I have a pre 2008 Druid and am thinking about upgrading it with the Zu upgrade kit (now available upon request at approx. 650$)and wonder whether this is a sensible proposition. How does the upgrade model compare to the pre-08 version and would you recommend this route as a short-term upgrade or rather save for another model such as the Essence?
I did both routes. The upgrade is definitely an improvement, it has been 2 years since I listended to mine, so my memory of the exact improvements is a little foggy. If memory serves me, I noticed the improvements in a more refined presentation with improved dynamics and low-level detail.
I since have upgraded to the Essence and couldn't be happier. The improvements in the level of bass depth over the Druid is immediately noticable. Overall it is a great speaker, and I enjoy it very much, especially considering the price point.
The Druids have a little more "punch" than the Essence, but both are very musical and enjoyable. If you really enjoy the Druids, the upgrade is a nice and easy improvement to be had. If you want something a little different, but still want the Zu sound, Essence all the way.
I am looking at the Essence(moving from Klipsch RF-7) i listen to lots of singer songwriter Dylan, David Gray, Damien Rice and classic rock Beatles, Floyd, etc. How would the Essence work with this type of music? I like the RF-7s but feel like they can sound somewhat hollow at times. The presentation is up front, which I like but I feel like i am missing some midrange tone.
I was using a Nuforce IA-7 integrated on both the Druid and the Essence. Now have swithced over to a Cayin A-50T tube amp with the Gold Lion KT-77 tubes. This amp is soooooo sweet with the Gold Lions. It can be found under 1K used here on Audiogon. Nice match with the Zu's.
The answer to your question may depend on your listening preferences and your amplifier. I purchased the Druid IV in 2005 and upgraded to the 08 drivers in 2008. The 08 tweeter produced more resolution and extersion in the highs, creating more transparency. The soundstage was wider and deeper creating a more immersive experience. The bass was also a little stronger. I was very pleased with the upgrade. The rich and dynamic Druid sound was retained. I still wanted better highs with more output, refinement, and extension, so last fall I purchased the Essence in pursuit of better highs. The Essence has a different sound than the Druid. It has far more output in the highs, which in my system was slightly too much on some music even after a lot experimentation in placement. The lower sensitivity, combined with my low power amps (Manley Retros with two 300B tubes per channel and about 15 SET watts) resulted in somewhat reduced dynamics versus the Druid, and I also heard less resolution in the midrange. The overall sound was a little less rich, probably due to the greater high frequency output. The soundstage was huge. I listen to a lot of rock/blues and really missed the dynamics and midrange resolution. It may have worked a lot better if I had a more powerful amplifier. I decided to keep my amplifier, sell the Essence and go back to the Druid, which I am still enjoying greatly. Of course this is just one opinion. Others obviously feel very differently. You may want to research other threads on Audiogon discussing the Druid vs Essence question. I believe that contributor Cobra 213 nails my perception of the differences.
The 845 SET powering the Zu FRD in any configuration is synergistic; a perfect fit. One of my systems has Audion 845 Black Shadow monoblocks powering Zu Definition 2, and I sometimes switch the 300B PSET monoblocks I run into Druid Mk 4-08 with the 845s. It's always a strong combination, dynamically vigorous, tonally rich, strong bottom end, meaty attack; beautiful yet unretiring.