Zu Essence mini review

Had the opportunity to get a pair of Essence 'speakers into my living room for a week long listen. Here are some 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.

I heard none of this when I heard the E's at RMAF. Maybe you needed the Peachtree Audio Nova (1.2K) to run the E's on as they did at the show. They also had all Zu wire. Outstanding sound they had coming out of the Essence speakers.

What amp/wire did you use?

I guess I am a HIFI fan LOL.
I have not noticed any of what you are describing above. Durring your week of listening, did you try any different placement locations in your room? Were they set up properly? The reason I ask this, is that I was fortunate enough to have the Zu guys in town, and they tweaked the locations of the Essence by a few inches, and moved them a litttle further off of the walls. The results were incredible. They sounded good before, but now they are magical with their presentation.
Guys, my amp is a gorgeous fat lush Leben CS300, and the front is a 47Lab transport & DAC. Cable is Transparent Ultra (this was left over from a monster system which made way for the 'petit' valve set-up.

The 'speakers were on loan and have been around a friend's for a listening session in his system too. In the main his impression of the Essence's were in broad agreement.

I have had a number of different 'speakers in my listening room and usually don't have trouble with set-up. The Druids however did take quite a few weeks before understanding they need positioning much farther apart than usual to avoid them 'squarking'. The E's seem to fit into the same footprint area occupied by my Druids and all aspects of the 'speaker's presentation seemed fine. I know small changes in Druids' positioning make big differences, but positioning was not an issue with the E's I'm fairly confident.
what type of amp as used in your friend's audition? i can't help thinking that a leben 600 or something else in the 30wpc channel range would be a better match...even the peachtree mentioned above.
He has the EAR V20

Why do you say a higher wattage amp would be better?
i've listened to zu druids, various coincidents, klipsch la scalas(and corners), and others that (in theory) don't need an amp with grunt, but in every case (in practice), the additional power opened up the presentation, and made for a sound that was less colored, and more balanced. any quality amp or integrated in the 35 to 40pc range should make a difference to you. its always been my experience at least with the speakers mentioned.
My experience with my Druids is exactly as Jaybo has outlined. I started with 4.5W/channel and they never really came alive until I got to 50W/channel. While they sounded great at low volumes with the lower power amps, when I wanted to crank them they lost all coherency. In spite of their high sensitivity, I think it takes some power to get those 10.3" FRDs really moving. I can't imagine the Essence are drivers are very much different in that respect.

I experienced this same type of issue with other Zu speakers UNTIL they were properly set up. Too much toe-in will do this to them - thin the mids and etch the highs. Contact Zu for help on better positioning.
David is right.

The Druids need about 50W+, and since the Essence is less sensitive, it would need even more. The actively clip at high volume with 15W.

Rockadanny: I found that toe-in made a much bigger difference to Zus than spacing. They are very directional, so this is super important.
Our Druids play OK with our 30 watt amp, but it does seem like they come to life when using our 60 watt amps. With such amps they seem to have nearly unlimited dynamic range.
Yeah. I'm only at 15W, but actively upgrading.

What 60W amp do you use? Any recommendations for cheap 60W+ amp with digital inputs?
I do not have these issues with my Moon i-3 on them. If this is your feeling your should just put them on an Audion Silver Night 300B or Melody i2a3, Astro Black 22. This will get rid of any ringing in your ears, in my opinion.

I quite imagine what you are hearing is because of cables and a transparency issue with your source.
Nothing beats paying 4 Large for a migraine generator. I'll pass on the ZuZu's petals speakers, TYVM.