I only recommend Zu if you need very high sensitivity and don’t want an industrial look (PowerSoundAudio, JTR, etc.), which is usually the case if using a tube amp. However, if you have >25W, I see no reason to look at Zu.
I have owned two pair of Zu speakers, The Union, and the Omen Bookshelf. Both were very good for the money. The Union came close to my Vandersteen 3a sigs, but lacked the finesse. Newer models are probably going to provide better sound reproduction, so choose wisely if you are buying used. That being said, I think they are quite a bargain for someone on a limited budget. Of course, every manufacturer is going to tout some technical attribute of their product, so take everything you read with a grain of salt. B
I have had ZuDefinition speakers for years - initially Def1.5, them Def2, and finally Def4. Each version has been a significant step forward. I take advantage of the high sensitivity to drive them with an 300b SET. Every company in every industry has its own marketing terminology and hype. Audio is no exception. I care less about the buzz words that Zu uses than about the sound. Some people love the Zu sound; some do not. I fall into the first group as does everyone who hears my rig. The new Druid VI are also really good.
I have the Zu Omen Dirty Weekend floor standers for a few months now and love them. They replaced a pair of more expensive Opera Platea floor standers, which were in use for 8 years or so.
I made the move because I was getting bored with the sound of the Plateas.
I am driving the Omens with a Prima Luna PL 5 tube amp and Musical Fidelity CD PRE24 preamp/ cd player. Cables are QED Silver Anniversary. There is also a Pro-ject Classic turntable in the mix. I use a Parasound phono preamp with the Pro-ject. Mostly Audioquest cables.
Describe the sound ... here's at it. Alive, not polite. The Zu's are often described as speakers for rock music. They capture the energy and speed of the music. Clean and clear, not smeared. Detailed, but not in an etching way. The sound calls attention to itself ... you notice the music when it is playing.
A few weeks ago ... I was listening to Elton John's 'Live in Australia' on vinyl (new pressing). I have listened to this album a lot for close to 30 years and this was the first time I was noticing the chestiness of his vocals and his pronunciation of certain words. The song that struck me in particular was 'Have Mercy on the Criminal.' Very moving to feel that involved in the mix.
And maybe that is the primary emotion with the Zu Omens ... the music moves me. I feel like I am a part of it.
Because of the 10 inch woofer and high efficiency there is a lot of oomph to the sound. These speakers make noise. They also play very clearly, when played low. A plus as I live in an apartment.
I tend to like single driver speakers. I have Omega CAM monitors in another system (Rega amp, Technics TT, Magnavox 630 CD player).
To me, the most important characteristic of the Zu sound is its fullness. Not too bright, not too warm, not too detailed, but full and alive with little fatigue. My Def4s occupy the long wall of my living room that is 22x15x16, and the living room is one end of a 45x22x16 volume. They do not get lost.
Zu : Overpriced speakers with too many unrealized promises. But decent speakers nevertheless.
Wharfedale: Overpriced junkyard speakers.
KEF: Decent speakers that somehow got elevated to an luxury brand in Hong Kong. Their showrooms there would make you laugh and roll on the floor. But deep down, respectful speakers that are as decent as Zu.
I cannot speak for Rega since I never care to own any.
I beg to differ. I have been in the hobby since I was 13 years old, so we are talking 50 years now. Granted I have never owned the true high end, but I haven't owned shabby equipment either.
I acquired the ZU Dirty Weekenders a few months back. The most exciting listen in easily the last 20 years in my systems. I currently own Wharfedale (Denton and Diamond 10)) and have owned KEF (Q55) and Rega (Ara and RP1). Not even close to the Zu, then again I have only owned pure bookshelf sized and large standpoint sized speakers of the other brands, as opposed to a floorstander.
The other speakers that I heard that I was this excited about were from Focus Audio and that was at a trade show 15 years ago.