Zu Druids upgraded Vs Essence

How does the upgraded Druid compare with the Essence?

I own a pair of the Druids and have been loving them for a few years. Was wondering if the Essence is worth the leap

Want to hop on this thread myself to hear difference in speakers.Price drop from $5K to $3500 and difference in tweeter I'd like to know myself.Read 6moons review of both and got me wondering if I'd buy direct and new once I have ditched some other gear.Can think of it as trade off since both can be run on super cheap A/B or T or maybe S.E.T if I want to stay with tubes.
I had a pair of Zu Druids with the 08 Upgrade Kit. I sold them in August and bought the Zu Essence. In my opinion, the Essence is a much improved speaker over the Druid and is more of a full-range speaker. The Essence has much improved top end (sparkling highs) and bottom end (down to about 28 Hz before rolloff), plus the midrange is improved. They are much less critical regarding room placement, have a wider dispersion/sweet spot, and improved soundstage (depth of imaging). Well worth the effort to make the change from my perspective.
I have observed similar results as Helms above. The Essence is definitely a step up in performance over the Druid. That's not to say I didn't enjoy my Druids, as I did very much. The Essence is a more well rounded product, especially in the bass presentation over the Druids.
I am very intrigued by the Essence. I' sit only about 7 feet from my speakers though. Is this enough room for the soundstage to intigrate? Or should I be further back?
I have a Druid IV - so was your upgrade path from older Druid to Essence or was it Druid IV. Another one intrigued but what I read about the Essence.
Druid MKIV with the MKIV 08 upgrade kit to the Essence
I had the chance to get a a pair of Essence over to my house for some extended listening a couple of weeks ago. Here are my thoughts.

Visual appearance: Quite ordinary looking, being ‘brown and square’ as wifey said. Druid is more unusual and contemporary looking and fit into rooms better.

The overriding initial impression of the Essence is of a tipped-up presentation. You are hit square on with a mass of detail. Coming from an upgraded Druid I have been listening to for the past 4 years (~2 years upgraded) the dynamic highs reach much further into the room. The longer, lasting impression however is one of loss of overall cohesion and balance.

A connection can be felt with the highs on a sort of sonic resonance level with the inner ear which is uncomfortable. This for want of a better word ringing, radiates from the ear down the Eustachian tube, into the back of the jaw and into the nasal pharynx of the sides of the nose. Prolonged listening at moderate volume brought on a tension type headache.

The central presentation ability is very impressive. Even at low volume levels the centre image is firm, fixed and full, albeit a little thin. On simple uncomplicated recordings, such as soft female vocal/minimalist jazz, this imaging is very striking. However, on longer listening it becomes apparent the highs are disconnected with the mids. As the highs are disproportionately projected, the mids are left behind, further back in the presentation, which separates the whole, thinning vocals and disjointing the cohesiveness of the music. There is not the relaxed ease and sheer musical flow of the Druid. When you relax your ear and attempt to soften the sound together, and look for the music, there is an overall dullness to the sound. The music suffers as a result as the mids seem quite constrained in comparison with the rest, and ultimately the sound seems as if it’s being forced through a conduit somehow strangling the music at the throat. This sounds harsh comment, and for a ‘speaker I was so wanting to like. You can’t quite lose yourself in the music, just as you’re settling in to the music, something jumps out and jars you out of the moment. It’s as if the ‘speaker is too jumped up like a overzealous excited youth.

One has to sum the Essence Druid comparison in comparing it to the 'HiFi 'Speaker vs. Music 'Speaker' issue. Druids are without doubt concerned with extracting the musical guts of a recording, regardless of its quality. Essence in comparison sounds like it's been designed to impress reviewers and 'HiFi fans'... exactly the kind of people who would have failed to understand the Druids.
Had both here.

Can't agree with Bonesetter2004.

Or to put it another way, I couldn't disagree more.
I have extensive experience with both Druid and Essence which includes well over 2 dozen amplifiers of every topology.

I find them far more similiar than not and am perplexed by Bonesetter's comments.

Dealer disclaimer.
Were the Essence brand new?
Zu IMHO is like the $500 car with the 2k stereo system. Something doesn't balance out. I had the Essence for 6 months with 3 different good amps and it sounded like a sub 2k speaker in some regards but a 5k speaker in others.

To my ears they are a little sharp (Not bright) regardless of placement and treatment (Moved them to an $50k designed room,) and the tweeter is weird and less than natural sounding. I think the ribbon bargain bucket.

It is extremely dynamic and can sound very present, more than most in the price range, but it is less seductive IMO.

A great choice for many.
I've been told by a real Zu-ey that the Essence is unlike any other Zu model. Maybe it was put out to make a statement. This particular Zu-ey finds the ribbon to be most problematic. Not sure.
I've heard a system similiar to what Bone heard and I would concur with him. What I'm hearing in this particular room I can't get behind. Some things sound intriguing, like the dynamics. I call them the waterfall speakers, sounds like sound sprouts forth from the top but nothing beneath it for support. Maybe the setup needs changed, not sure. We're supposed to be having a Zu party in town which I'd like to go to, then hearing it properly Zu-ed up I can make an informed decision.
Thanks for posting that, Bone. Maybe they're just not for us, yet...
Might as well join the debate....

Here are my thoughts about a recent loan of the Zu Essence speakers....

I guess the first thing to say is that, for most of the last ten years I'd been sold on B&W speakers, owning several pairs. Indeed, I still have two pairs working each day on my 2nd and 3rd systems.

A couple of years ago I started getting into valve amplification and was soon on the look-out for some high sensitivity speakers. A pair of Druids showed up on EBay and, after a brief chat with someone who knew about such things, I was persuaded to buy them. I was, however, then in for several months of doubt and dissatisfaction and I almost let them go before getting help in correctly positioning/tuning them. My opinion turned around and I began to appreciate them for their realism and dynamism. Everyone who came by for a listen, thought the whole set-up far better than they'd ever heard before (with only one exception).

After quite a while, I got to hear the Druid upgrade and was excited by the effortless presentation. So musical and the 'darkness' of the original Druids lifted. Also the congestion of the originals was gone, with the whole presentation more open and relaxing (but NOT dull!).

Anyway, about this time the Essence was starting to get some attention, with the reviews I managed to get to see suggesting that these were way ahead of the Druids, leaving me with a conundrum - seek out the Essence or upgrade the Druids, with the possibility of moving to the Essence soon after? A tough decision and that's why I was delighted to get a hold of the Essence for a proper listen.

So, what do I think about the Essence?

Cosmetics/aesthetics....nothing special but not awful either. My first audio impressions were that the highs were amazing. I was hearing things for the first time. I ran a whole bunch of different artists/genres through the audition - the usual suspects...SRV, Pink Floyd, Springsteen but also, Peter Hammill, Tom Waits, Wagner, Vivaldi, Brand X, Fuck Buttons, Fairport, Blue Nile, early-Genesis, and a bunch of others - both on vinyl and CD, including some A-B media comparisons.

So, the highs were, at times astonishing but, for me, the lows just weren't working properly. Very low of course but I couldn't make out the notes as clearly as I could via the Druids. After a day or so, I moved them away from the walls - up to a couple of feet and there's no doubt, the bass tightened. Still, there was a certain 'wooliness' or 'dullness' about the bass, and furthermore, not natural-sounding. It's as if the bass performance had been deliberately tuned to be unnaturally low.

Then I began to notice that the mid-range was slightly recessed. Vocals that had been on an even plane, seemed to be sitting a couple of feet back and lacked bite and definition. Not exciting at all. This was, perhaps not surprisingly, worse when I re-positioned the speakers back towards the wall.

After a few days I came to the conclusion that the highs were brilliant and it would be nice to have my Druids get somewhere close to that clarity. The mid-range was somewhat dull and, the bass 'homogenised' i.e. undifferentiated and, artificial. I am left feeling that the highs/mids and the lows just aren't integrated in the way the Druids are. I'm sure that the tech data would tell a different story but, as an overall listening experience, for me the Druids are more satisfying and less fatiguing.

Would I buy the Essence in the future? I would need a larger listening space for sure. Mine is a good size but has a lowish ceiling (large roofspace). I'd love my Druids to reach the Essence highs but I'm simply not convinced that the Essence bass is ever going to keep me interested.

I'm a big fan of Zu and won't be getting rid of my Druids for a very long time, if ever. I'm now definitely in the market for the upgrade or to acquire a second pair with the upgrade already fitted. I fancy a different colour from black too.

Now, what do those Definitions sound like....?
Wow, this is very distressing news. Ron Williams will be at my place on the 12th for a house party with the Essence. I will be comparing them to my Piega P-10s. I must say I think the Zus have their work cut out for them against the Piegas, but I am willing to listen. Any thoughts from the forum on how that might shake out?
Any thoughts from the forum on how that might shake out?
Shakeydeal (Threads | Answers)
It'd be presumptuous for anyone to guess what you would prefer.
Not really asking anyone what I might prefer. Just wondering if anyone has heard the two speakers might have an opinion.

Just wondering if anyone has heard the two speakers might have an opinion.

Shakeydeal (Threads | Answers)
You're hosting a listening session in your home to hear what the speakers sound like in your system, correct?

In that context, why would anyone else's opinion on these speakers matter? Wouldn't the opinions of others have the potential to influence your perceptions? IMO, they would.

If someone said the highs were piercing, or the bass was bloated (not saying either is the case...just a hypothetical), wouldn't you be listening for these flaws rather than coming into the session with an open mind?

If you didn't hear these flaws, would you accept what you heard, or would you search for the reason why you didn't hear what someone else heard?

Do you see my point?
I see your point. But after all this IS an audio forum. We all come here to solicit opinions or give them. Don't be so hung on semantics. You are being way too literal, lighten up. I know it's my decision to make and no one will make it for me. Just asking what others thought. Any harm in that?

Frankly, I believe there is harm in soliciting opinions about speakers that you are bringing into your home to hear for yourself in your own system and room. I've already mentioned the reason.

Beyond that, there are already many threads with opinions about Essence loudspeakers.

If you expect to receive input from someone who has owned or heard both the same model Piega speakers you own and the Zu Essence speakers, I believe you will come up dry.

11-27-09: Shakeydeal
Wow, this is very distressing news.

I think you're the one who should lighten up, relax, and not be so distressed about your choice.
If Ron is bringing along the new Zu Soul, you will be able to hear them vs. the Essence. The Soul is a little different, more similar to the Druids, as it shares the same tweeter.
"I think you're the one who should lighten up, relax, and not be so distressed about your choice."

Ahh yes. Same as it ever was........

It's what I've come to expect from you. No problem though.....

I apologize, Shakey. I just don't understand why you're distressed, as you mentioned being earlier.
Isn't the new Druid a totally different design than previously? Thought it was similar to the Essence in size and cabinet...the Druids they have now are bookshelf monitors. Anyways, it seems like many people have a lot of positive things to say about the Druids, while the Essence is more hit or miss per the individual listener. I've been looking at Zu speakers for a bit now....may try their 60 day in home audition and see what goes down.
The new Zu Soul has the 10" below the tweeter, which allows it to be a "shorter" design, @ 36" tall vs. 48". It has a 12" square bottom, and all sides have a slight angle as it goes up, so it has a trapazoid appearance.

They sound sweet, and have a little better (deeper extension) bottom end than the original Druids.

They are still in prototype stage, and price is rumored to be sub $2K.
I think to sell 'speakers, Zu needed to come up with something quite different from the what had gone before when they moved away from direct selling to using dealer networks. The newer Zu 'speakers (Presence, Essence) have a more conventional 'Hi-Fi' (as opposed to musical) sound. Thing is who would buy from a dealer when there are lots of cheaper used ones about?

I think alot of it comes down to the ribbon tweeter in the Essence. The tweeter has been described as dead and 'Hi-Fi' sounding in many other 'speakers.

I hope the new Soul sees a return to form

Ton, do you know what tweeter is in the new Soul?
I think Ron is bringing the Soul with him to my place. Should be interesting.

Hey bones,the tweeter in the new Soul is, I believe the same as the Druid, at least it looks like it.
I don't quite understand your statement about buying from a dealer when you can buy used. You can get just about any speaker used here on Agon.
Also I'm a Presence owner and a past Druid owner, I don't agree at all with your statement about them. I would say they are very musical. Anyway, your entitled to your opinion and if you don't care for them that's fine. Everybody has different tastes.
Enjoy the music!
I had an extended comparative listen to Essence and my Druid Mk4-08, as well as my Definition 2s, in my home.

As background pertinent to this particular question of whether a Druid 4-08 owner should upgrade to Essence, I'll add that I started in Zu with a used pair of Druids five years ago that were, as Sean Casey then noted, "...somewhere around Druid 2-1/2." A later change took them to "...about 3-1/2..." And then they were upgraded to Mk 4-08 shortly after that option became available.

I agree with facets of everyone's observations about Essence vs. Druid 4-08. Both Bonesetter and Audiofeil, for example, are correct. Druid and Essence do have distinctly different sounds, and yet compared to most speakers they have more in common than in difference, due to the prevalent character of the Zu FRD.

So, I'll first answer the question posed, then explain. My advice to anyone who already owns and loves Druid Mk 4-08s is to forego Essence and stay with Druids until you can afford or are inclined to make a bigger jump up the Zu line. That said, anyone not already in possession of Druid 4-08 and new to Zu will likely be deeply impressed by the speaker, for all the reasons Zu owners trumpet, and that Art Dudley noted in his Stereophile review.

No doubt, Essence sounds more like most people expect a quality loudspeaker to sound, than does Druid. Essence has just enough greater low-end extension to impress the listener as "full range" and not in need of a sub-woofer. The actual response difference before roll-off is only about 8 Hz (advantage Essence), but the presence of bass more fully underpins the music in all respects. This is directly a function of the larger cabinet loaded with a full Griewe cartridge and that works just great. Top end isn't actually as much more extended on the Essence as it sounds, but here the difference in presentation is divergent. Druid has a reserved teble character while Essence puts the entire high-frequency content of whatever you're listening to right up front. You've moved much closer to the performance. This is almost entirely due to the switch to a ribbon supertweeter in Essence. The sparkle factor common to hi-fi is fully accounted for, clean and incisive without ringing. But the ribbon is bit of a trick way to get more of the resolution and frequency extension of Definition without the more costly (and correct) high frequency output management possible from its two FRD + supertweeter configuration. Together, Essence's bass and high treble presence yield a speaker that delivers the essential character of Zu FRD crossoverless sound in a speaker that emulates commonly-available good hi-fi speakers.

There's also a difference in dispersion and soundstaging. The Essence FRD is unique to Essence in Zu's line -- you will notice a small difference in its whizzer cone as well as a large difference in phase plugs. Essence will spray sound over a broader area, getting from the single FRD configuration more of the dispersion delivered by the two FRD Definition. So Essence scales spatially better than Druid with a much larger sweet spot, and in particular would be a more successful HT / music double-duty speaker. Essence is and will be a successful speaker for Zu because it meets mainstream expectations for how loudspeakers sound. Essence could be successfully sold in a Magnolia store alongside Sonus Faber and Vienna, while Druid probably could not irrespective of its quality.

But if you own Druids and appreciate that speaker's magic for what it is, then Essence takes some of that away. This is the cost of incorporating the ribbon tweeter in Essence. Notice the specs: Essence has an efficiency rating of 97 db/w/m whereas Druid was 101 db/w/m. The FRD in Essence is dialed back a bit to match the lower efficiency of the speaker's ribbon supertweeter. Now, if you are new to very high efficiency crossoverless speakers that also handle gobs of power, that 97db/w/m will seem revelatory. But if you're already accustomed to 101db/w/m, that 4db loss in jump factor and tonal density is audible, and missed.

To be clear: I have two systems and one of them has Definition 2s, so I have subterranean bass available in the next room. Still, for me Druid is not a bass-shy speaker and I listen to them as much as my Definitions. Good to 38Hz is fine with me, especially when the bass coming from the speaker is as natural and defined as it is from a Druid 4-08. Likewise, Druid 4-08 does not lack high frequency response -- it is simply a more distant perspective. So I don't value the differences here in the top and bottom extensions as much as many (maybe most) speaker buyers do. What I do know for certain *for me* is that the small-but-noticeable reduction in midrange tonal density and dynamic life forced upon Essence by adoption of the ribbon tweeter is not worth any changes to the extremes, given that I already have Druid 4-08s. Many people will emphatically disagree.

I auditioned Essence expecting I'd want to upgrade, though when I heard that Zu had chosen to incorporate a ribbon tweeter, I was skeptical of the decision. Hearing the two, I elected not to change, for reasons noted.

Druids were a polarizing proposition, which in some respects helps a young company get off the ground. Hi-Fi mavens tended to either love them quickly for all the right reasons, or question whether the owner knew anything about high-fidelity audio at all. Non-audiphile music lovers tended to embrace them. I am also pretty sure that WAF generally favors the slender depth profile of Druid over the bulkier-but-same-footprint Essence. However, no doubt Essence is more of an 85/15 proposition in favor on sound. It has a crossoverless mid-range correctness most people rarely hear, dynamic life completely alien to the majority of attainable hi-fi, but with top and bottom extension that cues high-end audio respect.

The differences I am citing are likely too fine for anyone but an existing Zu Druid 4-08 owner (or a sufficiently-interested audio geek willing to spend the time comparing) to appreciate or care about. But I do think that most Druid 4-08 owners will hear those differences as larger and prefer to keep their speakers, skipping Essence in favor of stretching to Definitions or jawboning Sean to build a pair of Presence. Or just enjoy what they have and see how the Zu line evolves.

But that's just me.

The supertweeter on the new prototype speaker is dynamic.

Random notes from the thread:

The ribbon supertweeter in Essence is not "dead." Quite the contrary. It's very much alive and present, and Zu has done a better job of seamlessly mating a ribbon to a dynamic main driver than anyone else I've heard try in a production loudspeaker.

Presence and Essence aren't voiced the same. That is to say, Presence is certainly full range, with its powered sub-bass array (like Definition) but it does not have what we loosely here term "hi-fi" traits somehow trading away musicality. It's very much in the "Druids + Sub" realm, more highly resolved. People argue whether Presence was more Druid or more Definition. The two FRD configuration allows acoustic management not possible in the Druid/Presence architecture. For me, Presence was conclusively more a polished "Druid sound + stereo MiniMethods, than Definition Lite. Essence is voiced more as a crowd-pleaser also built in a decor-friendlier form factor and much more affordable, for good reasons. The two aren't meant to be equal.


Thanks so much for that incredibly informative post. I'm looking at Zus for the first time, and excited about the reviews I'm reading about the Essence.

Also, if someone could point me to more info about the Soul, I'd love to see that, as well. I don't see anything on their website.

And thanks to all for a great thread.
What people here are referring to as Zu's "Soul" speaker is a prototype. It's not yet a product, not yet priced and not yet documented in product collateral as everything about it is subject to change along the way to what tech companies call "FCS" -- First Customer Ship.

cobra (Phil), thank you for your comprehensive reply on the Essence/Druid comparison and indeed some of the rest of the Zu line-up too. Also, this juncture is timely to also thank you for your past, sometimes lengthy musings on the Druids, for it was wistfully reading those years ago which first interested me in the Druid, and went a way to explaining the Zu sound and helping to understand their sheer musical nature. Now I have lived with the Druids for some years, and have now heard the Essence, your comments here, and then, were spot on. Thanks again as I am a very happy Druid long-termer.

I think you seem to be imply the Essence is a more commercially viable 'speaker for Zu as it will appeal to the more conventional audiophile, including as you say, the Magnolia customer (presumably the US equivalent of the UK's Music Matters - so called supplier of ‘High End’ components, the likes of B&W, Chord, Cyrus, Denon etc. The type of listener who values ‘detail’ and similar ‘Hi-Fi’ attributes over musicality) and here is where a good portion of Zu’s market value would seem to be being aimed at with the Essence.

It just seems lamentable that Zu seem to have made a Magnolia speaker which as you say has had its life force taken away. I love my Druids but seem to have come to an upgrade cul-de-sac as far as ‘speakers go. In the UK it is nigh on impossible to demo the Presence. But from what you have said Presence seem a high price to pay if I was not too bothered by deep bass and a more authoritative presentation. Perhaps I will just wait and watch the line up...
There's a lot here about the limitations of single driver systems- problems with high frequency response and/or lack of detail, problems with bass, particularly with smaller horn systems....I've recently gone away from floorstanding speakers. I can't deal with trying to haul them around, and there are problems driving multi-driver speakers with strange loads with SET amplifiers. Hence, I'm looking at a high efficiency design, and I'm interested in Zu, particularly the Credenza monitor. So, it lacks bass- what, exactly, is wrong pairing it with a subwoofer? When I went to monitors, I lost a ton of bass. My room is large, on the order of 24x20, with 12 foot ceilings, so I expected to lose bass. Not as much as I did; the difference was striking. Just wasn't enjoyable. So, I was forced to buy a subwoofer. Now, I don't know how I ever survived without one, even with big floorstanding speakers. What's the big problem with putting a high eff speaker that may be a little lacking in the bass department with a subwoofer? Seems that Zu has tackled some of the treble issues in Essence with the ribbon tweeter. Bass? Nice sub, you've got it all and more. Why such little consideration to that option? Just curious- I'm new to high efficiency speakers, and I want to take the plunge, but the more I read, the more confused I get. There's so little middle ground with horn drivers- people seem to either love them or despise them. Like to hear some more opinions.
>I've recently gone away from floorstanding speakers. I can't deal with trying to haul them around,<

Do you move on a regular basis? Or just like picking up speakers and moving them around from time to time, just for the fun of it? Why not just place them where they sound best in the room and game over? I don't understand your disdain for big speakers on that qualification alone.


First, I'm glad my prior posts helped you with a buying decision, and you ended up happy. Next, if you found my prior notes on Druids and Zu actionable, then know that if you love Druids you will love Presence. It is the Druid voicing and tone density with the equivalent of stereo subwoofers, without the integration problems. The treble contour on the supertweeter is just a slight bit more lively, owing to the fact that the FRD, relieved of trying for deep bass, has higher resolution and warrants a touch more heat on the tweet.

Don't think too harshly of the more mainstream aim of Essence. First, its sound lubricates its market acceptance which helps Zu invest in their product line, and second, it is a first iteration of a Zu FRD + Ribbon combination. It will be further developed. Like an excitable child, it will be pulled back into line in 2nd gen refinement. I think it's OK for their line to have a centerpoint tipped a bit to mainstream notions of high-fidelity. It will be a revelation to plenty, and those of us who were originating customers can continue to buy around that centerpoint. A Druid 4-08 owner can be patient.

Presence certainly does have as its main difference the powered sub-bass array and it also offers bass/room tuning possibilities through bi-amping and bass EQ that are absent in a Druid alone. I've heard Presence and it is better than Druid in more than bass and dynamic authority, though the real upgrade to aim and save for is Definition.

Of course there is another upgrade path: the rest of the system. Again, understand that my Druids system is my secondary system. But liking the specific qualities of Druid and finding it a worthy presenter of gear above its grade, the preamp and monoblock amps on that system are worth, retail-for-retail, about 6X the speakers. Now that will seem peculiar to some. One of the consequences of Zu speakers is that the fulcrum of fidelity for your system moves to the power amplification. That's the pivot point that determines the character and quality reach of your system once the Zu FRD is introduced. By traditional measures, you'd expect that Druids warrant no more than a good integrated amp. No. Just as some owners used to run extravagent amplification into a pair of LS3/5a because their midrange quality warranted the expense, Druid is an exception to the traditional norms for distribution of funds within a given system. It punches far above its weight.

I'm serious. If you accept the idea of a speaker being worthy of much greater expense invested upstream, in Zu's case an exceptional $15,000 source mated to a $5,000 amplifier will not sound as good as a good $3,000 source mated to $17,000 of the right amplification. Truly good amps are still scarce. Lots of "hi-fi," not so much realism. But a VPI Classic + Zu103 or similar is only $3,000 and it's a great analog source. The same amount or much less buys many great options in digital players or a DAC for PC audio. It's good amps that are hard to find. No doubt you'd have to consider just taking that kind of cash and buying Definitions plus appropriate amplification. But not every room can handle Defs, whereas Druids are fine all the way down to a closet.

There have always been speakers with specific holistic sound attributes to make these aberrant spending distributions worthwhile. Quad ESL, Dynaco A25 and A50, Large Advent; LS3/5a, Dahlquist DQ10, Apogees, Audio Physic Virgo, Sonus Faber Cremona, Reference 3a L'Integrale and Veena, Zu Druid and Definition. If you love Druids, you have lots of headroom to upgrade.


High-efficiency speakers -- especially single driver types -- have their peculiarities and some of them are hard to live with. I've never been willing to trade away midrange tonal accuracy to get the palpable dynamic aliveness and holistic presentation of a Fostex or Lowther-based loudspeaker, though that's heaven to some music lovers. I tried Avant-gard and while they were among the best horn driver speakers I've heard, no amount of forgiveness or distraction could mask their lingering horn-ness. Music served the speaker rather than the speaker serving the music. But others raved. You have to know your acute sensitivities. I can't live with shout, even a little.

Zu opened the door to high-efficiency speakers for me, by reasonably combining high sensitivity with high power handling, excellent octave-to-octave balance with harmonic frequency extension through judicious use of a supertweeter and the holistic presentation of a single driver speaker. And over the last decade of the company's progress, they've steadily refined their full range driver and factory break-in procedure to push single-drive "shout" to the vanishing point.

I have Credenzas in my office system. That speaker really is the top 18 inches of a Druid, so lacking the cabinet height for partial Greiwe implementation, bass rolls off quickly below 50Hz.

A Zu subwoofer is a perfect match, since most other subs don't have the transient speed and definition to mate well with the Zu main driver. No floppy-surround, long-excursion cone thump boxes need apply. No, not even REL. So Credenzas + Method or MiniMethod sub(s) will go deeper than Druids alone. But it does mean placing more boxes and running more cabling around the room.

Credenza is genuinely a credenza speaker as it doesn't really sit well on stands built for modern small-driver monitors. If you had such a stand, it would take up the same footprint as a pair of Druids or Essence and the combined weight of Credenza plus any credible stand would be similar to or greater than Druids or Essence alone.

Essence is flat down to about 30Hz and the bass it produces is defined and tonally true so you're not left wanting a sub unless you crave movie scores at their most bombastic. But if you like the idea of Credenzas + subs, have at it. Just make sure the sub is quick.

Yeah, I move stuff around quite a bit. New stuff? In my den. Wife wants to get rid of some crap around the house, where's it go? My den. My drums have moved around four or five times. When I set up home theater in there, everything got moved. Big hassle. Plus, I just tired of them. Take up so much room, overpower everything else....didn't want that anymore.

Looks like a picture of the Soul next to the Essence in the 6Moons follow up.

Consider that prototype interesting in form only. I saw it at a Zu field outing here in California. The evolving prototype that becomes a product is already different.

An early iteration, as the current one has a tweeter. The shape is definitely the same.
Looking forward to seeing the new Soul. I don't like hi-fi treble, which is why I got Druid Mk4 instead of Gallos etc.

And they are such interesting speakers, very glad I got them.

I'm hoping that Zu will also launch a new, cheaper sub too. Druids need stereo subs, and the methods are no longer in production.

PHIL: Hear hear on getting the right amp. I spent my budget on the speakers, so am very hard up for amp money. I have found that my 15W class-d is not good enough. There just aren't enough watts. 101db/W, or 97db/W sensitivity is fantastic, but I have a feeling that I'll get more of their dynamics with more watts, even if it's from a SS receiver.

I have a Zu 5.0 system with Credenzas for the left and right fronts, Zu center and Zu surrounds. My sub is a Velodyne SPL 1200. The speed and blending with the Zu speakers is very good. I used to use the 8" Velodyne model but the 12" is a much better match. These comments are based mainly on home theater usage as most of my music listening is done using with my 2 channel system.
btw. wanted to comment on Essence being more "hifi" and therefore doing better with mainstream audiophile tastes.

I agree that the "hifi" sound has exaggerated treble, which I do not like and is why I got the Druids. I hope that Zu retains some reasonably priced model that has natural HF. I also understand that more sales will help them support more models, so if this is what the market wants, stupid market for wanting it, smart Zu for serving it (I suppose).

But there is also a market segment that did not try Zu because Druids measured very badly, especially in frequency response. Both Essence and Druid have ragged frequency response, and you just cannot get there without a crossover, which would turn Zu into a conventional speaker. Although the measurement side of audiophile world and the stereophile-followers don't like each other, I think that flat frequency response tends to sound like HiFi HF at the listening position. So, the pair of antagonists are maybe closer together on something directly related to sound than they think!

I wish there was some way to measure dynamics and tone. That would give Zu some good graphs it could use in marketing.

I thought I'd responded, but I don't see my comment. Anyway, yes, I figured that Soul image was prototype. The description of the Soul's trapezoidal shape had me worried, but even in the early stages, it looks promising for a small floorstander. I'm excited to see how it develops.

Interestingly, it looks to me like the shape is an external shell of the new foam cartridge pictured in the Essence stereophile review. I'm just guessing, and you guys seem to have a lot of good firsthand knowledge of the Zu stuff, but is there anything to that?
I have the Druid Mk4/08 with 2 x Mini Methods. A further upgrade I did to the hi pass on the Druid was to add a Mundorf Silver in Oil cap and Duelund resistor of the same values and the Zu Kimber Kap and Mills, along with some Duelund silver foil oil/silk hookup wire as the resistor is HUGE. This improved the treble in a few areas, especially the smoothness without any edgey characteristics (liquid). Detail levels changed, I think slightly more micro than macro. I'm not sure about "air" or "sparkle" but the soundstage changed a little with greater height/width. The treble still is not in your face but "is" more pronounced than before. Overall much better to my ears. I certainly would not need any more as I'm not into the HiFi sound as such. This is a cheap ($130) and easy way to improve the Druid mk4/08 without losing its charm.......for me anyway ;-)

I listen to Live music in bars and pubs and this sound is not Hifi at all.......but isn't music reproduced in our homes supposed to sound like live??? Especially using Eminence based speakers which most Marshal and Fender use.

The Mini Methods match the Druids beautifully, you can't tell they are working unless you touch them, the bass seams to come from the Druids.

I haven't listened to any other Zu speakers as I'm located in Australia. I too was intrigued when reading the many 213cobra posts over the last 2 yrs or so.

I would be interested to compare my setup with the Presence (Presence and Def2 share Mundorf SIO caps)I love the midrange of the druid and would be interested to hear the difference with sealed FRD enclosure in the Presence.......if it was improved may be I could seal it in the Druid.......Another question for Sean!

I, like all of us here am also interested in the Essence, but feel the improvemnet in bass is not required for me, nor is more treble energy, especially at the expense of mids detail or dynamic scale. I would however love to hear them for myself.......
This thread seemed to die off just as it was getting exciting!

Any updates on the Soul? i know its been almost 5 months since the last post.

Soul just came out.

2 versions.

I am confused by it. Essence driver loaded under horn tweeter, tapered box.

why put driver under tweeter? why not put it over, get more space, and a little more extension?

still excited to learn more
don't think that is a horn on the Soul...looks like a super tweeter ala its more expensive Presence/Definition brethren.