Zu Omens Vs Dali Vs Vandersteen Vs Sonus Faber

This post is FYI for those wondering about the quality of the Zu Omens (Don't worry, Be Happy and get them!):

At my personal recommendation, two friends here in Tucson bought Zu Omens, and one replaced her floor standing Dalis with the Omens and another replaced his Vandersteens with the Omens. He recommended them to two other friends here in Tucson who replaced their speakers with the Zu Omens. Once of the pairs replaced were Sonus Fabers.

I imagine that the Soul Superfly's are better of course.

BTW, I have Zu Druids. I am hesitant to replace them because I like them so much that I have painted them piano black and put granite bases on them. They bested (for my preferences of course for immediate rich sound) some Dynaudio, Dali, and Spendor floorstanders. However, I have not heard the Zu Omens and Druids in the same room. However, at another person's home the Omens sounded wonderful. Similar magical sound as the Druids with perhaps a little more bass and they are certainly less imposing in size (but not in quality) in the listening space. Hmmm, maybe I can get a pair of Omens and paint them piano black...
OK, so you like how they sound which is great but I would really like to hear more about the quality? What can be said about that compared to the others?
I would also be curious to hear more details about the quality of the ZU speakers and what they are capable of. I have to admit that based only on pictures alone I can't help but walk away leery on the use of the paper cones and whizzers. The drivers and their materials just dont "Look" capable of dishing out or taking a beating.

I think I would need to sit down and listen to them with a fist full of Paul Van Dyk Trance CD's played at a spirited volume to give these their fair shake and dispel any assumptions or fears I may have of their design.

Please dont take this as a knock on the brand or the speakers at all as I have not heard or seen them in person but only going on some detailed photos I looked at of the various models they offer. And I am well aware that looks can be very deceiving
I found that the Zu Omens in comparison to my Spendor speakers sounded a tad richer yet still very immediate and present. Front row center with a strong tube glow if you will. Everyone who chose the Omens has tube amplification if that gives you a clue. Not overly warm or mushy like some of the older CJ gear, the Zu speakers convey instruments richly. Acoustic guitar, most instruments and voices are not only rich, but extended and very present.

I understand an analysis of reasons for choosing is in order to be helfull as well as accompanying equipment, tubes used, sound desired, personal preferences and all that. All I have is that each and every one of these four people, five including myself (although I have Druids and heard the Omens), ditched their speakers after comparing the Omen's in their house. That says something yet unfortunately leaves you to experiment. A limited risk considering the 2 month return policy (the Omens need 200 hours breakin, but sound good out of the box).
Treated paper drivers when done correctly can sound very natural and dynamic. I don`t own Zu speakers but one hugh advantage they have is high sensitivity and benign load characteristics. You are`nt forced to settle only for high power amps, but have the option to use high quality but low power amplifiers (SET,OTL,First Watt etc.) which can often sound better.
I've read some unconfirmed frequency response measurements on some Zu speakers in blogs (not always the most reliable source for these things and can't remember which Zus exactly, Druids perhaps, but not the newer models) that were not favorable at all from a flatness perspective. The full range drivers used were indicated as the culprit.

I do not know if this is the case or not, but such info is out there, so it would be helpful if someone could address it.

Maybe even if so that frequency response issues do not practically matter to the owners, though I think what I've seen would matter to me if I heard it. The benefits of teh full range driver approach in terms of coherency, soundstage and imaging, plus the high efficiency and synergy with tube amps could far outweigh any other issues.

After all, no speaker is perfect, especially those in the less expensive Zu's price range typically anyway.
03-11-11: Mapman
I've read some unconfirmed frequency response measurements on some Zu speakers in blogs (not always the most reliable source for these things and can't remember which Zus exactly, Druids perhaps, but not the newer models) that were not favorable at all from a flatness perspective. The full range drivers used were indicated as the culprit.<<

I did a little reaserch regarding this before I bought my Omens, and although not conclusive (it is the internet after all) I think this info may apply:
The Zu speakers in question were Druids, which are bottom porting. The floor gap/spacing is critical to get them to sound their best. The online mag that did the testing always hangs the speakers in mid air, I suppose to mitigate any boundry anomolies (floor, ceiling, walls).
But I didn't find anything to support this.

That could be.

FWIW, I looked at the specs for the new Omens. Zu indicates bandwidth in their specs but nothing regarding flatness of response that I could see.

I would expect getting flat response would be a challenge with most conventional full range drivers.

Plus specs can be overrated. Its what you hear and like that really matters.

Some people may care though, so it is worth taking note of these things.

There seems to be little risk with the Zu's however. I think they offer an audition period during which the speakers can be returned if not liked, right?
The stereophile frequency graph in question was for Druid mk2....... Using an different tweeter and FRD to the MK4 that won all the awards. Druid needs a 10mm gap at the base to load the cabinet. Standard testing calls for the speaker to be suspended in the test chamber.

Omen and Druid Mk4/08 share the same tweeter and FRD with a different phase Plug. The difference being that Griewe loading in Omen is achieved using a foam pyramid as with Superfly and Essence not a gap.

The Zu FRDs are sourced from Eminence.......The largest pro speaker manufacturer..... Most live music you hear use Marshall and Fender stacks filled with paper cone Eminence drivers. These speakers are specifically design to be abused...... Home audio speakers are not.
Eniac: I love electronica and live in San Francisco where we arguably get the best in the world, but of course we could debate that:). I am more particular to Claude von Stroke and Justin Martin (Dirtybird label) and if you are nearby, please drop in and I will show you what these paper cones are capable of. I'm driving them with a Pass XA30.5 and that combo easily surpasses all other speakers I've had from Monitor Audio, Onix, Dali. The Zu Essence I had in the past do not even compare either. I do have the Omen Defs, but I am sure they are similar to the Omens. They also amazing with jazz, vocalists, and of course electronica. Out of the box they were much better than the Essence and after break in even better. I also have several tube amps and am loving them too, though the bass, dynamics, and transparency with the Pass is especially apparent with electronica. With jazz, my 845 amp sounds as close to a live show as I could imagine. Hope this helps. I'm not one for measurements, graphs, etc....just pure musicality:).
I second Morganc, although I have the Superflys, they pretty much have the same driver. Very dynamic & clean! Been listening to a lot of electronica lately myself through my Sqeezebox Touch, nothing short of amazing. These will dish & bang with the best.
charlesdad: I 100% agree with your description: the paper cones on the Omens are very dynamic with an exceptionally natural tone.
Not the Omen but the Essence was measured by Stereophile (link below) and they are by far the worst measuring speaker I have ever seen them measure. I have never heard anything by Zu, just read the reviews...

"In many ways, the Zu Essence is an underachiever, measurement-wise. But the surprise for me, when I auditioned it in AD's room, was how much of its measured misbehavior was not too audible, other than the rolled-off highs and the lack of impact in the lower midrange."

James63: I know nothing about measurements, but I do know from the first moment that I heard the Omens that they were much better to my ears than the Essence that I had for over a year. I compared the two side by side for about 5 minutes and then promptly sold the Essence. The Omens are much more open and dynamic and the highs are much easier on my sensitive ears. Just FYI.
Hey Morgan what 845 SET you running there?

I've found the First Watt F3 to be a completely divine match for Def 2.0s as well as the Wavac MD811 integrated (amazing amp).

The Tom Evans Linear A is also completely stunning with these speakers. An amplifier in its own category in many ways actually.

As for turning one's nose up at "paper drivers", they (and other natural materials - hemp) seem to nail the tone of real instruments better than anything else. Poly and the like always sounds at least a wee bit plasticy in comparison.
Indeed, PHY makes some of the best drivers around and their cones are paper.

Hi Paul,
I have the Art Audio Carissa 845's. I think I need to do a little tube rolling either in the input tubes or in my Modwright pre as it sounds a little on the laid back side especially in comparison to the Pass XA 30.5. It currently uses the KR 845's.

I recently listened to my Zu Druids alongside Zu Omen speakers which weren't broken in yet, and found that the tonal shift in direction of the sound was such that the Omens were a little more in the direction of being slightly clearer and more airy with a little more bass than the Druids, and that the Zu Druids had a slightly warmer more 'tubey' sound overall compared to the Omens.

Which is better on balance of course will depend on personal preference and other system components bias. And naturally, the already close gap in the sound between the two will probably narrow as the Omen speakers break in and warm up. Reports are that the sound of the Omen's changes dramatically as they break in. However, I feel (and don't know for sure) that some of the differences in sound between the two just mentioned, however slight, will remain.