 6moons are pretty accurate.) The main negative is that they require some distance for the sound to integrate. The company is easy to work with and, as far as I know, have always honored their 60 day trial period. Of course, sending back speakers of this size and weight is not so easy; but the packaging is easy to reuse.
i am going to hear Definition 2s tomorrow, and can provide some feedback.

right now, i am planning to purchase Magicos, but that may change.
If you liked the PSB Synchrony, try the PSB Platinum T-6. I felt the same about the Synchrony and felt the highs were more pristine with the T-6. Bulid quality was a bit better too.
Know I don't own them but I am chiming in anyway.I want to hear them to.High ohm load makes,sensitivity and design them able to run of very little power but there power handling is very high giving one whole range of options.Surprised that you didn't like the 3A's (Grands I think need a large room) but I agree with what was on your list having weaknesses somewhere.Maybe the Zu's will do it for you (or me).They also seem like a value when you compare with some speakers like Verity and of course Magico.6moons are ga ga about them as a line.If you buy post a review.
Hate to be a thread hijacker, but I am very intersted in the Zu's as well. I've heard you need to be a decent distance away to really enjoy them. I'm in an open loft, so boundaries around me aren't a big deal, but my listening position is kind of nearfield, 6.5-7 feet. Sidewalls are several feet away and wall behind me is about 20 feet away, my chair is at the edge of the loft.Any owners out there think this is too close for the Zu's?
This is of interest to me too- when I started this post, I should have included the fact that most often I am closer than 8 feet from the speakers, and most of my listening is done off axis anyway. If I sit 'audiophile style', I can be the required 10 feet away.
Critical listening is great, but I tend to be doing things while the music is playing, and also wonder if they are more sensitive to listening distance.
And I have the most fun with my stereo when I have parties-and at that point, no one is listening for image, soundstage, etc. As a long term audiophiliac, I'd like these attributes, but at this point, I prefer good, loud fun in my listening experience. I'm hoping the Definition MK2's can provide that.
I am ordering on Monday, so I'll post my thoughts when they arrive.
Definition Mk2s really need 10 ft away at least, as was the distance i was hearing them over the weekend to get the drivers to integrate properly.

i think the Mk2s are a pretty neat speaker---nice tone in the midrange and that is their charm. guitars and vocals are nice, although my girlfriend found them somewhat prominent. i think the top end rolls off a bit early to what i am used to, so not quite the air of a typical dynamic speaker. cymbals arent as accurate as i've heard on other speakers. bottom line is zu is definitely great in the FRD range---vocals and electric guitars in particular.

dynamics are superb, and with the built in subs---you get some big extension down low, simplifying setup in your room. the efficiency makes them great if amplifier flexibility is your thing.

as far as comparing them to the Magicos at 2x the price? i'm not sure they are quite in that league---but they are a great value in their price range.

hope this helps...
I have Mk4 Druids, not definitions. I listen to them about 7 feet away, but in a large space (vaulted ceilings, have to sit nearby to avoid reflection).

I think they are great. They've given up a lot of freq. responsiveness flatness for dynamics. Tone is also fantastic, although I don't know how you measure that. So they don't sound like "hi fi" speakers, but are engaging.

They also totally crank. I run them off a 15 W amp and can get them to do everything shy of concert level opera.

I'm finding I need stereo subs too btw.
If you are unable to listen at the suggested distance, you might consider the Presence or the Essence. If your room is small and you crave low bass, the Presence should couple to the room less. The Essence does not go as low.

Like the Definitions, the Presence has the built in bass amp but it can be biamped with your own amps and suitable external EQ/crossover box. You only need to run EQ/crossover to the woofer section since the Presence has no bass/midrange filter connected to the midrange driver. When using the built-in bass amp, that adds a roll-off and EQ boost to the woofer section. Using hardware/software such as XTZ, you can determine PEQ parameters. I use the dbX Driverack 260. It has a serial interface and you can program the box using the GUI from the listening position.

The Essence uses a ribbon tweeter and should have a bit more sparkle on top.

Toe-in and height leveing can effect the sound significantly. Jim Smith's book is very useful in getting the most out of speaker set-up.
BTW there is a 30-ohm version of the Definition that works great with smaller tube amps- its a bit more transparent, not for any other reason than tube amps like the higher impedance and so have less distortion, which translates to transparency. I have several customers who just rave about them!
i had an opportunity to hear the Zus this evening on different amplification---the Zu owner switched to a metal 845 and it was extremely different. the loss i previously heard at the high end was completely gone---detail was very good this time around. the midrange was still quite compelling and it seemed very coherant (which i admired the first time) i switched to my integrated amplifier (BAT), and the bass slam was awesome. great dynamics---though tone in the midrange wasn't quite as pure as on the SET amps. this speaker can change significantly based on amplification i can tell.

overall, a much better demo this time around and i'm probably going to order a pair and demo in my house this time around.


Let me second your recommendation for Jim's book. I spent a weekend with it, tweaking the position, and it made a big difference.

I don't have the $ to upgrade to the presence or essence, so it will need to be subs and a receiver. Frankly, I'm nervous about Zu's change to a ribbon tweeter. I don't want that hi-fi top end "sparkle" and I don't want to give up any sensitivity/efficiency.

I do need help with a 2.2 amp/receiver question.

Just for fun, I ran the Zus off my old Yamaha HTIB since it had SPDIF input and I was hoping to run the system wirelessly through airport express. The Yamaha was notably worse than the sonic-T, so that is out.

Looking for a good amp that does better than 15W and can support 2.2. I also want it to have optical input and a good DAC.

Considering the Onkyo 5AV-L, Harmon Kardon 5490, but I have not heard them and don't know much about them. Onkyo has 40 W d-class and is meant to be "audiophile" but how it sounds, I do not know. HK 5490 has more Ws, but I have no idea how what class amp it is. Peachtree would also be a good choice, but $1200 is too much for me.

I would suggest something from Virtue Audio. Likely to be loads better than anything from Onkyo or Harmon.

The Virtue One or Two will meet your integrated amp needs, and they have a new DAC on the way.
With Virtue I need to wait for the DAC though. And waiting is so hard. I've had my eye on them for a while though, I don't think they've had any product for about 6 months. And their entry level is now $370. Not cheap.

I have no idea how their ICE class D really compares to whatever Harmon uses (which I guess is AB). Onkyo is also a class D, but their own design.
I've never heard anything good out of a combo integrated + DAC, although perhaps the Peachtree is good as it seems to get some favorable reviews.

But if $370 is considered expensive for the Virtue, then I think you'll have a difficult time of this. Indeed, get the HK or Onkyo, they can do 2.1, have built-in DACs and meet your price point. And if you're happy with the sound quality, then I think that's great, and you just saved a bunch of money.

However, I would not expect small manufacturers making things for a niche market to compete on price with mass market cost optimized manufacturers like Onkyo and HK.

There is an Accuphase E-202 for around $500 for sale right now. You can get a VALAB DAC for $250 and modify it for $50 - $100 more.
Hi Wilsynet:

I borrowed a friends very expensive Rotel DSP + 7 channel 100W class-d amp. It's an ICE implementation, probably as good as any, and quite similar to Virtue.

I was surprised at how close the Rotel implementation was to my little sonic-impact 30W. At usual listening levels I don't think there was a thing to choose between them. The speakers and the room have a FAR greater impact to the sound in my implementation, and that is also where the benefits will come to my system in its current stage.

The Rotel also has its own DAC. I don't know what it is, it may be similar to the TI Burr Brown that lives in my little Headroom Headphone amp that I have been using as an external DAC.

Internal vs External DAC made a difference. The Rotel DAC vs little headphone amp DAC did not in my opinion. Of the difference was so small it was vastly overwhelmed by problems I have in my room.

I think if I am to make a material difference to my sound with a new amp, it would need to be a tube amp of some sort as the distortion that that adds is very real. I don't think that a 15W class d vs a 100W class d (volume aside) or any different DAC will solve any of the problems I hear in my system. They may be different, but not "better" as they are not solutions to the problems.

Adding a subwoofer made a material difference. Spent a good long while yesterday crawling around on my hands and knees to place it.
I think all you've shown is that the Rotel AVR is no better than the little Sonic Impact T-Amp that you have, which is quite frankly not at all surprising.

I think most of the two channel people here (that's almost everyone right?) will tell you that the vast majority of 2-channel systems will embarrass an equivalently priced home theatre set up when reproducing 2 channel music.

My previous statement was that DAC + amplifier combos (HT AVR qualifies) are generally not very good. A reasonable point of view may be that you've just demonstrated that.
Wilsynet: I am surprised! Maybe I was naive thinking that a $50 2-channel amp would be noticeably inferior to a $2000 amp.

I think if I asked the group: which will sound better:
1) Sonic Impact + headphone DAC = $150
2) Rotel DSP + Rotel amp = $3000

They would say (2). Again, maybe I am wrong. We're comparing a $150 d-class amp with separate DAC/preamp to a $3000 d-class amp with separate (more expensive) DAC/preamp.

I think you are right though that a using just 2 out of a 7 channel amp, even if they are discrete, is not optimal, although now I am very very curious to compare it to a 2 channel ICE design. I would love to understand why running 2 channels out of a 7 channel amp (discrete) is different from running a 2 channel amp. If they are discrete it should be the same, right?
James_Edward---receive your speaks?
I misunderstood, thought it was an AVR, not separates.

Having said that, it doesn't change my opinion by all that much. The Sonic Impact is a T-Amp, and I think the T-Amps punch way above their weight assuming you pair them with appropriately efficient speakers.

It may be an overly simplistic way to look at it, but take a 7 channel amp for $3K as you say, divide 3K by 7, and you're paying $428 per channel. Add to that the inevitable compromises you get from trying to jam all of those channels into a single box, and the simpler 2-channel amplifier starts to catch up. An over simplification for sure, but there's some merit to it.

To my ears, the AudioSector DAC for $425 (which I once owned) is more musical, more dynamic, and more natural than the twice as expensive Nuforce AVP 16 (which I also owned), which I am guessing in turn is the sonic equal of the heavily feature laden Rotel RSP-1069 (I have not heard or owned). Having said that, there are plenty of reasonably affordable outboard 2-channel DACs out there that should, in my judgement, better the Rotel without trying too hard.

As for amplifier, when I upgraded from my KingRex T-Amp to the Red Wine Audio 30.2 integrated, it was a revelatory experience. My Zu Druids thank for me for the superb pairing.

I don't know if it's in your budget, but if it was in your budget, I'd try a RWA 30.2 on 30 day in-home, risk free audition, and if you still don't think it makes a difference, then be thankful that you saved yourself a bunch of money. If you're looking for lower priced amplifier suggestions, send me a private message and I'll throw in some other recommendations.

Enough chatter from me, I'm sure you're tired of the back and forth. =)
Wilsynet: I appreciate your advice.

And yes, my system is separates, but only just. I was in the market for a 2 channel system before the Rotels fell into my lap as loaners.

I'm a little appalled at how bad some of the design decisions at Arcom have been--why so little with digital input? It seems they have not heard about this little thing called a hard disk.

I'll send you a PM. I'm pretty tough with my amp demos btw. You'll be amazed how much tight SPL matching erases differences.
No, I have not received them. I placed the order on October 29th, so I would have expected them by now. As far as I know, they have not even shipped yet. I just sent an email to follow up on their progress.
I have Druid Mk4/08 and 2 x Mini Methods, they continuously astound me with the shear dynamic scale they can reproduce. I have Manley Mahis, 14w triode min feedback is enough to fool with "live" sound levels, Guitars bounce out enough to make you jump. I dont get an improvement when the Mahis are UL & max feedback =40w......its all too loud by then ;-) and the cops are on the way ;-))

I can only imagine the Def2.......

My Druids are 8ft apart and I listen around 7-14ft, nearfield sounds great but they require more toe in.
James: That sucks. You are a patient man.

Naggots: How do they sound when you increase the feedback? I get this big tonal suckout at low frequencies, and I think it's because there's a big impedance spike (or something) that more feedback in the amp could help with.
The 2 settings I like are triode with min feedback (3db) and UL with STD feedback (6db) both sound simliar but triode puts the soundstage in the middle of the room and UL puts it back against the wall behind the speakers. However UL has more bass control and more power which is preferred during parties. Triode is better for personal sessions. Max feedback 10db puts the sound way behind the back wall and narrows the soundstage too much for me. The music is thin and lifeless. My choice of music being blues based is a factor for these settings, electronic music may be better with more feedback.

It makes sense that more feedback would help with the bass. Sure, it can cause other issues elsewhere too.

I'm a little surprised that it works well with as few watts as you have. 30W was too little for me, not so much from level (although that did become an issue when I cranked it) but just from straight bass control.
I guess that's where the mini methods take over as they are internally powered. I doubt the Druids alone would suffice at loud volumes. Subs add more than bass, they seem to add soundstage and headroom along with giving the music guts. My subs however take the signal from the Mahis not a pre sub out.
I went to the Zu website, and it looks like they raised the price of the Definitions to $11,000 from $9,999. I'm glad I ordered when I did...
Do Def owners need a Sub for HT duty?
I just got the tracking number yesterday, so the Definitions are on their way. I will post my impressions after a week or two, and compare them to my current Monitor Audio GS60's plus REL Britannia B2 sub.
Woo hoo!

Really want to hear what you make of them -- good, bad, & ugly
When I got my def's years ago, I did a HT comparison with and without subs. They are as impressive as hell by themselves, but add in a big quality sub
(I have 1 of the original Zu 15" subs)and there is no going back! The sub adds in the deep foundation rattling bass that was missing with the def's alone.

That is not to say that the def's are bass shy, as they are not. Just that for dedicated HT, a sub receiving a dedicated signal for LFE adds in the fullness, that I like in my HT.
Definition, if properly positioned, do not need a subwoofer for either 2 channel or home theater applications.

A sub will only muck up the balance.
Sat in my room with both Sean and Adam from Zu, and they also prefered it with the sub for movies. For music, they are more than capable sans sub. As stated above, they don't need it as they play quite deep. But with the dedicated LFE channel, especially for war and shoot 'em up movies, the sub helps with the deep explosive bass extensions.
Yeah, a sub is probably great for "Wayne's World".

Party on Ton.
So... I got my Definition 2's on Dec.23. I wanted to wait until they had some hours on them before commenting. I'll start off by saying that break-in is a major factor with these. The Zu website says as much, but I always figure that's just a ploy, and what you're really doing is getting used to the new sound... I stand corrected.
When I first listened, I was not at all impressed. The highs were too prominent, the mids too recessed and thin; only the bass seemed good to start.
I have been trying to put hours on these, and today, at over 30 hours of fairly loud (90-95db) playing, they are performing exactly as Zu states in the manual. The bass has gone deeper, the mids are coming out of hiding and fleshing out, and the treble is smoothing out.
I am now looking forward to what another full day of break-in will bring.
Cutting this short now- I have to make some dinner...
I'll be back.
James remember something especially buying these now from full experience with these speakers in the past, the season is super cold on the shipping trucks! Any gear with Capacitors or especially very super tight pro drivers are very cold out of the box and will perform poorly until they settle in a room of 70 degrees or better and run for several days. The drivers especially get very brittle with paper materials as those are made of.

Which by the way and this goes true for any audio environment 70 F and above is pretty much the minimum for optimal performance, not only is the air less dense making mids carry much more and sound more "Airy" The highs have better decay and the bass is much improved being in a much lower density air in turn causes far better frequency integration.
James, I have the Zu Definition 1.5's and thoroughly enjoy them in my room....13.5 x 17.5 x 9, Carpeted concrete floors, Treated walls, etc. I have the speakers on the 13.5" wall and they are about 3.5' out. They sit 10.5' apart and I sit about 11' from them. Soundstage is great with these dimensions both wide and deep. At any rate, I couldn't be happier, I love the dynamics they give and the ability to dial the bass in regardless of room placement.

Hope you are enjoying your Def 2's. Perhaps you could share with us all a bit more now that you have had them for some time. Cheers!