Zu Essence owners....your impressions please

I just purchased a pair of the current Zu Essence. I have been quite curious what all the descriptions that I read about actually sound like.

I understand from my reading that the Essence is, maybe, more suited for a sound that yields more 'detail' for such things as jazz and less thunderous music.

For such listeners, do you enjoy the 'sounds' that the Zus are presenting to you? Have you heard other Zu speakers?

Thanks much.
What is the system comprised of that you are using with them?

I have had mine for years, and really enjoyed them for all types of music, mellow to metal.....

I did upgrade to the Experience drivers, and they are back closer to the Zu sound that I was used to from the earlier versions of the Druids.

I do also have the Definition III in a different system. These are fantastic as well in my HT, very detailed and solid detailed bass.

I must note that the Essence rig is my favorite for music, as it is a tubed base system, and there is some really great synergy going on there. Cayin A50T integrated, MHDT labs Havanna DAC, and a Squeezebox touch.
Hi Ton1313,

Sorry I didn't check this thread earlier. I am using the Musical Design T 100 hybrid amp, along with a McIntosh MCD-500, upgraded by David Schulte of The Upgrade Company. An additional bonus to the MCD-500 is that it has a very nice preamp built into it. I have a year old Musical Concepts Chameleon preamp, but I am just thrilled with the preamp in the McIntosh. I also have a McIntosh MEN 220, which I use serves to add greatly to the sound quality for me.

I am quite interested that you find the Essence to more favorable for music. Would you mind expanding upon that? I am quite taken with the FRD sound. I have only had these for 11 days now, but I think Zu has truly gotten my interest. I love the simplicity of the entire speaker, and they only weigh 67 lbs a piece, which is a very nice change from my other speakers.

I also use a nice SVS subwoofer from 100 hz down with a 12 db slope.

I really would love to hear why you prefer the Essence to the Definition mk III.
I prefer the system that the Essence is in for music. It is just a sweet presentation. I never did a direct comparison between the two speakers, as they are on different floors, and since Sean from Zu set them up, I don't want to move either until I absolutely have to.

So preference to the specific speaker.....not so much as they are both different animals....preference to the Zu sonic presentation - definetly.

If you research this site, you ill find that the opinions ofEssence were a either "love it" or "hate it", with not many in-between. I liked them in replacement of the Druid mkIV as they had some deeper bass presentation that I was looking for without the us of an additional sub. The speaker drivers per Sean were "dialed back" a bit for the design, which had left many fans of the normal Zu lively presentation, looking for more. I have since replaced the stock divers wih the Experience drivers from Zu and the magic is back. They are now the same drivers as my def. III.
I much prefer my Definitions mk III to my prior Essence. Not even close. Better in every way for every type of music from vocals to jazz to rock and electronica. I would be curious to hear if Ton1313 has swapped the Defs into the tubed system to A/B them with all other variables the same?
Jury is still out... I've had my pair for about 2 weeks and I'm not sure I'm keeping them. (I bought them factory refurbished, so they are broken in.) I've rolled in 3 different amps, the mini watt n3 (3 watts tube) the super t- amp (10 watt), and a VTL IT-85 (60 watts tube). They sound great at low volumes but seam thin otherwise. I also rolled in my Bent passive TVC preamp...

Compared to my Dynaudio Special 25's they sound thin in mid range, uncontrolled in the highs, and the bass just isn't there.

I'll give another few weeks before giving them back.

Hi Tony,
I would highly recommend that you try out the Omen Defs with the new upgraded Drivers. They are vastly improved over the Essence in regards to bass, midrange, and especially in the highs. I replaced my Essence with them a few years back and the improvement was night and day. There is a good reason that Zu is no longer manufacturing the Essence IMO.
Morganc, I had not heard that Zu has stopped producing the Essence. May I ask how you heard this news? Just like to confirm sources:)

I am finding that I love the FRD sound. Of course, having only listened for 2.5 weeks to my Essence, I may still be imagening this.

Morganc, I expect the Definitions to have excellent bass, that is a big part of their extra expense. Would you mind giving a bit more detail to how the highs and mids are better? I thank you in advance.
I also heard the Essence is going to be discontinued. Maybe from an email notification from Zu? Can't say for sure, but I thought I heard the Druid mkV (with the new Radian 850 tweeter) was to take its place. I'm sure Morgan has all the facts on this.
Markpao, thanks for the second to this. I never want to doubt anyones info, but we all know that way too often that is what becomes necessary.

I wish I could hear the other models close to the Essence to understand the difference. I do know that I truly love ribbon tweeters, which make for outstanding upper registers for me.

Markpao, the Druid MKIV does look the most similar, but I never know what a company is thinking until I hear it from them. The nice thing is that Zu will likely tell us what their thinking is.

As I keep saying, I really like my pair of Essence. The difference, at this point, would have to be very positive. I have spent, and wasted when selling, so much lately that it would have to be heard before I purchase anything more.
I'm still getting used to them... I've got them sounding very nice with the t-amp and the tube preamp section of the VTL. The bass filled in nicely (which makes little sense to me). At the end of the day it's all about synergies, and while I would love to hear these with a quality 300B amp, it's not going to happen any time soon due to funding...
If you are happy with them, good. They are IMHO really nice speakers and sound their best when your system synergy is there. The thing I always noticed with Zu, was that they get out of the way of what is driving them and will definitely reveal what the upstream components are doing however this can be a blessing and a curse especially if something is off in your system and/or poor recordings. But when they are on....they are on.

Tony did you roll any tubes in your amp choices?

I found great synergy after switching to gold lion kt77 in my amp. My wife's uncle has 2 pair of Essence, (one at vacation home) one driven by an Ayon integrated, and one driven by a Prima Luna Dialog 2 integrated. His primary music listening system is the Ayon /Essence combo, which has bumped his full Levinson/Revel Studio system as the preferred music rig. So take it for what its worth, if they sound good and you are happy, that's all that matters......
hi Ts07011,

Yes they sound great to you, and perhaps this is all we will ever achieve in this forum, but what did you like about them, specifically?

Does anyone else besides me wish that the highs had more presence? I solve that by using a ribbon tweeter, Fountek neo Cd 2.0 crossed at 9 Khz, and facing directly backwards at 45 degrees. I use the Fountek in different places on the top of each speaker to give my ears appropriate shimmer to the very top end.

Now that I have explained a bit about what I truly need in from a loudspeaker, what really lights you up about the Zu experience.

Without specifics I am just flying blind in my lust for the Defintions. I appreciate any additional guidance very much.


I'm sicking with the tubes in my IT-85 they're NOS mullard XF2's. I didn't trey any rolling in the Miniwatt N3.

But your right, it's all about how they sound to YOU in your home!