Zu Soul Owners' Impressions: Standard / Superfly

Category: Speakers

Zu Soul Owners’ thread for Zu Soul Standad and Superfly editions: Impressions

Q: So, Where Art Thou!? A: art thou = are you (a Zu Soul owner)?

Q: So, where the heck are you?

In case the title of this thread falls flat in the call to arms for current-owners and owners-in-waiting and owners-to-be, please know there are a number of folks (see Speakers: Zu Soul Superfly thread) who have been beating the drums, imploring and attempting to incite the reticent few….

An appeal to your, shall I say, pristine Souls!

My initial impressions will be short, for speaker/wiring break-in/burn-in take precedence over baring my Soul.


Some necessary detail and fully Skip-Able.

Room: 13X12X8; One window, asymmetric, behind system; one window to the left of left speaker. Surfaces: plaster on wood walls, suspended hard wood floors. On Second floor, with attic above.

Speaker placement & seating position: 7’X7’X7’ triangle. Speakers placed 2’ from side and back wall (front to listener). Standard factory-set height gap, placed on TAOC composite platforms, no toe-in or elevation adjustments at this time.

System chain: Standard wall outlets, Analysis Plus Oval & Audio Art power cables, MIT Z PowerBar, PC based Pandora Subscription (high resolution feed) via cable modem/CAT6 cable, M-Audio Audiophile 192 Sound Card using s/pdif coax out, Madrigal Audio Labs Digital cable, Audio Research DAC7, Artisan Silver Ultimate Silver Dream IC, Ayon Sirit II Integrated amp (12AU7, KT88/Genelex Gold Lions; Triode/Pentode 40/60wpc), Zu Wax speaker cable, SR Composites SRX audio rack.

Preferences (disclaimers) of note:

-lean towards a neutral presentation;
-appreciate a cohesive soundstage which to my ears is more natural vs. the “precise” & pinpoint placement of instruments/voices;
-ears are sensitive to brightness;
-not overly particular about calibrated or measured placement, nor audiophile room treatment approaches; the furniture or a simple decorative fabric for wall hanging can handle these issues to my needs (see Cobra’s posts regarding this).

Of late, I have rotated a pair of Gemme Tanto V2s and Chario Academy Sonnets in the same room and system. So the ‘impressions’ from these two reproducers are what is front of mind & ear for personal taste, comparisons and contrast.

Zu -bees: I had NO prior experience with Zu speakers, prior to the Soul Superfly . Naturally, I had been curious about the Zu brand and house-sound as I have with a number of other speaker manufacturers. I have been (slowly) gravitating towards experiencing higher efficiency speakers employing full range drivers. Dare I admit this: I tend not to do much research on speakers prior to purchase since I believe that my own system components and chain, my room, and a true long term personal evaluation is what works for my needs. What I’m attempting to communicate, is that I am approaching these with something akin to a blank slate.

Only now, once the Superfly went in-system, have I started reading about the Superfly (not much out there) as well as Zu speakers in general (a lot on the other speakers) within the discussion groups/forums and professional audiophile journal print/online review sites.


Preliminary Impressions:

This pair arrived on July 27th via FedEx. Serial numbers are 35 & 36. Finish is Cosmic Carbon.

The Finish: There have been a lot of questions about the “look” and reaction to the cosmic carbon finish.

Here are my initial impressions: In the home theater system, where my other component finishes are generally gloss piano or matte black and the furniture and trim is in the dark brown/mahogany/reddish color palette, the cosmic carbon stands out, in fact a bit out of place, as a very light finish during the daytime (non-direct sunlight) and the metal billet also stands out under this lighting. During the evening and at night, the finish makes a graceful exit to “disappearing” and appears darker and is a much better fit with the other gear and furniture, even the metal bits fade into the visual background. The cosmic gray also appears ‘darker’ in tone under incandescent lighting.

In my office, my main 2ch room, where the walls are “elephant gray” the match with the décor is complementary and is easy on the eyes. This is the case during the day as well as under incandescent and fluorescent lighting.

Since our response to ‘how something looks’ is so subjective and personal, your visual interpretation is what really matters.

For me, coming from the wood veneer finishes of Totem and Gemme, and the solid cherry of the Charios, the Zu’s were quite different (which I expected). The silver metal driver parts and rings, especially so. Within the short time they have been on display, I have become very comfortable with their aesthetic fit in the office. Daytime in the home theater room (living room) is a different story, from an aesthetic perspective. If you are particular about aesthetic cohesion within a room, then one of the optional finishes should be a strong consideration.

From a purely general perspective I have to say that Zu’s fit and finish of these speakers is excellent.


Other preliminary impressions and photos to follow.
Initial Performance Impressions (continued):

I have been listening to the speakers driven by the Triode mode (40wpc), off the 8 Ohm taps, of the Ayon Spirit II.

My experience is remarkably similar to what Phil (213Cobra) has posted.

- the speakers are not fussy about placement.

- they appear to be more on the musical side of the equation (vs. providing a highly analytical experience).

- they sound natural and ‘speaker-live’ to my ears.

- they are dynamic!

- bass is excellent; there has been boominess, on certain pieces, which could be placement and room driven - will report on it once the speakers have had proper break in.

- holding off on comments regarding micro dynamics, transparency and resolution, etc. until the speakers have had more play time.

- there has been some thread debate on their high frequency driver. I hear no issues to report on, at this time. In fact, I would have to say the hf performance is very satisfying.

- wide sweet spot and good off axis performance, mainly limited by my room size. (As an aside, will drive them in the living room, to get a feel for their ability in a larger space).

- they have been comfortable with, and adept at, reproducing music across genres.

- my FAVE so far is their tonal coherence.

Bottom line: I am enjoying them! Thoroughly.

Even at this very early stage, I believe that most potential buyers will find these speakers to represent exceptional value and will be highly satisfied with their performance. This is not a light statement, since I have reserved my opinion, sometimes for extended time periods, on other speakers that have resided in my 2 channel systems.

As for my experience interacting with Zu Audio, it has been wonderful. An initial online ordering glitch was handled seamlessly. Gerrit has been my primary contact and follow through has been terrific, both interpersonally as well as with online communications.

(( Please note: One photo has been posted (in daylight) of the Superfly in the Virtual Systems speaker forum. If you have suggestions regarding how to post multiple photos, other than creating an online album with a 'disguised' link, please email me at David_ten via Audiogon. Thanks. ))

Photos added to give those interested a feel for the "look" of the cosmic carbon finish at different times during daylight hours. Some photos are with a flash assist which helps contrast the "look."

Posted at Audiogon under: Community/Virtual Systems/Ever Evolving
What do you have the speakers on? I also have suspended wooden flooring. Can you comment on how your platforms affect the sound? Did you try the souls direct on floor? Do you have any pics of the back of the speaker? Good review and let's hope this thread stays on topic.
Initial Perfomance Impressions (continued):

Sensitive to, I would say responsive to, speaker cable changes. Started with Zu Audio Wax cables. Then rotated in a pair of PNF standard cables. Now have Audio Art SC-5 SEs in system.

This, for me, is a strong positive attribute. I had planned on pure Ag (preferably) or hybrid Cu/Ag speaker cabling and it looks like that choice will be rewarded.
Questions to help with the ongoing evaluation?

Feel free to post specific questions.

Your questions and thoughts and perspectives and corrections on speaker evaluation and review will definitely be a major assist in helping me with the evaluation of the Superfly edition speakers.

Initial Performance Impressions (cont.): as Center Channel

Have rotated one of the Superfly speakers as a center within the home theater system. Three movies only, so intial impressions are very limited. Of note, Casablanca, the BluRay remaster, is output in 1.0 audio so the Superfly was the only speaker being utilized, for that movie.

This system is being fed multi analog out from an OPPO BD83SE to the multi analog inputs of a Sony 5300ES receiver. Performance with these solid state components and Atlona 5.1 RCA ICs has been good.

I had been worried about the match with solid state components and had held off purchasing a pre processor pending a full evaluation of the Superfly.

Still need to rotate them into the front Left & Right channels of the ht system before making a final decision on ss/tube pre. Right now, my guess is that either ss or tubed ht gear will match very well.

A lot more ss ht gear out there, and for less dime, so this is another positive factor that adds value to the Superfly's overall performance value.

If you are using the Superfly in a mixed speaker setup:

be sure to use the auto calibration or manual calibration to adjust the dB levels on the Superfly feed. I used a number of manual settings and settled on a +0.5 dB difference from the auto calibration setting optimized by the receiver.
Re. "What do you have the speakers on?"

Hi Venicelake,

They are on unassembled TAOC shelves. I found using the frame with the shelf insert was more stable on the wood flooring than just using the shelf insert on its on.

I did not try the Superfly directly on the hard wood flooring. The reason for that is because when I first did the A/B with shelf or without shelf with my other speakers at the time, there was no contest ---- Improvement with every speaker I had at the time. So, I use the shelf units without a second thought.

Since the Superfly bolt inserts can scratch the finish of the shelf, I use some electrical tape to minimize that. If you are using wood, you would not need to worry about that and it would actually help anchor the speakers a bit.

Others have had similar gains with other platforms and as you know, there are any number of sellers and types of materials being offered to place speakers on.

The shelves were not being used, so I put them to good use.

A budget solution is to get some solid wood board, good quality and thicker plywood is even supposed to help. Since you have solid wood floors, I would add three cones of your choice to further isolate and stablize the platform. Raising speakers above the floor has also shown gains in performance. Easy tweak to play around with and maximize and configure to your tastes and room.

Hope that helps.

If you would like me to listen without the stands and provide some quick feedback, I would be glad to do so.

- David.
Re. Additional Photographs of the Superfly.

I will try to take some more photographs, including of the speaker rear, if I get some time tomorrow.

If anyone has some suggestions on how to get additional photos posted, please let me know. Otherwise, I will delete some of those currently posted and replace them with the newer pics.
Hi Dave, minor hijack, as there is a dearth of info written here about the Gemme Tanto...

I would appreciate hearing what you think of them. How do they compare in ease of placement, sound stage, bass... ?
It's November, where's the rest of the review? ;)
Anyone had a chance to listen to the Omens? They look cool and it seems Zu will be pushing this speaker line.
You can read more about them here:
clink here

Overall, very nice speakers for the $$$ with few issues which reflect the low, intro price. I've mentioned those in above thread and hope to address those issues with few simple tweaks, setup changes and extra cabinet damping with help of Sonic Barrier