Zu Tone/Druid Tonal Anomalies


I like to hear anyone with Zu speakers if they have had a similar problem. I recently acquired a pair of Zu Tone speakers. Certain aspects about them are very good, such as soundstaging and speed, but it seems to me that unless my pair are defective, there is a serious issue with tonal accuracy. Right away when I set them up, I noticed that they sounded quite hollow. I then made a lot of measurements, both close miked and at the listening seat, with both a Behringer DEQ2496 and an RS sound level meter (using both pink noise and frequency generation). In both cases, it fairly closely matches what I am hearing, which is a severe rise in the upper midrange. I am trying to use a Z-Systems RDQ-1 digital EQ device to correct this problem, and have gotten much closer to a natural tone and flatter curve. What this required was a 7.6 db cut centered at 1.4kHz at a width of 1.5 octaves. This is quite a cut! For reference, I've had two other sets of speakers (Monitor Audio GR60 and NHT ST-4) in the room at almost exactly the same position, neither of which had this problem. I spoke to Sean Casey at Zu about the problem, and he thought it might be room interaction, which might be true to a point, but the anomaly is just too severe, and makes this point less viable since my other speakers didn't show the problem. I noticed in another thread here, that a couple of people heard what seemed like a similar problem with the Druids.

I am very curious as to what others have experienced with any of the Zu speakers in this regard.

Thanks,
Stew
smeyers
I heard them powered by a Cary 300B integrated with Zu cables and Cary CD in a medium size listening room. They were not very detailed and had a muffled kind of sound. The salesman said they would sound better in a larger room. I have my doubts.The sound in that room brought back memories of DIY attempts at speaker building .I am sorry to say that with all the favourable reviews,they did nothing for me,but that is just an opinion.
I've never heard the Tones but apparently they have the same tonal signature as the Druids with a bit less bottom end. I had a pair of Druids for about 3 months which I then traded up to the Definitions.

Like you, when I 1st got the Druids I thought they were basically crap. No bottom end, the tonal characteristics were all over the place, I was pretty much ready to send them back. But after talking to the boys at Zu and a couple other people who hang out on various forums (including A'gon) I decided to give them a bit more time settle down.

And the transformation after a couple hundred hours was startling. After around 400 hours, I just plain thought they were a damn fine pair of speakers and would have been quite happy to live with them as my primary speakers (but I was so pleased I wanted to see if the Defnitions really were "that much better").

After breakin, the Druids had a nice tight bottom end and were very balanced across the entire tonal spectrum. Maybe a slight hump in the upper midrange but nothing that jumped out at you and persoanlly I like midranbge so I didn't mind.

And the dynamics are just stunning. Probably 1 of the things I enjoyed most about the Druids was at low volume, it still sounded like music and not just background noise. The reality is, most people can't listen to music at hi volume alot of the time so to be able to listen at low volume and still enjoy the experience is a wonderful thing.

Anyway, if you can, I would recommend hanging in there awhile longer to see how the Tones develop, if possible, give tehm a good blast for a few days to speed up the breakin process.
Certain aspects about them are very good, such as soundstaging and speed, but...there is a serious issue with tonal accuracy. Right away when I set them up, I noticed that they sounded quite hollow.

Mirrors what I have heard at two Zu Audio demonstrations.
I'd to hear from people that don't feel they have this problem with the speakers. Is it possible that certain batches are defective? If they all sound like this, how can they have such positive reviews? I am correcting this problem with digital EQ, so now they sound quite good, but this is certainly a band-aid, and of course won't work with analog sources.
The Druids I owned showed no such spike. At all. They were tonally mellow and dynamically large. The Definitions I have in my room are activating some wierd room modes that I am working to deal with, but it's not a function of the speakers.

Sounds like a room issue to me. If you measure and take pictures of your room, Sean will be happy to advise you on the best ways to deal with it.
I'd to hear from people that don't feel they have this problem with the speakers.

You might check out the Zu Audio circle at Audocircle.com.
>>You might check out the Zu Audio circle at Audocircle.com.<<

Thank you; I will.
Thanks Mihilli, I was told the speakers had about 70 hours of playing time when I received them, so I do plan on spending some time to see what happens after they break in a bit more. I find it a little hard to believe that they will change that much however.

Miklorsmith, yes room interaction might have something to do with it. But as I mentioned earlier, I also did some close miked measurements. I do realize that my room is not an anechoic chamber, but the anomaly seems more than would account for that. Have you tried to measure the response of your Druids and/or Defintions? It might be that you do have an upper midrange spike that you find pleasing.
Yeah Stew, I was pretty dubious that they would change that significantly as well but change they did!

Good luck.
Well, the Definitions in my room currently are showing a 12 db rise in the same area you're talking about and higher. I'm measuring from the listening seat and the rise is obvious there. In fact, it's so obvious that I can hear it ringing off the glass bar and window that my listening seat are between. It is not pleasant and is something I'm working on through acoustics and will be aquiring a TacT to help as well.

With most music, the notes are not prolonged enough to pressurize that frequency. Piano and blazing guitar do light it up though. I assure you it isn't something I prize.

The Druids didn't do this, and I think they're actually rolled off around 2 db in the presence region. I'm no expert but I seriously doubt it's the speakers.
Hi,The audio store I deal with just recently picked up the Zu line...Just for fun I brought my David Berning 1 watt per channel o.t.l. amp in .I beleive it was the Druid ,a floor standing model...Anyway, the little Berning amp is a [fabulous] match .The three of us were struck by how well the Zus and Berning performed...
Don't Eq or you are not using this setup right but might need subwoofer, Guarantee its now showing you the equipment problems. If there is any hollow sound its my empty head with my system. But fact is using the druids or Tone I could not really comment much cause they are for very specific character music in my opinion, not full range rock music or anything with a lot of weight, cause they will sound not bright but etched. Definitions are perfect especially with the smoother midrange running 2 drivers totally spreads this out, and of course the powered 8 woofers round everything out to the max. So if you got something in the chain causing these spikes or whatever you need to try other preamps, cd whatever, cause it will happen, I had to move to extremly well controlled and very very smooth equipment, these speakers with 10" full range are like looking into large hi-definition window they will pick up repeat and amplify everything in your chain, and remember you have no compression circuit to cushion for you(no crossover) they are raw and will sound raw. For example if you have a sony CD or DVD player you will hear it. They are super sensitive, and by the way I do not like the Zu IBIS cables, they sound hard and etched too, the most warm cables in the lineup and perfect in my opinion are the Zu Libtec's. This could make a big difference, but I don't know what cables you are using. Beyond that yep a room will kill you if it does not like your speaker.
The only off and very un-likely thing is, are they wired in phase? cause that will give you the exact sound you are describing, even if you have them hooked right maybe the driver inside is not.
A brand new pair of Tones will honk or shout some until broken in. My Druids did the same thing. My Definitions less so. Room interaction can exaggerate this. The rise you are hearing, insofar as it is driver-generated, will mitigate with break-in day-by-day until you hear them settle into a natural response. At least that's my experience. Room interaction definitely affects the degree to which you experience this phenomenon.

Also position. The speaker is smoother even new on a stout pair of stands. The Tones are also more sensitive to room effects than the Druids and much more so than the Definitions.

How much use have your Tones been subjected to?

Phil
By the way, nothing I've heard in midrange tonal anomalies when the drivers are new hinted at a 7db variance, but I have heard the apparent rise seem boosted as I moved further from the speaker, in some rooms, further indicating the room can be an exciter. I've also noticed the phenomenon Miklorsmith notes, wherein a burst guitar or piano tone can, as he says, "light up" a specific freqency spike, but for me that too mitigates with extended use.

Phil
Yeah the definitions are pretty much drop in place and play, less issues with positioning and height and all that vs. the other 2, so I guess let her rip for a couple weeks and hope it starts to straighten out. However, I would remove the eq while breaking in so that they just do there thing and get all natural signal to smooth out.
my response to the tone and druids is fact.
I own both .If you are considering these loudspeakers have the factory put 150 hours on these for you first.
There drivers are so stiff that unless you are playing these guys with a low 30 hz breakin cd on repeat for at least 150hours the cone does not even move,or you have to jam these at over 100db, just in breakin,at the factory they play them at over 110 db ,seriously. and infact would not fully break in unless you do.I know I spent 300 hours learning.
point 2. the druids Must have the short spikes unless you have very thick carpeting,a little more than a cd s width under the speaker is all that you want to load this bass ,for good integration of all aspects from the mids on down,again I experimented for several hundred hours ,even after the 300 hour period.
now everyone that comes over is dam impressed.
No loudspeaker at anywhere near this price point does so many things so well, when set up ,and run in properly Paul J Letteri.
my response to the tone and druids is fact.
I own both .If you are considering these loudspeakers have the factory put 150 hours on these for you first.
There drivers are so stiff that unless you are playing these guys with a low 30 hz breakin cd on repeat for at least 150hours the cone does not even move and infact would not fully break in.I know I spent 300 hours learning.
point 2. the druids Must have the short spikes unless you have very thick carpeting,a little more than a cd s width under the speaker is all that you want to load this bass ,for good integrationagain I experimnte for several hundred hours ,even after the 300 hour period.
now everyone that comes over is dam impressed.
No loudspeaker at anywhere near this price point does so many things so well .
hello I hear a fair amount of people talking about speaker interactions wit thw zu tone or Druid .I found none of the above , and I have a small 12x14 room.
1. if you don't play these speakers loud to get the driver moving a 1000 hours is very realistic,ask Sean at Zu .this is why I always tell people let Zu break them in.
at Zu they run them hard and put 150 hours on them, if requested on order, ,LIke myself I played them for 3 weeks straight 24-7 ,and at night with a breakin cd set around 30hz just appliying enough volume to get the driver moving every evening.
then after 300 hours they are just starting to open up.
and everything just gets more focused and refined.
If you have he Druids you should has not more than 1/16
of a inch under the speaker, with a cd case slid underneath for the low frequency vent. if not that will also give you imaging problems .
I just purchased some new Druids. I felt the same way about tonal issues. Mine seemed to have no headroom, rolled off in the high frequencies, and imaged weird. I played them for 7 days straight at moderate listening levels. I then spoke to Sean, who was awesome and extremely helpful. Zu certainly ranks as the one of the best when it comes to customer service. I went back and played with the speaker placement. BINGO! These things really need equal distance between speakers and listener, with extreme toe in pointed directly at the listener. Now I'm happy as a clam. They are still breaking in, but they now have astonishing imaging and perfect tonal balance. Keep breaking them in and playing with the listening position. I imagine that the Tones are affected by stand height as well, since the height of the Druids as determined by the spikes is critical. An interesting point that I learned from Sean is that he worked on the design of the Talon Khorus with Thierry Budge. I owned that speaker, and it's placement, break-in, and tonal issues were very similar to the Druid, which is why the first versions were so controversial.
These things really need equal distance between speakers and listener, with extreme toe in pointed directly at the listener.
Does this mean the Druids are decidedly a one-person speaker?
I agree that the speakers (I have the Zu Tone's) image best when pointed directly at the listener (I have commented on this in other threads), but it seems to me that tonal balance is better with them not toed in much, mainly due to some excessive high frequency energy coming from that super-tweeter. When I was experimenting with this, I put my ear close to the super-tweeter, and you can hear some 'hissing' that actully hurt my ears! This 'hissing' is tamed somewhat, when the speakers are not pointed directly at the listener.
Interesting question, Drubin. After reading it, I sat in my listening seat and moved around. Are they a one person speaker? No. But movement more than two feet from the sweet spot does result in a SLIGHT change. I think most speakers I've owned are like that, except the Decware 3.0s which I still have, but are for sale. I've had one person speakers. The Innersound Eros comes to mind. Move your head, frequencies vaporize. Fabulous speaker as long as you don't move. I'm in another room right now, and they still sound good. But to get the optimum set-up, you must experiment with placement. Critical listening with ANY speaker I've owned requires an exact seating position where they sound the best. That magic triangle of equal distance seems to be the rule of thumb for the best results with the Druids. But they can play at dinner parties, if that's your inclination.
Smeyers, what amp are you using?
Glreno, I'm trying two different sets of tube amps.

1) AES Sixpacs with KT-66 tubes

2) Wright Sound Mono 10's with EH Gold 2A3 tubes, and now with Sophia Electric Princess 300b 2.5v tubes

Both are connected in balanced mode from a BAT VK-5i preamp. I also use a Muse 296 DAC fed from a Krell MD-20 transport.
Smeyers, You have a problem upstream. The speakers are not hissing - they are conveying hiss generated elsewhere in the system. This problem only occurs because your speakers are so efficient.

Drubin, The "sweet spot" is as wide as my sofa. When they are set up properly the Druids are magical. The words to describe what these speakers do have already been wasted by irresponsible reviewers on decidedly inferior product.
There is no hype on these at all. They really rule.
All good. I have a Mons Audio PSE 2A3. It wouldn't drive the tweeter in my Decware 3s, and I ended up with a sound something like a bad tube in the mids. I was able to use the tweeter attenuation to get rid of it, but had no headroom at that point. That's why I bought the Druids, which work very well now with the Mons amp. I also borrowed a pair of the Mono 10s to try, and they worked quite well with the Decwares.